Introduction: Simple Pinhole Camera

Pinhole cameras hearken back to a day when photography was simple. You too can join this illustrious tradition of film photography using these simple steps.


1 empty soda can/ tin foil

1 roll of duct tape (color of your choosing)

2 pieces of cardboard (2'x3')

Step 1: Step 1: Designing the Box

In order to know the dimensions of your box and the diameter of your pinhole, you will need to use an online pinhole camera calculator, and input the dimensions of the photographic paper you are working with. For our camera, we used this calculator:

Once you know how big your box and pinhole needs to be, you can now measure out the 6 faces on the cardboard. Our dimensions for 8.5"x11" photo paper were 19.5" long, 9.5" wide, and 12" tall.

Step 2: Step 2. Cutting Out the Camera

After measuring out the dimensions, cut out the shape along the lines. A table saw will provide a clean straight cut but scissors are acceptable as well. Make sure you know what side of the camera goes by labeling the sides as seen in the picture. Put a piece of tape along the inside to hold up the frame more easily when assembling.

Step 3: Step 3: Assembling the Camera

Now fold the sides to make a box shape frame and tape down the corners to hold the fold in place. The back side should open so that the photo paper can be taped onto the inside.

Step 4: Step 4: Poking the Pinhole

Using your previously calculated value for pinhole diameter, find a drill bit or another thin sharp object in order to poke a hole through the cardboard and aluminum. In our case, we used a center punch and a hammer. A drill or sewing needle are also acceptable ways to poke the hole. Our hole was about 1/16" across, we punched through the aluminum first and then the cardboard, lining them up after and ensuring a tight fit.

Step 5: Step 5: Covering in Duct Tape

To seal all the cracks and give the camera a small degree of weatherproofing, we recommend wrapping the whole camera in duct tape. Don't forget to attach the aluminium with the hole in it before wrapping. If you cover the hole with a piece of tape, it can become a miniature shutter. Also don't forget to leave the back detached so you have a place to add the photo paper. Once the camera has been covered, it can be decorated using colored tape. We chose not to color ours, but get creative! There are some really creative uses for duct tape.

Step 6: Step 6: Go Take Some Photos!

Now it's time to load the photo paper of your choosing, and to go out and take some photos. It is important to remember that the camera does take some time to focus. The calculator we linked in step 1 shows how long it will need to set. To take a picture, load the photo paper, take it to the desired location, remove the shutter, then let it sit. After the required time passes you will have your picture ready to be developed! all you need to do now is take it to a darkroom, which can be made at home using easily found household items! Here's one resource that explains the process of creating and using your darkroom to make photo negatives at home:

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