Matchbox Pin Hole Camera

Introduction: Matchbox Pin Hole Camera

A pin hole is an analog handmade camera, that works by letting light enter through a small hole and reach the film, that being photosensitive, records the image that the camera is pointing to. You can make interesting experiments, with it!

Step 1: Supplies

You will need:

an aluminum can (don't use an iron one, they're too tough to stick)
a matchbox (2" 3/8 by 1" 5/8, or 4x6 cm) (f you are in Brazil, buy long matches from  Fiat Lux, it'll fit perfectly. Other brands' are too small)
insulating tape
a thin tape
two photographic 35mm film rolls - one must be full and the other, empty, with a lillte piece of film coming out of it. 
a black ink (it can be gouache. I used tempera)
a brush
a scissor
an utility knife
a fine sandpaper
a needle

Step 2: Making the "lens"

Cut a small square piece out of the aluminum can. Then, make a tiny hole in the center of it, with the needle. Sand it both sides until it gets smooth. Pointy parts can disturb the entry of light, causing image distortions.

Step 3: Peparing the Matchbox

Cut a square out of the inner part of the matchbox, any size and shape. The shape you make will determine the final shape of each photo. I made a rectangular one. Paint it all black, for it shouldn't reflect any light.
Then, cut a small square out of the front part of the matchbox. It may be smaller than the piece of aluminum. Place the piece of aluminum over the hole and fix it with insulating tape, not covering the hole.

Step 4: Putting the Film On

Insert the film between the two parts of the matchbox, like in the picture. Cut the end of it, then use some thin tape to join the new film with the piece of film in the empty roll. Join them well, so they won't detach when you roll the film. I don't recommend insulating tape for this, because it's too thick and may get stuck.
Then, seal all the camera with insulating tape. Seal it well, letting no light get in and ruin the film.

Step 5: Making the Shooter

To take photos with this camera, all you have to do is let light enter through the tiny hole. So the hole must be covered all the time, and opened only when taking photos. For this, use a piece of insulating tape, folded at one side (where you will hold), and stick a smaller piece at the middle, not to let it stick to the aluminum. Stick it at the camera like in the picture.

Step 6: Finishing

For every photo you take, you must rotate the film, to let it prepared to receive another photo. Make a mark at the empty roll to be able to control how many turns you're giving. Also, mark the empty roll with an arrow, to remember which one is the empty and to which side you have to turn (from full to empty roll). Rotate 1 ¼ for each photo!

Last thing to do is attach something heavy to the camera, to stabilize it when shooting, because it shoots much more slowly than regular cameras, so photos get blurried easily. You can use elastics or insulating tape to attach a piece of wood or iron to it.

Step 7: Shooting

To shoot, position the camera in an horizontal place, where it won't move. Lift the insulating tape mechanism and close it. With a 100 ASA film, let it open for:
1 to 2 seconds in the sun
5 seconds if cloudy
1 to 5 minutes indoors with weak light
Up to 30 minutes with noturne lights

If you use a speed film, remember to decrease the exposure time.

You can do light painting, double exposure, and things like that! Take care just not to let your finger appear at the photos.

For each photo you make, rotate 1 ¼ the empty roll. You may rebobinate at the end or not. Just take the roll full with your photos to photo processing! Here are some examples of photos I did with this camera! (I already did it twice)

That's it! Have fun!

Lomography Analog Photography Contest

Runner Up in the
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1 Person Made This Project!


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4 Discussions


Question 1 year ago on Step 7

H! just asking, is the film refillable? or I have to make the whole thing again when the film is finished? Thank you :)


Answer 7 months ago

If you're very careful you might be able to reuse it by taking off the tape but try make a new one and improve on your last attempt!


Reply 7 months ago

If you are a student you don't have to pay for going pro, just register as a student