Polaroid Pinhole Camera




To do this, all that is needed is a Polaroid Land camera, some small screwdrivers, and a small sheet of thin metal. These cameras can be found on eBay, or better yet, at yard sales. It will be made into a pinhole camera with several pinholes that can be switched into place, for use in various light conditions etc.

Step 1:

With a thin blade, pry off the cover plate on the front of the camera. Remove
the plastic ring around the lens, and discard it. Unscrew the lens, and set it
aside (this will be made into the lens cap). Cover the small semicircular slot next to the lens with a piece of electrical tape, to prevent light leaks.

Step 2:

Open the back of the camera, and remove the 4 small screws around the lens
that attach the bellows to the front of the camera. Then, remove the screw on
the front of the camera that attaches the lens assembly to the frame. Then it
can be swung out to allow access to the back; Remove all the screws on the back of the lens assembly, then pry off the thin metal plate on the top of the lens assembly.

Step 3:

Cut the cable between the the camera and the circuit board, and remove it from the lens assembly. Pop out the lens in the back of the lens assembly. Remove the screws holding the circuitboard to the front of the lens assembly.Remove excess parts from the front and back of the circuitboard (refer to photos
to see what is needed).

Step 4:

Take off the small metal arm holding in the plastic dial: remove the screw, then carefully pry off the tiny metal spring clip. Do not bend this out of shape, as it will be needed when reassembling. (If it gets bent, or lost, there are several other of the same clips in the unused parts of the circuitboard that were removed). Remove the spring resting against the center of the dial and save. Take out the plastic dial with the holes in it.

Step 5:

Prepare the pinholes. Use a thin sheet of metal (I cut and flattened a piece
from a soda can). Make 4 small squares (about 1/2 by 3/4 inch) In the center of each piece, pierce a small hole of varying sizes. I made 3 with holes, and one with a tiny slit. To pierce the holes, use a thumbtack, nail, etc., and I used a utility knife to cut the slit. Sand off the burr from the back of the pinholes, and blacken one side with paint or a Sharpie. Superglue the pieces of metal to the dial, centering the pinholes in each of 4 holes. Write a small number at the bottom of each sheet of metal, to differentiate each pinhole. Keep in mind that, when reassembled, the number that's visible will refer to the pinhole on the opposite end of the dial.

Step 6:

Replace the dial on the circuitboard (with the pinhole side facing out).
Replace the plastic spring, then replace the metal arm that holds them in place
(replace the screw and the tiny metal clip; place it on the top of the small
metal rod and push straight down).

Step 7:

Reassemble the camera. Replace the pinhole contraption in the front of the lens
assembly, and replace the screws. Attach the back of the lens assembly and those screws, then the screw attaching this to the frame. Collpase the bellows, then open the back of the camera and replace the 4 screws to attach the bellows. Superglue the metal plate to the front of the camera.

Step 8:

To make the lens cap, simply superglue a small piece of metal to the back of
the lens, making sure to cover it entirely. Screw it back into place.
To take a picture, set the dial to the desired pinhole, set the camera in
place, and remove the lenscap for the desired amount of time. This will vary
considerably, depending on the size of the pinhole and the light conditions of
the subject. In bright sun, an exposure will be around 10 to 20 seconds; indoors, it can be several minutes to 45 minutes or so). Replace the lenscap and remove the film, allowing it to develop.

Step 9:

These are some pics taken with this camera. I tried to include photos taken under various light conditions and with different exposure times. Ive found that the best film to use is Fuji FP-100 or Polaroid 669.



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    18 Discussions

    Mad asa

    3 years ago


    Coming into this YEARS after you posted this. Nice images I might add. I was wondering if you had an actual measurement wise,the diameter of the pinholes you made.

    1 reply
    HousekeyMad asa

    Reply 3 years ago

    Im afraid I didnt measure the diameter of the holes I created. I found, after experimenting, that the one that worked best was one I made with the point of a pushpin that wasn't poked all the way through (so slightly narrower than the diameter of the pushpin hole, if that makes sense).


    9 years ago on Introduction

    hi, great little set of instructions for using my land camera!
    1 question-do i still need to buy a 4.5 battery or can i skip the costly thing?

    sorry for posting a 'stupid' question. im just unsure if the film will work without battery?

    thanks :)

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You don't need to worry about the battery- that is used to power the shutter and the light meter, neither of which are used in the modded camera


    8 years ago on Introduction

    hey i am looking for something a bit simpler to do, and that would be to just set the thing up to take a normal battery, I heard you can do this but have not come across anything. Has anyone seen an kinda of tutorial on this ?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    You don't need to worry about the battery, it isnt used at all. It was used to power the exposure meter and the shutter mechanism, but neither of those are used in the pinhole setup, of course.

    If one does want info on olaroid batteries, this website has a ton of info:


    I believe the batteries are 4.5V, itd be pretty esay to wire up a few 1.5V batteries to take place of the old ones.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Hello What are distance to make the photograph by unfolding the bellows landscape or portrait? Thank you


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, while Polaroid is no longer making film, Fuji makes a peel-apart instant film that fits this camera. Not many stores carry it, but a web search for "fuji instant film" will point you in the right direction. I've found that the results are actually better w/ the fuji film


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Pretty awesome, but I don't think I could bring myself to do that to my camera.


    12 years ago

    any tips for converting a polaroid land onestep. my main question is what i can take out of the inside of the camera and how do i need to regulate exposure time, since i will be using 600 film instead of the discontinued 100 film, and the exposure time is like 0.5 s. can i mod the shutter somehow, or just be really quick in covering the pinhole after exposure? i've never made a pinhole, so any advice, would be super awesome!


    12 years ago

    These cameras are readily available. Think this project would be good for underachieving, underclass kids? You know, beauty is as beauty does. "-" [www.sabadash.com sabadash]

    1 reply

    13 years ago on Step 9

    where do you get film for the camera? I thought they stopped making compatible film a long time ago.

    1 reply

    Reply 13 years ago on Step 9

    They actually still make the film, and now Fuji makes their own line as well. I usually order it from B&H Photo and Video (go to the Instant Film page), though there are many distributors available, and better photo-supply stores usually have a few packs on hand too. This camera uses the 3.25 x 4.25 inch size. This type of instant film is referred to as "peel apart pack film", to distinguish it from the newer type of Polaroid film.


    13 years ago

    Sorry–I meant to include some of the photographs Ive taken with this...Ill scan some and post em soon


    13 years ago

    Awesome! Could you post some of the developed pictures that you've taken with this camera?

    This reminds me of the Pinhole Camera Camp at Burning Man. They use 1.5ft diameter barrels with photo paper lining the inside of the barrel and a pinhole pierced in the top. Their pictures are spectacular.