Pinhole camera build


This tutorial is about building a pinhole camera suitable for 120 roll film.

Some things to consider. You can make a peephole (with a red filter) in the back for checking the photo numbers on the paper strip of a 120 roll film. But you can do without it. I wind the film up to the vertical arrow on the paper strip. Set the arrow in the middle of the camera/negative, close the camera with the back and turn the wing nut 7 whole rotations.
Photo 1 is then on the right spot.
Photo 1 to 2: 2 whole rotations
Photo 2 to 3: 2 whole rotations
Photo 3 to 4: 1.75 rotations
Photo 4 to 5: 1.75 rotations
Photo 5 to 6: 1.75 rotations
Photo 6 to 7: 1.5 rotations
Photo 7 to 8: 1.5 rotations
It’s a good thing to transport the film immediately after every shot.
Questions, remarks? Please mail me. Enjoy the build.

Photo 1
Photo 1

I make my pinhole cameras mostly of MDF. It’s easy to saw and work with. There are lots of ways and materials you can use. Maybe you’ll find a much better way then mine. As long you can make a ‘dark room’, a pinhole and a way to transport the film.

The pinhole camera in this build:
Material: MDF
Focal length: 45 mm.
Pinhole diameter: 0,302 mm.
Aperture: f/149
Angle of view: 99,2 deg
Film diagonal: 105,7 mm.
Coverage: 86,4 mm.
Exposure factor for f/16: 86,8

Photo 2 – The pieces we have to saw
The bottom: 145x45x13 mm.
Left and right side: 86x45x6,5 mm.
Top: 145x45x6,5 mm.
Front: 158x86x3 mm.

You can use any thickness you want. As long as you respect the internal dimensions.
Width: 145mm.
Height: 66mm.
Use a thick bottom though to glue in a tripod nut.

Photo 2


Photo 3 and 4
Glue the parts together as shown in the images. Wood glue that dries quickly is best to use. Now we have the dark room without a back.

Photo 3
Photo 4


Photo 5
Next step is to determine the negative size. Saw two pieces of mdf: 66x45x3 mm. Glue them inside the camera.

Photo 6
Make sure to keep 26 mm. width free on the left and right for the 120 roll film spool.

Photo 5
Photo 6


Photo 7
Let’s drill some holes. First the two on top for film transport. The exact middle of the spool is 12,5 mm.
Do you rmath to determine the place to drill. The only thing is, the film lies very deep in the camera. So, I drill a hole 20 mm. from the front side to make the angle for the film less steep.
The size of the drill is 9 mm.

Use a 12 mm. drill for the front, right in the middle, width and height. Keep in mind the thicker bottom.

Photo 7
Photo 8 and 9
The pinhole itself. I use 0,0025 mm thin copper foil. You can also use a (very) thin soda can. No problem, the thinner the better though. For this camera we make a pinhole of 0,302 mm. See also the pinhole calculator to determine the pinhole size. You can buy laser pinholes if you want to. I’ve never done that, it’s easy to make your own. Take a very thin needle and puncture gently through the material. Better to get the right size in a few steps. Sand with very fine sandpaper gently on both sides any burrs off. Take the needle again and turn it around in the pinhole, making it a bit wider and sand burrs of again. I use a magnifying glass to check the size. I never scanned a pinhole, but that’s also a good method for checking the quality and the right size.
Photo 8
Photo 9


Photo 10 – Glue two washers on top. Diameter of the opening is 8 mm. Use contrsuction or contact glue. Photo 11 – Drill a hole, 13 mm. in the middle of the bottom, not all the way through. Just enough to fit in a 1/4″ nut (20 unc) for using a tripod. Glue the nut with construction glue. Photo 12 – Glue with construction or contact glue a washer, together with the pinhole on the front, opening diameter of the washer at least 13 mm.

Photo 10
Photo 11
Photo 12

Photo 13 and 14
This is a fairly critical step. Measure exactly where the middle of the spool is and drill a hole in the bottom with an 8 mm. drill. Glue a 5 mm nut in the opening, contact glue or construction glue. A 5 mm. bolt will keep the spool in place.

Photo 13
Photo 14
Photo 15
Use a self-adhesive draft strip to make your pinhole camera lightproof.
Photo 16
Glue on the left and right side a piece of mdf, 70x86x3 mm. The part that’s sticking out is at the rear of the pinhole camera. See photo 16.

Photo 15
Photo 16

Photo 17
Saw the mdf back. 158x86x3 mm.
Photo 18
Place the back and push it down on the draft strips. Draw a line to determine where the next holes should be. Drill two holes on each side, 6 mm.

Photo 17
Photo 18

Photo 19 – Glue a 8 or 9 mm. wooden or hard plastic stick in a wing nut. Shape the stick to fit the spool.
Photo 20 – Saw two wooden sticks, 6 mm. diameter for keeping the back in place.
Photo 21 – The shutter is a simple (paper) magnet. Great, you’re done. Hope you liked it building a pinhole camera. Any questions, remarks, please contact me. Oh yeah, don’t forget to make the pinhole camera black inside.

Photo 19
Photo 20
Photo 21