Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Zero Image 2000 6x6 Wooden Pinhole Camera

Loonar Goupe Pinhole Camera

Diana Multi-Pinhole Operator Camera

Holga 120PC-3D Stereo Pinhole Camera

Holga 120 PC Pinhole Camera

The "Original" Pinhole Blender 35 Pinhole Camera

PopTop Pinhole 12oz Camera

Merlin 1 Quart Paintcan Pinhole Camera

Sharan STD-35e 35mm Pinhole Camera

Canon EOS 7D with a pinhole body cap photographed with an iPhone 4s and the Pinhole HD app

More galleries on Framework

return to gallery

Keep it simple, try a pinhole camera

The Week in Pictures | October 27 – November 2, 2014

Each week we bring you the very best in visual journalism. This week, a seven-week manhunt came to an end in Pennsylvania, where authorities finally captured survivalist Eric...   View Post»


Keep it simple, try a pinhole camera

Horst Faas, Associated Press combat photographer, dies at 79

As chief of photo operations for the Associated Press in Saigon for a decade beginning in 1962, Horst Faas didn't just cover the fighting — he also recruited and trained new...   View Post»


Keep it simple, try a pinhole camera

The Week in Pictures | May 7-13, 2012

Each week we bring you the very best in visual journalism. A dramatic scene is set in the Philippines, where a man floats in the water with some of his belongings as his...   View Post»


Keep it simple, try a pinhole camera

Pictures in the News | Jan. 17, 2012

Tuesday's Pictures in the News begins in China, where large lanterns re-create the ancient painting "Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival" during a lantern show in Fuyang as...   View Post»

Keep it simple, try a pinhole camera

As digital photography keeps getting better and better, with so many great smartphone apps and amazing quality cameras, it’s tough to think  about using film. It may be even harder to think about taking pinhole photographs. Maybe, that’s why I missed Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day again this year, probably, like most people.

It is an event held on the last Sunday of April that makes me think about getting back to my photography roots. The basics: film, a box, and a tiny pinhole, almost like my very first Kodak Brownie camera. But for most us, the idea of buying, shooting and processing film is just too much work. I guess this includes me — it all sounds great, but it does take time to re-create the old-school film photography days.

For those who want to re-create the past, there are plenty of choices. You can build your own pinhole camera. For one of my posts, I built a pinhole a couple of years ago with the Sharan STD-35e 35mm pinhole camera. It took about two hours to build the cardboard camera, which uses 35mm film. The simplest approach is using a smartphone app, and the most difficult includes processing your own film and printing on photographic paper.

There’s no shortage of available pinhole cameras — you just need to know where to look. Here are a few of my picks:

pinholeHD_250pxPinhole HD – Surprisingly, there were not many options of iPhone pinhole photography apps to choose from. I could find only two: Pinhole HD and Retro Camera Plus. Neither simulated the pinhole effect perfectly, but Pinhole HD, a $0.99 app, came the closest.  Snap your pinhole photograph, save to your camera roll, and then send to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter in seconds.  The photos sort of look like those from a real pinhole camera, but when you’re done, no messy chemical, no film, no other camera to carry.

hasselblad-pinhole200pxPinhole camera body cap – This is a great option for those DSLR or 4/3 style camera. The photo looks like a fuzzy pinhole camera pic with your expensive digital camera. You can get a pinhole lens for Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony cameras. I have one that fits my Canon 7D. This is a regular body cap with a super small pinhole cut into metal glues in the middle of the camera. These are simple to use and your results are instant and give a pretty true representation of the pinhole camera effect. You can even find a pinhole body cap for a Hasselblad camera. I know that just doesn’t make any sense, but your photo will have a warm and fuzzy look in a square format. I’m still looking for one for a Leica.

stereo-pinhole250pxPlastic style Holga or Diana cameras – These plastic cameras are moderately priced and either use 35mm or 120mm film. They also have a variety of characteristics including: the Holga 120PC-3D Stereo with two lenses for stereo and three pinholes with the Diana. They also come in a variety of colors.

Cardboard kit cameraSharan STD-35e 35mm Pinhole Camera Kit is a fun way to experience the past. It takes about two hours to build the cardboard camera that uses 35mm film. This is the one I built about two years ago and found it to be a simple and enjoyable process.

loonar250pxPaper camera kit – The Loonar Groupe paper kit camera is certainly the most stylish with its colorful patterns. I haven’t tried using one of these, but a camera made of paper seems like a creative way to go.

Coolest look – The ‘Original’ Pinhole Blender 35 snaps a triple exposure using three pinholeblender-Classic35_200px lenses to form a panorama collage photograph using 35mm film. I like the unique concept of this camera as it blends three exposures together.

Most unusualMerlin 1 Quart Paint Can pinhole camera takes a paint can and turns it into a camera. Any box or closed container can be turned into a camera. All you need is a pinhole and a place to set your film. This camera is designed topaint-can-pinhole200px use sheet film or paper as your negative. Simply expose a piece of photographic paper and film and use it as a contact negative.

Wooden cameras – The ultimate way to experience the pinhole camera is a wooden pinhole camera like the Zero Image 6 X 6 Wooden Pinhole Camera. The Zero Image brings together a simple process with a beautiful-looking crafted wooden camera that uses 120mm film and makes a square image. You will need to process the film and make prints.

PopBox200pxMost unique – No question, the PopTop Pinhole camera, made from the tops of soda cans,  wins for most unique. The camera comes preloaded with 35mm film and uses a piece of tape as the shutter.

Follow Robert Lachman on Twitter and Google+

Read more reviews and photography tips by Robert Lachman

No comments yet

Add a comment or a question.

If you are under 13 years of age you may read this message board, but you may not participate. Here are the full legal terms you agree to by using this comment form.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they've been approved.


Required, will not be published