Digital Pinhole Photography

A Canon EOS 7D fitted with a DIY pinhole lens.

by Jeff Greene

How to Create a Digital Pinhole Camera Attachment

This Sunday, April 28th, 2019 is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day (pinholeday.org), an annual celebration of pinhole cameras and camera obscura photography.

I have been pinhole photography enthusiast ever since I made my first pinhole camera in Mrs. Miller’s 5th Grade class out of a Quaker Oats box. This simple and rudimentary method for creating a photograph was mind-bending and I have been capturing pin-hole images ever since from an assortment of devices for over 40 years.

1/2 second at f/452 ISO 400

Since I’ve started shooting all digital back in 2001, I have become accustomed to the instant gratification of viewing my images immediately after capture. In order to continue that convenience with pinhole photography, I created a simple attachment that will convert any DSLR to a pinhole camera.

Materials List

  • Extra DSLR body cap
  • Shim brass (alt. aluminum soda can)
  • Gorilla glue
  • Black spray paint
  • Sewing needle
  • Fine grain sandpaper / Emery cloth
  • Drill with 1/2″ drill bit

Pinhole Cap Construction

  1. Drill a 1/2″ hole in the EXACT center of the body cap.
  2. Remove debris and sand edges smooth.
  3. Cut a 1″ square piece of brass shim.
  4. On the inside of the body cap, glue the brass shim centered over the hole. Allow to dry and set.
  5. Spray the inside of body cap with a light coating of black spray paint. Allow to dry.
  6. Use the needle to DRILL [not punch] a very small hole in the center of the brass. Alternate drilling from the front and back sides. The goal is to drill a hole without any burrs. Lightly sand with emery cloth if necessary.

Shooting with the Pinhole Cap

  1. Remove the lens and attach pinhole cap.
  2. Mount camera to a tripod and compose the scene.
  3. Set DSLR to Aperture Priority (Av) mode at ISO 400. The camera will determine the proper shutter speed.
  4. Activate shutter. A remote release is recommended.
  5. Evaluate the composition.
  6. Evaluate the exposure. Switch to Manual Mode to adjust the shutter speed to lighten/darken the exposure.

Shooting Tips

Remember that the aperture is very small (approx. f/350) and you’re working with a very deep depth of field. The best pinhole images have elements that are situated very close in the foreground. This can be the main subject (a small object) or a framing element that provides depth.

Use Aperture Priority mode as a guideline. The camera will detect the amount of light hitting the sensor via the pinhole and set the appropriate shutter speed. However, it is an inexact science depending on the lighting conditions. Determine the shutter speed by reviewing the image and make adjustments by switching to Manual mode and changing the shutter speed and/or the ISO.

I get the best results shooting on bright, sunny days. On cloudy days, there’s less contrast, flatter color, and the exposure is significantly longer.

If your DSLR offers an option for long-exposure noise reduction, use it.

Capture in RAW to provide the best file possible for optimization.

Fiat Lux!


For more photo tips, tricks, & techniques. please visit my website and blogs:

www.jeffreymgreene.com

Spare Pixels Blog

Facebook: facebook.com/jeffreymgreene

Instagram: instagram.com/jeff_greene_photo

YouTube: http://bit.ly/youtube-jmg

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