Update: Here is a video shot during the first test and here is the first picture out of this camera.
» offical website
Building pinhole cameras is easy and fun. All you need is a box, some tape, aluminum foil, a pin, and joy in experimentation.
Unless you're me and your landlord is a cabinet maker. Then creating a pinhole camera might as well turn into trying to make a really awesome one.
Since I've been dabbling in large format photography I had the idea of creating a beautiful pinhole camera that would accept large format film. Not just film though, but also the according large format film cassettes, Polaroid backs and other backs, including 6x9 backs for example. All sorts of formats.
When I ran across a wonderfully made DIY pinhole holder and tripod mount, I knew that this would get me one step further, so I talked to my friend and landlord, and the other day we made a first prototype.
It starts with just some material, cut to the right dimensions. Here is the front wall, the sides and the top and bottom. Once finished, the camera will feature an open back that has the right dimensions to hold large format view camera backs (also known as Graflok backs). It will be able to easily fit a 4x5" film back or even a Polaroid back.
This is how the side walls will interface with the top and bottom pieces. This will guarantee that no light can leak into the camera and that the camera is really stable and robust.
Making progress detailing the parts.
This is the first test to see if our measurements around the international back were right. It's a perfect fit, sliding right into the slot. We still need a mechanism to fix it in place, but we've got a few fun ideas on how to allow backs of different depth, such as a Polaroid back, to fit well and be easy to attach and detach. Easier than on most monorail cameras actually.
Black MDF is great to work with, but it also ends up creating quite a bit of dirt. Here you see the main hole for the "lens" being drilled.
Test fitting of the "lens" - it's a beautiful piece of solid steel that allows to fit several different size holes, zone plates and more.
The outer casing is being fit together. The bottom of the camera features a beautiful and solid steel tripod mount. As you can see, the focal length on this prototype is pretty short, around 55mm. Given the size of the large format negative, this results in a pretty wide angle picture. Future models might feature longer focal lengths, even though the wide angle in conjunction with a pinhole is a lot of fun, because it doesn't know any depth-of-field issues: everything is equally in focus. Maybe we'll even find a way to do a variable focal length model. How does "first international back large format pinhole zoom camera" sound like?
The prototype will be held together with screws. The future models' surface will be undisturbed by screws.
First working model finished! Still looking for a good name for it.
Test fitting a tripod plate and a Polaroid back.
The open prototype...
...with a film cassette on.
The film cassette is a snug fit. The surface of the camera will look quite a bit different once its got the according treatment including sanding and several layers of oil, also the final model won't use screws, so this will look very different once it's in its final stage.
Still on the todo list: implement mechanism to fasten different backs to the camera (got a simple idea, more on that at another time), work on surface, make the camera a bit lighter, find a good name for it.
Yes, find a good name for it. "Large format international back pinhole camera" doesn't have enough of a ring yet.