Like many people with a DSLR I have experimented on and off with the ubiquitous pinhole lens made out of a body cap and some aluminium cans. I have always been disappointed with the results as they end up just being blurry photographs and don’t have any of the magic a ‘real’ pinhole does. Real pinhole photographs are often very wide angle and have characteristic vignetting around the edges. This imparts a dreamy or other-worldly feeling to the image.
I set out to improve on the idea and build my own.
What you will need:
1 body cap to suit your camera (can be had for around $1 on ebay)
1 aluminium can
1 x Pin or fine needle
Scissors / knife
tape and / or glue
drill and bits (3mm or 1/8″ for pilot, 6 or 1/4″ for holes, larger or counter sink for de-burring)
Optional: dremel with drill chuck
Fine sandpaper (800 grit)
I also made a template which can be downloaded from here. There are 4x templates on the one page. You only need one, the others are incase you made a mistake. I have not tested this on a crop sensor body, it may need some adjustments but that is part of the fun!
9. The pinholes need to only just go through the aluminium. They also need to be as round as possible. You can just hold the pin and make the hole, if you have one though I have found my dremel to be very useful with a pin to make the hole. Keep to relatively slow speeds and you should get a very fine hole with very little pressure. Try and make each hole similar in size.
Make sure you wipe everything down before attaching to your camera. Also if you used glue make sure it is completely dry and doesn’t smell strongly before you attach it to your camera. I take no responsibility if you damage anything or get dust on your sensor, so far I have not had a problem with mine.
Using the Pinhole lens:
You should now have a pinhole lens with a centre hole and 4 holes around in a square as well as 2 additional holes at each end. To make a wide angle photo we use the 4 holes in the square as well as the centre. To make a panoramic we use the holes at either end and the centre.
Place your camera on a tripod and put it on manual. Start at the centre hole and remove the tape. If it is a sunny day you can keep the iso around 100 with a shutter speed of between 0.5 and 1 second. If you are inside or it is overcast you will need to increase your iso or shutter speed or both. Look at the exposure on the back and make adjustments as necessary.
Keeping the same setting replace the tape on the centre and remove the top right and expose. Do not move the tripod, the different holes capture different areas of the frame. Continue with top left, bottom left, bottom right. You should now have a series of images like so that cover a much wider area than your original image.
Likewise if you are making a panoramic you will have images like this:
Stitching them all together.
I use Lightroom to edit my images and Photoshop to stitch them together. Use whatever you like, I know there are plenty of open source programs like Hugin and Gimp which will do much the same thing.
In lightroom I select my images, right click > edit in > merge to panorama in photoshop.
Let it do its thing and you should end up with a screen like this: You can see that my pinholes were not exactly aligned. Thats fine, We will just crop the image to our desired size in lightroom.
I then resize my image in photoshop using Bicubic sharper to make it more manageable, flatten it and take it back to Lightroom to finish the processing. By capturing the pinhole like this you can end up with a 60 megapixel or more image depeding on your camera. You will not be able to enlarge it as much as a photo taken with an L series lens, but capturing it large and resizing it down makes it sharper and much more useable.
Do what you like in the processing, I find increasing clarity will make it sharper, and often convert to B&W or desturate it to give it the pinhole look.
Either way, have fun, shoot lots of images and be prepared for lots of questions from onlookers!
If you do make one I would love it if you send me a link of some final images you took with it. You can email me: info [at] 2012inphotos [dot] com [dot] au