DIY Digital Pinhole Camera

A pinhole camera is the simplest form of photography, a small hole on one side lets in the light needed to make an image on the opposite side. There is no lens, and a single small aperture. In its most simple form, a pinhole camera can be a light-proof box with a tiny hole in one end and photographic film taped to the other end.

We can make a pinhole camera out of our digital cameras too, the concept is the same and there’s no fussing around with film and developing.

DIY Digital Pinhole Camera

DIY Digital Pinhole Camera

To create your digital Pinhole Camera you will need:

A camera that will allow you to take photos without a lens attached. Some models of DSLR may not do this, so check your camera before you begin.

A Drill
Spare Camera Body Cap
Thick Foil (such as a foil pie tin)
Fine needle or pin

First you will want to take your body cap and drill a hole in the center. It doesn’t matter so much what size the hole is for this part so long as it’s not enormous, you’ll end up putting foil over it. After drilling the hole make sure to thoroughly wash the body cap to remove any left over plastic dust.

Cut a small circle of foil, place on a hard surface such as a cutting board. Using the pin, poke the tiniest hole into the center of the foil that you can manage. You may have to experiment a few times to get the size correct. If the hole is too big or uneven then your images will be more out of focus. It took me about three tries to get it how I wanted.

Now, carefully tape the foil to the inside of your body cap, making sure to align the hole in the foil with the center of the hole drilled into the cap. Black electrical tape is probably best for this but regular tape will work in a pinch, just watch out for light leaks.

Now you are ready to screw the body cap onto your camera body and start shooting.

DIY Digital Pinhole Camera

DIY Digital Pinhole Camera

To shoot with your Digital Pinhole Camera you will need:

(Optional: DSLR capable of high ISO)

Because the very tiny hole needed for the pinhole camera does not let in very much light and you will therefore need to use longer exposures, a tripod is recommended. If your camera is capable of very high ISO then you may be able to handhold but I got better results using a lower ISO, a Tripod and long exposure.

Experiment with your shutter speed for the best results, and have fun!

DIY Digital Pinhole Camera

DIY Digital Pinhole Camera

The images I created with my digital pinhole camera are a little fuzzy. Because of the small size of the digital camera sensor (you have less leeway than with film) to get sharper images with a pinhole the hole itself needs to be as exactly round as possible and the size of the pinhole should be more precise. These things are almost impossible to do with the tools you may have on hand, but if you are looking for more accurate pinhole photographs with your digital camera you can actually purchase specially laser cut body caps to use.

The point here though wasn’t to create perfectly sharp photos, but to have fun and experiment with new things. I enjoyed trying out my pinhole camera, working out the exposure and seeing what I could create without a lens attached to my camera.

DIY Digital Pinhole Camera

DIY Digital Pinhole Camera

There are other fun ways in which you can manipulate the light coming into your camera, head over to Live and Love Out Loud today where Kristi has an awesome tutorial on creating shaped bokeh.

Have you ever made a pinhole camera before?


Creative Photography


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