How to convert an old camera into a pinhole camera and what cameras are best for it?

How to convert an old camera into a pinhole camera and what cameras are best for it?
20 February 2024 Comments Off on How to convert an old camera into a pinhole camera and what cameras are best for it? Bez kategorii Cezary

Many people, who want to start their adventure with pinhole photography asking the question: what is the best and easiest way – to buy a pinhole camera, build own pinhole camera or convert old camera into pinhole camera? Purchase is alwas an easiest option, however making own camera or upcycling a old camera gives more fun.

Step-by-Step guide to making Your pinhole camera

If you have not so much tools and skills and wondering how to make a pinhole camera – strart from one shot tin can camera. You can use cakes, caffe can or similar container. you need just to paint it black inside and drill the hole to install pinhole aperture. As a shutter uou can place rounded magnet. That’s all. That camera could be loaded with photographic paper. Average ISO speed of black and white paper is in range 4-6, so exposure will be quite long. Depending on dimensions (focal length) of your can and pinhole diameter it might be 15-30 seconds in sunny day.

Tin can pinhole camera has advantage, that you are making large format negatives, which could be straghtly scanned on flatbed scanner or you can make a contact prints. But it has also disadvantage- you can take only one picture. The solution is to take few cameras like that for a walk or take with you portable film changing bag.

Roll film camera allow to make many pictures and is usally smaller than pinhole camera made from coffe or cakes can. You can easily convert many vintage cameras instead of making a pinhole camera from the scratch.

Exploring formats cameras for superior quality

So, let’s browse the options. In my opinion medium format cameras are much better than 135 format. 120 film type cameras gives much better image quality, because bigger negative size. Popular 6×6 or 6x9cm cameras had installed one glass lens and shutter with one or two speeds.

Practical examples of camera conversions

Very easy to convert into pinhole are cheap bakelite cameras made made in 50ties and 60ties. You can use Kodak Brownie Cresta 120, Czechoslovakian Pouva or Polish Druh cameras. Druh and Pouva has expandable threaded tubus, which need to be removed, which allow to have ultrawide angle camera. In hole, where tubus were mounted you need to place flat rounded element. I glued camera body cap with hole. Pinhole is mounted under metal washer. Piece of magnet is a camera shutter. To sealing you can use black silicone. Kodak Brownie Cresta is made in one piece, so you can’t make focal length shorter. It is also 6x6cm frame size camera. Cresta’s camera were made to use other film types than 120 (which are no longer manufactured or hard to get like 127 type). So ensure which one version are you buiyng. That cameras has one speed shutter and no B time. To convert camera body into pinhole you should remove the lens. If you want to keep the shutter, you will need to drill the hole and add the screw to lock shutter in position „open”. Also thread on shutter button for release cable need to be added. But easiest way is remove also the shutter and add washer and magnet.

Vintage Polish Ami 66 camera converted into pinhole. Camera has no shutter installed. Lens cap is enough in this role.

Very easy to convert are also soviet twin lens cameras- Liubitel. To remove the lens you will need to use only screwdriver. Camera after conversion will have the same focal lenth, but it have othe advantage- good viefinder, which cover exactly the same area as photographed.

Some time ago i also made similar conversion using Altissa camera with broken shutter.

Few examples of camera conversions. From the left- Czech PuOuva Start camera with removed lens tube and drilled body cap mounted instead. Simple shutter made from wide washer and rounded magnet. Top right side- Altissa converted into Zone plate camera- i added sliding shutter and filter socket. On the bottom- unfinished yet Kodak Cresta camera conversion. I want to use original slider with yellow filter/ close up lens as a shutter.

Vintage Folding Cameras: Creating a Classic Pinhole

If you are thinking how to make a pinhole camera from an old camera you should to try convert vintage folding cameras. They have bellows and lens board on the front. Very often issue is a broken bellows and lens in poor condition. You can get really nice 6×9 or 6×6 cm pinhole camera, if you will replace folding elements with rectangular board with pinhole. There many other cameras, which might be converted into pinhole. Very easy to do that with Agfa Clack.

35mm Cameras: Adapting for Pinhole Photography

I didn’t mentioned any 35mm camera. I prefer medium format cameras, beause of their better image quality, but also many 35mm cameras could be converted into pinhole camera. I made that from Smiena 8m. This is low budget plastic camera with glass lens made in former Soviet Union. It coul be converted two way. First- you will need to unlock one screw on lens tubus and remove glass lens. In that place you should put pinhole. This way you can use the shutter and use them via cable release. But angle of view will be not so wide. Other way is to remove completely the lens with shutter. They are attached with two long screws inside the camera. After instaling pinhole with simple magnet or sliding shutter uou will get a nice pocket size pinhole camera.

I’m sure that you can find many other cameras worth to experiment with conversion, but if you finally prefer some more classical camera, check please vermeer camera options – my pinhole cameras!

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