Had some days ago the idea to build a pinhole camera. Not 3D print it, this would be too easy, but build it, out of wood. There are a number of quite nice pinhole cameras out there, but I found the price a bit too high. SO I started to read the internets, looking for some ideas, or better, for a blueprint. Unfortunately there’s not much out there. You find a lot of pictures of self built cameras, but almost no plans.

One of the first comments that I have found was that most people do not fail at the pinhole, or the camera body, but in implementing a good film transport. My idea was to go somewhat bigger, so using 120 fillm rolls, so that I can have 6×9 or 6×12 negatives.

Well, after a few hours of putting the body together I spend almost 2 days in trying to get a reliable film transport – so far without success. Part of the problems might have been my tools. I have only a small workshop, without any professional machines. I have some, but none built for precision work.

So I decided to stop the project and read more, and think about a different approach. Lucky me, I found a great website with information how to calculate dimensions, aperture, etc:


It has any information you need to build a camera, but… no blueprints/construction plans.

After some more extreme googling I found as well the page of a guy who built a 8×10″ flat film big size camera: https://kwerfeldein.de/2011/07/16/anleitung-der-bau-einer-8×10-lochkamera/

A great idea! Using flat film, or direct positive paper eliminates the need for a film transport… but adds the need for special flat film backs. Thanks god, ebay offers the one or other, in different standardised sizes. So I decided to go with 8×10″ (13x18cm) and with some direct positive paper. Choosing paper was mainly driven by the processing. I have a darkroom with safe red light, for doing prints. Processing the direct positive paper is not different.

So here some pictures of the camera:

The camera, with pinhole (0.3mm) and 49mm filter thread in front. The thread is for filters, or to be able to screw in different sizes on pinholes. The front plate of the camera is removable, for better maintenance.
The inside, before being painted black
A better view on the film/paper back
And the full camera ready for pictures
The direct positive paper used

The first results were not really encouraging. My calculations told me that I should expose for 8 min… but I was not really sure. So I went for 8, for 15, and the image still turned black. Finally, after 30min of exposure – ok, on a very dark grey, rainy day – I managed to get a picture!

First picture of my pinhole camera, 30min of exposure, with f 256, and ISO 3-6.

I am proud! Very much looking forward to a nice, sunny day! I am sure the photos will get better. I was thinking to increase the size of the pinhole, in order to reduce f, but this would mean losing the sharpness… and the picture is quite sharp for a pinhole camera (I think).

We’ll see. Next round will be 20, 30, 40min at full sunshine.