Making a pinhole digital camera

Posted on 20/10/2014 by


Over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with a homemade pinhole camera lens for my old mirroless digital camera (a Sony Nex 5r.) The pinhole lens is very simple – it’s made from a lens cap with some foil.

I’ve taken some interesting pinhole photos with it, as you can see, but the effect when you film with the camera is even more interesting. It creates a soft out of focus look combined with lots of imperfections – irregular vignettes, lens flares, unusual lines boxing in the film. It gives it a vintage, sentimental look, so filming my kids at the Secret Herb in Edinburgh was a good subject to try it out on.

You can buy pinhole lenses like this, but when you make them yourself, tiny differences in how you perforate the foil make a big difference to the effect. My first effort was very rough and ready, which is why there are so many unusual effects/defects with the image. But you can certainly refine the technique.

If you fancy having a go yourself, here’s a great guide on how to do it well, taking much more care than I did!

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