Pinhole frolics

Prompted by JuileeP and her Antarctic pinhole endeavours, and spurred on by the response to my initial uploads here, I finally got around to bulding a 35mm pinhole camera. Now, I’ve dismantled the first one and set up a 2nd.

The first was an old rangefinder job, which I decided to sacrifice: pulled the lens off but kept most of the rest intact, then fitted with a shiny new pinhole. It was around 21mm focal distance, so nice & wide. After testing that, and deciding that the images could be sharper (yes, it’s a pinhole, but I like it to best the best pinhole I can manage), I spotted a more modern autowind plastic cheapo in a charity (thrift) shop for $2, and snapped it up. I took that apart more carefully, and transplanted the pinhole, this time about 27mm from the film. As soon as I’ve got some worthy results, I’ll upload.

Dismantling the cheapo camera was a fascinating exercise in itself, and I can recommend it for anyone curious about what goes on inside a camera. I’ve done a few more mechanical cameras in my time, but I was surprised to see what they packed inside this case, for something that had no autofocus or exposure, just flash and winder. The challenge is always discovering the trick to opening the body up, which in this case was fairly simple, but it involved a bit of scary brute force to pull off the front. Snapping it back on was easier.

Happily, I managed to remove the shutter assembly – itself a delightfully simple piece of thin-metal engineering – and keep everything else intact, including exposure counter & winder. I decided to disable the flash, partly to save the batteries, but also because It would likely be of little use with the pinhole. Besides, with the flash capacitor disconnected, there would be no chance of shock later on, if I accidentally touched the terminals. For anyone not aware, and who wants to poke around inside a camera with flash, there is a big fat capacitor to store charge for the flash, which can give you a hefty electric shock. The best thing, unless you understand enough about electronics, is to avoid anything with a flash in it.

The 35mm pin-cams are convenient, so that I can take more than one shot before having to reload; however, I still want to load up some of my other one-shot pin-cams that use large film or paper, and take some slightly more interesting images. Before I do that though, I’ll need to conjure up a passable darkroom space – and that’s a bit more tricky…

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