How to Create a Homemade Large Format Pinhole Camera Using a Shoebox


This camera is a poor man’s large format camera. It is made with a simple shoebox acting as a dark room.


The lens is a simple glass meniscus (convergent lens) that I found in an old focal doubler. The lens has a focal length of 120mm and thus a large image circle. These simple lens gives large aberrations so once need to place a small aperture in front to minimize distortions of the image.


Then I use some black cardboard paper and punch it with a biopsie tool. The hole is 1.5mm in diameter that gives an aperture of f/90. It is something between a pinhole (f/150) and a camera with a real lens (f/64)

The lens is attached in front of the punched hole with some patafix (adhesive putty tabs).


The camera is a simple box. I build it to have a distance of about 120mm between the lens and the back. The 10x15cm photo paper is attached in the back with patafix. It is loaded in red light. Photo paper has a sensitivity of about 6 ASA, so with the small aperture f/90, exposure time is quite long — about 30s for EV 11. The shutter is made with a simple piece of paper sliding in front of the hole.

The paper that has been pre-exposed 2s is developped and then scanned and inversed. The result is quite sharp compared with a standard pinhole:




You can find a full set of sample photos in this Flickr set.

About the author: Benoit Charlot is a photographer based in Montpellier, France. Visit his website here. This post originally appeared here.

  • rhys

    how to make this?

    where to get the lens?

  • Dee

    There is no lens, just a tiny pinhole to let the light in, and in the other side you put a film, you should cover the pinhole, if you want to take a photo you just uncover the pinhole for seconds or hours, then cover it, you have a photo, you just need to develop the film.

    Read more about it, you can make camera out any thing, just google “pinhole camera”

  • 11

    The results look great! but…anyone would question the need for the lens when the aperture is already so small.

  • aa

    the lens would bring more problems, than solve them. The results would be less sharp than a pinhole + with a pinhole there is no distortion.

  • Bruce Alan Horn

    Umm, I hate to be picky but, although this is a cool project, it is not actually a pinhole camera. Pinhole cameras by definition only use the pinhole to expose the image. Once you add the lens it is actually a conventional camera with a fixed aperture. Nice photos, but it should work just as well without the lens. Sharp exposures would just take longer but would have the characteristic pinhole look: all items equally sharp (or unsharp) regardless of their distance from the camera.

  • Brian Puccio

    I hate to be picky, too, but “it is made with a simple shoebox acting as a camera.” A camera is simply a light-tight box. (Or, in the case of Holgas, an almost light-tight box.)