A Homemade Camera That Uses Twenty Separate Lenses

Guerin Pinhole Lens 1

What’s cooler than a multi-cell pinhole camera? How about a multi-cell pinhole camera upgraded to a lensed version? That’s exactly what James Guerin has put together as a follow-up to a previous lens-less camera experiment.

“When I saw the effects I could achieve with the pinhole multi-cell I decided to go and build a lensed version. I thought that the in focus and blurred areas would add another dimension and open up a world of original portraits,” says Guerin.

Simultaneously, the camera shoots twenty images with twenty lenses in twenty compartments. That’s a whole lot of twenties!

Guerin Pinhole Lens 2

The added lenses (made of cheap plastic double convex) feature a focal length of 150mm, which are arranged in a grid, according to Guerin. “Due to the nested box design concertina style focusing is possible from a distance of 300mm (where 1:1 magnification is achieved) to approximately 550mm (overlapping of cells occurs).”

Guerin Pinhole Lens 3

Guerin Pinhole Lens 4

Guerin says that “accurate focusing is achieved with the aid of a simple ‘ground glass’  (perspex and scotch tape) and the shutter is a simple sliding plate.”

“I vary the aperture by placing custom ‘aperture plates’ that slide in front of the lenses. Of course the aperture changes depending on the focus draw, therefore I calculate my aperture for each shot by dividing the distance from lens to film by the diameter of my aperture disc (simple steel washers).”

Camera-to-subject distance of 300mm yields 1:1 magnification, thus a “normal” picture, but longer distances produce rather interesting effects.

Guerin Pinhole Lens 5

Guerin Pinhole Lens 6

Guerin Pinhole Lens 8

Guerin says that most of the pictures he’s taken on the camera so far have been on photographic paper. He hopes to shoot portraits using 8×10 x-ray film in the near future.

Image credits: Photographs by James Guerin and used with permission

  • Ben

    I count 20. Did I miss something?

  • Fullstop

    Awesome. Creative. Unique.

  • Michael Zhang

    There was an error in the original post that has since been corrected. Thanks :)

  • 4dmaze

    Wow. Petapixel should have awards for projects like this that hit the big 3. Original, creative AND aesthetically pleasing.


    In the “gimmickiest way to take out-of-focus pictures” category, this one is off the scale. And i’m sure it will get a lot of praise.

  • Zos Xavius

    It should. These pictures are quite unique and interesting. This is all about taking photography and doing something completely different. with film falling slowly into a small traditionalist niche, fine art photographers are starting to experiment in ways that they never would have dared 10 years ago. btw, many of these pictures are actually in focus. the humans are blurred due to movements and long exposure times.