PetaPixel

A Gorgeous Wooden DIY Pinhole Camera that Carpenters and Photographers Alike Can be Proud Of

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We’ve shown off a number of impressive DIY pinhole cameras before, but this one, designed by Scott Yu-Jan, might just take the cake. Made almost entirely out of wood, his creation is about as robust and beautifully wrought as pinhole cameras get.

Yu-Jan created this wooden pinhole camera during his freshman year at Emily Carr University of Art & Design. It shoots on a full sheet of 8×10 photo paper, features a .47mm diameter lens and, of course, mount for a tripod… which is good considering the camera’s aperture is the equivalent to f/280.

As Yu-Jan explains over on his Instructables post, prototyping was the key for getting this beast looking and working as well as he has.

He started prototyping the structure of the camera with some sketches (we wouldn’t call them rough, considering the quality of measurements and lines):

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Then, from sketches, he graduated to a prototype made out of scrap materials… a process he admits could’ve been done much more easily with CAD software had he known how to use it at the time:

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After prototyping, he created the pieces of the frame using half-inch plywood, eventually glueing and clamping them together as the prototype called for.

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Ingeniously, he was wise enough to make a physical guide for the photo paper inside the design, ensuring that loading ‘film; was simple even in the dark.

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Once the main frame was finished, Yu-Jan used insulation foam boards to create the curved front he had designed for the camera. A common technique used in projects like these, the finished foam acts as a positive mold, for which the oak veneer would then be formed to.

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Lightproofing the design came next, which involved stapling black paper between where the curved, laminate front would go and the wooden frame.

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After a 24 hour curing for the laminate, the process of adhering and clamping the curved, laminate front begins. If you would like to attempt this at home, he cautions you to be careful not to clamp too hard and cause cracking… a lesson he learned the hard way.

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The final component is arguably the most difficult: it consists of creating the lid, shutter and insides of the camera.

To briefly summarize, he used a jigsaw on scrap pieces of the veneer to create a rather elegant shutter mechanism. And while no photos are shown of this particular process, the ‘lens’ was created using aluminum from a coke can, which was sanded down and accurately pinholed “with the thinnest needle [he] could find.”

Finally, the last steps involved piecing it all together, painting the entire inside of the camera with a few layers of matte black acrylic paint, and adding the finishing touches, such as the tripod mount.

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The results speak for themselves, and if you’re a skilled DIY-er who wants to attempt this yourself, you can take comfort int he fact that his Instructables post is one of the most thorough guides we’ve ever seen.

As you can see from the sample exposures below, the camera creates some beautiful photographs, although the exposures can last between a few minutes and a few weeks, so some patience is needed.

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There are few things as gratifying as knowing something you created from scratch looks and performs as intended. Yu-Jan did an incredible job with this piece and, thankfully, he was kind enough to share detailed step-by-step instructions with the world so you can replicate him minus all of the trial and error.

To give your own DIY pinhole camera a shot using, head on over to Yu-Jan’s Instructable by following the link below.

Wooden Pinhole Camera [Instructables]


Image credits: Instructions and photos by Scott Yu-Jan and shared with permission