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How to make a pinhole camera How to make a pinhole camera with film

The first camera ever made was a pinhole camera. Learn how to make this priceless artefact from our simple instruction manual. Make your own pinhole camera with film today.

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How to make a pinhole camera with film play

Pinhole camera with film

A lot of websites out there would promise you ways of how to make a pinhole camera with film. But none would take you through the easiest step by step instruction to make the simplest camera ever.

A pinhole camera is basically, a light-proof container with a small opening at one end (pinhole) and a film at the opposite end. It works on the principle that light travels in straight lines (the rectilinear propagation of light). So light reflected off objects, will pass through the pinhole (serving as the aperture) and reprogram an inverted image unto the film.

How to make a pinhole camera with film play

How a pinhole camera works (rectilinear propagation of light)


Learn how to make this exciting piece of science, mixed with art and a dash of creativity through these easy outlined steps.


It doesn’t cost much to make a pinhole camera with film, because the tools and supplies needed are basic household items. Or they can be found at your local goods store.

READ ALSO: How to make a fidget spinner in 5 simple steps


Making a pinhole camera is quite easy but can be very time-consuming. For one, you would have to wait for the black paint to dry up (and repaint if any cracks develop later on). Then assembling time before you actually take a picture. The actual photography session can also be a bit time consuming because unlike a digital camera which takes a few seconds to take a photo. The pinhole camera takes longer to focus the image on the film, about a couple of minutes. The time is also determined by the kind of light-sensitive material used as the film.


  • No. 10 sewing needle
  • Electrical tape


  •  A 3-6 inch Card box/ metal box (must have a proper and tight-fitting lid).
  • Black paint
  •  Dark cardstock (should be thick)
  •  Sheet film ( or any light-sensitive paper)
How to make a pinhole camera with film play

Pinhole camera (made from shoebox)



Making the camera body

  • Paint your card box/ metal black both inside and outside. Do same to the lid. Make sure all corners, folds and creases are thoroughly drenched in black paint. Allow the paint to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.
  • The next step is to create your pinhole. Carefully punch one end of the box with the needle (the end directly opposite the lid), twisting gently as you go through. The pinhole and the film at opposite ends to each other.  It is important to make the hole as clean as possible because its size determines how blurry or sharp the photo will be.
  • Next, make a shutter for your camera. A shutter allows you to regulate light entry into your camera. Cut a piece of dark cardstock, large enough to cover the pinhole. Using the electrical tape as a hinge, tape one edge of the cardstock above your pinhole. Open and close shutter, to filter in the light.

Load your camera

The lid will serve as our film holder. The film needs to be uploaded in complete darkness. To be able to do so well, practice with paper. Close your eyes whilst doing this to familiarize with the parts in complete darkness.

  • Cut your film to fit into the lid. This should be done in a dark place/room.
  • Place your sheet film inside the lid, opposite the pinhole, and shut it tightly. Secure it with some tape if you want. Make sure the emulsion/shiny side is facing the pinhole.

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Snap time

Make sure your camera is entirely light-proof. Repaint if you notice any cracks or tape up if any tears have occurred. A well-lit room is better for taking photos. The brighter the external light, the less time to capture your image.

  • Place our camera on a steady surface. A strong flat is recommended to ensure the camera is completely still.
  • Place the object, you wish to photograph, facing the pinhole end of the camera.
  • Place your source of light above and behind the camera, so that its rays illuminate the face of your object you want to be photographed.
  • Open your shutter to allow in light reflected from your object. Use a tape to secure it open. Do this carefully, so you don’t shake the camera.
  • After a couple of minutes, carefully close the shutter and tape it down again.

The next step is to develop your photo. Doing this yourself is quite costly and complicated. Simply send off your film to a photography store to have it developed.



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