Pinhole cap on digital SLR - any good?

Discussion in 'Extreme, Retro, Instant and More' started by cathy_rondo, Jun 17, 2006.

  1. Wondering if anyone uses a pinhole body cap on their digital SLR.

    I just bought a Canon 30D with a good 17-55mm 2.8 lens, but I remember all the
    fun I used to have with my old box camera. I recently heard about digital
    pinholes and have found some pinhole body caps for sale on the Pinhole
    Ressource site.

    Has anyone bought and used these?

    I'm interested in the Film Base NO Dust Cap because I don't want to risk
    getting dust inside the camera.

    Any thoughts, comments or suggestions?

    Thanks in adcance.

  2. Buy one. Try one. Let us know.

  3. I made my own by drilling a hole in the body cap, and taping in a laser cut pinhole. There are some issues, but it was still fun. I did a lot more digital pihole shooting than I ever have with film or paper because the instant feedback made it so fun. It was softer than what I recall getting using film or paper, but who knows if that was because of the DSLR, or my poor pinholing technique.

    The main thing I didn't like was the focal length. Because of the x1.6, even a bodycap is normal to long. I prefer wider angle for my pinhole photography.

    I'd think the greatest risk of dust would be when you were switching lenses/pinhole body caps, and I don't know how they could prevent that. We live on a giant ball of dust in a universe filled with dust. Your camera probably came already filled with dust. No matter what you do, you will have to eventually deal with dust on your sensor. Especially when you take your first shot with a pinhole cap on. With the pinhole's DOF you will see every bit of grit laying on your sensor, and it's a scary sight! You are going to wonder how your camera even takes photos with that much dirt on the sensor.
  4. There were quite a few 'digital pinhole' entries for the 2006 Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day Gallery
    I randomly started through the gallery and found image number 1278 and 1310. Enter the numbers in the 'Go To image #'. I use the Pinhole Resource Zone plate body cap with a Hasselblad. Nice products.
  5. Thank you for the link to the Pinhole Photography Day Gallery. Many of the gallery�s images were taken with digital SLRs and pinhole body caps, and they are all much softer than the crisp box pinhole photographs I am nostalgic of. If taking digital pinholes is easier, I think I�m going to be disappointed with the results� Boo-hoo�
  6. Oups! Those question marks aren�t supposed to be there�
  7. check out there are quite a few people using a digital pinhole. some put clear tape over the hole to keep out dust.
  8. Cathy, I have found diffraction to be a real problem with sharpness and dSLR pinholes. this is an example of a f/180 pinhole on a Canon 20D, with a 15 second exposure. At f/64, things are a lot more tolerable. f/64 was obtained using a Loreo Lens In A Cap, which is not a true pinhole.
  9. I tried it. It works. You need to play with exposure times. My complaint with using it on a digital camera is that it comes out mainly as a fuzzy photo. It looses the wide angle effect you get with a pinhole camera designed to give a wide angle effect. Below is a test shot, and I didn't go any further with it. I much prefer using a Holga lens assembly on my digital. See for samples.
  10. Lance - thank you for sharing your LOREO experience! Now this is closer to the kind of image quality and feel I'm interested in (although still not quite the magic of box pinholes). The LOREO dealer is unfortynately out of stock at the moment, but I asked to be notified as soon as a new batch is ready for shipment.

    Question: how do you do you calculate exposure time? Say you want to take a photo at f.64 in medium-low light, do you use an external light meter to calculate the speed? And do you then set your camera speed dial to bulb and use a watch to calculate the elapsed time while holding down the shutter?
  11. Todd - any examples of images you made with the Holga? It looks very similar to the LOREO lens cap, but is a bit more expensive. Why pay more?
  12. Looks like another case where Film cameras are better. No I am not trying to start a flame. it is just that some things are better with Film and others are better with Digital. But then again Film photographers have had longer to figure out how to prefect their art. Digital is moving fast and now Digital photographers are going retro.

  13. Dust - the plague of the pinhole photographer. Some recommend a UV filter in front of the pinhole to keep out the dust. Others make pinholes printed on photographic materials. Of course, this is all pure BS...

    Here's something I wrote on dpReview a while back, that pretty much takes care of the entire non-issue of dust in pinhole photography.

    Andrew's pinhole is 0.39mm, with an area of 0.15mm2. The normal lens opening of Nikon has an area of 1590mm2, about 10,500x that of the pinhole.

    To put that in perspective, there's 3,600 second in an hour, so one second of lens changing = 3 hours of pinhole use. Even if you're pretty good at changing lenses, there's at least 10 seconds of uncapped camera time during two lens changes (pinhole on, pinhole off). So, you accumulate more dust changing to the pinhole and back than in 24 hours of solid pinhole use.
  14. Matt, you can make, if not a wide angle pinhole, at least a much more "normal" one.

    Most people take a lens cap, drill a hole, and attach the pinhole to the front. A typical lens cap is 5mm thick, which adds to the 45mm registration distance of your camera and gives you a 50mm pinhole.

    Most cameras allow a lens to protrude several mm inside the lens mount. So, if you cut a hole in a lens cap large enough to accommodate a 35mm film can (proving Larry's point about the superiority of film) and mount the film can in the hole so that the bottom of the can just clears the SLR mirror (you may have to measure a bit to get it right), and put your pinhole on the bottom of the can, you can make a slightly wider pinhole. I've gone to 38mm that way.

    If you want to get wider still, there is a risky procedure. I've done this on a Nikon D100, but I can't vouch for any other camera. Mount the film can so that it will go to within say 20mm of the sensor. Set the camera to either its "mirror up" cleaning mode, a 30 second exposure, or bulb mode, and mount the pinhole while the mirror is up. Now take a 30 minute, or whatever you use, pinhole shot.

    Again, I don't know which cameras will or won't be harmed by this procedure. My best bet, if the camera will let you raise the mirror manually with a fingertip, it only drives the mirror up and relies on a spring to bring it back down, so you're OK "pinning" it up.
  15. No What I said is that Film photographers have hade more time to play with this issue. Infact I think a 110 pinhole camera is more inline with using the smaller area of capture a Digital camera uses. if the mirror can be locked up there will be little problem. Most Film Pinholes don't have a mirror to contend with. Thank you for mentioning my post but it was taken out of context. Larry
  16. Cathy, I just received a Holga lens mounted on a body cap for my 20D this weekend. There are a few quick shots using it at the bottom of this thread in the EOS forum.
  17. Question: how do you do you calculate exposure time? Say you want to take a photo at f.64 in medium-low light, do you use an external light meter to calculate the speed? And do you then set your camera speed dial to bulb and use a watch to calculate the elapsed time while holding down the shutter?
    So far, I've only taken shots that were less than 30 seconds, so setting the camera to manual or aperture-priority was sufficient to let the camera's meter figure out the exposure times. Past that, I would suggest getting a cable release rather than trying to manually hold down the shutter.
  18. Larry, my apologies for any out of context quotes.
  19. No problem Joseph

  20. Here are some photos taken with the PinHolga camera. This is not a lens cap for a digital. This camera uses 120 film. The maker, Randay Smith, is selling the basic model for $19.95.
  21. Cat,

    If you want an image with a digital camera that looks a bit like pinhole, you might want to consider the Holga body-cap lens mount from

    Look at my recent thread here with pictures:
  22. I/ve been fiddling with digital pinholes and zone plates since I recently took a pinhole workshop through UC Santa Cruz with Martha Casanave and Chris Payne. It's great fun, especially the instant feedback. I found no more problem with dust than with other lens changes. I have posted some photos in my gallery on this site
  23. Steve, good samples. I particularly like the seascapes. It seems that some specular light offers some drama to the image.
  24. The problem with pinhole photography and a DSLR is that the image really can't be enlarged much beyond the size of the sensor itself, without becoming excessively soft. Most pinhole images we are used to viewing are made with film or on paper which are already much larger than an APS sized sensor, and are often printed as contact prints. A few weeks ago I visited the Camera Obscura in Santa Monica, CA - essentially a giant pinhole camera - the image comes in through the roof of a city recreation building and is projected on a white disk that's about 3 feet in diameter. Of course, it's a soft image. That's not to say you can't have fun with a pinhole photo made on a digital camera. I've tried it, I like it. I've learned to live within the constraints of a lens that functions as a short telephoto (albeit with infinite DOF), and a small image size.
  25. Of course, I suppose I could use Photoshop to upsize and sharpen my little pinhole photos - but that would be cheating.
  26. The lens gets in the way.

    Presumably, you could remove it (and some of the lens mount) and get your pinhole closer to the sensor. 110 pinhole never developed a devoted following either - for the same reasons. 35mm pinhole is one of those things you do once or twice with aluminum foil and the Argus C3 to test the dubious theory of the rectilinear property of light. I recommend spending the $2 on a can of oatmeal, and another $50,000 for a high quality medium format digital back, to make the leap to digital pinhole. In this manner, you can go digital without incurring the exhorbitant cost of a lens.
  27. But seriously, you can achieve the diffractive soft result you are looking for with a piece of aluminum foil, and a punched hole of approximately 0.3 mm diameter (about the diameter of a "pin").

    Center the hole and indent the foil as far as possible such that it doesn't interfere with the mirror. Thinning the foil by hammering it can improve the sharpness of the pinhole. I'm not familiar with the D30, so I don't know if it will fire without a lens. I doubt that it will. Just mash the foil as close to the lens as possible.

    On a similar note, I'm looking for a hand-starting crank and GM-Electronic Controls Module (ECM)-compatible magneto for a 1998 GMC Sierra pickup with a 5.0 liter V8 (Throttle Body Injection) - I don't want to adversely affect the emmissions computer, but I want to be able to hand-crank start the truck if the battery is dead.
  28. Todd,

    I like the look and feel of the images you mage with the Holga lens on your DSLR, although I still prefer the ones made with the 120. I have already ordered the Loreo Lens in a cap witch looks very similar to the Holga lens. If I am not satisfied with the results, I might order the Holga lens and compare. Thanks for your insight and examples!
  29. pinhole caps do not allow wide angle shots and the pinhole
    cannot be placed much closer to the sensor anyway
    - the mirror needs its space.
    why not getting a cheap fixfocus digital camera, ripping
    off the lens and do experiments with a pinhole very close to
    the sensor? today, fixfocus digital cameras do not cost (much)
    more than a body-cap for a high-end digital SLR...
    here are some wide-angle digital pinhole shots
    and an image of the camera involved:
  30. For the same reason most of you won't get a Quaker Oatmeal can/box and load it with film with a pinhole in it ... too much work.

  31. For what it is worth... I bought a premade precision-cut pinhole cap (0.22mm size hole) for my pentax 200d DSLR, made by a company called Rising. The information sheet says "45mm focal length" although this seems a bit arbitrary. So I set my camera's input focal length to 45mm, aperture approximately f/200, and the results were very blurry (as apposed to soft/dreamy like I was expecting). Obviously all pinhole shots will be a pretty soft, especially on digital, but I was quite dissappointed. I have not seen anything online about how to improve on this problem, except for the pinhole precsion itself, which I feel is pretty good form this adapter. So I started just randomly changing the input focal lenth. To my eyes, taking multiple shots of a stationary object under the same lighting, the longer focal length input settings produced better sharpness, up to about 135mm, then it worsened again. This was a quick study and I'd like to do it again and see if it is my imagination or not. Has anyone else tried this? Is there any other solution to getting the "everything infocus and nothing sharp" effect we are looking for with this technique?
  32. Wow, Tom, you've updated a thread from 2006? Way to go.
  33. I guess death of my last post is greatly exaggerated. Digital and Pinhole is something new. I have a friend shooting an 8x10 pinhole using double flashed paper and it is past amazing how sharp those things he gets from it are.
  34. I have the Holga Pinhole cap for Canon DSLR/SLRs. HPL-C . Using it reveals crap on my sensor I never knew I had. Like giant freaking ameobas floating around all over the place! OK so I have a tiny APS sensor that has never been serviced in its 4 years of life and that probably does not help... anyone with experience tell me this is normal? I'll post up images shortly. I'll blog my findings and share since I have not found many useful info re Digital Pinhole photography using APS DSLRs... Kinda sad.
  35. Agree with Mat Needham's comment
    >>""With the pinhole's DOF you will see every bit of grit laying on your sensor, and it's a scary sight! You are going to wonder how your camera even takes photos with that much dirt on the sensor."
    I am shocked with the filth on my x1.6 DSLR sensor after taking just 1 pinhole pic.
    Film wins for pinhole I guess...

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