15-463: Project 5 - Pinhole Camera

Krystyna Genser 10.29.2012

Overview

The assignment was to construct a pinhole camera using any cardboard box you could get your hands on, then take a few pictures using different pinhole sizes with a digital camera pointed at the back of the box.

Camera

Instead of a shoe box, I used a box from the post office. I covered the inside with black construction paper except for one face with plain white paper. On the oppoisite face, I cut out a hole for the pinhole and camera. Originally, I cut out a section to use my smaller point and shoot camera, but its 15 sec exposure turned out not to be enough. So I converted the box to be able to use my Micro 4/3rds camera which had an automatic exposure up to 60 seconds.

pinhole camera pinhole camera pinhole camera

Photos - Results

Since the focal length of my box was 12 inches, I calculated a pinhole size of .7mm using the formula shown on the assignment page. Since this is close to 1mm, I used the pinhole sizes given on the assignment page: .1mm, 1mm, 5mm.

However, I found that even at the highest settings, and longest exposure, I could not take any photos with the .1mm pinhole.

Test photo using .1mm pinhole.

Test photo using .1mm pinhole.

In the end, the 1mm pinhole did give better clarity than the 5mm pinhole, however, there isn't enough sun in Pittsburgh in October for 60 seconds of exposure or high ISO to be sufficient without taking pictures consisting of mostly sky.

The following pictures were taken with my smaller point and shoot

Photo of a tree outside of Warner Hall using 1mm pinhole.

Photo of a tree outside of Warner Hall using 5mm pinhole.

After struggling with the .1mm pinhole, I refitted my pinhole camera box to use my larger Micro 4/3rds camera which has an exposure time of up to 60 secs as opposed to only 15. Unfortunately, this still didn't allow the .1mm pinhole to work. Using 60 seconds also allowed me to use lower ISOs even when photographing with the 1mm pinhole which resulted in less noisy photos in general. The rest of these photos were taken using my Micro 4/3rds camera.

Photo of Donner Hall using .1mm pinhole.

Photo of Donner Hall using 1mm pinhole.

Photo of Donner Hall using 5mm pinhole.

Photo of Schenely Park using 1mm pinhole.

Photo of Schenely using 5mm pinhole.

Photo of a tree outside Donner Hall using 1mm pinhole.

Photo of a tree outside Donner Hall using 5mm pinhole.

Photo of Hamerschlag House using 1mm pinhole.

Photo of Hamerschlag House using 5mm pinhole.

Photo of the mall using 1mm pinhole.

Photo of the mall using 5mm pinhole.

Camera Obscura in a Room

Over the weekend, I happened to be in a hotel room in Boston. I decided to take the opportunity to construct a pinhole out of paper and use the curtains to create a camera obscura on a bright sunny afternoon in Boston. All of the following photos were taken with a point and shoot camera with 15 seconds of exposure.

Using a pinhole of about 2cm, readjusted to ensure that it was relatively circular.

Using a pinhole of about 2.5cm that the curtains forced into an ellipse, hence the 'blur' predominately in one direction.

Same pinhole as the picture to the left, just with the view adjusted to help understand the effect.