I have long been a follower of Dora Goodman’s instagram account. So when I saw that 35mmc had tried out one of her cameras I was very interested. I read the article and wondered if one of my friends could download the plans and build one for me. Before I even got to that stage Hamish offered me his example to play with and a couple of days later it arrived.
It had a look of a Dora camera to me and I couldn’t wait to try it. As well as being a pinhole camera, it was a panoramic camera too. I have been using those a fair bit recently. The film plane is curved to help the 60mm x 25mm images remain sharpish at the edges and not distort. I say sharpish as it is a pinhole after all, so you won’t get super sharp images, well I never have anyway.
I loaded some Fomapan and took it to a local park. It was simple enough to use, just slide the lens cover out of the way and a magnet keeps it in place. As I had used a pinhole before I knew that in trees with 400 asa film I was looking at about a 3-8 second exposure. Fomapan has a poor reciprocity rate so anything over doesn’t make much difference. Oh and to wind on the camera between shots I turned both winders for 2 rotations. There is a handy arrow on the take up side to help you judge. With the camera on a mini tripod I took a few photos then rushed home and developed the film.
Here are some of the first results I got. On a 24 exposure film I got about 10 photos. I wouldn’t use a 36 film due to it being a toy-ish camera and they can sometimes struggle with the longer film.
I had a little trouble framing the shots. If you read the original article you will find out that Hamish broke the viewfinder. As the camera had a wide frame of view I thought as long as I pointed the camera in the general direction it would be ok. I put a spirit level on the top to help me. As you can see they are all straight but a bit low, the mini tripod didn’t help that. Next time I need to tilt it up a little more.
Also, can you see the black hair on the right. I chatted with Hamish who built it, as I thought there might be a design fault. The black is an obvious obstruction, I tried to get to the exposure area, but it was impossible. I looked back at the website instructions and it said to sand the parts before putting it together. “Someone” forgot to do that. So I thought I would try to sand it and get rid of the printer filament…but I couldn’t get to the area as it seemed like one solid piece to me, hence a design issue. If it was one solid piece you could never get to the area most needing sanding. Then I looked at the plans more carefully and I could see it is actually two pieces. The wooden skin was covering the join. Taking it apart to re-sand it would ruin the wooden “Dora” skin as it would break if I removed it. I tried my best to slide a piece of sand paper into the film slot, but it was very tricky.
I did turn the sand paper around 🙂
Plus, there seems to be a lighter area in the middle of the shots. This was also an issue in this review.
Anyway, after all that I reloaded the camera and tried again…in another park and my sink. This time I used Ilford HP5 plus 400.
I still had issues with the shots being a little low and damn it, the printer filament was still there. I will have to take the thing apart after all. That might actually solve the light area issue which was apparent on the second film too. Though I suspect this is due to the actual pinhole as the seconds set of shots seem to show a more circular effect.
Once I had some time, I took the camera apart…and now the UK is in a second lockdown I definitely have that in abundance. As predicted, I ruined the wooden cover, but I could sand the insides properly.
Then I put it back together and got to recovering the damaged parts with my own kind of skin. I was told I could keep the camera so I might as well make it mine for sure. Now it is mine.
I am glad I got to keep some of the wooden cover. I also love the postmark on the front looks like 4K, which this camera definitely is not.
Would I recommend this camera? Yes actually. If you can print it yourself or get a friend to do it for you. Then you make sure the parts are sanded it is a fun project. I don’t think I would buy a pre-made kit as they are a little expensive for me. There are better pinhole cameras, personally I like my Holga Pinhole more.
Have I solved the filament issue? I won’t find out until World Pinhole Day unless I get very bored during lockdown.