My Matchbox Pinhole Camera

Well, where to put this on my list of cameras. I haven’t made one before so this will have to go at the end of the list until I make another.

I was forced into this experiment, forced I say…I didn’t enjoy it one bit 😉

A friend tagged me in a post by Analogue Wonderland and their matchbox pinhole competition. So I decided to have a go.

I followed this website’s instructions:

Then gathered all the things I needed, except the matchboxes. The boxes were surprisingly hard to find, none of my local shops had any. In the end, I bought a bulk lot from eBay. I also didn’t have any spare spiral binders so I had to cut one from an old diving book. I am not sure I will be going diving again so it isn’t needed.

I decided to put two matchboxes together as mine seemed awfully thin compared to the example. That meant cutting extra holes in them and glueing them together.

After putting it all together I realised I had left one of the inserts out, would it matter? I decided it would as this was acting as a pressure plate, keeping the 35mm film flat. So I took it apart and did it again. I don’t have any photos of the pinhole I made from the Pepsi can. I tried to be very gentle and make it as small as I possibly could. After colouring the back black I looked through it at my light and couldn’t see anything. The ink from the pen had filled in the light. So I poked it again, very gently. Before taping in the missing insert I pointed the whole thing at a light and a square of light did form on the back of the matchbox, so that was something at least.

Ok with the pinhole done, I taped a roll of film to an empty cartridge and add it to the “camera”. Finally, I taped it all up to try and avoid any light leaks. Then I added the can tab as a film winder.

It was very stiff, the winder broke the cartridge it was that stiff. So I used a set of pliers to advance the film. I was pleased to hear the clicker working. I wound on 7 clicks after each shot. I used my phone light meter to figure out the exposures for the approximate f90 pinhole. Oh and I used an expired roll of Ilford FP4.

I was absolutely sure the camera would not work so after 10 shots I cut the film and developed it, expecting to see nothing of note.

BUT, there were images.

I didn’t bother going anywhere, as I said, I didn’t think it would work. Some of these exposures were very long, like 20 minutes.

Am I going to try it again? YES. I have even bought some lasered pins which I hope will give better results. Now, just to decide what to make the body out of??


8 thoughts on “My Matchbox Pinhole Camera

  1. Roger B. says:

    Remember, Oskar Barnack also had to start somewhere ,,,

    If you want to make life easier, you can buy body caps with a SST center featuring a laser-cut 010mm or .05mm diameter hole. The Bay usually has these, with M42 threads.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. brineb58 says:

    I used pre-drilled pinholes when I made both a 4×5 and an 8×10 pinhole camera. The 4×5 was mad out of foam-core, I found instructions online over 20 years ago … but I am sure there are plenty of resources out there!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peggy says:

      That is a thought, I currently don’t have a 5×4 camera. I have the means to develop that size and scan it…so that is a good idea…hmmm, pondering that.


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