Photographer Shoots Locomotive HD Video With Pinhole Canon 7D

Photographer Shoots Locomotive HD Video With Pinhole Canon 7DPart time photographer (and full time DB architect) Josh Grant, was able to shot an entire like the old schoolers, with a pinhole camera. In this post Josh shares how he made the pinhole camera (from a Canon 7D) and filmed the movie. josh picked the perfect subject too – a locomotive to match feeling with technology!

I’ve wanted to make a pinhole lens for years now, but I finally got off my duff and did it after reading Matt Devlin’s fine tin can digital pinhole tutorial.

I had a spare body cap, but I couldn’t find a tobacco tin, and I didn’t have an empty aluminum can handy; I recalled reading somewhere that aluminum foil could do the job, so that’s what I went with.

I got the idea for adding a U.V. filter from (nz)dave’s flickr post (which is a great digital pinhole tutorial by itself). I had a 52mm double-threaded U.V. filter that I got free when I ordered a circular polarizer, and I had never even opened the package; I was pleasantly surprised to find that it fit snugly in the little groove around the edge of the standard-issue Canon body cap; that made it a snap to secure with a few strips of gaffer tape.

At first, I was just thinking of a way to keep dust out of the camera body and to protect the delicate strip of tinfoil, but I later realized that I could attach a lens cap and even a collapsible lens hood. Handy.

Photographer Shoots Locomotive HD Video With Pinhole Canon 7D - lens hood

I created a reference card for making a similar body cap pinhole.

1 Photo How-To: Pinhole Lens (by josh_in_yyc)

Now, for the pictures.

I took it with me to the park the next sunny afternoon, along with a tripod, expecting to take a few multi-second exposures of dandelions. I was surprised to learn that I 1/5s was all I needed at ISO 800 to get a proper exposure. I cranked the ISO up to 5000 shortly thereafter, getting a shutter speed of 1/30s.

I was thrilled that I could shoot pinhole photos hand-held at that speed! It was only later, as I was leaving the park that the significance of the “1/30s” shutter speed hit me… That was the correct shutter speed for 24 frames/s HD video! That was my goal for the weekend: find a classic pinhole photo subject, get the camera back on a tripod, and make a short video. Here’s the result:

Oh, there’s one more bonus to shooting in video mode: the live view actually works properly with the pinhole lens. No more looking at a black viewfinder, wondering if your horizon’s straight or if your subject is actually in the frame!

I’m no videographer, and the Canon 7D’s high-ISO video is quite noisy, so I’d love to see what can be done by somebody with some video skills, a Canon 5D Mk II or Nikon D3s, and a homemade pinhole lens.