After yesterday’s Pinhole Bonanza, I am proud to serve you the Battlefield Pinhole Camera DIY tutorial.
The battlefield is a revolutionary pinhole camera that simultaneously uses 3 rolls of 35mm film to capture an image split across all three rolls. Look at the image on the left for a clue on the name origin :)
This tut has lots of details and is somewhat technical, so we will jump between images, videos and text, using the best method (or methods) to illustrate each step. Try and keep up.
This tutorial is brought to you by the nothing-is-impossible photographer Steven Monteau. Check his other photographic inventions on his Flickr stream and his bi-lingual blog.
Just before diving into this huge tut, if want to learn more about pinhole cameras, I recommend reading the following books: The Pinhole Camera: A Practical How-To Book for Making Pinhole Cameras and Images and
Pinhole Photography: From Historic Technique to Digital Application
A pinhole camera, taking 4×5″ pictures (˜10x13cm) on 3 different 35mm roll films!
This is a breakdown of all the different elements that build the Battlefield. You can use this list as a companion to the actual instruction. It will help you understand what are the different functionalities that each part provides. It also opens a small window into the head of Steven.
The Main Body
The main Battlefield body which looks like, em … a naval destroyer is the enclosure that holds all the pieces together, as with any camera the body has to answer several functions:
Firstly, it needs to have a place for the film cassette, then it needs a photographic chamber and lastly it needs to house the winding spool or spools.
Here is an exploded diagram of the camera
A Mechanism To Handle Roll Films
“Traditional” pinholes this size usually carry photo-paper or sheet-film as what we computer age babies call sensor. The Battlefield, however, uses three rolls of film so it needs to have a winding spool and knob, a rewind lever lock mechanism and button and three (yes THREE) different rewind spools and knobs.
The Pinhole Itself
The pinhole is the hole that lets the light through. It is a very small hole drilled in aluminum foil. If you don’t know what a pinhole is, check this article or read this great book: The Pinhole Camera: A Practical How-To Book for Making Pinhole Cameras and Images.
As the exposure times are slow, the shutter can be a simple scotch tape. But it’s way cooler to make a nice sliding shutter. So indeed a sliding shutter it is.
The lids are what’s keeping the entire Battlefield light-tight. The first back lid is an internal cover which is meant to avoid light leaks. It is also pressing on the film to keep it flat.
The second back lid is a big cover, made for closing the camera securely.
A nut (screw thread : 1/4″ 20tpi unc)
The main body is build from a cardboard calendar. It is pretty thick, if you don’t have a old calendar for that end, you can use heavy construction paper or foam board. Black is optimal for that.
The thin stuff like the mechanisms is built from plastic calling cards. Credit cards will work too.
The wind & rewind spools are made from felt-tip pens.
And the knobs are made from marker-pen caps and bottle caps.
You’ll also need some film – at least three rolls.
To cut, to drill, to mistreat materials you will need scissors, cutter (no saw) and an xacto knife.
To fit the stuff together, use super glue to group the cardboard pieces and use Epoxy Glue (like araldite) to fix materials subject to constraints (especially the tripod mount & the knobs)
You’ll also need sandpaper, pins, nails, tracing paper, and some small odds and ends you’ll probably find in the office supply drawer.
Let’s Start The Construction
Step 1 – Cutting The Main Body
And preparing the film cassette slot
Step 2 – Delineating The Photographic Chamber Boundaries
And preparing the winding spool
Step 3 – Creating an Anti-Rewind Mechanism
A Mechanism for preventing the film from loosing tension.
If it’s a bit difficult to understand why it’s useful and how it works now, jump to the end of the post to see how it works and come back here.
Step 4 – Creating Rewind Knobs For Each Film Roll
Step 5 -Drilling The Actual Pinhole
I’m using aluminum foil and a needle to do this, as this is the fastest way I found.
Actually, Te pinhole can be drilled randomly, it will work anyway, but it should have the perfect size for its focal length (distance between pinhole and film) in order to get sharp results, check this pinhole size calculator to get the exact hole size you need
BUT ! It’s impossible to pierce so precisely, so you will have to pierce numerous holes randomly, and check which ones have the right size, by scanning them at the max. res. See the images below for example.
If you get curious during the process, well, you can preview the result. Just put some tracing paper in place of the film like in the image below.
Use a box (or your hand) to darken the back, and voilà ! :
Step 6 – Making a Cool Sliding Shutter
Actually, this is kinda useless for this kind of pinhole, but it is so cool, that I will show you what I’ve done anyway ^^ :
I’m sure you don’t need any advice to make a much simpler version. (hint – gaffer’s tape)
Step 7 – Making The Back Lid
Depending on the design of your pinhole making a back lid can be very simple, however, mine is complicated. If my camera body was rectangular, I would just have to make a slightly bigger box to close the whole thing, but, nooooooo, I had to make a battleship.
(Camera open left, camera closed right )
Step 8 – Finishing & Painting
Apply a first coat of Primer, it helps smoothing out the surfaces, it also helps to avoid light leaks.
As far as painting goes, the only useful / functional paint is the matte black into the photographic chamber, it removes reflections and “eats any lights that accidentally goes into the chamber. The rest is for fun
You can now see the tripod mount (a glued nut ^^) on the first pic
Using The Battlefield
Advance the films / shoot / advance the films / shoot / adv……
Then, when the films end, allow the rewinding by pushing the rewind lever lock button
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