vintage MF box camera into a pinhole?

Discussion in 'Pinhole Photography' started by JessicaDittmer, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    thinking of converting a vintage (antique) camera into a pinhole camera and wondered about that red window commonly found on the back to see the roll frame #. I HAVE to cover that right? can it have a flap of sorts like my holga or do I need to fully cover the thing from the inside? If I do that, do I just use a test roll and memorize how many turns it takes to get to a new frame by practice then? I am new to pinhole photography and wanted to start "easy" by using a non-functioning camera that can still wind/function to hold film for me. I can process my own so it's okay that I use an old one even....thanks for any thoughts/info. I'm hoping to participate in the world wide pinhole photo day this year :D
     
  2. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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  3. erikg

    erikg Member

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    So you are taking the lens out and putting a pinhole in its place, but otherwise using the camera as is? You can still use the red window, but a flap is a good idea. Sometimes overlapping frames can give you interesting stuff though. Have fun with it!
     
  4. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I was checking my Perkeo II folder for a possible light leak last summer, and among other indignities I visited upon it, I left the red window uncovered with mid afternoon sun shining directly on the camera back and into the window for fifteen minutes. The camera was loaded with Tmax400 and I expected I'd see something that looked like a blowtorch burn with maybe a number in the middle of it. To my amazement, I saw nothing on that frame! It was absolutely clear base. Of course, one might have the frame in place for 15 hours (or days!) instead of 15 minutes, and perhaps other makers' film backing paper isn't as opaque, but that was a pleasant surprise.

    Anyway, it's no doubt best to be safe rather than sorry when just carting the camera around, but I've not seen a problem exposing the red window while winding, such as with my Ercona II which has no automatic film indexing.

    DaveT
     
  5. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    hi! Yep, figured lens out but otherwise the same....I'll be sure to watch the red window then and cover it when not winding. I haven't settled on a particular model yet, just want 120 so I'm going to figure out one to use I can find cheap LOL! thanks!
     
  6. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    thanks dave, wow, I'm glad your film was okay!
     
  7. DavidM

    DavidM Subscriber

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    I have modified a Lubitel TLR and an Agfa Clack into pinhole cameras. The Afga Clack was quite simple to modify- the Lubitel was more difficult to get all the lens elements out.

    A simple box camera with the B setting is easier to modify and you have the waist lelve viewfinder for framing / composition- i have a a Pixieflex and a Fodor just waiting to be " upgraded " to pinhole.

    Have fun finding and enhancing the old camera/s you choose.
     
  8. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    The results of the conversion won't be too good -- the focal length will be too long for the film format. Pinholes work best as wide-angle 'lenses'. Look at commercial pin hole cameras.
     
  9. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    For a seriously wide pinhole, try converting a Holga after taking out the entire lens unit!

    As for the original question - I don't think you need to do anything to the red window unless you are 1> planning to use 220 film, 2> leaving it in direct sun for prolonged periods.
     
  10. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    thanks! I do have a zero image pinhole camera somewhere in my wreck of an office that has turned storage here in the house but I've failed to locate it the last few days and am itching to play.....I'm looking at some that are 120 but more box shape or more of a rangefinder type so they aren't deep....hmmm...so many ideas.
     
  11. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    You can do a fairly simple calculation to let you know what size to make the hole for best-possible sharpness at a given film-to-hole distance and wavelength of light.

    The red window's leakage will depend on the quality and condition of the camera, and the film used. (You are less likely to experience a problem with ortho films.) My Brownie leaks like a sieve through the orange window. My friend's Holga doesn't leak at all through its window.

    It cannot hurt to tape over the window, and then put the camera into shade to peel the tape back and advance the film. Since I started doing this with my Brownie, the problem has disappeared, even with panchromatic film. I just put the camera into the shade of my body to advance the film. This will be more difficult with a pinhole, which will be more likely to be mounted on a tripod. I'd say to just bring a small umbrella or a dark cloth in your case.

    I'd suggest 3M photo tape or electrical tape, though the former is preferable because the latter is a gummy sticky mess after a while; the 3M stuff is like masking tape: very low tack and will not gum up with age. If you use gaffer tape, use several layers, as it is not light tight IME. It also gets gummy when it gets moved a lot. I assume you have figured out the "fold over" trick to make a little handle on the piece of tape. It will make the tape easier to lift time and time again.

    Good luck!
     
  12. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    thanks! I use black electrical tape as a flap for my holga and have never had leak problems so I'll have to try it. I'm not a math person so the calculation part scares me LOL!
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    black masking tape works great too
    with less "goo" from the sticky side ..

    i never use my box cameras as pinholes
    they are much too much fun to use as
    regular old cameras :smile:

    i think his name is "photobilly"
    on e-boink .. he makes laser holes if you want "exact"
    focal lengths

    have fun !
    john
     
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  15. bblhed

    bblhed Member

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    If you are using a box camera you want to cover the window, but you only need a flap of electrical tape. With the older Kodak type cameras the problem isn't light getting through the window and striking the back of the film, the problem is that light gets in and bounces off the film and reflects off other parts and finds it's way around the film and to the front of it. In my Kodak cameras I have added a foam film backer, and bent the original springs (those long rails that hold the film to the frame) and I still needed a window flap.
     
  16. mfohl

    mfohl Subscriber

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    I saw a guy turn an old box camera into a 35mm camera. What he ended up with was exposures the entire width of the film and about 3 inches long. Funky results. Of course he had to cover the red hole in the back. So if you do 35mm pinhole work with such a camera, you will also have to cover the hole. I have used 35mm in a Holga with a 120 mask in it, but Holga makes a solid back, one without the flippable red hole.

    Good luck,

    -- Mark
     
  17. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    I turned a beat up Isolette into a pinhole --- The entire front of the camera-- bellows, lens, door, everything ends up being removed-- the front of the camera is covered with foamcore and a pinhole--- the size of the hole was f128, and covers 6x6 fine. I have a filter ring epoxyed to foamcore to put a lenscap on the outside and a brass pinhole in the center

    --- You will need to do your own measurements and calculations on your own specific camera and construction job. Use sites like www.mrpinhole.com/ to help you with you calculations. There is no reason to need the red window to go away.
     
  18. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    Thanks! I'm looking now at an ansco color clipper that takes 120 film and the shutter is shot. Winder still works so I think it may be a good start. it has a red window in the back too but I think it should be okay, we shall see! I will post if I go that route and then what I do to it...I'll also look up "photobilly" for drilling maybe...I have heard of mrpinhole but thought it wasn't for a mac computer, I'll look into it again. thanks for all the info!
     
  19. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    what is "e-boink" upon googling I get some um...interesting results:blink:
     
  20. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    Best way I found was to use a bit of the steel string off an electric guitar to poke a hole in very thin brass sheeting--- The E string off my Telecaster makes a perfect f128 hole.

    And guitar stings can be bought in many sizes right around the hole sizes you will be interested in.
     
  21. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Have never tried that, Jeff! Good idea, as they come in precisely-measured sizes. Mine are mostly 11's or 12's, but 10's are the most common, and they will be available anywhere that sells strings.

    I think most people use numbered sewing needles to make pinholes of a specific diameter.

    I have ordered a laser-cut pinhole from Lennox laser. It was very nicely made, and totally reusable/swapable, of course. I used it on my wide angle 12x20 box camera.
     
  22. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    cool! thanks for that info! I think I copy/pasted this from a site the other day but now I don't remember where, it was the sewing needles conversion:
    4, .90mm
    5, .80mm
    6, .73mm
    7, .66mm
    8, .58mm
    9, .51mm
    10, .46mm
    11, .40mm
    12, .35mm
    13, .33mm
    14, .30mm
    16, .25mm
    does it seem right?
     
  23. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    by the way, I did buy the 120 ansco color clipper that has a non-working shutter. film winders all work.
    cool green color ...LOL!:whistling:
    [​IMG]
     
  24. rjbuzzclick

    rjbuzzclick Member

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  25. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    That's cool Reid! I may hit a flea market here in the next town today to see what they have laying around too....heeheheeheee!
     
  26. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Those seem right. I made some with oatmeal canisters and used #10 needles. I also have a magnifying loupe that has measurements inside the view so I could aim for .46mm. I used one of the online calculators to figure out what would work well (it's about 5" diameter in an oatmeal can).
    To find the right needle, I went to Joann's with the list above and found a variety pack of needles that included a couple that I thought were possible.
    That camera looks like it'd be a nice pinhole.