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  1. #11
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Multi Format
    Sage advice. If there is one person here to trust regarding pinhole work, it's Tom. Testing rules, for sure.

    My 'magic number' happens to coincide with my math above; I get the best from my pinhole camera at 1s in broad daylight. What prints well is what works best, all science aside.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Miller View Post
    The best way to determine the proper exposure for any pinhole film and camera combination is to test. It will use up a roll of film; but the time and money initially expended will pay off in a future of good exposures.

    The exposure calculator that is built into my Zero 6x9 gives a good indication of proper exposure, and provides a good starting point for the test. It is easiest to do the test on a bright sunny day with a subject that includes a full range of tones (both lights with detail and darks with detail). Make five exposures ranging from two stops below to two stops above what the calculator indicates. When the film is processed, evaluate visually on a light table to see which exposure best captures the full range of tones in the subject. This is the proper exposure on a bright sunny day (the EV 15 situation noted above). This exposure time is a "magic number" for your camera and film.

    As mentioned above, in darker lighting situations, subtract the EV of the ambient light (EV 15 above) to determine how many extra stops of exposure to give. Let's say your magic number is 5 seconds and the ambient EV is 12, you'd need to make a 40 second exposure.
    5" = magic number
    10" = one extra stop
    20" = two stops extra
    40" = three stops extra

    Doing the test to determine the proper exposure on the pinhole camera itself eliminates the need to factor in the film's reciprocity failure characteristics since the test exposure was so long. In practice, I've found this approach to work great up to six or seven extra stops of exposure.

    The testing can continue by doing prints or scans to determine the best film exposure; but doing the visual examination suffices.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Large Format
    With a light meter and a calculator you can determine the difference in stops required by the aperture number of the pinhole.

    Suppose you’re using ASA 100 film and the meter reads 1/125 second at f/11. We suppose that you’re using an f/158 pinhole.

    The formula is

    Difference in stops = 2*ln(f1/f2)/ln2

    The constant factor 2/ln2 = 2.885, so we can simplify the formula to

    Difference in Stops = 2.885*ln(f1/f2)

    Where f1 is the aperture number in the meter reading and f2 is that of the pinhole.

    Then in the example

    Difference = 2.885*ln(11/158) = -7.7 stops.

    The light is reduced (hence the negative sign) by 7.7 stops.

    So, disregarding reciprocity failure, you should increase the time by 8 stops. Thus your new time, uncorrected for reciprocity failure, is 2 seconds in this example.

    Of course you should increase the exposure even more to correct for reciprocity failure.

    If you’re using T-Max 100, the 2-second reciprocity correction is approximately 1/3 stop.

    See the table on page 5 here:


    You can consult the film maker's data for the approximate reciprocity correction required for the film you use.

    As others have commented, the amount of time to add to compensate for reciprocity can only be determined acurately by testing with each exposure time used referenced to the meter readings.

  3. #13

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Coming late but let me add my 0.02..

    zero image cameras are fitted with an exposure dial as an accessory which helps you determine quickly the exposure needed at f/138 while you meter the scene say at f/16 with your lightmeter .. simply adjust the dial with your meter's f-stop and exposure value at ISO 100 to get the equivalent exposure at f/138 - really handy..
    plus Fuji Arcos 100 behaves as a wonderful film having very little reciprocity failure..
    Last edited by debanddg; 03-02-2012 at 05:19 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: typo

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Ogden, Utah USA
    Multi Format
    I've found the Zero Image calculator to be pretty reliable, but anything over a second I double it, and anything over 10 seconds or so the calculator that came with my 4 by 5 Zero Image says to multiply it by 10 ... yikes! With ASA 100 my standard daylight exposure is 2 seconds, with kentucky windage for shadows, color of subject, my mood and so on. They all come out.

    With the 4 by 5 I'm discovering that light fall off at the 25 mm setting is so severe I need to double it again so the edges don't go completely thin on me. I also have a Zero Image 2000 and their 135 (cute little bugger!) where this is not so much of a problem.

    But as everyone else here said, experiment. When in doubt, add a few seconds -- I've found that pinhole seems much more forgiving of over exposure than a regular camera, probably because of the reciprocity stuff.

  5. #15
    JessicaDittmer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    iowa- usa
    Multi Format
    thomas, I have the same exact camera you have! been tempted by it recently. going to have to play. here i designed the world pinhole day logo last year and I haven't experimented yet myself so .... hope to post something soon and take part in the "big day" this year LOL
    Last edited by JessicaDittmer; 03-22-2012 at 05:17 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    j e s s i c a | d i t t m e r

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