Building a Pinhole Camera

Project Overview

The goal of this assignment is to make a pinhole camera. We used a Nikon D3300 with a 30 second exposure time and varying apertures. We used pinhole sizes of 0.1 mm, 3 mm, and 5 mm.

Project Partners

Joshua Zeitsoff, Linda Doong


Pictures of our set up.

View from Doe Steps

The results of using the three different pinhole sizes on scene 1.

0.1mm Pinhole

3mm Pinhole

5mm Pinhole

Path to the Glade

The results of using the three different pinhole sizes on scene 2.

0.1mm Pinhole

3mm Pinhole

5mm Pinhole


In general, we found that the larger pinholes worked better. The smallest pinhole (0.1 mm) was too small and didn't allow enough light through. Even with the longest exposure time (30 seconds) and the largest aperture (F 1.8), all of the pictures taken with the 0.1 mm pinhole were almost completely dark.

The mid size pinhole (3 mm) was better than the smallest pinhole in that it let more light through and we were able to see more detail in the pictures. However, it was not as good as the largest pinhole (5 mm). The largest pinhole let enough light through that we were able to capture some really cool details, like the design of the stone fence in front of Doe and the reflection of the Hearst Mining Circles on the water.

As the pinhole size increased, more light was let in, so we had to adjust the aperture so the photos would not be over-exposed. Generally, we used the largest aperture (F 1.8)with the smallest pinhole, the smallest aperture (F 13) with the largest pinhole, and a medium aperture (F 8) with the medium pinhole. Also, some scenic areas were brighter than others, so we adjusted aperture according to that as well.

It was also difficult to accurately position the camera so that it pointed in the exact direction that the pinhole pointed in. As a result, the images have black borders from the shoebox, and some images are cropped (camera was tilted too far to one side).

View from Hearst Mining

View from Campanile Steps

Sponsor Us, Trader Joe's

Reflection of the Mining Circles