a 126 "Instamatic" pinhole camera
Pinhole cameras are a lot of fun, but the typical design require you to
- use cut sheets of film
- load and unload in a darkroom
- shoot one picture at a time
- develop and print
your picture at home.
A 126 cartridge pinhole camera is different. You can load and unload the camera in daylight, make up to
24 pictures without changing the cartridge, and have a photo
lab develop and print the film.
126 processing is
also available by mail (click here).
Any photo lab that is equipped for 35mm film
can develop 126 film, since both are 35mm wide. However many
labs do not have the 28mm square mask required for printing
126 images. They can give you square images printed on 3x5
or 4x6 paper, if they are willing.
Scanners and inkjet printers are now
so good, and so inexpensive, that you should consider getting your film
developed only (any lab can do that) and then scan and make your own prints
using an inkjet printer.
information on this page is adapted from materials
originally published by Kodak. Kodak ceased manufacture of
126 film at the end of 1999. We stock fresh 126 film made in Italy. Click here
to to to the 126 catalog page.)
- Here are the materials you will need to make a 126 cartridge pinhole camera:
- 1 cartridge of 126 "Instamatic" color
print film (click here to buy
- 1 piece of thin black cardboard, 1 1/4 x 5 3/4
- 1 piece of rigid black cardboard, 1 1/2 x 2 3/4
inches, with a 1/2-inch-square opening cut in the center
- 1 piece of heavy aluminum foil, 1-inch square
- 1 piece of black paper, 1-inch square
- 2 strong rubber bands
- 1 No. 10 sewing needle, black masking tape, and
Assembling the Camera
|1. Measure and mark the large
piece of black cardboard into four sections, each 1
7/16 inches wide.
|2. Using a knife, cut through
only the top layer of cardboard along each of the
lines. This will make it easier to fold the
|3. Fold the cardboard into a
box and tape the edges together with the black tape.
|4. Using only the point of the
sewing needle, make a very tiny pinhole in the
center of the aluminum foil. When you make the hole,
rest the foil on a hard, flat surface.
|5. Center the pinhole in the
foil over the square opening in the small piece of
cardboard. Tape the foil to the cardboard on all
|6. Put the small piece of
black paper over the pinhole and tape it along the
top edge. Use a small piece of tape at the bottom to
hold it down between exposures. See alternate
shutter section for a more light-tight
|7. Tape the cardboard with the
pinhole to the box. Use plenty of tape, and make
sure all the edges are taped together so that no
light can get into the camera box.
|8. Put the camera box into the
grooved recess in the square opening of the film
cartridge. This should be a tight fit so that no
light can get into the camera.
|9. Use the two rubber bands
to hold the camera in place.
|10. Insert the edge of a coin in the round opening on the top of
the film cartridge.
|11. To advance the film in the cartridge,
turn the coin counterclockwise. The yellow paper
(visible in the small window on the label side of
the film cartridge) should move. The film has
borders and numbers printed on it. Turn the coin
slowly until the third and fourth numbers in each
series on the yellow paper show in the window. The
film will then be in the proper position for
You can make a more light tight shutter using the diagram
and instructions below.
|1. Cut two 1 1/2-inch-square
pieces of thin black cardboard. In one piece, cut a
1/2-inch square hole in the center (A). The
other piece should be cut to leave a 1/4-inch border
on 3 sides (B). This is your spacer.
|2. Cut a 1 x 1 1/2-inch piece
of thin black cardboard (C). This is your
shutter, which should easily slide into and out of
the spacer (B).
|3. Tape or glue parts A, B,
and D together. (Part D is the 2
3/4 x 1 1/2-inch piece of cardboard cut
previously to make the lens.)
Taking a Picture
Your camera must be very still while you are taking a
picture. Try taping your camera to a table, windowsill,
chair, rock, or other rigid surface. Or you can use a lump
of modeling clay to mount the camera firmly on a steady
support, such as a kitchen stool. Aim your camera by
sighting over the top surface.
A viewfinder for a pinhole camera, while usually not
necessary, can be made of cardboard or wire. The larger
frame should be slightly smaller than the film size, (about
1 inch square) and located directly above the pinhole at the
front of the camera. The small frame is a sighting peephole
directly above the film and squarely behind the center of
the large frame.
When you aim your camera at subjects closer than 5 feet,
tip the camera up slightly to allow for parallax--the
difference between the view you see through the viewfinder
and the image recorded on the film. This effect is caused by
the separation between the viewfinder and the pinhole.
To prevent light from entering your camera and spoiling
the pictures, use the small piece of tape on the black paper
to hold it down over the pinhole after each exposure. If
you're using the alternate shutter, make sure the shutter is
kept in the spacer between exposures.
made with a cartridge pinhole camera.
The following table gives exposure recommendations for a
cartridge pinhole camera. These recommendations are
approximate. It's a good idea to make three different
exposures for each scene to be sure you'll get a good
picture. So take a picture at the recommended exposure time,
one picture at twice the recommended time, and another one
at one-half the time.
|Solaris FG 200
||1 to 1-1/2 Seconds
||5 to 7 seconds