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Single Hole Pinhole Camera

A pinhole camera is a light tight container with a small hole at one end and light sensitive material at the other. That's it. A lifetime can be spent right here. No need to go to the more complex forms.

How it works (In recommended order):

Basic Pinhole Box

Wide angle vs telephoto


Tin Can Perspective (the Oatmeal can view)

Size of the Pinhole

Thickness and Shape

What is an F-stop?

Making the camera: the heart of the pinhole camera is the pinhole itself.

takes practice
medium - high

*Sharpness if of course a relative term with pinhole cameras.


Focal Length to Pinhole - you decided on camera size, what size pinhole does it need.

Pinhole to Focal Length - you already have a pinhole, what size camera does it make.

F# Progression - pinhole cameras go way beyond F16 . . .

The Ideal Pinhole (or Pinhole Math) - how to get as sharp as possible with a pinhole camera

You can also use one of these calculators:

Simple pinhole calculator- quick and dirty, but works

Pinhole Calculator 3.1 - anal, for those more interested in making cameras than using them, sigh, like me.

Next is the container:

Construction - 35mm, Classic Oatmeal, Tin cans, etc.

Foamcore 4x5

Pinholgas - 120 film pinhole camera made from a Holga plastic camera (working on this page)

And of course you can purchase a pinhole camera already made. More and more appear all the time. See Sites & Supplies


Chris Patton, cpatton@stanford.edu