22. desember 2016

4M Pinhole fun project, experiences and a small review

Whoa! I was on a Christmas-run to buy various gifts and popped into a toy-store downtown.

Didn't find any suitable gifts though, except from one for me! :)

This toy-store actually had some really cool stuff from 4M, a science and learning toy series, among them, a pinhole-kit. ^^

Had to have it. ($18)  =D

Front of box

Back of box

The instruction-pamphlet, although typed up in many languages, lacked some basics really.
The assembly is generally very easy (at least I experienced it as so), but I think they forgot a few gotchas and a little extra information.

Basic data, missing from the documentation (and the internet).

- I measured the length from the film to the lens of this camera, to be just about 55mm. This will be your focal-length.
- With a hole of 0.3mm diameter (a "typical", small hole from a needle), you get around f180 as the aperture.

Inserting the camera internal panel, with the grooves for the film-reels. 

1. This, the largest part, which makes up the inner-body section only goes in one way.
2. There are 3 small holes inside the front part of the camera and one larger one. These corresponds to the big and small knobs on the inside-piece.
3. This piece does not "snap in", it simply lays there, which I thought was a bit iffy. It's easy for it to drop out when you load/unload film and makes everything unnecessarily loose and difficult when you try to load your film.

Making the hole 

1. I fiddled with the supplied foil and double-sided tape for a while, but opted to cut out a piece of aluminum from a coke-can instead. Aluminum from a beer-can or a soda-can, is much easier to work with (watch out, it's sharp!) and my impression is that you get a more even (round) hole with that material, compared to aluminum-foil.
2. Use steel-wool to rub down the aluminum from the can after the hole is made, to rub down jaggies and loose ends at the hole, before inserting it into the camera.
3. Secure with two pieces (small ones!) of tape, use a sharpie to color both sides of the aluminum black. (prevents reflections). 
4. Make sure the hole is as centered as possible. (mine was center'ish.....it seemed! )

Measuring the hole

-This is a tough one, but if you have an enlarger ( 👍 ), you can raise the enlarger with a transparent ruler inside it, until 1cm is 10cm on the board, replace the ruler with the metal-piece with the hole and measure the projected hole with the ruler, on the base-board. Divide the measured hole by 10.
- You can also snap a photo of the hole, along with a ruler. Then enlarge that photo on your computer, until 1 cm on the pictured ruler, is 10 cm measured on the screen itself. Then measure the hole on the screen as well and divide by 10.

Loading the film

1. Make sure to feed the film trough the holes near the center of the take-up spool and secure it on the small knobs on the outside of it as you turn the take-up spool in your hand.
2. It also helps to create a very hard crease at the end of the thin leader of the film, this will keep it from sliding off too easily.

3. Get at-least one full turn on the spool, with the knobs in the sprocket-holes on the film, before putting it into the camera.
4. Keep the film under tension when inserting the spool into the camera, so it doesn't slip off. (you will loose some film with this camera anyway, so a little loss in the beginning, is irrelevant.


5. The short piece with the left most knob, is supposed to be inserted into the film-canister before you place it into the camera.


Make sure the camera is properly closed, and secured

1. To prevent the camera from popping open when advancing the film, it's imperative that the camera-back is completely attached to the body, there should be no gaps. In-fact, it should be difficult to see where the front ends and the back begins, very snug fit. The camera should not pop open when the film is inside and the locks are not locked, it should stay as-is. If it doesn't, you did something wrong. (check film-canister and check that the film isn't bounced up on the take-up spool, tighten if it is)
2. The locks on the sides, should turn "away" from the camera when closed, so that the center of each lock (where the holes are), is the closest bit to the camera when in the locked position.
This creates a solid lock, which will prevent the camera from opening accidentally.

3. The lens-part of the camera tended to slide up on one of the sides ( I think it's related to the spring below), after I had put it on the camera. To prevent this, and to keep the lens level on the camera, I simply attached a piece of tape on the side of it.

When shooting

1. Keep a finger on the rewind-knob, like a clutch, so that it gives slight resistance when winding onto the next frame with the other knob. This keeps the film under tension and straight inside the camera, it will also give you the most even spacing on the frames.
2. Put the camera on a flat surface when taking a photo, make sure it is steady, then move the shutter to open position. 
3. When the exposure is done, simply release the shutter again with no other movements, this should give you the best chances of getting a usable photo.
4. You advance the film by turning the take-up spool knob 3/4 - 1 full round (it's marked)
5. Use a light-meter app for your phone to gauge exposure. I used an app actually called "Light meter" on my iPhone, it supports apertures above f200 then it's just about measuring and shooting really.


Here are some photos and results, shooting with this camera and a 0.3mm hole.
I got round photos, not covering the whole negative. At this focal-length, you should be able to cover the whole negative with no problems.
The reason for the round photos, is that the shutter-mechanism, along with the lens-attachment, seem to mess with the coverage. To be able to get full coverage, I am either going to drill out the opening for the shutter/lens, or remove the whole arrangement completely, attaching the pinhole to the main-body and use a tape for shutter.

This was overcast and the film was Acros 100, average shutter-speed on these were 16s.

The bright streaks at the center and bottom-end of the shots, were reflections from the pinhole-plate, which i forgot to buff with steel-wool and darken with a felt-pen, so this can be corrected.

4M Pinhole camera
Exposure 16s at f180
Fuji Acros in HC-110B for 5 minutes

4M Pinhole camera
Exposure 16s at f180
Fuji Acros in HC-110B for 5 minutes

4M Pinhole camera
Exposure 16s at f180
Fuji Acros in HC-110B for 5 minutes

4M Pinhole camera
Exposure 16s at f180
Fuji Acros in HC-110B for 5 minutes

4M Pinhole camera
Exposure 16s at f180
Fuji Acros in HC-110B for 5 minutes

4M Pinhole camera
Exposure 16s at f180
Fuji Acros in HC-110B for 5 minutes

4M Pinhole camera
Exposure 16s at f180
Fuji Acros in HC-110B for 5 minutes


I get it, it's a toy! However, it's also supposed to be fun, rewarding and a learning-experience. I commend 4M for making the kit, with all it's shortcomings and faults. 

It does work and it is pretty fun roaming around shooting with it ^^

I got good exposure with no hassle, since I was able to measure the focal-length and hole-diameter pretty nicely, however, I really think they should have included some pre-fabricated holes as well.
(I see the learning and fun-factor in making the holes themselves and see the effects, but the hole is crucial for the picture-taking and that process could have been solved easier).

The shutter-mechanism should not be spring-loaded in my opinion, it should have been a simple "open/close" switch, or a knob to keep it open.
This would prevent movements of the camera during exposure (the current design, demand that you hold the shutter open manually during exposure, which can and most definitely will cause extra blur to the photos)

As seen on my examples, the produced image-circle is not able to cover the whole film-frame, which kind of sucks, since pinhole-photography really only gets better the more surface-area you expose.

Negatives on light-table

When you shoot with a pin-hole, you are mostly looking at long exposure-times. Even at ISO400 during summer, the exposure-times will be around 1/4s to 1/2s, so it cannot be hand-held.

The photos aren't sharp, they never are ( 😜 ) pin-holes are always "equally unsharp", from near to far. ^^

I would recommend this to parents or relatives who want to have fun teaching their young relatives about photography, however........

-> The assembly, film-loading and operation can be considered complicated and definitely not recommended for youngsters to do on their own. There should be at least one person with some experience with film, as well as patience, and some finger-dexterity, who can help out if problems arise.
There are mixed reviews

I am going to hack this camera, to get full coverage and a shutter-arrangement that doesn't require you to touch the camera during exposure ^^ 

...and on that bomb-shell........!

This was the last blog-entry for 2016 😎 Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year! ^^  🎅🎄🎇

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