Pinhole cameras

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A pinhole camera is simply a light proof container with a small hole. That is essentially all that is needed to capture an image onto some light sensitive material. You can make a pinhole camera out of just about any light proof container. Many people start out with oatmeal boxes. I have found popcorn/candy tins to be much sturdier and more light proof. First, I will give my basic procedure for making a pinhole camera out of a tin can, and then list some other objects that I want to make cameras out of.

Tin Can Pinhole Camera

Materials & Tools

  • popcorn/candy tin, any size
  • matte (not glossy) black spray paint
  • 1" square piece of thin metal (brass, copper, aluminum-I don't recommend this)
  • small sewing needle or safety pin
  • tape
  • drill with 1/4" drill bit


If you don't have one of those Christmas candy or popcorn cans laying around, head to your nearest thrift store and pick one up. They usually have a wide assortment for less than $0.50.

Drill a hole into the can. Where is up to you. I typically drill a hole vertically centered on the side of the can so that I can sit the can down and not have to worry about it rolling. Depending on how thick the metal is, it may take a little while to drill through. If you push too hard while drilling, you could warp the can. After drilling, you may have to smooth or flatten the inside of the can where the hole is. A spoon works well for this.

Spray the inside of the can and lid with matte black spray paint. Let dry.

Take a pin and punch a small hole in the center of the square piece of thin metal. Try to keep the hole as small as possible. You may have to poke from the other side, also. Smooth any edges that may have been created by the pin (with the spoon). You now have your pinhole!

Place the square piece of metal on the inside of the can with the pinhole centered in the hole that you drilled. Tape it in place, and either color the tape black with a sharpie or spray paint it. If you spray paint it, make sure to clear the pinhole of any paint.

You now have a pinhole camera! You can use your finger or some tape over the hole as a shutter.

Other Pinhole Camera Ideas

  • Really awesome matchbox camera
  • Pinhole room
  • Random objects that I have laying around the apartment that I am going to turn into pinhole cameras