35mm film box -> pinhole camera

This isn’t a new idea, but I decided to share my own method of turning a 35mm film box and canister into a 35mm pinhole camera. The other versions I’ve seen need two film cassettes – one to take up the exposed film. My design uses the plastic canister the film comes in to take up the exposed film, so you’d only need one box of film to build this. Ideal when you want to take some pinhole photos but you went on holiday without taking anything photographic!

In addition to the box and canister, I used a pencil, aluminium foil, a safety pin (a needle would do) and some black electrical tape (not the cloth tape in the photo!)


With the end of a scissor blade, I pierced holes in the top and bottom of the film canister and widened them with the pencil.


The pencil should fit in, but it should be a tight fit. The pencil will be the film winder, and the exposed film will be rolled around it in the canister as you take photos.


I cut a really thin strip about 40mm long by 1mm wide down the side of the canister, starting at the top. With the top of the canister clipped on, this slit should be tall enough to fit the 35mm film through.


Cover the canister in black electrical tape. If you’re lucky enough to have a black canister, this step isn’t necessary.


Gently open out the ends of the box.


Pierce a hole through the centre of one of the sides of the box. Make sure you choose the correct side, as in the photo below! The film will need to slip through a gap created by leaving one tab out when you reassemble the box, so the side with the tab sticking out needs to be at the back of the camera, and you should pierce the hole through the front. Pictures speak better than words sometimes:


Tear a little square of aluminium foil and make a pinhole in it using the safety pin or needle.


Check the edges of the pinhole look clean and it’s a good circle.


Tape it to the front of the camera.


Assemble the box with the flaps at the back hanging out, and pass the film through the slits left at the back.


Tape around the ends and sides of the film box.


Tape around the gap between the film cassette and the box.


Cut the end of the film straight, and stick that to the pencil. Wrap it a couple of times around the pencil and put the pencil inside the canister, with the film leaving through the slot you cut in the side of the canister. Sorry, I don’t have any photos of myself putting the pencil in the canister with the end of the film wrapped around it.


Tape the canister to the side of the box just like the film cassette. Tape thoroughly around all the joins – the more tape the better.


Add a shutter, and it’s ready to go.

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