Lensless 4x5 Pinhole Camera vs Ilford Obscura

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Candlejack

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Im debating getting a basic large format pinhole camera. This would honestly be my only option to get into large format, I currently do medium format, and the prints would be used for cyanotype/van dyke contact prints. Which would you go for, and why?
 

Oren Grad

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The Obscura takes a bare sheet of film and needs to be reloaded after every shot, either in a changing bag or in the darkroom. The Lensless cameras accept standard 4x5 sheet film holders, so when you head out on a photo excursion you can conveniently make as many pictures as you're willing to carry holders. (Actually twice as many, since each holder carries two sheets of film, one on each side.)

Most commercially-offered 4x5 pinhole cameras, including the Ilford Harman Titan camera, accept film holders. The Obscura is unusual in that respect.

I have the 2" version of the 4x5 Lensless camera.
 
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Candlejack

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Im think i will go with the lensless. It just seems more ergonomic. And the price isnt bad on B&H. I would just have to find film holders and film
 
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Candlejack

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With DIY, im wondering if its worth it because Id want to order a predrilled hole, add a way to put it on a tripod etc
 

Donald Qualls

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If you have a 3D printer, another option is to search Thingiverse for printable designs. I have one that I've printed (but haven't yet glued together) that cost nothing but printer time and roughly half a spool of filament. Takes standard film holders or Graflok accessories (like Grafmatics), 25mm projection distance (or I could design an extension board to get another 5-10 mm without vignetting, I think), and the lens board can be installed in different positions to give straight view, rise, shift, or rise and shift.
 
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Candlejack

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If you have a 3D printer, another option is to search Thingiverse for printable designs. I have one that I've printed (but haven't yet glued together) that cost nothing but printer time and roughly half a spool of filament. Takes standard film holders or Graflok accessories (like Grafmatics), 25mm projection distance (or I could design an extension board to get another 5-10 mm without vignetting, I think), and the lens board can be installed in different positions to give straight view, rise, shift, or rise and shift.

I dont have a 3d printer, but i think the local library may have one.
 

Jim Jones

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If you want a versatile pinhole camera, consider adapting a press camera. This gives you the convenience of sheet film holders and a variable focal length from too long to a little shorter than normal. The bed will intrude into the image with shorter focal lengths, although the dripping bed on later Speed Graphics let you use somewhat shorter focal lengths. The Speed Graphic (unlike several models from Graflex and press cameras from other makers), also offers a focal plane shutter.
 

removed account4

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If you want a versatile pinhole camera, consider adapting a press camera. This gives you the convenience of sheet film holders and a variable focal length from too long to a little shorter than normal. The bed will intrude into the image with shorter focal lengths, although the dripping bed on later Speed Graphics let you use somewhat shorter focal lengths. The Speed Graphic (unlike several models from Graflex and press cameras from other makers), also offers a focal plane shutter.
+1
AND as a bonus, if you decide you want to use a lens, instead of being always lensless, you can easily do that.
 

Donald Qualls

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With DIY, im wondering if its worth it because Id want to order a predrilled hole, add a way to put it on a tripod etc

Given how easy it is to drill your own pinhole, I don't know why anyone wants to pay for the laser drilled ones. I can literally make one in ten to twenty minutes, starting from an empty soda or beer can or molded foil pie pan, a straight pin or sewing needle, and some fine sandpaper (scissors or a utility knife needed to cut the can metal). Blind nuts in 1/4-20 make great tripod sockets (though the 3D printed design I linked above uses captive flange nuts).

As a matter of fact, I once made a pinhole camera for 126 (when you could buy it everywhere) from the box and foil pouch the film came in. Got images (not good ones, no tripod socket). Took, as I recall, about half an hour.
 

narsuitus

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I shoot medium format and large format do-it-yourself pinhole cameras.

One advantage of my 4x5 inch large format pinhole is that I can load it with 4x5 inch sheet film (camera on left) or I can load it with a film holder that uses 120 medium format roll film (camera on right).


Pinhole Cameras
by Narsuitus, on Flickr
 

NB23

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Haha so many funky memories of me walking through Paris with the Ilford Obscura, changing bag. Ended up wanting to throw everything in the garbage after 20’changes in a day...

still, many favorite photos came out of that obscura that I quite like after all. Just not practical...0
 

jeffreyg

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I have an Ilford Titan with two cones. Light weight, durable and easy to use with film holders. Most of the images i make with it I print with platinum/palladium. I bought it shortly after it was introduced so I don't know the current cost. It came with an exposure dial that was easy to assemble. i take an incident readind and dial it in to get the exposure time. you might have to compensate for reciprocity on long exposures.

http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/

http://www.sculptureandphotography.com/
 

ciniframe

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As already mentioned film holders are the way to go. Another option to consider, especially to practice, is to load them with photo paper and shoot that as a negative. With pinhole you are going to use the camera on a tripod anyway (or other support) so the very slow speed, ISO 3 to 6 is generally not an issue. For loading and developing the paper can be handled under safelight, is cheap, and can be contact printed or scanned into a file.
For those of us with a darkroom background and lots of photo paper laying about plus the chems and other equipment on hand shooting paper was a no brainer. If you have to start from scratch and buy everything then figure spending about $250 to get started. Depending on how well you can scrounge stuff up this could be less.
The downside is that paper is not sensitive to red and has limited latitude. It can be difficult to control contrast on bright outdoor scenes.
About 1/4-20 tripod holes. Because of the very light nature of my homebuilt 4x5 pinhole and lensed cameras I’ve never had a problem with tapping the 1/4-20 right into the hardwood, usually oak. Sounds crazy I know, but I’ve never had one strip out.

edit; Ah yes, I almost forgot, you will need to find, or cobble together, a dark space in your home. Fortunately I have a windowless laundry room that serves that purpose….with a dark towel covering the door bottom. Running water is a plus. Sometimes working in the middle of the night with all house lights off is an option, especially for insomniacs like myself.
 
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Candlejack

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I shoot medium format and large format do-it-yourself pinhole cameras.

One advantage of my 4x5 inch large format pinhole is that I can load it with 4x5 inch sheet film (camera on left) or I can load it with a film holder that uses 120 medium format roll film (camera on right).


Pinhole Cameras
by Narsuitus, on Flickr


Thats cool!! What is the 120 film back called??
 
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Candlejack

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Given how easy it is to drill your own pinhole, I don't know why anyone wants to pay for the laser drilled ones. I can literally make one in ten to twenty minutes, starting from an empty soda or beer can or molded foil pie pan, a straight pin or sewing needle, and some fine sandpaper (scissors or a utility knife needed to cut the can metal). Blind nuts in 1/4-20 make great tripod sockets (though the 3D printed design I linked above uses captive flange nuts).

As a matter of fact, I once made a pinhole camera for 126 (when you could buy it everywhere) from the box and foil pouch the film came in. Got images (not good ones, no tripod socket). Took, as I recall, about half an hour.

I went with the lensless :smile:. Im wondering about handmaking some other pinholes for it. (I know the debate on pinhole size is beaten to death) but im debating trying to make a 0.5 mm and gasp.. maybe a 0.7mm :smile:. I know ill lose sharpness but decrease exposure time for experiments. Im contact printing my film.. i cant imagine it would be too much of an issue?
 

narsuitus

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Thats cool!! What is the 120 film back called??

Search for "roll film back for 4x5" or "120 roll film back for 4x5" or "120 back for 4x5."

There are roll film backs that work with 4x5 inch view cameras and there are backs that work with other size cameras. Be sure the back you want is made for 4x5 inch cameras.

There are backs that accept 120 roll film and there are a few that work with other roll films such as 220 or 620 roll film. Since 120 roll film is still available, it is a better choice.

There are backs that allow you to shoot 6x7cm, 6x9cm, 6x12cm or 6x17cm images. The 6x7cm backs are easier to find and are less expensive than the larger sizes.

 
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