Edward M. Fielding

Edward M. Fielding


How to make your own camera lens

Believe it or not you can make your own camera lens for your DSLR.  Sound too good to be true?  Its true you can make your own camera lens from a few dollars worth of material.  Now you won't be putting any of the big guys like Cannon, Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus or Sigma out of business soon but you can have a fun new lens to experiment in a few minutes.


What I'm talking about is a pinhole lens.  A pinhole "lens" is a lens that is a single, very small aperature.  Its the opposite of a fast lens, its the ultimate slow lens.  What it promises is an incredible long depth of field (a feature of very small aperatures) and a soft, arty, vintage type of effect.


You can purchase pinhold lens such as this one:



The Pinwide  give you a flawless pinhole aperture. Made with the same precision etching technology used to manufacture semiconductors, the perfectly round pinhole was selected after extensive testing to ensure the highest sharpness. The result is an image that closely matches the look and feel of traditional analog pinhole photography. The aperature on this lens is an amazing f/96 ~ f/128 with a wide 80 degree field of view and focal length of 11mm on Micro Four Thirds camera.


If you don't want to spend $40 on  hole, no matter how precise it is, you can always try to make your own by poking a hole in the center of a spare lens cap.  The key here is to make as clean of a hole as possible.  Many a pinhole camera were made by school kids with cardboard boxes and a piece of tin foil with a pinhole poked in it.  It will work, it just won't be as sharp or convenient as the Pinwide.


So how does one focus pinhole lens?  You don't.  You just point it in the general direction of your subject.  The depth of field is so great that you don't need to focus.  You compose your shot with a bit of luck and make sure you have a stationary subject because the exposure is going to be really long!


On most camera's you will need to set the camera to "no lens" because the camera won't detect any electrical contacts for the auto focus.  You should set the camera to MANUAL and try this setting for your first attempt:

  •  ISO to 800, and the shutter speed to 10 seconds, and then take a picture. From there, you can adjust the shutter speed and/or ISO until you obtain the correct exposure.


​Here are some things to try with your pinhole cameras:

  • Because Pinwide has such an extremely small aperture, your camera's autoexposure system may get easily confused. For best results, put your camera into manual shooting mode. Adjust your ISO and exposure time to get exactly what you want. Use a higher ISO to get shorter exposure times. Use a lower ISO to get longer exposure times with less noise. Program and other AE modes on your camera will most likely not give you the best exposure in a lower light, but they may work sufficiently in bright sunlight.
  • Try shooting with a flash and "dragging the shutter" (use a long shutter speed).
  • Try some lightpainting! Use a bright LED flashlight and/or an external flash to illuminate the subject over a long exposure time.
  • Don't forget about pinhole video! Video works best on camera models that have manual control over video settings.
  • Don't be afraid to get super close to your subject. Exploit the benefits of a pinhole on a small camera! You can get very unique images that no other camera and standard lens can create.
  • Use a tiny tripod or a Gorillapod to hold your camera steady at unique angles for long exposures.
  • Experiment and see a whole new world right in front of you!



Photography Prints


Link for more info: Wanderlust Cameras Pinwide Digital Pinhole Cap for Micro Four Thirds Cameras

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