How To Turn Your Digital SLR Camera Into a Pinhole Camera!!!

How to Turn Your Digital SLR camera into a Pinhole Camera!!!  Simple and fun photography projects!!!

Recently I glanced at an article that talked about using your state of the art high resolution digital SLR into a seriously Lo-Fi Pinhole Camera.  I was laying in bed this afternoon, and suddenly felt an uncontrollable urge to give it a try.  Here’s my first experience and a brief ‘how to’ for turning your digital SLR camera into a Pinhole.

How to turn your digital slr camera into a pinhole camera!!!

First off, you need to basically destroy a camera cap.  More than likely, you have one in the box that your camera came out of and haven’t touched it since.  (unless you’ve acquired a few lenses and have run out of camera bag space)  You’re going to be drilling a hole in the center of the cap.  If you don’t have an extra one, I’m sure you can buy one for about $5.00 online or at your local camera store.

The first thing you need to do is find the center of your cap.  The easiest way is to simply trace the cap on a piece of paper, like this:

After you trace the cap cut out your pretty little paper circle.  It will look something like this:, you can either do like I did and spend your time with a ruler and trying to draw intersecting lines…


After it has been cut out, there are a couple of ways to find the center.  First I spent my time with a ruler trying to draw intersecting lines directly through the center.  The easier way though is to simply fold the circle in half like this:



…and then fold it in half once more like this:


When you unfold the paper, the intersecting creases will conveniently mark the spot with a nice ‘X’.  It’s like a treasure map to pinhole paradise.


Next, you’ll simply need to place the paper on top of your camera cap.  You could use tape… I didn’t.


Next comes the moment of commitment.  Let’s face it, it’s not every day that you’re able to use your DeWalt drill on your camera gear with a positive result.  You might be thinking… what if it isn’t perfectly centered.  What if I mess up… what if…  Here’s the thing.  You’re making a lo-fi pinhole camera for fun.  If you want perfection, slap your $1500 lens back on and skip the pinhole project.

To drill the hole, you just align the drill bit with the center of the ‘X’ and drill away.  I think the best size of drill bit would be a 1/8″ or maybe 3/16″.  I used a smaller bit, but I’m going to enlarge the hole before I use it again.  (oh, and I don’t really recommend drilling through a camera cap on top of a marble table top… especially if your wife is nearby.



After you have a hole, the next thing you need to do is tape over it.  The hole we just drilled in the cap is there to give us access to the real pin hole that will be much smaller than a drill bit.  Somehow every piece of tape in my house had disappeared, so I improvised with a genuine U.S.A. postage stamp. (the sticky kind, not the lick the back kind.  that’d be a little messy.)  Just flip the cap over and tape over it.  I think that scotch tape would work well for this.


Next step is to make your tape non-transparent and non-reflective.  Break out your trusty sharpie and go to work.


We’re almost to the fun part.  Find a pin.  On my first attempt, I found this T-pin and poked it through the stamp.  The problem was though that the hole was still much too large, and my first pictures were way too blurry… even for lo-fi pinhole images.  What did work fairly well though was finding another really sharp pin, and just barely puncturing the tape.  I’m not totally certain on this, but I believe that the smaller the hole, the more clear the resulting image will be.


The next step is to slap that baby on your camera and start the fun.  You’ll notice that your camera thinks you’ve lost your mind, and will revoke all of it’s automatic feature privileges from you, so you’ll have to go all manual on this, but it just might be a good learning experience for you.

Here’s mine.  It is now the most expensive pinhole camera I’ve ever personally seen.



I took about 15 pictures with it.  There’s a bit of a learning curve.  Thank God for instant images on the back of the camera.  Aiming is a challenge at first, and exposure is too.  I ended up using 1600 ISO in direct sunlight and about a 1/30th of a second shutter speed.  You’ll just have to experiment though.

Here are a few of my Digital SLR pinhole pictures.  They’re maybe not fabulous, but that’s part of the fun.

This first shot was my reluctant daughter who is always coerced into being my guinea pig for photo projects while I’m at home.

I made a couple of adjustments and convinced her to turn around for me.  Her enthusiasm is still evident.

Deciding that I was more likely to get elvis to re-enter the building than I was to get my daughter excited about my new found discovery, I opted to give one of my boxers a ‘walk’.  After she figured out what was going on, she wouldn’t look at me either.  Lot’s of fun though still.

I’d love to hear your experience with this, if you give it a try.  Leave a comment and let me know.

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About the Author

Jeremy BinnsWhen I'm not trying to save the world from the coming zombie invasion, I love my wife, hug my daughters, write, photograph, listen, observe, explore, and worship.View all posts by Jeremy Binns →

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

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