Shooting with a 8×10 large format pinhole camera

A pinhole camera is actually a box with a small hole which allows light to enter on film. There is no lens or any mechanisms, just a light-proof box with a hole. I have shot pinhole cameras like the Holga 120 WPC, and what you get is a very specific kind of image, no sharpness like a camera with a lens, but with a very interesting look.

What you see above is a 8×10 large format pinhole camera. A box which takes 8×10 sheet film, and a small hole on the front which translates to an f/400 aperture and a focal length about 15mm.

A f/400 aperture means that on a bright sunny day with an ISO 100 film you need about 5 seconds exposure. Add to that reciprocity failure, and you get the point, very long exposures!!

8×10 film is very expensive, I had purchased a few years ago two packs of film, Ilford FP4 and Provia 100F (and still have many sheets left, since I only shoot only a  few sheets  every year). The choice of FP4 was not really wise, a 400 ISO film would be more appropriate for a pinhole camera. Provia has excellent reciprocity behaviour so I don’t worry about that.

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, 210 seconds exposure)

I base my calculations on the Ilford chart formula: Ec=Em^1.48 (Ec is the corrected exposure, and Em is the measured exposure, in seconds). So far, it has proven quite accurate.

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, 9 seconds exposure)

This camera has no viewfinder, but I use an old Voigtlander 15mm viewfinder to determine my frame (not with the highest accuracy but at least you get a good feeling of what you are about to shoot. It helps a lot.

Since exposures are so long, a good and sturdy tripod is necessary to minimize camera movement. The image lacks the sharpness of a normal camera with a lens, so you don’t want to further decrease the image quality.

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, 15 seconds exposure)

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, unknown exposure)

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, 240 seconds exposure)

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, unknown exposure)

(Pinhole 8×10 camera, Ilford FP4 film, unknown exposure)

The above image is my favourite from this camera. Unfortunately I didn’t write down the exposure time. I have made a contact print from this sheet, and it looked great.  

I develop the black and white sheets using the taco method in a Paterson tank. It works fine. 

I have only shot two sheets of Provia 100F slide film with this camera. The results were not good, but I believe it was my mistake, somewhere in the process of placing the exposed film on a box I allowed light to harm the sheet. You can see the effect on the two images below.

I am probably going to try and shoot again slide film with this camera in the near future. I hope with more consistent results this time. 

Overall, the whole experience of using a 8×10 pinhole camera is very enjoyable for me, you never really know how the images will turn out! It also easy to contact print the sheet and get a 8×10 size print. Full analog experience!!!

You can always start with a smaller sheet format , a 4×5 pinhole camera like the Harman Titan 4×5 for example. 

More images coming from this camera soon…


©2018 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

You can buy fine art prints from my best images at my eshop.


This entry was posted in Analog, Pinhole and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *