Pinhole cameras, which are extremely simple cameras that you can even make at home with any light-proof box, have become increasingly popular among modern photographers in recent years. While the pinhole camera, in general, is far more basic than most manufactured cameras, that very simplicity has made it an attractive option for experimental photographers, as it produces sharp still images and allows photographers greater flexibility with the size of negatives and timed photography techniques.
Of course, the primary use of a pinhole camera is simply to take pictures. Pinhole photography, however, has several special characteristics that make its pictures unique, including continuous depth sharpness at all distances and the ability to capture a wider range of frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum. Unlike conventional cameras that use digital techniques or a series of lenses to capture an image, a pinhole camera simply opens a light-proof box to outside light, exposing film to the direct light produced by an image. Thus, many photographers feel that the images produced by a pinhole camera are closer to the photographed image, unaltered by reflective lenses or digital recording.
One of the perceived disadvantages of a pinhole camera, its long exposure time, has actually become an advantage in the hands of experimental photographers. As a pinhole camera does not use lenses to amplify or focus an image onto film, it can take a pinhole camera longer to capture an image, sometimes up to 15 seconds in low light conditions. This forces a photographer to keep the camera still, open and pointed at an image for long periods of time before the image is sharp. Many photographers, nonetheless, have used these long exposure times to play with movement in their photography, recording partial images or blurry sequences of moving objects.
Although most manufactured cameras are assembled to work with a specific type and size of film, the simplicity of pinhole cameras allows a number of film types to be used, particularly in the case of home-made cameras that can be of nearly any size. The increased flexibility pinhole cameras provide with film allows photographers to produce negatives of all types, including very large negatives that are easier to edit or color.
Edward Mercer began writing professionally in 2009, contributing to several online publications on topics including travel, technology, finance and food. He received his Bachelor of Arts in literature from Yale University in 2006.