Wow! If there isn’t a camera that does what you want to do…then MAKE IT!!! check out The Battlefield Pinhole Camera

Check out:  The Battlefield Pinhole Camera.

Light leak on the third roll, but check out the cool print delivery! This makes me want to make one! With a few tweaks of course!

The battlefield is a revolutionary pinhole camera that simultaneously uses 3 rolls of 35mm film to capture an image split across all three rolls. This tut has lots of details and is somewhat technical, so we will jump between images, videos and text, using the best method (or methods) to illustrate each step. Try and keep up. This tutorial is brought to you by the nothing-is-impossible photographer Steven Monteau. Check his other photographic inventions on his Flickr stream and his bi-lingual blog. Just before diving into this huge tut, if want to learn more about pinhole cameras, I recommend reading the following books: The Pinhole Camera: A Practical How-To Book for Making Pinhole Cameras and Images and Pinhole Photography: From Historic Technique to Digital Application

The Concept

This is a breakdown of all the different elements that build the Battlefield. You can use this list as a companion to the actual instruction. It will help you understand what are the different functionalities that each part provides. It also opens a small window into the head of Steven.

The Main Body

The main Battlefield body which looks like, em … a naval destroyer is the enclosure that holds all the pieces together, as with any camera the body has to answer several functions. Firstly, it needs to have a place for the film cassette, then it needs a photographic chamber and lastly it needs to house the winding spool or spools.A Mechanism To Handle Roll Films.  “Traditional” pinholes this size usually carry photo-paper or sheet-film as what we computer age babies call sensor. The Battlefield, however, uses three rolls of film so it needs to have a winding spool and knob, a rewind lever lock mechanism and button and three (yes THREE) different rewind spools and knobs. The pinhole is the hole that lets the light through. It is a very small hole drilled in aluminum foil. If you don’t know what a pinhole is, check this article or read this great book: The Pinhole Camera: A Practical How-To Book for Making Pinhole Cameras.

Some people are "crazy-creative!"

The Shutter

As the exposure times are slow, the shutter can be a simple scotch tape. But it’s way cooler to make a nice sliding shutter. So indeed a sliding shutter it is. Lids The lids are what keep the entire Battlefield light-tight. The first back lid is an internal cover which is meant to avoid light leaks. It is also pressing on the film to keep it flat.  The second back lid is a big cover, made for closing the camera securely.

Tripod Mount

A nut (screw thread : 1/4″ 20tpi unc)

Building Materials

The main body is built from a cardboard calendar. It is pretty thick, if you don’t have a old calendar for that end, you can use heavy construction paper or foam board. Black is optimal for that. The thin material-like the mechanisms are built from plastic calling cards. Credit cards will work also. The wind & rewind spools are made from felt-tip pens. The knobs are made from marker-pen caps and bottle caps. You’ll also need some film – at least three rolls.


To cut, to drill, to mistreat materials you will need scissors, cutter (no saw) and an xacto knife. To fit the stuff together, use super glue to group the cardboard pieces and use Epoxy Glue (like araldite) to fix materials subject to constraints (especially the tripod mount & the knobs)  You’ll also need sandpaper, pins, nails, tracing paper, and some small odds and ends you’ll probably find in the office supply drawer.

So let’s Start The Construction!

Step 1 – Cut The Main Body and prepare the film cassette slot Step 2 – Delineate The Photographic Chamber Boundaries, prepare the winding spool Step 3 – Create an Anti-Rewind Mechanism.  A Mechanism for preventing the film from loosing tension. If it’s a bit difficult to understand why it’s useful and how it works now, jump to the end of the post to see how it works and come back here. Step 4 – Create Rewind Knobs For Each Film Roll tep 5 –Drill The Actual Pinhole. I used aluminum foil and a needle to do this, as this is the fastest way I found. Actually, The pinhole can be drilled randomly, it will work anyway, but it should have the perfect size for its focal length (distance between pinhole and film) in order to get sharp results, check this pinhole size calculator to get the exact hole size you need BUT ! It’s impossible to pierce so precisely, so you will have to pierce numerous holes randomly, and check which ones have the right size, by scanning them at the max. res. If you get curious during the process, well, you can preview the result. Just put some tracing paper in place of the film.

Use a box (or your hand) to darken the back, and voilà ! : Step 6 – Make a Cool Sliding Shutter Actually, this is kinda useless for this kind of pinhole, but it is so cool, that I will show you what I’ve done anyway ^^ : (check the video at the end of this post)… I’m sure you don’t need any advice to make a much simpler version. (hint – gaffer’s tape) Step 7 – Make The Back Lid Depending on the design of your pinhole making a back lid can be very simple, however, mine is complicated. If my camera body was rectangular, I would just have to make a slightly bigger box to close the whole thing, but, nooooooo, I had to make a battleship. Step 8 – Finish & Paint Apply a first coat of Primer, it helps smoothing out the surfaces, it also helps to avoid light leaks. far as painting goes, the only useful / functional paint is the matte black into the photographic chamber, it removes reflections and “eats any lights that accidentally goes into the chamber. The rest is for fun.

Use The Battlefield!!! Advance the film(s) / shoot / advance the films / shoot / adv…… Then, when the films end, allow the rewinding by pushing the rewind lever lock button

Battlefield Pinhole Camera – using 20 from Udi Tirosh on Vimeo.

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