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What exactly is pinhole camera? The wikipedia article says

A pinhole camera is a simple camera without a lens and with a single small aperture — effectively a light-proof box with a small hole in one side. Light from a scene passes through this single point and projects an inverted image on the opposite side of the box.

Can I make my dSLR into one? Is it safe to try this, since there will be no lens? Will the results be interesting?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Is it safe to try this setup on my DSLR(since there will be no lens), mine is Canon EOS 1000D?

It is possible to make a pinhole from a DSLR. Basically, buy a spare body cap, then make a small hole in its center. Don't destroy the only cap which comes with your camera, you may need it later. Google for "DIY DSLR pinhole" for multiple instructions.

But you should remember that it is still a hole, not a glass, so some dust or liquids may come through it into the camera. On the other hand, when you change lens, even larger quantities of dust may come in.

Dust on the mirror or even on the sensor is not dangerous, but you need to be careful when you clean it later. Dust on the mirror does not affect the quality of the image, but it is visible in the viewfinder, and sooner or later it may reach the sensor. The dust on the sensor is not visible in the viewfinder, but it is visible on the shots with small aperture (large f-number) and, surprise, on pinhole shots. You should not touch the mirror when you clean it, it can be easily scratched; use only a special photographic air bulb to clean it. To clean the sensor you'll need to buy special cleaning kits and have enough patience, but sometimes the air bulb is enough. Sooner or later all photographers have to do it.

Has anyone tried it and got interesting result ?

There is a whole group on Flickr dedicated to Digital Pinhole Photography

An alternative design: a pinhole box.

They also suggest an alternative digital pinhole design in the group description. It is safer, because doesn't require to open the camera and is compatible also with compact cameras.

A ready to use pinhole

If you want to spend some money, you may buy a ready to use pinhole (f/177) from Lensbaby (you'll need to acquire their adapter too) or from other producers (see answers from @Jay Lance Photography and @Stan Rogers).

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1  
The lensbaby product is interesting because 1) it has a clear filter over the pinhole, so dust isn't an issue and 2) it also offers a diffraction-based "zone plate" optic, which opens some new possibilities. In general, I would say don't get the Lensbaby system just for this, but if you already have one, the $35 for the pinhole/zone-plate adapter isn't bad at all. –  mattdm Feb 18 '11 at 13:39
    
I'm a very happy customer of the Skink, skinkpinhole.com –  Paul Cezanne Jan 3 at 12:16

The Wikipedia article you cited does a good job of detailing what pinhole photography is. To summarize in brief:

A pinhole camera is the first and simplest form of camera- essentially a lightproof box without a lens and with a hole on one side. The light from the scene the pinhole is pointed at passes through the hole in the box and is projected (in reverse) on the opposite wall of the box. If a piece of unexposed film (or a digital sensor) is what the image is projected on, the result will be a photograph.

It is perfectly safe to use a pinhole setup with your dSLR. You can definitely make a pinhole from a camera body cap, and details of such DIY projects can be found in many tutorials and sites around the net such as:

If your cup of tea (as it were) is to buy rather than make, I have used and can recommend both of the following manufactured options for build quality and usefulness (not getting anything for mentioning 'em... Just a happy customer who bought these products retail like everybody else):

Both products are designed to fit a Canon EOS body snugly without modification, and while either option will 'get you there' in terms of creating your own pinhole images, the Skink pancake lens is an absolutely exceptional work of engineering which includes the option for differently sized pinholes to be inserted. It's made of stainless steel and brass, feels great, looks great, and produces amazing images in the 'lo-fi' tradition.

Finally, for lots of great examples of dSLR pinhole photography, you might try visiting:

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Lots of people have tried it. Usually, a spare body cap is used as the "lens" -- a hole larger than you need is drilled in the centre, then covered with foil. The pinhole is made through the foil. You can create different focal lengths using extension tubes between the body and the body cap. There are even high-quality pinhole kits (very precise holes to minimize unnecessary diffraction and create a clearer image) available from a number of sources, including Edmund Optics (formerly Edmund Scientific). (You would need a C-mount adapter for the Edmund products, or you can just use their pinholes on a homemeade body cap mount.)

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If you're interested in the DIY route, I enjoyed this article, http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/Canon_1ds_pinhole.html, by someone who really went all out in creating their pinhole lens -- he even gave it a red "L" ring! (From a more practical standpoint, his longer lens also keeps outside dust a little further from the sensor.)

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