I am working on building my own camera. For the first part I made a simple lens design and crafted the lenses out of acrylic glass. My lens is a rough 100mm lens with 3 elements and I used a 3d printer to make a tube which holds those lenses together. The lens is mounted to a box which has an acrylic glass panel in the back where the image is projected on (I sanded the panel on the projection side and it works great!).

Now I would love to capture some sort of image on film but I want to make my own film. Please don't get me wrong - I know I cant make some "real" film- I am just looking for some solution to capture SOMETHING. Maybe I can paint a thin sheet of wood such that the image gets "burned" in after thirty minutes or so. I can remember that someone suggested me to use beetroot juice as a light sensitive paint but I prefer to ask before I'll try that.

The "film" then would be scanned and most likely converted to black and white. I'm just looking for a solution to be like "hey that was produced by me" and not "see how good my own camera performs". Do you have any hints? Also be aware that I'm not into chemistry at all. I would prefer some household stuff over chemistry I would have to order.

  • This question is too broad because books have been written on the subject (eg, "The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes"). See Alternative photographic processes A-Z.
    – xiota
    May 26, 2020 at 16:49
  • 3
    "Also be aware that im not into chemistry at all." – Perhaps making your own film is not something you should pursue. Why not just buy film?
    – xiota
    May 26, 2020 at 16:51
  • Surprisingly, it is possible to make your own "film" -- on glass, a metal plate, or even on plastic film stock. As noted, this is far beyond the scope of answers on this kind of site. It's a lifetime study project.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    May 26, 2020 at 16:51
  • "Film" literally means, the plastic base. You can find books that talk about preparing your own light-sensitive coatings that can be applied to film, plates, or paper, but manufacturing your own plastic film with good optical and mechanical qualities, may be more difficult and less rewarding than you expect. May 26, 2020 at 18:00
  • If have seen the description of pinhole cameras that works with photographic paper (of course, less sensitive than film), but in your case possibly easier to load.
    – xenoid
    May 26, 2020 at 20:13

3 Answers 3


Some years ago, there were a number of "liquid emulsion" products, which allowed you to "paint" a surface with sensitized gelatin similar to that on enlarging paper. Once dried (in the dark) this could be exposed, either under an enlarger or in a camera, then developed much like a print to show an image (negative of the scene, though if on a black surface the image would become positive by reflection).

I don't know if these are still available, but such materials are within the scope of amateur production -- but how to actual do that job is far beyond what can be answered on this kind of site. There was a photographer in Oregon ten years or so ago who had a very complete web site, documenting her methods, and made all her own plates and even sheet film.


Some woods, over days, lighten and darken after exposure to sun. I notice it on lumber deliveries, especially cedar.

I've been tempted to set a pinhole camera, with board as target of a scene, and wait.


I have been looking into the same thing. With what i can find you can buld a simple camera obscura and either use beetroot antyotypes in it to take photo (bear in mind you may have to "take" the picture for several months) or you can use a chemigram solution to replicate photos the way they do with cyanotypes. The latter is much better ofcourse, but you need a dark room of some sort (no windows with a red lightbulb). The only downside with the latter is how easy it is to ruin the quality of the photo (this just means you may need to make a more advanced obscura). Just so you know you can buy cyanotype solution of amazon for like 8 dollars, incase your lazy like me.


Ps: i really hope this helps someone because i spent alot of research on this topic because there seemes to be no other information fit for this.

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