I made a new thing!

116 Pinhole Camera

So, we’re going to Iceland.

Travis and I normally go on vacation in the fall. We take camping vacations normally, and go in the fall after all the kids are back in school. But, things have changed this year! Travis wound up getting two weeks of vacation in May. We sold our crappy camper. And, in a major turnaround, we decided to take our first big international trip (sorry, Canada, I love you, but the few little trips we’ve taken across your borders don’t really count as international travel).

So, we’re going to Iceland! We were kind of considering three different destinations – Iceland, England, and Ireland – for our first trip, but Iceland won out. I think it’s a good choice for our first trip abroad. Almost everyone speaks English. They drive on the same side of the road as the US. It’s a small country – the size of Ohio, with a total population about the same size as Columbus, so we hopefully won’t get too overwhelmed. Most importantly, though, it’s gorgeous. There’s all sorts of awesome nature-y things going on there: volcanoes, geysers, waterfalls, whales, puffins, etc.

Anyway, we’re extremely excited about this. However, in all that excitement, I’m also a little worried, because this is our first trip abroad, and I haven’t been on a plane since about 2005, so I haven’t dealt with the new TSA screeners and I’ve never had to deal with going through customs and such before. I don’t want to screw anything up. So I’ve been trying to figure out what camera gear we’ll be taking, taking into consideration our luggage weight restrictions.

I think I’ve got it set. Travis and I are each taking a digital camera, and honestly, I think I’ll probably be taking a lot more digital camera pictures this vacation than I have in the past few. We’re taking our GoPro. But we are taking some film cameras too, and as much film as I can stuff into our carry-on luggage. The Yashicamat is going. The Olympus Pen-EE2 is going. The Nikon FM2N with the Lensbaby lens is going. And that was it. Tragically, the Savoy is staying at home. The Polaroid 230 didn’t make the cut either. I know, it is so sad!

And, of course, none of the large format cameras are going either. I just don’t think I’d have room for a Speed Graphic, sheet film, film holders, and changing bag in the carry-on luggage, not and take any other camera. It is tragic, going to a place as gorgeous as Iceland, and not being able to take any large format camera.

This bummed me out, so I decided to make the next best thing – a relatively compact pinhole camera that takes 116 (70mm) film. I used the body from an old, funky Kodak Autographic folding bellows camera as my base. I tore out the face, bellows, and bed of the camera, and constructed a simple front made out of black foamcore. I covered the whole thing in fabric (since the leatherette was nasty and half-gone anyway), strapped it together with Velcro, and was good to go.

116 Pinhole cam, laying down

I ran a test roll through it today, using some expired 70mm Konica Minolta Professional 160 color film respooled onto a 116 spool. My backing paper is kind of torn up along the edges, and I think I had a small light leak going on in addition to that, but no big deal.

I’m not sure how big the pinhole is that I’m using. I salvaged it from an old 4×5 pinhole camera I had torn up for some reason. I wasn’t sure what to use as an exposure time, so I did various shots at between 2 and 10 seconds. Everything I tried seemed to work okay, weirdly, although I think 5-8 seconds in bright light is the sweet spot.

This was at 6 seconds:

Dodge Dart

7 seconds:

David's Van, again

8 seconds:


So, yeah, kind of light-leaky. I think that might be partly from the Autographic door in the back of the camera, so I’ll have to try sealing that shut. Otherwise, I’ll just throw an extra few rubber bands on it and call it done. I’m less bothered by light leaks than I probably should be.

Anyway, we also did some C41 developing today (yes, we still have a bunch of film from last vacation we haven’t developed). We used the Rollei Digibase color chems for the first time. All the chems are liquid, and are supposed to have a longer shelf life. I’ve only scanned in a few rolls, but it looks like it did a decent job developing. An interesting thing about the Rollei chems is that the Bleach and Fix steps are separated, as opposed to a combined Blix step like in the other C41 kits I’ve used. This makes the Rollei chems a good candidate for trying bleach bypass the next time we do some C41 developing.

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