Friday, April 23, 2010

Project Pinholaroid

In honor of the upcoming World Pinhole Day, I decided to embark on a little build project of my own when I discovered a trashed Polaroid 210 Land Camera at a resale shop in Oakland. I really love taking pinhole pictures, and I love even more the instant gratification provided by instant film!
Now, for those of you that don't know, Polaroid no longer makes instant film, but there are a couple of companies that still produce compatible film, one being Fuji and the other is called the Impossible Project, which has some lovely Polaroid-compatible film, and is marketed at a more artistic market.

The Polaroid 210 Land camera is one of a family of cameras made by Polaroid that takes peel-apart style 100 series instant film. As you can see, it's pretty damn fugly. Mine, having been yanked from a dark corner of a junk shop, looked even worse than this one. Pretty much the only thing worth saving on these cameras is the back. the back is where all the magic happens on these cameras anyway. It's what holds the pack of film, and its where the rollers are located that squish the chemicals across the film after the exposure. If you can find a camera with nice, clean rollers and a backside that isn't too gross, snag it!
Here's all the crap we DON'T need removed from the back of the camera. You can rip off the bellows, the lens, the viewfinder, the strap, the shutter button and the electrical cords. Note that there will be a few areas that can leak light if you don't cover them with something; we'll get to that a few steps from now.
Here is the back. This is really the only part of the camera worth anything at this point. Clean it up with some Goof-Off or rubbing alcohol, and make sure the back opens and closes nicely.
This is a check-fit of the new camera front. you'll want to cut an opening the same size as the film-plane opening, and make sure it's centered over that window so everything lines up later on. I'm using black foamcore. It's cheap and rigid and easy to work with. Glue that sucker on with some contact cement, and we're on out way...
Here I've constructed the barrel of the camera, after deciding on a focal length of 58mm and a pinhole diameter of .013 inches. This gives me an f-stop number of 176 (thanks Mr. Pinhole!) and a field of view of 87 degrees.
This is a view of the top of the camera, and everything fits super snug.
Front of the camera with the lensboard in the check-fit position and the pinhole in place (Here's a good place to start if you want to drill your own pinhole). I've also made a sliding shutter mechanism out of a piece of 4-ply mat board that slides in between the lensboard and another piece of foamcore with an appropriately sized channel carved out.
A view of the inside of the camera, you can see the pinhole taped in place up front and the metal shim blackened with permanent maker to reduce internal reflection.
At this point I took a break and created a cute little graphic overlay to jazz up the front of the camera. Black foamcore is pretty unexciting.
Custom artwork in place and shutter tab colored in. Ta-dah! All that is left to do is cover up the hole where the viewfinder was and plug up a few screw holes with gaffer's tape.
Here is the sassy little bad-boy. Just in time for World Pinhole Day!!!
Pics to follow soon-ish.

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