Pinhole Cameras: A Do-It-Yourself Guide
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
by Chris Keeney

5-1/2 x 8-1/2 in; 144 pp ; 35 color and 175 b/w images
Hardcover Book
ISBN 9781568989891
ISBN10 156898989X
Available June 8, 2011

Writing this book on do-it-yourself (DIY) pinhole photography for Princeton Architectural Press was a lot of fun. Being that this is my first book, you could probably guess I'm pretty excited about it. From looking at my old and new website, you can see I've had a passion for lensless photography for a while now. Now to see a published book with all the fruits of my labor in photographic exploration in print, is very fulfilling for me. It makes me happy to think that someday, someone will make a pinhole camera inspired from this book only to go on their own creative journey. I've always thought that pinhole photography is a lot like open source programming. You create something, then pass that knowledge onto the next person so they can try their best at it. What a beautiful concept.

In this book you can learn about making simple pinhole cameras with everyday household items. From finding the right container to developing the negatives in your home or office. It's a great feeling knowing that this book will become an educational tool for people who are interested in getting into the art of pinhole photography. Empowering themselves by making a photography that they can touch that was created by a camera they made with their hands.

I'm not sure what it is about lensless photography, but once you try it you will be amazed with the interesting ways you can view the world through the eye of the pinhole. Infinite depth of field (DoF) and super-wide angle perspectives. Photos, you step back from and think "wow" that's _____.


You can purchase this book from Princeton Architectural PressChronicle Books, Borders and yes of course Amazon.

My sister-in-law, who is in the publishing business was in New York City today attending the BookExpo America (BEA) conference and kindly snapped this iPhone of the book on display at the Princeton Architectual Press booth and emailed it to me. Thanks Jen, nice pic! I was pleased to see that the publisher had some of my oatmeal cameras on display too. After all the hard work creating the book, it's nice to see that the book is now out for the public to see and read. In the future I plan on using this page as a place where people who have purchased the book can ask questions directly to the author using the comment feature below.


Book Reviews to date:

ForeWord Reviews

"Pinhole cameras typically evoke an idyllic childhood pastime: matchboxes, a needle, sunny days, and curiosity. The tools of this memory have not changed, though the remembering mind has likely matured. In contrast to the hectic demands of daily life, those moments have become treasures and will always elicit a smile. Photographer Chris Keeney's new release, Pinhole Cameras: A Do-It-Yourself Guide, offers both photography buffs and nostalgic dreamers a chance to recreate that youthful joy."
Read the entire review written by Joseph Thompson on the ForeWord Reviews website



A honest and helpful review written by a fellow pinhole photographer, teacher and author, Paula, posted on Amazon's website.

"Chris Keeney's pinhole book is the best of a recent crop of books about pinhole photography to come out in the last year or so. His information is solid though he leaves out a formula for the size of the pinhole, I like Abney's Rule: Diameter of the pinhole = square root of the focal length divided by 120, and doesn't mention pivot drills for getting the pinholes the exact size. Probably this would only matter to a purist like me so in the overall scheme of things, this may not matter much. He offers specific detailed information about how to convert a number of found objects into pinhole cameras and provides darkroom basics in clear, concise language. 

The chapter on Practical and Creative Tips at the end of the book is very helpful and could only have come from someone who loves and uses pinhole cameras. The approach he takes is the approach of an artist not a curious tinkerer. That is doubly clear from the examples of pinhole photography, most done by the author. They are all gorgeous and worth the price of the book by themselves. The design of the book is unusual. It is printed on card stock and spiral bound, perfect as a classroom reference---there won't be any wearing this one out! "

CK - Paula makes a great point about the advantage of using mascot carbon steel flat pivot drill bits to create precision sized pinholes to match the focal length of the camera you want to make. Thanks for your nice review and for calling attention to this useful pinhole resource. I'm going to order a set for myself and test them out and share my results in the future on this webpage.


News Update for August 2013

I'm happy to announce that Pinhole Cameras: A DIY Guide book was featured in Cut Magazine which is published in Germany

Cover image

Sample interior spread. --- Thanks Cut Magazine for the feature and spreading the love of lensless photography!

admin - 

Hello and thank you for reading this book.
If you have any questions about anything you see in the book, please leave a comment here and I will respond ASAP. Thanks, -Chris

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Anonymous - 

Hi Chris,

I bought a Mintycam from you a week or so ago, just to see how it compared with the one I made from the book. I'm happy to say they are very similar (but yours is neater!). Now I'm trying to make a lunchbox camera and one from a cheesesticks tin. Questions: Do I just estimate the focal length? Obviously I can't measure it exactly. And what do you mean you made a 300 micron laser pinhole? With a drill? Huh? It says that on the lunchbox camera page on this site. 


Deb Nolan

Thursday, July 21, 2011

admin - 

Hi Deb,

First of all, thanks for purchasing my book and a MintyCam. I'm glad it arrived safe and sound and that it's to your liking. :) I want to start posting some photos that people created from these cameras, so please let me know what you come up with and I'll get a gallery started.

OK, to answer your question about the focal length for the lunch box pinhole camera. First measure the distance from the front of the box (where the pinhole will be attached) to where your film or paper will be. Lets say that's your lunch box is 4 inches from the pinhole to your photo sensitive material (film or photo paper). Then the focal length of your camera will be 102mm, which then means your pinhole will need to be 0.017" (0.425 mm) making your f/stop for this camera aroud f/240 - To come up with your own calculations you can always use Abney's Rule: "Diameter of the pinhole = square root of the focal length divided by 120." or if your not math whiz like me you can use an online pinhole calculator like the one on Mr. pinhole's or Zero Image's website to help with these equations.

To answer your question about the 300 micron pinhole, that refers to the laser drilled pinhole I put in the camera. I had bought a few pinholes from Lenox Laser (see there sizing chart here) - The correct size laser drilled pinhole for the camera is actaully 450 microns, but I already owned a 300 micron pinhole, so I used that instead.

Good luck with your camera and please let me know if this helps.

Thanks again!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

admin - 

I'm posting an update on the micro drill bits used for making precise size pinholes. The photo are of items I ordered online and received in the mail today. It's a set of Mascot Carbon Steel Flat Pivot Drill bits - 12 piece assortment (.004"-.026"). I wanted to do a quick update and some of my initial feedback on these drill bits. Pardon the iPhone photo, but I figured it would do the job for the update. My first thought was that these bits are really small and delicate, so I wouldn't risk putting any of the small sizes (.004", .006, or .010") in a powered hand drill. I'm sure that would be a good way to break them quickly. So a small hand drill would probably be the best tool for the small sizes. I did carefully use one of the larger sizes (.024") in a powered hand drill and it make a perfect hole. I thought, wow, I now see how these drill bits would be perfect for drilling tiny pinholes. I ordered a small hand drill used for small bits like this and will post my results when that arrives. I think the key with using these bit is to keep constant even downward pressure when twisting (drilling) the hand drill into thin aluminum, copper, or brass shim stock.

As I start to use and test these mini drill bits, I'll post more of my thoughts and findings on using them to make precision sized pinholes for the do-it-yourself  (DIY) pinhole cameras outlined in my book. -Chris

I'm going to try using this small metal hand powered mini pocket drill (pin vise)  to make create my pinholes with. I like how the top of the drill pivots, so you can use one finger to apply a small amount of downward pressure on the head while your other hand lightly twists the drill bit into the metal. I bought the drill online for less than $5.00.
The same company also makes one with a wooden handle (pictured below)

Monday, August 8, 2011

admin - 

Hello pinhole photography enthusiasts. I'm happy to say that I got my hand held pin vise in the mail yesterday and I've already put it to use. I first cut out a small 1 x 1" square of  thin 1 Mil copper foil metal (.001 inches thick) and secured it to a pad of graph paper with two pieces of black photo tape. I decided to start with a .014" pinhole (which is a good size for a cigar box pinhole camera) and gently twisting (drilling) the mascot carbon steel flat pivot drill bit  into the metal. It's amazing how quickly the drill bit went through the metal. I then gently twisted the drill bit out of the metal and then lightly sanded both sides of the pinhole with a small piece of 1000 grit sand paper. I was impressed how round and clean the pinhole looked.

I then wanted to try the hand held pin vise using one of the small drill bits to see how it worked making even smaller holes. So I pulled out a .006" drill bit and carefully inserted into the pinhole drill. I cut out another small piece of copper foil and gently started to twist (drill) the pin vise and micro drill bit into the metal. After a few twists I knew the drill bit had gone through the metal, I carefully pulled the drill bit out. I then sanded both sides with sandpaper and inspected the hole with a loupe. Perfectly round! 

I like the fact that I can confidently drill precisely sized pinholes from .004" - .024" without having to scan them with a scanner and measure them in Photoshop. Now I understand the cost of buying this set of drill bits is more than using needles, but if you think you're going to make a few pinhole camera and want to make your own pinholes and don't want to go through the hassle of measuring them, then these tools are something you'll want to get. 

Remember that the best way to get the sharpest pinhole photographs is to drill a pinhole (the diameter to match the focal length of your camera) into the thinnest and strongest metal you can find. So with very little practice, you can be making your own precision sized pinholes using these tools.

Saturday, August 13, 2011