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DIY Pinhole Lens for Nikon DSLR

Updated on April 7, 2011
My Nikon D40 with my DIY improvised pinhole lens
My Nikon D40 with my DIY improvised pinhole lens

How to Make a DIY Pinhole Lens for DSLR

Did you know that with just simple stuff at home you can already make an improvised pinhole lens for your Nikon DSLR? Well, I specifically said Nikon because this is something that I have tried with my Nikon D40. I'm not really sure if the same thing will work with a canon DSLR but for any Nikon DSLR this would surely work.

All you need is some sort of black cardboard. It has to be really really black just so we are sure that no light will pass through. And to make sure even more that no light will pass through, we will be using aluminum as the outer layer so that light will be reflected away from our camera sensor.

Warning though: this might cause your camera sensor to have dusts or other foreign particles especially if you're not careful. Make sure you work in a clean environment and don't use this less for a really long time. Make sure all the stuff you will be using will be very clean and dust-free. So don't blame me if you get dust on your sensor, okay? I personally didn't care that much because I was risking that for the sake of experimentation. And I do love tinkering with DIY stuff such as this one.

So anyway, once you have covered one side of the black cardboard with aluminum foil, you can now poke it with a pin in the center (thus being called a pinhole). Ideally, the smaller the better because that will mean smaller aperture and better focusing. Then I just put it on as my lens using some tape and voila we have our diy pinhole lens!

Some sample shots with my improvised pinhole lens

Some mangoes shot with my DIY pinhole lens
Some mangoes shot with my DIY pinhole lens
Chess pieces shot with my DIY pinhole lens
Chess pieces shot with my DIY pinhole lens
Photo of the sky with my pinhole lens
Photo of the sky with my pinhole lens

How to shoot with DIY pinhole lens

Just put your camera on manual settings and you'll instantly be able to use this DIY pinhole lens for your Nikon DSLR. Of course, you're gonna need a tripod cos you're going to be using a lot of slow shutters since our aperture is very small. I personally didn't have a tripod that day that I tried this and so expect some really crappy shots. Like this one on the right, I just put it on top of a table and exposed for quite a while. I'm not sure but I think I bumped up my ISO to compensate and not have to wait so long.

The shots that will come out are ones that will have this sort of soft-focus, hazy, dream-like kind of feel. I didn't really get to use it that much but at least now I know it works and can use it next time I have a concept for shooting with the DIY pinhole lens like maybe landscapes or something especially if I have my tripod already (it's broken right now). 

What are you waiting for?

Yup, it's the simple! You don't have to buy one of those toy lenses. Other tutorials are so complex where you have to drill the camera lens mount cover and and many other complex things. My tutorial is simple and you can find everything you need at home. You can try it right now if you wanted.

Actually, what really inspired me is those DIY matchbox pinhole cameras that can be found online. Yes, they just used matchboxes and then used 35mm film. I know I want to try that one day it's just that it's a lot of work so I decided to just go for this really simple and fun DIY project of making an improvised lens for my Nikon DSLR. 


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      Jed Rosell 6 years ago

      Astig to, Harry. Buti hindi yung body cap ng dslr yung binutas mo. dati yun yung gusto mong butasin e. Hahahaha!!!