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Recently my work has drifted towards a darker more abstract side, I’ve been using quite a lot of camera movement within this, which normally means shutter speeds of 0.3 to 2 seconds. In daylight the bottom end of this is just about achievable with ISO 100 and f/22 but sometimes you need to get things darker, a polariser or ND8 usually get me in the right ballpark.

That’s all easy enough on the Canon 6D but often I only have a Fuji X-M1 in my pocket, the 27mm lens has an awkward 39mm filter thread and I don’t really want to be messing about with filters on there, the point of that camera is compact portability. The other downside is it maxes at ISO 200 and f/16, so I’m miles away from getting the slow shutter I need.

Inspiration struck to make a DIY pinhole lens for it using a spare body cap, sharpness isn’t a big deal for this sort of photography, the tiny aperture would get the shutter speed I’m after, it would be cheap and small enough to throw in a pocket.

Pinhole on Fuji X-M1

There’s loads of tutorials online for this so I’m not going to repeat with a step by step process but I’ll quickly go through the basics. Buy a body cap (£2.99 off eBay) and drink a rum and coke to get an empty can. Drill a hole in the middle of the cap then sand it down and clean. Cut out a small section of the coke can, poke a needle most of the way through it then sand the other side to get a tiny hole, this is to ensure a nice clean hole rather than poking the needle all the way through. Make sure everything is nice and clean to avoid getting bits in your sensor then colour the bit of can in on both sides with black Sharpie to stop light reflections. Centre the holes and stick the can into the back of the body cap with black electrical tape. Easy, and a great excuse for a Sailor Jerry’s in the middle of the day.

Rear of Pinhole

The silver circle is just where I didn’t colour in with Sharpie for fear of covering the pinhole with ink, the actual aperture is the tiny dot in the middle of that. You can see it’s a bit rough and ready but seems to do the job, I might try a slightly nicer version of it at some point if I find myself using it a lot.

I’ve taken and processed a few shots with it so far getting some interesting results, it takes some getting used to the complete lack of sharpness. Even doing ICM work with a normal camera the focus and sharpness gives clean lines as you can see on my previous blog on ICM reflections, but with this everything is very soft. All photos here were shot at ISO 200 with a shutter speed ranging between 1/3 and 1.1 seconds.

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