Thursday 14 June 2012

How to make a Pinhole Camera!

This is a brilliant project for a sunny day!

What you will need:

  • A clean Pringles tube
  • A craft knife
  • A pen
  • Grease proof paper
  • Strong tape (packaging tape is what I used)  
  • Tin foil
  • A drawing pin
  • A sunny day


Draw a line with the pen all the way round the can about 2 inches from the bottom.


Cut along that line so the tube is in two pieces.


The shorter bottom piece should have a metal end if you've done this right. 

Make a hole in the centre of the metal end with a drawing pin.


We will use the plastic lid as a screen.  You will notice that the lid of the Pringles tube is clear so use some grease proof paper on the lid to act as a translucent screen (semi-see-through screen).


Put the plastic lid onto the shorter part of the tube you've cut and put the longer piece back on top and tape them together.


To ensure that no light can get in through the sides wrap the sides of the tube, which is now your pinhole camera with foil.
When doing this tape the first end down to the tube before wrap ping, wrap round the tube at least twice and then tape the loose end at the end closed. Tuck end bits hanging over the ends in.


Now to use your pinhole camera.  Go outside, best on a sunny day, the brighter the clearer your picture will be! 
Close one eye and hold the tube up to your other eye so you are looking through the pinhole!

You want the tube to be as dark as possible so cup your hands around the opening of your tube at the end you are looking through (like in the picture above) and have a look about, around your garden or in your street or at the park.  The screen, your Pringles lid, shows you an upside down picture coloured picture of what you are aiming at!  like ours below that I rotated using the computer so you can see how clear the image can be...


How does a hole in the bottom of a Pringles tube make a picture?

It’s not actually the hole that makes the picture; the image of the world is always there.  What the hole does do is make it possible for us to see the image.

To explain it as simply as I can imagine you point your homemade pinhole camera at a brightly lit bowl of fruit – The light reflects off the red apple, the blue of the blueberries, the green of the pears and the yellow of the lemon.  If you were to hold a piece of white paper near the fruit you would see some of that colour reflected onto the paper but it won’t look anything like pieces of fruit.  Why?  Because light bouncing off the red apple will overlap the light bouncing of the blueberries, the green pears and the yellow lemons; the colours all blend together making a mix up of light.

The hole isolates a small part of the light, sorting a single image from the mixed up light. Only a few of the light rays reflecting off each point on the red apples are traveling in a direction that will let them pass through the hole. It is the same with the light bouncing off all the other fruit in the bowl. On the other side of the hole, these light rays reveal an image of the fruit, but upside down.
‘You've made a camera! This kind of camera is called a camera obscura-which is Latin for "dark chamber."


  1. Very cool project, I keep meaning to make a pin hole camera for my wifes dslr, just never seem to find the time.

    1. This one is quite easy and quick to make... Hope you find the time soon :)

  2. Thanks for sharing this. My 2 year old is a pringle-a-holic so we have enough cans to make a small army of these! So happy to have found your blog! We also homeschool and though in the states are an English themed blog...complete with Jane Austen fun and my own Mr. Darcy :-) come by some time and lets have some tea. looking forward to trying your pinhole camera DIY! ~~Katie

    1. Pleased to meet you Katie! So pleased you're going to try this project and like my blog. We certainly had a lot of fun with the pin hole camera and hope you do too! x