What is a pinhole camera? (And how to make a pinhole camera of your own!)

Pinhole camera
(Image credit: David Hancock)

You may be asking what is a pinhole camera (or how to make a pinhole camera!). In short, it's a camera that is stripped back to its most fundamental elements. Basically it's nothing more than a lightproof space with a hole – which is the aperture – perforated into it. 

Light passes through the aperture, which projects the scene from outside the camera onto the opposite internal side. Curiously this image will be inverted, and cast onto a light-sensitive surface to capture the photograph.

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.