Cartridge film was invented in the early sixties along with the ‘lnstamatic’ as an easy way for people to load cam­eras. The only film currently available is colour negative allowing 24 colour pinhole photographs to be taken within one camera and then, (after remembering to remove the pinhole adaptor) processed at any laboratory.
In instamatic cameras, a hole in the film engages with a pin within the camera to cock the shutter and prevent the film over winding. These pinhole cameras don’t have such technological wonders so they need to be lined up in a camera before assembly so as to avoid 24 half images to be disappointedly collected from the chemists.


Get an old 110 instamatic. Place the film in the camera and start winding.
There is a window at the back of the film that shows a series of arrows. When these end a number of is will appear, the camera will go click and you will find you can no longer wind on the film. Press the shutter of the camera then watch the window and restart winding the film on. After a series of arrows the number 2s start to appear. Count how many number 2s go past before the camera clicks to a halt again. Try this once more on the number 3s then right down on the cartridge how many one needs to wind on to ensure the frame is fully exposing. >>>> >>>> >>>> etc. Do not rely on two similar films off the shelf lining up with the same number.
Because they rely on a hole to engage the cameras the manufacturers are incredibly haphazard at accurately and consistently sticking down their films backing paper. Even though this wastes the first three films this is better than wasting 24. Once this is judged one can make and fit the pinhole.

Making the Pinhole.

Cut out a 28mm x 45mm strip of aluminium. The central area can, with care, be filed down to almost foil thickness for optimum quality.
Position the aluminium on a hard flat surface ie, glass or Formica.
Get a thin sharp pin or needle and place it on the central area of the aluminium. (the thinnest point if filed down.)
Holding the pin still and vertical, turn the metal under the pin in one direction until the metal is just punctured.
Apply only light pres­sure to the pin.
The ideal size should be around .23mm in diameter, which in practice is about as small a hole as is possible to make (See Photo). (As long as you can’t drive a bus through it you should be OK.)
Securely tape the metal pinhole onto the adaptor with the taped over side facing the film (See photo).
Fix a lens cap/shutter over the pinhole made up of some more insulation tape (if you have any left by now!) with a tab at the end folded onto itself for easy removal,
Write the word ‘Nikon’ on the front and away you go!

Winding on the film.

Bite off part of the cover of the wind on side, (the cog bit!).
Wind the film on manually keeping an eye on the window at the back of the cartridge. The paper backing starts off with arrows and then five numbers appear. >>>> >>>>>>>> etc. Stop winding when you get to the correct number of each frame. (See assembly above).


To avoid excessive camera shake, ones finger is used as the shutter. Peel off the tape ‘lens cap’, being careful not to let light in through the pinhole. (Hold the camera down away from the sky),
Rest the camera on a surface or stick it onto a wall / windscreen wiper! camel / mouth. Gravity is far steadier than your hands so let the camera come to rest before letting go and starting the exposure.
The exposure will start when you let go of the camera. Exposure times. Sunlight = 4 seconds. Cloudy = 10 seconds. Indoors = 1 minute+. Or use a flashgun on ‘manual’ (full power) 4 inches away.
After exposure, replace ones finger with the tape-shutter.

Qualities of the image.

Unlimited depth of field- Everything is in focus 1 mm from the pinhole to infinity-A bugs eye view of the world 8mm from the ground- No need for a viewfinder-Just ponder on what something might look like and give it a bash-The ability to view unseen time- indestructible (ish) and you can take photos from inside your mouth! (See photo) (Always useful).

Subject matter.

Anything but make sure you make use of the foreground close to the camera. Always edit out all the ones which don’t work. If they are all blurred and out of focus, give them fancy titles and pretend they are just what you wanted. Good luck.

© The Pinhole photographers Handbook .Justin Quinnell. 2002.