Digital Pinhole Photography

I’d noticed a speck of dust on my camera’s sensor while out recently, so I decided to take the lens off and give it a quick clean with the classic Giottos Rocket Blower (Search for "Giottos Rocket Blower" on: DuckDuckGo, Amazon UK, Amazon US). While doing so, I found myself wondering how simple a lens could get – there didn’t seem to be any reason I couldn’t put a pinhole in front of the sensor, with no lens attached, and take a photo. Yes, it would look rubbish at best, but it should work.

I stabbed a rough hole in a handy empty crisp packet, and held it over the front of the camera. There was an image. It was rubbish, but it did work.

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In an attempt to get a slightly better result, I made a smaller and neater hole in a brown envelope, and stepped outside. Here’s the view I often use here for test shots:

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And here’s a shot of the house across from our door:

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A shot of the steps leading down to the ground from our flat is reasonably recognisable, including our neighbour’s yellow van:

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So, the results are all a bit rubbish, and do show why cameras actually need lenses. The fact that it works at all, though, is a reminder of how simple this stuff can be – we’re just putting light on a surface, and the surface can be a digital sensor, just as it used to be film.