terraPin, a 120 Film Pinhole Photography System
by schlem, published
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The terraPin Pinhole Camera is unlike any other pinhole camera, 3D printed or otherwise. Developed after years of experience designing and constructing pinhole cameras, the terraPin is intended to be very easy to assemble, modify, and hack. Derived from the P6*6, the terraPin also uses 120 film, with a 6 X 6 cm frame, like the Holga, Hasselblad, and other classic medium format cameras. Dozens of P6*6 pinhole photographers around the world provided input and feedback to help shape the terraPin.
The "Slider" joint between the body and extension allows for effortless changes in focal length, angle of view, and magnification. One camera body and film transport mechanism can be used with multiple extensions, each with their own pinhole and shutter blade.
Assembly is a snap. A dovetail joint sandwiches the pinhole and shutter without fiddly fasteners. A single bolt holds the joint securely and provides a pre-load on the shutter fulcrum. Reduced number of glued joints in the terraPin. Velvet or felt is no longer required for light-tight construction. NOTE There is the potential for a light leak at the bottom of the extension-body joint, which manifests at the top of a landscape photograph (remember the image is inverted on the film). For more information see thing:703591: terraPin Stawp Gap
NOW there are four complete extension options:
- 50mm, designed for 0.30mm pinhole, f/167
- 35mm, designed for 0.26mm pinhole f/135
- 25.4mm, designed for 0.22mm pinhole f/132
- 18mm, designed for 0.18mm pinhole f/127
- Tripod mount
- Frame indexing window with cover slide
- Bolts secure the cap to the body during use for greater security
- Greatly reduced fastener count
- terraTool mini allen driver for opening/closing camera
- Multiple knob choices to customize your terraPin (can be retro'd to any Schlaboratory 3D printed pinhole camera)
- Dual winding knobs for precision indexing / rewinding (film swaps)
- Lefty-friendly with mirrored extensions and left or right film transport
- Film clips prevent unspooling of film during unloading ("fat roll")
- Uses same proven exposure duration calculations as P6*6 (see Thing Files)
- STILL fits on the smallest of print beds
- Designed for PLA 3D printing
To Do List:
- Update User's Guide
- Finish OpenSCAD script to generate trim plates to fit 52mm threaded rings for lens cap and filters
- Expand exposure calculations for additional films (In progress)
- Assembly and instructional video
- Detailed assembly instructions
Butta Shutter remote actuated shutter
- Added exposure data with reciprocity failure for Kodak Portra 160/400, 5/28/15 - see:
The terraPin was modeled using Tinkercad and OpenSCAD. Credit and thanks to Thingiverse citizen Aubenc for the Knurled Surface Library v2, which greatly improves the appearance of my cameras.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons - Attribution - Non-Commercial license. This license applies only to the files and documents available for download from the Thing Files section of this Thing.
All other related content (photographs, videos, and verbiage such as contained in "Description" or "Instructions" ) are excluded from this license. with all rights reserved, unless specifically available for download This notice constitutes a clarification, not a change, to licensing for this design.
3D Printed Parts
Find complete collections of plated parts in ZIP files!
Camera Body and Cap
Extension Set (plated for convenience)
- extension body, slider, pinhole carrier, shutter blade, trim plate
Small Parts (plated)
- frame top (with arrow), winding spades (4), nut disk and/or cover (round and square), Indexing slide (covers hole in rear of body), winding baffle (disk w/ rect. hole), and terraTool.
Knobs These parts subject to change and update in the interest of precision and building ease.
Additionally, there are left-handed versions of the extension bodies and the pinhole carriers if you prefer the shutter on the left side.
Tools and Materials
- 2 x 16mm M3 socket head machine screws and 3mm nuts
- 1 x 8mm M3 socket head machine screw
- 1/4 -20 flanged nut for tripod attachment
- Appropriate diameter pinhole -- 50mm : 0.30mm; 35mm : 0.26mm
(See Links section for information on making a pinhole aperture)
- 12mm diameter disk of translucent (red) plastic
- X-Acto knife
- Files for smoothing/ shaping mating surfaces
- Super glue
- 3mm tap for extension fixing bolt
- 2.5mm allen wrench or hex bit for terraTool
- Black Sharpie
I recommend that you print this in black PLA, if possible. PLA has the desirable properties of high strength, minimal warping, and biodegradability. Any part that serves to keep light out should be printed in black. NOTE: I have found that some black PLA filament is not opaque enough for camera building. Use the "Opacity Test Tool" (100% infill) with a bright (like, hurt-your-eyes-bright) flashlight (I checked - 70 lumens!). If, in a darkened room, you can see any - ANY - glow through the 1mm-thick center section of the Opacity Test Tool, you will need to find a more opaque PLA or paint the interior of your pinhole camera with black acrylic paint.
The most opaque 3mm PLA I have tested is made by Shaxon and is available through Fry's Electronics among other dealers. Black PLA that has failed the opacity test include 3mm from Inventables and Lulzbot. I will update this list as testing and feedback progress.
NOTE: PLA is shiny and you may get internal reflections that look like flares or ghosts. An easy fix is a coat of flat black paint (use a primer) on the angled walls inside the extension.
- Owing to the tight tolerances in this camera design, make sure your 3D printer is well tuned and calibrated.
- Minimum of two perimeters all parts.
- Minimum 3 solid layers top and bottom of printed parts.
- Layer height 0.25mm (All vertical dimensions are multiples of 0.25mm).
- Minimum infill 50% for any part that must be opaque ( I use at least 75% infill).
Detailed assembly instructions and video pending
Helpful and interesting links:
An encyclopedic article with cross references:
A self-described comprehensive pinhole tutorial:
The basics from Kodak - a quick and dirty primer.
Make your own pinhole:
Pinhole Designer - an excellent pinhole design and exposure calulator. The reciprocity failure function is gold. Sadly, Windows only, but worth it.
Mr. Pinhole - More calculators and more links.
Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day:
A paper pinhole camera, 2D printed in a Czechoslovakian magazine, in the 1970's: http://www.pinhole.cz/en/pinholecameras/dirkon_01.html
Books, books, books; Knowledge is power:
terraPin, a 120 Film Pinhole Photography System by schlem is licensed under the Creative Commons - Attribution - Non-Commercial license.
What does this mean?
- You must attribute (give credit) to the creator of this Thing.
- Remixing or Changing this Thing is allowed.
- Commercial use is not allowed.
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