terraPin OSKAR Lochkamera (pinhole camera)

by schlem, published

terraPin OSKAR Lochkamera (pinhole camera) by schlem Nov 13, 2016


The terraPin OSKAR is easy to print and assemble, requiring but a single nut and bolt. The 29 mm 'focal length' provides for a wide angle (almost 90 degrees) and just a bit of optical vignetting at the corners of the 6X6 frame, for a classic pinhole look. OSKAR is designed for a pinhole diameter of 0.23 mm, but that's not a critical dimension. An exposure chart is included for f/135, a nice compromise between very dark corners and an over-exposed center.

The OSKAR Tuxedo has recesses in the front and back for decorative purposes. I have used leatherette from CameraLeather.com and cherry veneer from rockler.com, but you could use topographic maps, postcards, your kids artwork! There is a template file for cutting the sheet material to fit.

Additional knob options added!
See terraPin High-Strength Winder (1/4" shaft) for additional winder/knob options!

A pinhole camera is essentially a light-tight box with a teeny, tiny hole. After that, everything else is embellishment. I've designed a dozen or more pinhole cameras for 3D printing, the first couple being being rough exercises in ugly. Subsequent iterations feature details like knurled textures, clever joinery inspired by fine woodworking, and better solutions to assembly. Not only do my more recent cameras go together and work better, they look better. The P6*6, endures as a popular pinhole camera on Thingiverse, but it's difficult to assemble and fiddly to shoot. I consider it obsolete.

“If today's arts love the machine, technology and organization, if they aspire to precision and reject anything vague and dreamy, this implies an instinctive repudiation of chaos and a longing to find the form appropriate to our times.”
Oskar Schlemmer, member of the Bauhaus School

Long before the Goth-Punk Band, the Bauhaus School aimed to "to reimagine the material world to reflect the unity of all the arts". The Bauhaus principles were extremely influential on modern design, architecture, graphics, interior design and typography. Historians characterize Bauhaus-style buildings with a prevailing harmony between design and function and a noticeable lack of ornamentation. The Bauhaus school's approach of unifying art and craft with technology also influenced design education. The teaching philosophy at the Bauhaus school was that artists should be capable of working with the industrialists.

The Bauhaus fell under criticism as the Nazis began to rise to power. The Nazi government deemed the new modern lines favored by the Bauhaus "un-German," and controversy arose regarding radical architectural concepts, such as flat roofs. From its early beginnings, the Nazis viewed the work of the Bauhaus as "degenerate art" and the product of "undesirable" foreign influences. Many of the Bauhaus artists fled Germany after Hitler came to power. The emigrating artists helped spread the Bauhaus design principles worldwide and brought about a major change in architectural design in the United States, Canada, Western Europe and Israel.

3D printing takes mass production and democratizes it, distributing the production of real things, from whimsical to useful, to the hands of those who would have them. I see this as a logical evolution from Bauhaus design principles. The terraPin OSKAR is my 21st century response to the Bauhaus school of design. I hope you 3D print OSKAR and use it to make disruptive and degenerate art. A little disruption right now couldn't hurt.

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.

Print Settings

Printer Brand:




Doesn't Matter




0.20 mm layer height


For opacity and strength. 25%+


First and foremost, USE OPAQUE FILAMENT. ABS is fine, but PLA is prone to translucence. If unsure, use this OPACITY TOOL to assess the opacity of your filament. I maintain a list of tested PLA filaments and their opacities on that Thing page; If you find another opaque PLA, please share in the comments.

You need absolute opacity for the shutter disc, but the rest of the camera can be printed with high infill if your filament just isn't quite there.

The winders are the only parts that require support. I tried to engineer support that would make for a better part, but I can't beat the support structures generated by SLIC3R.

I printed with 3 perimeters for best possible surface finish.



This is a web of built-in support under the flat plate that is part of the cap assembly. This must be cleaned out prior to installing the winders. I pluck and twist with a needlenose pliers and then trim any remaining bits with an Xacto blade. Failing to take this support webbing out will cause difficulty winding film at best, jamming and damage at worst.

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Another question sorry. 29mm focal length and 0.23mm pinhole would be f126. But you included a exposure chart for f135, is my maths out or is there another reason for this?

Hi Steve
I'm pretty sure that you are correct. I don't have the specific numbers handy, but the difference between the center and the corners/edges is at least a couple of stops. The distance from the pinhole to the edge is farther than to the center of the frame. Ergo, the f-number for the corner is correspondingly bigger than that for the center. f/135 is a compromise between the difference.

Where did you get the wood grain "leatherette" ?

If printing with PLA, could you not flock the camera?

By "flock", I assume you mean apply some kind of opaque covering to the inside/outside surface. I have tried painting translucent PLA cameras, and it's an ugly hack. There's a guy on Thingiverse who has printed a bunch of my cameras and he wraps em in gaffer tape.

This kind of silliness is unnecessary: OPAQUE PLA EXISTS. I am currently using eSun Black PLA and Matterhackers Jet Grey PLA.
"Flocking" not required. The eSun prints as well as any PLA I have ever used and is less than US$25 / kilogram. You should be able to leave a camera, loaded with film, sitting in bright light indefinitely without worrying about your film fogging and destroying photographs.

For the record, I do apply a flat black acrylic on the inside surfaces of the camera that could potentially cause internal reflections. But I don't rely on paint for opacity.

I want to build a pinhole cam and found that you have several models. I like this one the most but im worried that its still work in progress. so my question is: do you expect any major changes to the design and have you put it to the test?

and thank you for making this available to us :)

Hi hmou!
There are no major changes planned for the OSKAR. The camera is very much a finished design. I would still like to flesh out the instructions a bit, though. The photos you see here were made with the OSKAR and there should be a link to the growing collection of images. I am shooting this camera, right now, on holiday in Dubai, and I have high hopes for the results. The "tuxedo" version allows for decorating the body with leatherette (cut to the templates), but you could use any thin sheet material (con-tact paper, magazine photos, your kid's artwork...). Please let me know if you have questions, or if I can help in any way.

Thanks man this is awesome. Im gonna give it a go and update you on the results.

Is the 'Oscar' a derivative of the 'Prime'? I see some similar parts here (such as the shutter and box).
Also which Matterhackers black PLA do you use, their 'standard' ($27) or their 'pro'($35)?

More a derivative of the ACME, influenced by the Prime. I took the parts that I liked best from both designs (rotating shutter, slide-lock cap, fastener-less assy) and super-collided them into the OSKAR. I should put that derivative info in the page, but I accidentally published this before I had it documented and you can't roll it back without deleting it (!!) So, still in progress.

As to the Matterhackers PLA, I tested Black Pro - NOT OPAQUE, Rigid.ink makes a great opaque black PLA, which is what I am using lately. Matterhackers Pro gun metal gray is opaque also. More info HERE

terraPin ACME 6X6 (6x9, 6X4.5) Pinhole Cameras - 120 film
by schlem
terraPin Prime 6X6 Pinhole Camera -120 Film
by schlem
PLA Opacity Tool
by schlem

Sounds like the Oscar should be a good 'first' pinhole camera then (Though I also like the looks of the ACME series, a 4x5 OSCAR would be nice too).
Matterhackers describes their standard PLA ($27) as Opaque, (figures that the first two choices on your list are currently out of stock, and the #2 is an import from the UK).

I still have a few fractional KG cardboard spools of some 'surplus' black PLA I bought on Ebay a few years back at a super cheap price when I first built my Repstrap. The stuff passes your Opaque test object with flying colors, it's the blackest black PLA I've ever seen. I have no idea who made it or where I could buy more. (CTTOI I think there might have been a brand name on the box, if I still have the original box .... )

Ha If I had a dollar for every time I tried a PLA filament described by the mfr as "opaque" and found it not to be...
...I'd have, like, 12 bucks.

I've been buying Rigid.Ink from Amazon at same price, but Prime = free shipping.

The ACME is absolutely the easiest to print and assemble, but if you can manage finding the one screw and lock nut, OSKAR has a better shutter. And far better looks IMHO.

What do you think the prospects are for using OSKAR with 35mm film to do sprocket hole/pinhole photography? I'm thinking of combining him with things 323120 and 522005.

I can't think of a reason why that wouldn't work splendidly. You will want to make extra double-plus careful that the indexing window is taped off so that no stray light comes through the back to ruin your exposures. Indexing with 35mm is always wasteful, but you have lots of film in a 36 exp roll. The film clip has the potential to scratch film without backing paper, so I wouldn't use it for 35mm. If your knobs are nice and snug, the friction will keep your film from moving. And since you rewind the film into the cassette, you don't need the film clip anyway. Let me know how it works, and very interested in your thoughts on instructions (in progress). Always available for questions!