terraPin, a 120 Film Pinhole Photography System

by schlem, published

terraPin, a 120 Film Pinhole Photography System by schlem Oct 15, 2014


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

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

This VIDEO shows the basic assembly of the terraPin, but he printed it in a white plastic that is going to be problematic with film fogging.

NOW there are four different extension options, each of which can be found as a complete collection of all necessary parts, in a ZIP file.

  • 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

Additionally, individual parts are included for your convenience. Don't hesitate to ask for direction if the abundant parts catalog is confusing.

Click links for more information on the newest extensions:
25.4mm "Incher"
18mm "DX18"

Other features:

  • 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

    CLICK HERE for the latest photographs I have made with the various terraPin cameras.
    CLICK HERE for terraPin prototyping and development pictures.

    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.

Non-Printed Parts

The shutter is tensioned by and pivots about a single 3mm bolt. A socket head bolt will fit in the trim plate nicely. 8-12mm length will work; I like to gently tap the hole for a smoother fit and finer adjustment. A gentle touch here will reward you with perfect threads.

The cap is held in place by two 15mm-long 3mm bolts, with 3mm captive nuts in the body. If you can find hex-head bolts, there are "knobblers" (press-fit caps) that allow for easy assembly / disassembly without tools.

The body is designed to accept a standard 1/4-20 flanged nut for the tripod mount.

The exploded diagrams in the Thing photos detail assembly.

A 14 mm diameter disc of translucent red plastic allows for viewing frame numbers on the back of the camera. (plastic binder / portfolios are a good source for suitable material)

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Hello Schlem! Managed to go through the files, took a while to figure it out, but no real issues there. =)
Slightly confused by what the Nut cover is used for?

Also, i was wondering if there's a way to combine the pinhole and pinholder together into the same element. hehe

Super work, and i'm excited to start shooting.

Hi irveepup!

The camera body has a recess in the bottom for a 1/4-20 flanged nut (tripod mount). The nut cover snaps/glues into place over that nut to prevent light from leaking into the camera when there is nothing mounted in the tripod thread.

As regards combining the pinhole and pinholder - I think you're suggesting a 3D printed part that would have the pinhole aperture built into the part? There a few problems with that: even the most exotic 3Dprinting machines are not going to give you the precision needed for predictable exposures with a 3D printed aperture. Also, 3D printed parts cannot compare to the opacity, strength, and thin dimensions possible by using a pinhole made from a thin bit of sheet metal. I use brass shim stock, 0.001 inches thick, but a beer can is perfectly acceptable. Let me know if my assumptions are wrong.

Excited to see your photos!!

Hi Todd!

Are you referring to the rectangular or the circular one? I was referring to the rectangular just cover.

Also i taped up the circular nut cover with some gaffer to make sure that no light shall pass! Hahah

Thanks for the pointers on the pinhole sheet. Will try to hunt for a pin drill and a micrometre. That method is pretty hardcore. If all fails maybe I'll try to find a lasercut lab hehe.

Let me know how I can share my images with you!

Once again, amazing work on these cameras. Have a great weekend Todd.


Oh yeah... the square one's garbage. A classic Thingiverse party foul: unnecessary and confusing.
Making a pinhole is not the hardest part about building a pinhole camera. You certainly don't need a drill. For kids following along at home, this LINK is the method I use to make pinholes. I add a layer of QA, in that I check each pinhole I make for shape and measure for diameter with a digital microscope. When I make a camera, I can confidently state that it is a particular F-number. Recognizing that there is a learning curve for making your own pinhole, all my cameras are designed for (easy-ish) disassembly and pinhole replacement if you want to experiment.

There are other several ways to measure your pinhole: using a scanner to make an image that can be pixel-counted in photo software, or projecting from a slide projector.

It's not hard for find a 0.30mm pinhole on the Internet, but the other sizes are DIY.

Photos: You can send me a link through Thingiverse messaging or post them to your "make".

This thing is a mess. A endless stream of files and i ain't got a clue what i actually need.

Can you please tell me what files are relevant for me to get a working 35mm version?

Comments deleted.

Sorry to confuse you.

Download this file for all the STLs you will need. Maybe it needs a more descriptive name:

I have no idea how to load the film I bought into this camera. I bought 35mm film and the canister seems too short. Also, the empty spool you designed does not fit in the camera, and yes, I am sure I printed the 35mm version of the camera. How could such a beautiful design lack something as simple as assemble instructions?

This terraPin camera shoots 120 film. It's a medium format film that is 6 cm tall on a spool. You will need an empty spool to wind up the film as you make exposures. You can probably get one from your friendly neighborhood film lab. Failing that, you can actually 3d print a spool to use. Also, my friend Clint has designed adapters that let you shoot 135 film in a 120 camera.

The 35mm variation of the terraPin refers to the focal length, and not film format. I hope this helps.

Addendum: There is no empty spool in the design, but maybe you mean the film clip. HERE are instructions on version 1 for the original P6*6 pinhole camera. The film clip has a brim that must be trimmed from the part before it will fit inside the camera, around the takeup spool.

To be honest, this is the first time I have received this feedback. My documentation is highly driven by user comments and suggestions. "120 Film" is right there, in the name of the design, and the first paragraph states "... the terraPin also uses 120 film, with a 6 X 6 cm frame..." There are so many more film formats than 135 (AKA 35 mm), and I've heard the question "What is 120 film?" but between the exploded parts diagrams and the verbiage in the Thing description, I would be interested in what further instructions you feel the design lacks. Thanks!

Printable 120 film spool
by schlem
120 Takeup Spool for 35mm Film
120 FIlm Clip for P6*6 Pinhole Camera
by schlem

Very excited to try this out! A few questions. What size screws are recommended? Is there some sort of manual to help me figure out how to put this all together? I tried reading through the comments and didn't find anything very detailed, and the pdf that comes with it is two short paragraphs of text. Thanks for sharing this awesome design!

Hello, danbattle!

Thanks for the question! Apologies for the tardy reply and for the dearth of information. I thought I had included specifics for hardware.

The shutter is tensioned by and pivots about a single 3mm bolt. A socket head bolt will fit in the trim plate nicely. 8-12mm length will work; I like to gently tap the hole for a smoother fit and finer adjustment. A gentle touch here will reward you with perfect threads.

The cap is held in place by two 15mm-long 3mm bolts, with 3mm captive nuts in the body. If you can find hex-head bolts, there are "knobblers" (press-fit caps) that allow for easy assembly / disassembly without tools.

The body is designed to accept a standard 1/4-20 flanged nut for the tripod mount.

The exploded diagrams in the Thing photos detail assembly.

Hope that helps!

Where do I find the TeePee extension?

I took it down. It was a bad design. The idea was to make it easy to make a longer extension of your own design. However, in anything much longer than than 50mm, the edges of the extension blocked light from hitting the corners of the film frame. If you are interested in making your own custom extensions, but again still limited to less than 60mm.

Thanks for the reply, very impressed with all you have done so thanks for that too. A photog friend I'm printing this for came to the same conclusion, cutoff on the sides due to the extension channels. He wants to DSLR/digitize the medium format negatives.

What do you think about cutting a 60x60 window in the back of the body? Then on the extension side, slide in an opaque white sheet?

It sounds like you want to make a "slide viewer" to digitize film? Or am I misunderstanding something?

Negatives still on the roll, so not slides. Or in other words, a mashup of this https://www.amazon.com/Polaroid-Slide-Duplicator-Capabilty-Cameras/dp/B005MRXQ7K/ and your camera body.

would it be possible to put a dslr sensor into this and make a digital version?

Anything is possible. However, it would be much MUCH easier to make a pinhole body cap for your DSLR and keep your camera (with its battery, attendant electronics, optics, etc) intact. It takes a large and sensitive CCD to compete with medium format film for resolution, never mind the dynamic range.

As a project, there is much to recommend it, but the photos you would get (and photos are the goal) would probably disappoint.

how do you make the pinhole exactly the right size?

Well, The best I can do is to get it precisely the right size. :)

Essentially, I use the method described in THIS ARTICLE. Additionally, I use a digital microscope to measure the pinholes I make and check them for roundness. I shoot for a precision of 0.01mm, and I achieve that about 50% of the time. BUT!!! Good enough is definitely good enough. Your pinhole's diameter only needs to be in the ballpark, and you will still get amazing photographs. You may need to experiment a bit to perfect your exposures, but it will definitely work. As a camera designer, who asserts that my cameras will make photographs, I am diligent about precision when it comes to pinholes, or metering exposures, and other general design details.

If you are curious about how the "right size" is calculated, see THIS WEBSITE Or download THIS APP. There are several optical formulae that people use, so a little variation in results is to be expected.

Thanks for the great question!

This is a perfect design. Everything went together very well and the many options are great. I appreciate your hard work and you making the print files available to the community. I look forward to many hours with this camera and some quality darkroom time. The first roll of film, the images were sharp and clear. The camera way exceeded my expectations for a pinhole camera. My only issue, and really my own fault, was some light leakage to the exposed roll when I took it out of the camera. The rim of the film clip did not leave room between the top of the camera and the film spool. So I was unable to seal the top of the camera when it was installed. I chose not use it and took my chances which caused me to have some light leakage. After sleeping on it, I realized I was supposed to trim the rim off the film clip and it would then fit perfectly around the spool. At least this is what I suspect, correct? Again, Thank you for a very well designed camera!

Thank YOU for the kind tip! You are correct, the thin flange is intended to be trimmed off from the film clip. I admit my directions are a little sparse. I will endeavor to document this better. I don't think you are the first person to misunderstand this. I hope you will share your photos!
Thanks again!

PS what filament did you use? I have had trouble sourcing opaque PLA, lately.

I used Hatchbox 1.75mm Black PLA that I buy from Amazon for about $23. Link below. It technically failed the opacity test but to be fair I went into the darkroom and let my eyes adjust for a couple of minutes and used this little mini LED flshlight that seems to put out liquid fire when looking directly at it. The LED itself was barely visible in the center as a point, so I guess I would call that a technical fail. As a second test I loaded a roll of ISO 400 Tri-X film into the camera and have let it sit in a bright room for the day on the same frame. I'll leave that frame unexposed and process the film to see if I get any fogging. If I do, I'll take your suggestion and give the inside of the camera a shot of black acrylic paint. The film is still sitting in the camera as I type this. I'll let you know in a couple of days if it fogged or not.


Sorry, that took longer than expected. I finally was able to process the film I let sit in the camera. I let one frame sit for about 2 days in a sunny room and another frame sat for about a week. There was no sign of fogging on the two frames. I would say that the Hatchbox filament did very well and there is no need to paint the interior of the camera. Again thank you for making your camera available. It takes really clear photos.

is there an instruction manual on what to print and how to put together? im totally lost

Your first decision is which version do you want to print? I recommend the 35mm variant. Figure that out, and I can help you figure out what else to print. 50mm, 35mm, 24.4mm. 18mm. You can always print a different extension after the fact.

I think I'll go with the 35 as you recommend what do I print next?

There are zip files you can download with all the parts you need to build either the 35mm or 50mm variants:

Also, there is a good list of hardware and other parts under instructions. Although I haven't yet made a good assembly manual or video, I have included some directions and exploded parts diagrams for your perusal. Most of your questions should be answered in the Thing Details section. Also, don't neglect the considerable amount of dialogue in the comments section.

Let me know if you have any more questions!

Here's an update on truly opaque PLA:

In addition to SHAXON and MAKER FILAMENTS PLA, Thingiverse user PFLIEGEL reports that Orbi-Tech black PLA is opaque at 0.8mm thickness. I can't find a dealer in the USA, but if you are in Europe, these guys can set you up:

Filaments that have failed the opacity test:

If you have had success (or failure) with other PLA's please share!

I'm printing in PLA on an unheated bed and blue tape, how the heck can I print at heavy infills without the thing warping? Running cool (210 first layer, 195 after), honeycomb infill. Any tips?

Hmm..... My first question is what brand of PLA are you using? They're not all alike, and the savings you get on Bill and Ted's Excellent PLA Filament may not be worth it. My next question is are you printing in a very cold unheated space or a too-hot space? Also, Z height on first layer may be preventing good adhesion. I assume you don't have a heated bed, but I set mine at 45 degrees C.

Regardless, your extruded filament is contracting as it cools and peeling up your layers. My first troubleshooting attempts would be to turn on cooling, level your bed and confirm that the hot end is at the right height on the first layer. PLA is famous for it's dimensional stability.

I print at 50% hexagon infill with el cheepo Shaxon filament and any warping I get is due to poor adhesion because of hot end height.

You don't say what make your printer is, but I suggest that better support might be available from a specific forum for users of your particular printer. HTH

You're correct in suggesting this is a printer problem and not a desigh problem, thank you for your input: I've had trouble with other larger prints warping, especially anything wide in only one dimension.

My printer is a hybrid delta much like a mini-kossel. Filament came from MatterHackers and has otherwise been a good performer. I'm getting good first layers but no, don't have a heated bed.The room is about 68F. I've had pretty good results on other prints by using a brim and sometimes also taping that down after the first layer is done, but often the tape itself pulls up from the glass after that. I'm using 7" blue tape that works well for smaller prints but is NOT 3M, I'm wondering if the "real" stuff would adhere to the glass better. Got some on the way to try, as well as some kapton squares.

You mentioned turning on cooling. I don't have any fans blowing on the bed beyond the j-head itself. Would the part warp less if it were cooling faster i.e. had a fan on it while it printed?

I repeat, Hmm. Another thought comes to mind: print speed. I assume your delta printer's controller has some parameter for adjusting the speed of the head as it prints. Slowing the print might allow the PLA to cool slower and reduce shrinkage. My Lulzbot didn't print for crap (well, not up to my standards) with the "suggested" firmware settings. Slowing the printing down made the quality of my prints go way up. "Real" 3M blue tape might help, but I've printed PLA on bare glass without difficulty. Is there a source of air blowing on your printer? I'm really just throwing things at the wall, hoping something sticks.

I've tried slowing the print down to 50% in repetier and while there's no doubt that quality improves, it seems like a toss-up (and I've heard it argued both ways) whether that helps warping. Same for whether I should run the hot-end hotter or cooler. On one hand, it makes sense that slow and cool would allow each layer to cool before the next is laid, and cooler filament would have less expansion to recover from as it cools. On the other hand, running hotter and faster might allow layers to bond better and allow less time for shrinkage between their passes. Potato, Po-tah-to?

Printing the body_plate set now on bare glass with a brim and glue stick, and halfway through the piece is still firmly attached to the glass. The plate is done and while it does have some bow (less than a mm at the center) it's easily the flattest 13cm span I've printed on this machine. Is some warping unavoidable / acceptable? How tolerant is the design?

I reject the notion that warping is unavoidable. My prints (and I have printed dozens of my cameras) come out mirror flat and plumb on the sides. I wonder if there is an issue with the delta motion of the hotend not being in the same plane...? I really am not qualified to troubleshoot delta printers. Yet. If you find a solution, there's probably others who would benefit.

There isn't a difference in the "plumbness" of the hotend between a delta and a cartesian printer, unless the printer is sloppily built, but then that's equally true of either type of printer. Instead I accept your rejection and suspect this is mostly a newbie thing on my part: I've only been at this for a few months. Your design is possibly my most ambitious project yet and I'm needing to up my game on precision including a flat bottom on my prints. I did get good results printing on bare glass with glue stick, although the body cover did warp about 1mm at the middle of its length (I'm hopeful that when the body is assemble the cover will pull straight when the screws are tightened).

I'm also brand-new to the idea of pinhole cameras and suspect I've taken an ambitious project by beginning with your terrapin. I've printed everything in your 35mm plated collection and am ready to start putting this together but see a lot more parts than I know what to do with. I'm looking at your pics, and your flickr pages, etc, and will see what I can figure out.

What are you actually using for the pinhole? Where do you get it?

I really think the mindtrust of other people who use your printer are going to be the best resource for getting nice, flat prints.

As to pinholes, I use 0.001inch-thick brass shim stock, which I "drill" with a calibrated awl. Its pretty easy and I just made 5 or 6 tonight for misc. cameras I am assembling. I have evolved my system such that I check each pinhole with a digital microscope after drilling and polishing, I can measure and eyeball the roundness. It really is easy, and it's actually not super-critical. But I want my cameras to perform exactly as advertised, so I am a little obsessive.

This is the best article I have found that details the method I use:

Excellent design - I shall try to print it.
By the way what material you are using for the print bed here in the picture?:


Hi glassy
Thanks for the kind words. I was using something called the PRINTinZ plate, a flexible composite plate that has a nice finish and a wonderful affinity for PLA (and ABS?) but when twisted, pops the print free. It worked great, but was more than $100 for the Lulzbot size. And, importantly, as you use it, the surface slowly degrades until it becomes somewhat crumbly and uneven. I don't think I used it for more than 6 months. For $100 I wouldn't buy it again. I am back to blue tape on my heated bed and I have no complaints. I buy tape in 3-inch width and it's easy to apply. Here's a link:

Let me know if you have any questions on the terraPin build!

PS Don't print in pink PLA like in the photo - it is not opaque enough. For that matter, much black PLA is not opaque enough.

Many thanks! I am using the BuildTak sticker with unheated bed and it works quite well. But I have noticed that when I have bigger prints and cover large area with hot plastics probably my aluminium bed expands and shrinks and plastics unglues in several places.

hey me again,

what paint did you use for your 'pink' unit....and did it work for stopping the light?? I have done a orange one, and it does not really pass the test....

you want 100% no light shining thru, is that correct??

Yes, you absolutely want ZERO light to come through the plastic. The problems I have had are mostly fogging of images as they sit in the frame between exposures for many minutes to hours. If you make exposures in rapid succession, the film doesn't spend enough time off the spool to fog. But stop for a while and the film is slowly being exposed. I consider this a catastrophic flaw. I often leave film in a camera for weeks. Can't have this.

For the pink camera, I started with a good flat black spray paint formulated for plastics, but that wouldn't penetrate into the recesses well enough, so I hand painted several coats of a flat black enamel, using the original spray paint as primer. STILL not good enough. That camera is being relegated to a shelf for eternity.

I have a bright LED flashlight that I use to test the opacity of camera parts. Any very bright flashlight would work. Also, I use high infill and several solid layers top and bottom and at least two perimeters. Lots of filament..

Oh I see....I also have a orange shelfie...;)

HAHAHA...thx mate!!!

It's been a while, but I found out my test flashlight is 70 lumen. Hopefully, this will help someone someday!

I pretend to print this camera.
I've downloaded the files, but inside have 2 terrapin Complete - if i want to print the 35mm what files should i've to print - the files in the terra_pin_35mm_complete, or the other files outside of that folder? I'm a bit confused....
Thank you

terrapin_35mm_complete.zip contains all the files you need to print the 35mm version of the terrPin. Everything else is either optional or individual part files. Start with terrapin_35mm_complete.zip.
I want this to be easy for people. I am genuinely interested in how this is confusing.

that is so AWESOME when my 3d printer is finished i will 3d print it =3

Comments deleted.

Good day, everyone! In the absence of assembly instructions, I have tried to print out the parts needed, but am having some issues. First, there seem to be many parts that are duplicates and are just different styles (knobs, L-hand, etc). I have assembled the camera based on what I could glean from the CAD drawings, but am sure I am missing some pieces. What is the best way to go about making sure I have the necessary parts without printing everything? I am making this for my wife as a thank you for putting up with the printer that steals so much of my time lately. My print quality is excellent, so I just need to make sure I have everything in place. I could supply a picture of what I have printed thus far, if that would help. Thank you!

How's it going, Vierherg? Did you get your pinhole camera assembled?

HI and thanks for the question.

Here's the quick answer:

  • Body plate
  • small parts plate
  • favorite knobs
  • film clip
  • extension(s)

There are many ways to assemble the terraPin, so I will need to know which version are you trying to print and assemble and subsequently, what you have printed thus far.
There are two different "focal length" extensions (35mm and 50mm) that interchange, so you can use both with the same body and cap assembly. Also, there are mirrored versions of the shutter assembly if you want the shutter lever on the left side of the camera. This option will require printing all extension parts separately (or plating yourself).

I hope this helps and to hear from you soon.

I printed the opacity test object with 0.2mm layer height, and four layers top and bottom, 80% infill. The center area printed solid, no infill, the outside printed with one infill layer, the rest solid. I saw no light going though the PLA at all in the outside layers, in the center section there were some 'pinholes' of light where the layers didn't fill completely, where they did touch there was nothing. It appears that the material may be fine, but something in my printer's settings prevents parts as thin as 1mm from being perfectly opaque.

What slicer are you using? With 4 layers top and bottom, at 1mm thick, you shouldn't get any partial infill. It should be as solid as your printer can produce. Maybe re-slice? Maybe decrease the filament diameter a bit in the settings, which will give you more plastic extruded. What filament?

Slic3r. I just measured the filament dia with calibers, and it is 1.65mm dia, so it is a bit thiner than I thought. Only a small area had the problem, almost like a glitch that might not happen a second time. I could re-adjust to the smaller dia and try again. This PLA was a 'bargain surplus' closeout I found on ebay. It's actually very good stuff and usually prints very well. I bought some black PLA from foxsmart that showed a red image of the flashlight even through the thicker part of the test object! Not opaque at all!

Hi Schlem,
Wonderful work. I am starting with the terraPin and was wondering if you could give a brief "differences" instruction on how the build differs from the P66? I can imagine keeping up with the documentation is difficult and so perhaps notations in the p66 docs or a small 'cheat sheet' on how to modify the instructions would be a good compromize. It seems that the shutter assembly differs in the new version?

The parts have printed wonderfully on my SeeMeCNC Rostock MaxV2. Just not sure how to put it together!

One other question: are the extensions the same in the 6x9 format version, with just a new body, or is it entirely different?

Hi wdonno!

Thanks for the questions. The terraPin was inspired, in part, by the cumbersome assembly of the P66. The two cameras go together in entirely different manners and the P66 instructions doesn't apply to the terraPin. After trying to perfect directions for P6*6 builders, I really wanted to eliminate a lot of the fiddly confusion. My hope is that users can infer the assembly from the three CAD renderings included in the visuals for http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:495230 . If you have suggestions for other helpful views or illustrations, I value your input!

The major developments are:
-reduced fastener count
-eliminates velvet light trapping
-easily swapped extensions
-secure thumbscrew closure
-less gluing, one glue type

The terraPin has a very precise fit and depending on your printer, parts may need much finishing or none. Irregular top surfaces should be smoothed. I find various files ideal for this. The only parts I glue are the tripod bolt cover, the top frame, the red indexing window. I DO NOT glue the knob / winder assys nor the extension.

The winders, baffles, and knobs have a press fit. You can glue them together once you are satisfied that they turn smoothly if you want. Periodically, I like to tighten mine up to increase the friction in the film transport.

The extension is designed for easy pinhole replacement/experimentation. The pinhole is sandwiched between the main extension slider and the square pinhole clamp with the raised margins. The shutter fits into the recess on top of the main extension and pivots in a cavity and around a "bearing" through which passes a 3mm bolt to pin the dovetailed barrel in place. I use a 3mm tap to prepare the hole, but careful reaming and insertion of the bolt could be acceptable. This bolt does two things: it provides some preload on the shutter blade and keeps the barrel on the extension. See this illustration. https://www.flickr.com/photos/theschlem/15372300851

Aside from appearances, the 6x9 terraPin extension is assembled entirely differently. Overhang and support concerns necessitated breaking the extensions into sections and the slider is wider than the 6x6 terraPin. Additionally, the shutter assembly is bolted to the extension slider. I have only designed a 40mm extension thus far, but I did provide for an optional remotely actuated shutter.

I hope that clarifies a bit. Let me know if you still have some confusion.

terraPin, a 120 Film Pinhole Photography System
by schlem

I still need to build the 35mm lens but I finished printing my camera and completed building it this evening. I have the 50mm lens in place currently and plan to finish up the 35mm lens soon.

What great project.

The smallest drill bit I own is a #80 so my aperture is about 0.34mm. That's a bit bigger than your instructions said to make it. I hope it won't be a huge problem.

I'm considering Caffenol for my first roll of film in this camera just for fun. I've had awesome results with Caffenol as a developer for b&w film.

Awesome! A beading needle can be used to "drill" a very precisely measured pinhole if you have access to a digital calipers or micrometer. See the Link in Instructions called something like "How to drill your own precision pinhole apertures".

I look forward to seeing your photos!

What slicing software do you use? I'm running repetier host as a front end with slic3r. The first file I tried to run though was the body plate and repetier said it was "not manifold", slicing failed with slic3r 1.17 run though the repetier interface. HOWEVER when I loaded the file directly into slic3r and used the "repair stl" option it sliced fine (haven't tried printing yet though). Wow, when I loaded the gcode into repetier it estimeted over 9 hours to print! What sttings do you use as far as perimeters, infill (percent and type), support, etc?

I use a couple versions of Slic3r and Pronterface for printer control. I haven't upgraded to the latest version of Slic3r, I find that not every update is an improvement. There are definitely version-specific instabilities and bugs in Slic3r. If you are having a problem with one version, install a previous version and try that. I slice separately from Pronterface.

9 hours sounds about right for the body and cap. I print at 2 perimeters, 3 layers bottom, 4 top, and usually at least 75% infill for a working camera. Modelling prototypes get less infill, but depending on the filament, that may cause opacity problems. I am using a medium speed on my Lulzbot, which is my preferred balance between accuracy and speed. I'll take an accurate print over a fast print every time. I often start a print before bed, and it might be finished in the morning. Knock wood, but I don't have too many issues during a print that concerns me about leaving it unattended at night. I do the same with my Printrbot LC+

the_turkey: In the US online camera shops such as B&H photo and Adorama sell 120 B&W 120 roll film for about $5 each. You can buy packs of 5 rolls for a little less each. B&W film is nice because you can develop and contact print it yourself.

schlem: I've been thinking that if I were to try and remix this camera to another format, the one I'd want would be 6x9. The backing has index marks for this one, and the larger image is perfect for contact printing without an enlarger, plus I like doing landscapes. Maybe the best way to go about it is to make a new stretched version of the camera rather than trying to fit multiple formats into one, that would solve the index issue. Might have to reconsider pinhole size and FL to get the required coverage. (Do you plan to post OpenScad or other source files?)

I still have my father's film development tank with a 120 metal spool (and two 35mm spools), changing bag and some other darkroom stuff. Would have to buy new bottles, trays, and a paper safe as I gave my enlarger away awhile ago. I also have Ansel Adams three book set, great addition to any pinhole camera buff's library!

that is awesome how dose it work and where can i get the film for it and how much would it cost.

Thank You.


How a pinhole camera works:

120 roll film is widely available from photography supply vendors in most cities or on the Internet. Information on 120 film:

I assume you are inquiring as to cost for film and processing. I can only speak to my experience in Seattle, WA. Costs listed are per roll of film.
120 film: $3-5 (12 exposures)
Processing, local film lab: $6-7
I usually have the lab scan my processed film for $10, but I can scan my own film if I am not being lazy.

If you haven't made photographs with film ( the possibility of which boggles my mind!), there is much to recommend it. Film is the standard which digital seeks to emulate. 120 film is a medium format film with a sensitivity and resolution that puts to shame even the most expensive digital sensors: http://120studio.com/film-vs-digital.html

I find that the deliberation and care that I put into making my pinhole photographs on film is the most rewarding photography I practice. I hope you find this inspiring and good luck in your pinhole adventures!

A suggestion:
Ilford Pan F Plus roll film (~$5/ roll) rated at ISO 50 and can be pull processed at ISO 25 by reducing development time to 2/3 normal may be a good choice for bright sunny days, about 2.25 stops slower than ASA 125 film. Full data on Ilford's website including RF chart for exposures longer than 1/2 second.

This film has been on my list to try for a while. I really like the Ilford brand.

I've seen the P6*6 in the latest Make magazine and was considering building it until I saw the Terapin. Just what are the important differences between the two (other than the fact that you can convert the Terapin after the fact between focal lengths)? Which is better for a first time build?

I'm wondering about a 6x7 or 6x9 format version. Both give larger negs more suitable for direct contact printing. You could build the body and extensions so that a single body could handle 6x6, 6x7, and 6x9 formats with extension exchange. (Also 645 format, though the camera would have to be held vertical.)

I also thought of another shutter idea I remember from the old Estes Camroc model rocket camera. This used a sliding shutter with a long, narrow opening that moved across the lens. It was pulled by a rubber band spring when released. By varying the length of the slit opening and the strength of the rubber band you could tune the time of the shutter opening to be compatible with a typical sunny day for use with ASA 100 film (or even ASA 400). Also once you design a standard 52mm thread for the 'lens' cover the use of neutral density filters would make the shorter exposure times longer for critical lighting levels with high speed film. (You could also then attach a standard lens cap for extra protection).

In order:

The P66 is a lower resolution design, for printers that can't quite hit high-precision 3D prints. Conversely, the terraPin has a precise fit of parts that will problematic for some earlier / basic printers. The terraPin is an evolution of the P66, with primary improvements in ease of assembly. Other developments include a more-secure camera closure, reduced hardware count, two knobs for better indexing, rewinding, and spooling film. As simple as it seems, two-knobs is huge and I will never again design a camera for roll film without it. I plan to retrofit the idea to the P6*6. There are also additional extensions that allow for your own pinhole experimentation.

To answer the question of which to print, I would know the precision of your 3D printer. They both make great pinhole photographs, and are designed for decades of service. I plan to focus (pun intended) on refining features of the terraPin and other cameras over the P6*6.

I have thought much about larger formats, and especially the issue of multi-format designs. One very important consideration is indexing unrelated formats on the same camera. The 120 film is indexed on the backing paper for three different formats: 6X4,5, 6X6, and 6X9. Each has its own set of index numbers positioned in a row on the backing paper. To use three different formats would necessitate having three separate "portholes' and covers. Also of concern is the issue of overhang (None of my cameras require support to print). It's not impossible, but the solutions seem to me inelegant and ugly.

I do have a 6X4.6 camera in the works, but it is not public, yet. It is a box style and uses a remote shutter cable release.
It is landscape format by default, but I may add an extra tripod mount on the side. It still needs some fettling....

The adjustable shutter is cool idea, but becomes hard to execute in FDM at small scales. My latest cameras have shutter blades that are a scant 0.75 mm thick. This is pushing the limits of material opacity and strength. With exposures in excess of 5 seconds - and often into many minutes - fancy shutters have no value in my design esthetic.

Rather than design a 52mm thread (that can only be approximated by FDM), I have been adding filter rings to my cameras for exactly the purposes you mention. If you examine my "Made" photos you can see this. I use used filters from my local camera repair shop (available cheaply) and dismantle them. One problem is a huge variance in internal diameter and consequent fit to the trim face. I have been making custom trim plates for my cameras, and experienced 3D printers could do the same. My goal is to have an OpenSCAD script available to easily create an appropriately-sized trim face for your filter ring, but OpenSCAD is beyond the capabilities of many who would print this. That means a Customizer app that would stand alone from the terraPin file repository, which is suboptimal, but will be of interest to a small number of users.

Thanks for the great questions and ideas!

My repstrap is a bit of a MacGyverism, it's built from hardware obtained at the Home Depot, including the use of heavy duty drawer slides for the linear rails, and uses surplus Nema23 motors for everything but the extruder. My hot end is an ALUhotend from "Oz", with a 0.4mm nozzle. I have so far only printed PLA, my homebrew heated bed takes forever to get up to 110C for ABS. I will try upping the voltage on the bed heater (It's running on 36v AC with bang-bang control via a SS relay on the transformer primary. I have a 6.3v ct 10A transformer I can place in series to get another 3 or 6 volts). Despite its crude design, the printer is actually built like a tank, and is rather stable.

After carefully calibrating it I'm measuring those 20mm test cubes at +/- 0.1 - 0.2 mm, although I'm not sure if the tolerance on the printer or my Harbor Freight Chinese digital calibers are the limiting factor!
Right now I'm slowly printing parts to make myself a RepRap Wilson, which hopefully will be of better precision than the RepStrap.

My thought on multi format was that all of the extensions would be the same width, but the image frame would vary, so they would all interchange in the body.
BTW, I ran some of the parameters for FL and film size though one of those on line pinhole camera calculators you linked to and the 35mm FL for your cameras with the 60x60 mm frame gave a warning about not filling the entire image space (I know a 6x6 is really more like 57x57mm).

So here's a print test: print two objects, a cylinder with an outside diameter of 19.5mm and a tube with ID of 20mm. If the cylinder fits inside the tube without difficulty, then the terraPin will work for you. If it's tight, then print the P6*6. If it's super loose, you have other calibration issues. If you need, I can whip these up and you can try em out.

Re: multi-format
I understand your idea for different extensions that mask out the desired frame dimensions. The issue is indexing. Indexing is as important to me as metering my exposures. One peek hole in the back cannot be used for all dimensions. The three frame sizes that are indexed on the back of 120 film each have their own frame numbers in a different row. Only in the case of making the various frames integral dimensions could a single indexing window work. I.e. 6X6, 6X12, 6X18
Indexed, respectively: 1, 2, 3, 4... 1, 3, 5, 7... 1, 3, 6, 9

I could design the body so that an indexing window could slide in and out like the pinhole extensions, but to my mind that is inelegant and weakens the camera body.

The "image circle" calculation makes some assumptions as to the thickness of the material through which the pinhole pierces. Thicker material; smaller "image circle" This web page delves into the math of the problem:

I use 0.001 inch thick (0.0254 mm) brass shim stock and take great care in drilling my pinholes. The P6*6W / terraPin35 are both 57x57 frame at 35mm "focal length". You can see by looking at these uncropped photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/theschlem/sets/72157645030373964/
that there is no mechanical vignetting of the images, but there is the expected fall-off in the corners, owing to the greater distance from the pinhole compared to the center of the image. The shutter obstructs the upper right corner in a few shots, and the film is not centered vertically on the frame in some, but these are unrelated to the "image circle"

For reference, a soda can wall is approximately 0.005 Inches thick, but it is a common technique to sand the pinhole stock thinner than the raw material.

Looking forward to seeing your camera!

I designed the test object(s) as you suggested. The cylinder fits nicely inside of the tube with just a bit of binding as the edges of the layers rub against each other like sandpaper. I can easily fit the cylinder in the tube and the tube rotates nicely, almost like a bearing without any noticeable wobble (I can't call it a lose fit, but it isn't a tight force fit either).

I printed the objects with .25mm layer height, 3 perimeters, and 15% fill. Looks like my repstrap can handle the Terrapin.
(I have some pix of it on the reprap forum under repstraps. I called it the "HomeDepot Strap".)

Here is the link to my test object http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:523298

Terrapin Test object

BOOM! Looks like you are ready to go. I am working on an assembly video, but expect to do a little smoothing / filing / sanding (! - only if nec) to make the fit of the moving bits binding-free. Of particular importance is the surface finish of parts that mate with other parts. A few passes with a mill file will take off the high spots. Let me know if you have any Q's about assy.

OK, your suggested test object sounds like an easy OpenScad project, I'll give it a try and report back. As for indexing, maybe some gear work with an external counter? (Or some simple electronics perhaps an encoder and a tiny arduino?) Would make 220 film possible (if they still make that stuff). BTW, great photos, do you process your own film?

I haven't processed my own film for years, but I plan to put a B&W work flow together soon enough. It's so easy, no reason not to. Nice work on the test object!

I've never used 120 film and I don't have any empty spools. What do I use for a take up spool? Has anyone designed an STL for one?

Yes, as you can see there is a spool in remixes! I will print one too! http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:44694

120 Film Spool
by jakebot

This spool design, while handy for designing cameras, might be problematic to print. The top and bottom flanges of the spool are essential to protect the exposed film from light after unloading the camera. Printing this STL properly would necessitate splitting it in half, either vertically or horizontally and then joining the two parts. I really should make this modification for folks who don't have spare spools lying around. If you have a photo lab in your community, they will have empty spools, typically for no cost. Also, if you can obtain film inexpensively enough, you can sacrifice a roll of film - knowing what is inside the roll of film is instructive, if you haven't used 120 film before.

Hi again! I've been printing and painting the parts now. I visited in local photographing shop and I bought a 120 film. It is pretty hard to get some 120 in Finland. It is quite rare, but luckily I found ILFORD Delta 3200 profession Black and White -film. I am a new in pinhole photographing so I was about to ask the exposure time (in normal daylight) with that film. My aperture (the pinhole) is about 0,3-0,4mm diameter.

Making the photos out of the film is also pretty difficult here in Finland. It takes about week to produce the photos because I have to send the film to the place via post. But that's not the worst thing. The worst thing is the price which is huge. Making the photos will cost something like 30-40euros for me. So I was wondering if it's some how possible to make the camera working also with 34mm or 35mm film? Making photos out of 36mm film is just few euros, so it might be a better choice. What do you think?

I hope you understood what I meant. My English is not perfect.

Just a thought.

Have you considered processing the film yourself? If you're using b&w film it's pretty trivial.

I do this regularly and I don't have a darkroom. I put film in a processing tank within a film bag then process my film in my kitchen. I then scan my negatives then print the scans I'm fond of.

In the long run you could really save a lot of money this way.

Just a thought.

Hmm.. Not a bad thought at all that might be possible. How easy process is that?

The process is extremely easy. I buy everything I need online. Places like Freestyle Photo, B&H, and Adorama. You should find some place or places more local to you than them though.

You'll need a film changing bag, a processing tank that will accept 120 film, a thermometer (water proof), four storage containers (1 liter each should work), b&w developer, stop bath, fixer, photo flow, a clip for hanging film (I use a spring loaded flat clip tied to a string which I loop over the shower rod in the bathroom), and a stop watch or similar timer.

I expect the initial purchase to set you back a bit more than having a roll of film processed but don't know for sure. Once you have the processing equipment the cost of processing each roll is inexpensive.

It takes a bit of practice to learn to load a film tank in a film bag, but it's pretty trivial.

I use running water in an oven pan in the sink which I put my bottles of chemicals in to keep the chemicals at the right temperature. Processing times can be found online.

I hang my negatives over the bathtub to dry. When dry, I cut the negatives then dry them above the bathtub. I have to remember though to close the bathroom door or my film becomes a cat toy. :)

I have also processed color film. Color film requires very close attention to chemical temperature and processing times but takes much less time to do than b&w processing.

I use an app on my cell phone which is a development database and a developing timer, it's very helpful.

I have digital and analog photos posted at flickr.com/ki7el if you'd like to see them. I'm no artist but there's a mix of b&w and color film photography as well as digital photography posted there.

It's the rainy season here in southwest Washington State so I've not had the terraPin out for a test drive yet, but once I do shoot a roll of film in it and if all turns out well, I'll post those photos.

Your English is better than some native-speakers I know. :)

The ISO (film speed) of your film is 3200 - That is super fast. It is 5 "stops' faster than ISO 100. That means 5 halvings of the necessary light to make an equivalent exposure using ISO 100 film. In absolute terms, it is 32 times more sensitive to light than ISO 100 film. This is not an impossible prospect to use this for pinhole, but you will find that daylight exposures will be impossibly fast - faster than you can manually move the shutter blade.

I am making the assumption that you are printing the 50mm extension... if you examine the document "P6X6_50mm_Exposures.pdf" you will see that for a hazy/sunny day exposure (EV 15) using ISO 100 film, and looking under the f/167 column, the exposure duration is 1 second. I consider this the absolute fastest shutter speed you should attempt with a manual shutter, and it requires some practice and technique for consistent results. Using ISO 3200, the shutter speed would be 5 stops faster, which is off the top of the chart, at 1/30 of a second. Conversely, 5 stops less light is EV 10 will correspond to 1 second. This fast film will be ideal for interior and dark outside pinhole photography with reasonable exposure durations. For outside work, in sun, I typically use ISO 100 or 50 film. Sometimes it is still too bright for the slower exposures I prefer, and I will employ a "neutral density" filter to reduce the light.

So, my recommendation is to find some slower film, preferably a type on the exposure PDF, as there is another pinhole-related effect I have not discussed - reciprocity failure. In short, every film will have some failure of linear behavior when exposed for a long time. The specific threshold of "long" varies by film but necessitates that extra time be added to a calculated (metered) exposure to obtain the desired results. Sometimes this data is easy to find, other times impossible without laborious experimentation. Any suggestions I make about the Ilford Delta 3200 exposure adjustment would be a crazy guess. There may be specific reciprocity failure information available, but "fast" film, by its nature, is not intended for the longer exposures of pinhole photography.

The data on the PDF table is proven and will serve you well if you are deliberate about determining the available light for a given scene that you wish to photograph. I am confident that you can source some film through mail order or via Internet dealers, saving some money and getting a more appropriate ISO for your purposes. There is no dearth of information on the Internet about Pinhole Photography, and I recommend a tour of Wikipedia and some of the links in the "Instructions" section of this Thing.

Additionally, the User Manual for my P6*6 ( http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:157844 )has a detailed tutorial on basic pinhole photography - I expect Google can translate it into Finnish...? It is a DOC format, if that helps.

Lastly, My friend Clint O'Conner has a device http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:323120 that allows for 35mm film in a 120 film camera. The terraPin can rewind film so you can easily use a 120 film spool for uptake and then rewind the film into the cassette when finished. Two caveats with this methodology

  • you will be unable to index the frames, so advance the film more than you think necessary to avoid double exposures.
  • 35mm film has no backing paper, so you must MUST tape the frame index slider on the back of the camer securely closed and light tight. Any light through that hole will ruin your 35mm exposures.

Thanks for the questions - I hope this has been helpful - Good luck in your artistic endeavors with my camera design. I expect you will find pinhole photography captivating.


P6*6 120 Pinhole Camera
by schlem
35mm Film on 120 Spool

That was a big and helpful answer! Thanks a lot you are awesome!!! I will let you know how I do with my project. I think that I will start by using the 35mm film first. Meanwhile I will try to find out where I can get some ISO100 120 films. I will keep in touch!

With the 52mm adapter ring on the lens front you could use neutral density filters to reduce the light level and allow the use of that faster film. These filters can be stacked, but don't use more than three.

I should print this. The design looks really great and I am very excited about pinhole cameras. I've never tried one but after printing this I will! Only problem is that I don't have black PLA. Maybe some parts can be printed with the other color but the actual camera parts are required to print in black, right? So I have to get money to buy some black PLA first! Thanks for uploading this!

The cameras don't absolutely have to be printed in black filament, HOWEVER, it does need to be absolutely opaque whatever color you use. The interior surfaces that might reflect light onto the film MUST be painted a flat black to minimize reflections and undesirable imaging defects. Acrylic paints are recommended for PLA, model paints work well for ABS. Buy a roll of black filament today! Shaxon is a proven opaque black and it is not expensive.

I will print this in some other colors but I will paint black all the required surfaces. I will start the project tomorrow!

This is really awesome but 50mm xslider isn't manifold and won't slice properly.

What a great project. I'm printing the other parts now.

Found the problem. It was my slicing software. I upgraded and the problem is now solved.

I know the plate of extension parts is manifold. I may not have fixed the individual slider. The Microsoft/Netfabb online tool woks really well. I will try to fix in the near future. Thanks and sorry!

Hey, don't worry. Like I said, it was stupid software. I was caught off guard because it had worked fine on other parts of your camera I'm printing.

This is a great project, I'm excited about printing and using this camera.

Cool! Let me know if you have any questions putting it together. The documentation is still in the works... but I am hoping assembly is obvious ish from the CAD captures.

Congratulations, Todd! Looks like a cool improvement on your P6*6!