terraPin Kaiju 6x18 Pinhole Gamera

by schlem, published

terraPin Kaiju 6x18 Pinhole Gamera by schlem Jun 25, 2015


Kaiju (怪獣) is a Japanese word that literally translates to "monster," and is used to refer to a genre of tokusatsu (special effects-based) entertainment. Kaiju films usually showcase monsters of any form, usually attacking a major Japanese city or engaging another (or multiple) monster(s) in battle.

I grew up watching Japanese Kaiju movies on TV every Sunday afternoon on channel 11's Sci-Fi Theatre. Gamera, a rocket-powered flying turtle beast, was and remains my favorite Kaiju. I hope it is obvious that the terraPin Kaiju is a giant mutant pinhole, a pinhole Gamera!

120 film!
6 X 18 cm frame!
116.5 degrees!
86mm concentric film plane!
Designed for 0.40mm pinhole!

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

Use exposure calculations for the PINH5AD!
Now with exposure calculations with Reciprocity Failure for common B&W films; see:

Featured on the Adafruit 3D Hangout for 7/2/15!

I typically embelish my pinhole cameras with knurling to add interesting visual and tactile textures. Unfortunately, the mutant size of the Kaiju required so many thousands of extra polygons that they constituted a persistant source of non-manifold errors and rendering ambiguity. I hope to further develop the Kaiju to include the knurling in the future and I cite the "Knurled Surface Library v2" by aubenc as recognition of his contributions to my camera design.

CLICK HERE for the latest photographs I have made with the various terraPin cameras.
I have created a 3D Printed Cameras group on Flickr
The mission is to share and promote open source cameras and related parts, created with CAD applications and 3D printing. Please join and post content!

The sample photos are WIDE (6X18). Unless you view them full screen, they will be severly cropped. Normally, my local film lab scans my film, but 6 X 18 is too big for their NORITSU scanner. All scans shown are my ham-fisted work and may deviate from original exposures in various ways. I vow to do better.
NOW AVAILABLE 6X18 sanning adapter for the Epson V500!

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.


The terraPin Kaiju is a comparatively simple camera. Assembly should be intuitive, but I plan to add some exploded parts diagrams in the near future for clarification.

0.40mm pinhole
4 x panhead M3 bolts 10mm length
2 x M3 nuts
1/4-20 flanged nut for tripod mount
Finishing tools like files
Flat black paint for inside (minimize reflections)
Translucent red plastic for indexing window
Super Glue

3D printed parts always required some finishing for precise fit. Pay particular attention to the winder baffles, the shutter, the outside joint of the top frame, and the sliding index cover plate.

This camera uses counter-sunk bolts to hold the top frame and shutter assembly in place. I used a M3 tap for the bolts that hold the top frame (middle two holes). The M3 nuts slide into the nut traps to hold the lid on - enlarge these (outer two) holes with a 1/8" drill bit and clear debris from nut traps. Refer to the lid if unclear which holes do what.

I don't glue my knob and winder assemblies. They can break (never done it, but possible), and replacement is easier if you just press fit everything together.

The terraPin Kaiju relies on parts from prior terraPin designs, and individual parts can be downloaded from source Things (see sources) should the need arise for a single part.

The tall piece with the diamond shaped hole through it is the latest version of a 120 film clip. The take up roll (the one you wind) is sometimes prone to unwinding a bit during unloading. The clip slides into the spool cavity during loading and prevents light leaks during unloading. Click here for the original design from the P6*6
You will find a document in the "Thing Files" section for download that goes into greater detail. I have included some version of this part with all of my 120 film pinhole cameras.

The film winds on the left and the frame is indexed at frames 1, 3, 5, and 7 for 4 exposures per roll of 120 film. The film clip can prevent your roll of film from unspooling during unloading and being ruined by light leaks into the roll of film.

A word about winding: DO NOT TRY TO PULL THE FILM with the uptake knob. Give a bit of slack with the supply knob, take up slack with uptake knob, repeat until desired frame number is in the window. Horsing the film can cause it to fold inside the arc, necessitating a PITA teardown and possible loss of a roll of film. Film is precious - be methodical!

As always, I am at your service if you have questions - please post in the comments section for everyone to see!

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Made a shutter that can be activated by a mechanical cable release
not tested with film yet

Shutter for cable release to terraPin Kailu 6x18
by Volund

Awesome! Can you cite the Kaiju as a source? It connects related designs and makes it easier for people to find.
Great work! Test it with film!

Diden't find it.. Made it as an remix?

Yeah, remix = source. Thanks!

Recently printed and assembled the camera. There's just one part from the "ver2_small_parts" File that I'm not really sure what it is for. It's the piece that's between the smaller triangular knobs and the film count slide on the top row.

I've been having issues with the 120 Film Clip part when I get to the end of the roll, the last bit of backing paper some how gets wrapped around the outside side of the "120 Film Clip". Does this usually happen at the end of the roll?

Oh, that's the terraTool, It fits a standard hex bit to use as a fastener driver.

As to the film clip problem, I wonder if your film is thicker than normal or being wound loosely enough that the film fills the clip and then the clip rotates as you continue winding. There are a couple of stops that index the clip in the spool cavity; the sides of the clip should both be centered between the stops. If your clip is loose, gently heating the center part (with, like, a cigarette lighter), above and below the diamond, and spreading the clip a bit should eliminate this problem. I assume you trimmed the brim from the bottom of the clip, but I don't think I explicitly instructed that that should be done.

Let me know if that helps!

PS I hope you will share your MAKE and your photos!

Ok, I am a total newbie in 3D-printing, and I haven't got my own printer, so here we go with some (perhaps silly) questions:

  1. When I'm searching for a printing service, they want to know if the stl-files are in mm, cm or inches. Well, I have no idea... Which is it?
  2. When choosing material, it seems (from previous comments) to be a little tricky to find truly opaque material. I can choose an option called "Rigid Opaque Plastic (Vero)". Will that do, or should I search for someone using the stuff that you've mentioned in the previous comments instead?

Cheers, Peter

Hi Peter
Sorry for the tardy response - I'm traveling and typing this on my phone (what a horrid way to communicate).
To your questions:

  1. All the STLs I have created are in mm.
  2. Yes, opacity is a fundamental concern. Shapeways, for instance, may or may not have a material that is actually opaque. I know that their Black Strong and Flexible Nylon won't work. They, or another 3Dprinting service, is likely a hideously expensive way to get a non-working camera. Your best bet is to find a knowledgeable person at a makerspace or hackerspace to 3Dprint it for you. Failing that, I am planning to print and build one of these for someone. I can print another for vastly less than what a 3rd party would charge. I promise that what I make will work. DM for more info. PS you might need to consider the hassle and expense of scanning 6x18 film. My local lab can't do anything bigger than 6x9. And it's a PITA for me. YMMV

Me and my friend made one (well, she's the one with the 3D printing experience, I just mostly tagged along tbh) and the photos from the first roll look brilliant! However, the second roll jammed up totally after the first photo, and the third roll of film after the third photo. The second roll was a total loss, the third I managed to safe in the dark room. Both the second and third rolls were Lomography films (Redscale 100 and Redscale 50-200), the first Rollei (RPX25), could the jamming be caused by the backing paper Lomography uses? Any experience with these films?
Anyhoo, long story short: great camera, great photos (I'll be posting some soon-ish) but I'm still trying to figure out why films jam all the time.

I haven't used that film, but if I had to guess, it may have been winding technique. Because of the curved film "plane", there is a lot of friction in the camera when advancing the film. I have found that, in order to avoid folding the film inside the camera, the "supply" spool must be slackened BEFORE the "takeup" spool is advanced. This is done in a back-and-forth manner: slack, wind, slack, wind... If that is already your technique, I must blame the Lomo film. Their cameras are mostly junk, it wouldn't surprise me that their film might be dodgy too.

Hope that helps!

Well, I did the giving slack-before-advancing thing with the third roll (the second roll I just tried to advance the film from left to right as you do with most cameras but not this one, that was the end of the second roll). So maybe it's the backing paper, I don't know. I don't know why people knock Lomography so much, I've hardly ever had any problems with their cameras or film... Anyhoo, I uploaded the first photo I took with this camera to my tumblr: http://leolensenphotography.tumblr.com/post/137688197553/pinhole-photo-made-with-the-terrapin-kajiu-6x18

Without seeing how the film jammed, anything I say is a guess. It is a little fiddly to load the Kaiju. If the film isn't in quite the right place or has a wrinkle in it, it is at risk for folding and jamming. As to Lomography, I believe they sell film and cameras on the promise of "happy accidents" from unreliable tools and media. If all you know is a smartphone camera, it can be a compelling creative experience. Lomo sells a LOT of film and that's good, but I like a repeatable workflow and that starts with quality film. Redscale films have been flipped to shoot the back of the emulsion, and that would reverse the film's natural curl, and possibly how the film lies in the camera. I get great results with Kodak, Fuji, Ilford, and and Rollei film stocks. I avoid Lomo films primarily because the film's origin and, more importantly, reciprocity failure behavior is a mystery.

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!

great work!! keen to do a print!

was wondering if I could confirm the correct order for the pinhole disk, disk holder and shutter, as I saw the 'pinhole disk holder' has a curvy face. so wondered how they were stacked together.

thx again


I apologize for not posting some assembly pics. I have since added a CAD rendering showing the order of the shutter assembly. The pinhole is sandwiched between the INSIDE of the front of the camera body and the round pinhole disk. The disk has some silly stiffening elements that should be on the opposite of the pinhole.

In the following order: the pan head 3mm bolts sandwich the front plate, the shutter, the back plate (with the recess for the shutter), the front of the camera body, the pinhole (not shown), and the pinhole disk at the rear (inside the camera). See the picture for a visual demonstration. It can be found after all the sample photographs.

Let me know if you have other Q's!

very good sir!! many thx for all the work you have done...I will give it a go I think when I have time on the printer...;)

cheers Kerry

Hi Schlem,

My friend and I are currently in the middle of printing your camera. So far, we're really happy with the result!
All parts fit just fine and could easily be printed without a support raft. :-D !

Just a question:
In the middle of "terrapin_kaiju_ver2_small_parts.stl" there is a part in the middle (the high one) and I don't know where it's supposed to go.
Could you please explain where this part goes (or post a picture of the inside of the camera) or tell me what is does?

Kind regards,


Great question! The tall piece with the diamond shaped hole through it is the latest version of a 120 film clip. The take up roll (the one you wind) is sometimes prone to unwinding a bit during unloading. The clip slides into the spool cavity during loading and prevents the unspooling during unloading.

This is the original design: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:197924

There is also a document in the "Thing Files" section for download that goes into greater detail. I have included this in all of my 120 film pinhole cameras, and I forgot to explicitly explain its purpose.

120 FIlm Clip for P6*6 Pinhole Camera
by schlem

Do you know roughly how long an exposure would take with ISO 200 film?

Good question!

No - not without knowing which film you are using, and how much light the scene reflects.

I presume you have looked at the document, "PINH5AD_90mm_f225.pdf", with is included in the the download files fo the Kaiju Gamera. This document is a collection of pre-calculated exposure durations for various common films. One of the aspects of making relatively long exposures (several seconds or longer) with pinhole cameras is that every film begins to behave differently after the shutter has been open a certain amount of time. This is called Reciprocity Failure (RF), and it necessitates that extra time be added to the exposure as film becomes less sensitive the longer it is exposed.

Some people don't worry about it too much, preferring a trial and error strategy. However, I expend considerable effort to design servicable pinhole camera designs, and I strive to objectively demonstrate their abilities. As a result, I am meticulous in my exposure process: I precalculate exposure durations for the films I use with reciprocity failure adjustments and I always use a light meter for the scene I want to photograph.

To your question, the exposure duration for ISO 200 film should be half of that for 100 film (ISO 200 is twice as "fast" or sensitive to light). The unknowns are which film and how much available light illuminates the scene. On a hazy Seattle day, under bright clouds (EV14), exposure are "short". Referring to "PINH5AD_90mm_f225.pdf", these ISO 100 films require these exposures:
Fuji Acros 100 (B&W) - 3 seconds
Kodak Ektar 100 (Color negative) - 5 seconds
Fuji Velvia 100 (Color slide) - 3 seconds

But in cool rain forest, under dappled light filtered through a tree canopy (EV10) these same films begin to diverge in their requisite exposure times (they fail to behave reciprocally):
Fuji Acros 100 (B&W) - 00:52
Kodak Ektar 100 (Color negative) - 01:50
Fuji Velvia 100 (Color slide) - 01:14

Looking again at "PINH5AD_90mm_f225.pdf", there is a column labled "ASA 100 Adjusted for f/225" this is your exposure time WITHOUT ANY RECIPROCITY ADJUSTMENT. For a perfectly-behaved film, this will be your exposure for a given amount of available light (EV). For a film with unknown RF, start with this number and experimentally add time. In bright light, it won't be much longer than this. But as the scene becomes darker (indoors for instance) the required RF adjustment could be a wide range of time.

Luckily the Internet is fairly busting with helpful observations by photographers who use film. A Google search for " reciprocity failure" may return the manufacturer's data sheet or somebody's experimental results. If you're shooting "Bill and Ted's Excellent Color Negative Film", and you can't find RF data, you're left with wild or systematic experimentation. Share your results and you might just make some fantastic photographs.

HTH - Todd

I too enjoyed the horribly silly gamera films.
The flying shell spinning with flame jets shooting out of the holes.