This is the simplest form of camera – no film, no batteries, and no moving parts that can break. The biggest problem with this camera is that the inlet hole is so tiny that it lets in such a small amount of light and makes a faint image. If you make the hole larger, you get a brighter image, but it’s much less focused. The more light rays coming through, the more they spread out the image out more and create a fuzzier picture. You’ll need to play with the size of the hole to get the best image.

While you can go crazy and take actual photos with this camera by sticking on a piece of undeveloped black and white film (use a moderately fast ASA rating), I recommend using tracing paper and a set of eyeballs to view your images. Here’s what you need to do:


  • box
  • tracing paper
  • razor or scissors
  • tape
  • tack

[am4show have=’p8;p9;p11;p38;p92;p19;p46;p66;’ guest_error=’Guest error message’ user_error=’User error message’ ]

Download Student Worksheet & Exercises

Here’s the quick set of instructions:

1. Use a cardboard box that is light-proof (no leaks of light anywhere).
2. Seal light leaks with tape if you have to. Cut off one side of the box (Note – there’s no need to do this if you’re using a shoebox).
3. Tape a piece of tracing paper over the cutout side, keeping it taut and smooth.
4. Make a pinhole in the box side opposite of the tracing paper.
5. Point the pinhole at a window and move toward or away from the window until you see its image in clear focus on the tracing paper.

OPTIONAL: You can hold up a magnifying glass in front of the pinhole to sharpen the image.


  1.  How do the images appear when they’re projected onto the paper inside your camera?
  2. Why do you think it’s important to make the box as light-proof as possible?
  3. Is there a part of your body that works similarly to the pinhole?
  4.  Sketch a picture of something you saw through your pinhole camera.


Have a question ?

Tell us what you're thinking...