Pinhole photography isn’t really difficult, but the results can be hit or miss. Still, its appeal is the fact that you can make a pinhole camera out of anything, and it’s actually a fun, experimental way to learn about photography. But, just a couple of years ago, you could also simply pick up one of those simple P-Sharan cardboard pinhole cameras, pop in a roll of 35mm film, and get shooting. Let’s look back at one of Alastair Bird’s 2016 videos to refresh our memory about this fun paper camera.
The Japan-made P-Sharan doesn’t take away the experience of building your own pinhole camera, as you’ll have a fair bit of assembling to do before you can load film and shoot. Alastair’s review skips that part, but if you’re curious, you can get a glimpse of the assembly in this other video by Blunty. Alastair’s version is the P-Sharan Wide-35, which has a focal length of 25mm and an aperture of f140.
This is essentially as basic as it gets when it comes to cameras, and, as with any film camera, it will definitely force you to slow down. While you no longer have to fiddle with controls, you do have to be aware of full manual controls like opening and closing the shutter tab yourself and advancing the film for the next exposure (unless you want to double or multiple expose the shot).
Even if he mounted the camera on a tripod to keep it as steady as possible during the exposures (cool tip, actually!), Alastair’s experience was as straightforward (and sometimes frustrating) as it can get when it comes to pinhole cameras. You don’t really see what you’re shooting, and you don’t know what you have until the film is developed and the scans get back to you. He summed the whole point of shooting with it in this one sentence: “It’s much more about actually getting something on film than getting it exactly right.” It’s an interesting exercise in possibilities and, as he said, that’s kind of fun, but you won’t entrust your vacation snaps or important creative projects with it. The key is to accept that what you get is what it is.
It used to be so easy to grab one of these cameras, but it’s sold out everywhere and your chances of finding one might be limited to quirky bookstores, gallery shops, and obscure toy stores. In any case, if you happened to have shot with this interesting cardboard camera, we’d like to see your results!
Screenshot image from the video