Pinhole lens vs. macro lens comparison – Alternative Processes

Yeah, I was sure there would be a big difference, I just didn’t know how much!



For reference, the top image was the 4/50 S-M-C Macro-Takumar, and the bottom with the pinhole lens which has a size somewhere between 1/3-1/4mm, giving it an effective f/stop between f/172-256. It was also my first time using T-Max 400, which I already knew was going to be way overkill for the pinhole lens.  I noticed that the grain was about the same size between shots on T-Max 100 and Tri-X, and I suspect that even Tri-X is overkill when it comes to sharpness, which means there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be using the fastest, grainiest film I can find!

At least the Caffenol C-L concoction I’m working on doesn’t seem to be hurting me any.  Yet.

This makes me really want to make another pinhole lens, with a much smaller hole…

Happy Worldwide Pinhole Day!

Today is Worldwide Pinhole Day, so if you happen to have a pinhole camera, break it out, get shooting, and share you get!  Not only that, but it’s required for our Alt.Process class, so you can be sure I’ll be out there shooting today.  It’s nice and foggy today, so I hope I get some good stuff…

Tape Deck

This is an outtake from the film I’m making right now for film scoring class.  As you can see from the picture, it’s a Teac A-2340RS 4-track quadraphonic machine that uses 7″ reels of 1/4″ tape, running at either 7.5ips or 3.75ips.  This is the machine I recorded my first album on, and these days I don’t get a whole lot of use out of it, but I did get to drag it out of storage and record some dialog with the old beast.  I’m currently recording on Ampex 642, one of my favorite tape stocks.


I actually really like this shot, I just don’t think I have a use for it in my film.

Caffenol ingredients – Alternative Processes

Finally people have found a good use for coffee!  In 150 years or so when no one is making film or developing chemicals (could be longer), or when you run out and need to develop something right away, at least these products should still be readily available in your area!  I’ve been assembling the ingredients and wanted to source as much of it locally, which ultimately ended up costing me more money and a bit of time, but it can be done, if one is using the Delta-STD recipe.

Instant coffee, the cheaper the better.  There’s this one instant coffee from Germany that supposedly is just the worst ever, I hear it’s perfect for caffenol.  I found it at my local grocery store, it’s the “Psst…” brand.  $3.50

Washing soda (not baking soda), Arm & Hammer brand.  It’s un-American to go with anything else.  $4.50

Vitamin C power needs to be pure Ascorbic Acid, with no additives of any kind.  I finally tracked this down at a health foods & supplements store in town.  8 oz/226g $22.00 (much cheaper online, I found!)

Potassium Bromide (KBr) is not used in Caffenol Delta-STD, but is useful as an anti-fogging agent and is found in the C-M and C-L recipes.  I had no luck tracking this down locally.  Every pharmacy I went to locally or in Colorado Springs said they couldn’t get it anymore.  I also went to my local veterinarian/animal hospital, they could get it, but wouldn’t sell it to me without a prescription.  Maybe if I make my mom’s dog watch enough Pokemon he’ll have seizures and I can get a prescription…?  I was defeated, and ended up buying some from Bostick & Sullivan, the dealer my photo class TA suggested.  250g for $18.00

This will end up being my final project in Alt.Process, but due to time constraints I won’t use caffenol for my Film Scoring assignment.  I’m really disappointed that I wasn’t able to find KBr locally.  I kind of thought that part of the idea of caffenol was that the ingredients should be readily available, and also affordable.  I’m having my doubts about that right now, but what I don’t know is how many rolls I can develop with what I have, but soon I will find out…

Edit: everything’s been working out pretty nicely with Caffenol.  This T-Max 400 example is nearly grainless, and other films I’ve tried have reduced grain as well.

Tri-X and Caffenol is not a good idea – Alternative Processes

At least not the Caffenol-Delta recipe!  I jumped in headfirst on this, and should have done a bit more research before I tried it out.  Live and learn, I suppose, but I knew going into it that I was taking a risk, I just wish I had tried it with another roll of film, because I had some beautiful shots on this one, and this roll ended up looking like a reel of super-8 film using a super-grainy stock.  These were all with the pinhole lens, but compare them to what I was able to do in regular D-76.

We had a day of extremely heavy fog, so heavy that after making it 15 miles out of the 40+ down to school and narrowly avoiding 2 accidents in that time, I decided it was a safer bet to pull off CO-24, hang around Woodland Park, and take some pictures instead trying to tempt Fate once again (also, I had Jim Grey’s words rolling around in my head, I’m sure that influenced me).  It really was beautiful, and I love foggy mornings; sadly it’s something that doesn’t happen too much in Colorado, but I’ve been fortunate this year.

The last two shots were fulfilling the requirements of our pinhole assignment in Alt.Process class, which was to construct a pinhole camera and take some pictures of objects that relate to what object the camera was in its previous life (before being turned into a camera).  Since mine is a lens rather than a whole camera, I took pictures of my current film stockpile and collection of Takumar lenses.

This has a good chance of turning into my final in this class, plus I think I can combine it with my current film scoring class assignment, so I’m soldiering on.  I bought some T-Max 400 to try in the delta recipe, and signed up to the caffenol facebook group.  In fact, I’ve learned one rather important thing there just this morning: Tri-X works quite well in the Caffenol-CL recipe, which would really make my life easier, easier than trying caffenol and learning a new film at the same time…

Kodak price increase?

I was just in my local camera store to buy a roll of T-Max 400, I’m gonna do some experimenting, and it cost me $11.00 out the door.  The guy told me they just raised their prices.  I don’t keep up much on comparing brick & mortar’s prices against online retailers, but it seems like that would be a big jump, maybe someone out there knows more…

edit: I’m gonna think positive here, it must be that the camera stores in my area really love to mark things up a bit.  I can’t say for all of them, but I know that at least one of them has Freestyle for a distributor, that’s kind of like having two middlemen between Kodak and myself…

Taking stock

Lots of work being done in the last few weeks, most of it musical.  It gives me a chance to dig a bit into my cassette stockpile, and I certainly think I have enough to last me for the foreseeable future.


This was the last shot on my first roll of Fuji Velvia 100, lab scanned on a Frontier machine, and I think it did a pretty good job overall.  It really is true though, that it’s not nearly the same as seeing them on a light table or projected.  The colors are so much richer in person.

More on Velvia 100 to come.

M42 pinhole lens – Alternative Processes

As part of our pinhole assignment in class, we were to construct our own cameras.  After not being all that impressed with the results from the coffee can (or having to return to the darkroom after each picture), I decided to construct mine from a body cap.  Not only can I take quite a few pinhole pictures in a short period of time, but I can use a device I already know well, with whatever speed film I feel like (instead of ~ASA10 photo paper), black and white or color.

I don’t know if that means I took the easy way out or not, but it allows me to work the way I’m already familiar with, and not having a darkroom, I don’t know that I’d have much use for a coffee can pinhole camera or shooting photo paper outside of this class.  The body cap, on the other hand, is now a fun weapon to add to my arsenal, and compact enough that it’s always in my camera bag.

I first tried shooting Tri-X with the Pentax ES (middle image), hoping that I would get something with aperture priority, but sadly it didn’t work, so I was relegated to the bulb setting.  The second time I used T-Max 100 in the regular Spotmatic.  One thing I noticed was that the pinhole I made is too big, and the lens isn’t quite as sharp as I could wish (I am planning on making another), the result being that the difference in grain between Tri-X and T-Max 100 isn’t very great at all.  This pinhole lens has an f/-stop somewhere between 176 and 256.  What I ended up doing in later rolls (I’ve shot four so far!) is to treat it as f/176 outside (underexposing slightly) and f/256 inside to compensate for reciprocity failure.  Anyway, using the Sunny-16 rule (or Sunny-256 I guess), I’m shooting 1/4sec with ASA400 film or 1sec with 100 film in full sunlight.  Obviously there are more images, but framing issues came into play a few times, and honestly I just didn’t take as much time as I needed to to ensure that my images were as interesting as possible, plus I was doing a lot of bracketing.

I just got done printing roll 3 (Tri-X in caffenol, not a good idea for future reference), and roll 4 (Fuji Velvia 100) will be picked up from the camera store in 10 minutes, as soon as I finish this post and hop into the car….