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Pinhole cinematography (I'm serious!)


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#1 Karel Bata

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 06:20 AM

Anyone here tried it?

With still film you can expect exposure times in multiples of seconds, but there's some very sensitive video cameras around these days...

I guess the major limiting factors are the low light level, and the diffraction at the hole edge creating an overall blurring which is exacerbated by the small size of a modern camera chip which would effectively magnify the blur.
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#2 David Auner aac

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 07:15 AM

With still film you can expect exposure times in multiples of seconds, but there's some very sensitive video cameras around these days...


Well, as intriguing the idea is, I think it's just not feasible. You'd have exposure times that are just to long for general cinematography. Maybe one could try and do pin-hole time lapse with a film camera...?

Cheers, Dave
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#3 daan de Bakker

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 07:48 AM

I have done some 16mm and single8 pinhole stuff, but most of it is time exposures. When using the optimal pinhole size I was at about f100 I could only shoot 24fps when pointing my camera at the sun.
A film approach that might work is using a high speed stock like the 7219/5219, using a pinhole with a larger than optimal diameter, shooting at 6fps and then printing each frame 4 times and using lots of light of course. You should get some interesting results this way.

This is a good resource to check what kind of F-stops you're going to get:

http://www.photostuf...uk/pinholec.htm


This is where i got my pinholes from:

http://8banners.com/index.php


Don't know if they're still in business though.
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#4 Patrick Neary

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 09:18 AM

Hi-

I just did a quick test pinhole shot with a Mitchell and one of those Nikon-Cap pinholes, it was a table-top set with flowers, 8fps (hand-cranked) on Eterna 250, with a 1k full-spot about 15 inches from the flowers. It worked, (a little hard on the flowers tho). If there's a way to post a small wmv or mov I'll put it up.
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#5 Paul Bruening

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 10:37 AM

Looking forward to seeing your results, Patrick.

About six years ago I saw some pinhole cine in 16mm color reversal at a film festival. It was shot in full sunlight and was still a little dark. It was shots of a train in motion, and a girl at a picnic. It's difficult to describe the look but it was very interesting from an artistic standpoint. It seemed really fuzzy, vignetted and dark for any normal use other than, maybe, a dream sequence or the like. The guy used a Filmo with a aluminum foil pinhole aperture. I assume a more precise aperture might get better results.

I did it in still when I was younger. I used 4X5 B&W neg film in a box and a foil aperture. It was difficult getting the pinhole rated. I just tested with a stop watch until the results where in the ballpark. The biggest hassle is light versus image clarity. A faster aperture makes a sloppier image. Aperture (flange focal?) distance effects value and clarity as well. I should have tried the slow motion thing in front of the camera. I understand it leaves a ghostly image on the film.

I have seen in an art gallery a really large image of a room that was made into a camera obscura by painting over the windows (leaving a pinhole in one) then photographed with a normal lens on a long bulb setting.

I remember hearing of a project where a guy used a room in the same way as I mentioned above but he had made his own emulsion and coated a big sheet of glass. He used the room as his camera case and the painted window as his aperture.

I'm guessing that if you set up enough 12 or 20Ks in full daylight, you could use a small enough aperture and get some kind of usable results at 24fps. Though, it might be a big job putting out the fire that used to be your actors at the end of each take.
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#6 Patrick Neary

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 06:38 PM

OK, with some embarrassment, here is a very short, not very interesting clip of pinhole cinematography:

[attachment=4012:Pinhole_Test_02_08.mov]

Shot at 8fps with a Hand-Cranked Mitchell GC, Fuji 8553, 1k open-face light 15 inches or so from the flowers, full spot (sorry I didn't measure the FC, but it was so burning bright that you could barely look at it!

This was shot as an afterthought as part of a series of other lens tests, but I believe that shooting 500 stock (and maybe pushing a stop) in bright sun, about 12 fps, should produce pretty interesting results.
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#7 MatthewJClark

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 12:48 AM

I've done a similar kind of test with a Mitchell, Nikon mounted and a pin-hole lens cap. I shot a couple hours of timelapse as well as some table top stuff. I need to dig through my notes to recall the specifics, but I had a good experience. The refraction at the whole was minimal and actually interesting. The exposures were long even when shooting outside. I used 5218 with no color correction in front of "the hole." The results were interesting. I loved the lack of resolving power creating an interesting image that is kind of soft but still sharp.

Clairmont Camera has a set of pinhole lenses for rent. I believe they are PL mount. Anyway, I've always wanted to try those.

When shooting the digital pinhole work, make sure that your sensor is very clean. Every bit of dust will show up in the image. I've shot a bunch of digital pinhole stills and I end up doing a fair amount of photoshop retouching to clean up the dust.

I do think, with the right pinhole and film stock, you could actually shoot some near normal images. You know, you could get close to 24fps and all. The sacrafice would be a bigger pinhole which means images that are not as sharp.

I'll see if I can find my notes and possible post some stills from my motion tests. Shooting Pinhole is a very gratifying art form.

-m
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#8 Karel Bata

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 07:23 AM

I'm looking forward to trying it.

if it caught on would that mean focus-pullers would be out of a job? :unsure:
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#9 Paul Bruening

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 12:37 PM

Focus pullers would transfer over to cable pullers for all the enormous cans it would take to get the shots.

That's the best pin hole, cine footage I've ever seen, Patrick. I'm interested in seeing if 24fps, sunlit exposures are possible in a reasonably sharp aperture size. A feature shot in pinhole would get some notice in the festival circuit.
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#10 Paul Bruening

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 02:20 PM

From what I've found out from the web, the size of the capture area is a big factor on image sharpness. Many seem to feel that medium format film is the smallest size to use. I have to say that Patrick's footage leads me to think that color can help the brain with image recognition and comfort. That may compensate for the unavoidable fuzziness. I saw from my research that photographers shooting digital employed sharpening filters in post to compensate. I guess, with DI that's available to cinematographers as well. Even so, that would defeat the purpose of shooting pinhole. I mean, if you want a sharp image, use a lens. Part of the charm of pinhole is the consistent field of circles of confusion. It delivers a deep depth of field as well as a deep depth of bokeh (DoB?).
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#11 Patrick Neary

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 05:48 PM

Thanks for the compliment!

Shooting pinhole on my DSLR gives a pretty similar look as far as sharpness (or lack of it) goes. Shooting with a Zero-Image pinhole camera (on 120 film) however often gives me an image that's too sharp, so that it sometimes doesn't have a distinctive "pinhole look" to it.

The Zero Image I believe is about f138, I have no idea what the Nikon cap-pinhole I used on the Mitchell is.

I don't know about the practicality of shooting a pinhole feature but it's certainly one more tool in the box! The next time I drag the Mitchell out I'll have to try shooting something more substantial and interesting with the pinhole.

The other thing I'd like to do is adapt one of these Meniscus lenses from a box camera to the Mitchell, they can give such a great, vignetted look.
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#12 Matt Butler

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 03:18 AM

A couple of years ago I shot a 35mm comparision test between a 50mm stills lens( Canon FD series) and a commercially availabled pinhole lenscap on the same camera set-up.

Nowhere near as elegant as Patrick's flowers,
there is more technical information included in the the clip.


View on Vimeo

The results were a little too soft for my taste, but with further testing/tweaking and probably a smaller pinhole ......well who knows

Edited by Matt Butler, 11 May 2008 - 03:21 AM.

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#13 Sunayana Singh

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 02:14 AM

Hello Patrick,

How can i view this attachment? is it a link?
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