Should I be worried about dust with a pinhole dSLR?
March 1, 2007 12:58 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to use my Nikon D80 dSLR as an occasional pinhole camera. Should I be worried about dust getting onto the sensor through the pin hole?

A popular method I've seen for making a dSLR into a pinhole camera involves drilling a small hole in a body cap, taping a piece of black tape, copper, or foil over the drill hole, and then creating a small pinhole in the foil or tape with a pin. I am wondering if the digital sensor would attract dust to itself through the tiny pinhole, thereby dirtying or even worse, damaging my camera. Thanks.
posted by nomad73 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just removing the lens increases the risk of dust on the sensor. I had a piece of dust lingering on my Nikon until one day it seemed to make itself scarce. Somewhere, a link exists for cleaning the sensor (with caution, to be certain). But should you worry? Does the promise of pinhole fun offset the worry?
posted by Dick Paris at 1:18 PM on March 1, 2007

Best answer: If you're worried about it I imagine you could incorporate something transparent over the pinhole. I'm thinking something like a piece of overhead transparency material, taped to the inside of the lenscap.
posted by RustyBrooks at 1:18 PM on March 1, 2007

Probably not. Your sensor is going to get dirty and require cleaning as part of typical maintenance anyway, doing this will probably just mean that you to clean your camera a bit more often.

Just make sure that you only use the pinhole body cover when you are actually using it to take pictures. Don't transport the camera with it on and you should be fine.
posted by quin at 1:20 PM on March 1, 2007

A UV filter is going to be much better optically than a piece of transparency. Either a small 27-32mm unit from a cam corder on the inside or one that when reversed just fits over the outside of the lense cap.
posted by Mitheral at 1:26 PM on March 1, 2007

If you want to go all out you can order a laser drilled pinhole.
posted by Cog at 1:38 PM on March 1, 2007

Best answer: You've more chance of getting dust inside from the air movement caused when zooming a conventional lens. Always take care switching lenses, and when you have to cleaning the sensor (take it to a specialist if you aren't comfortable cleaning the sensor). Don't fret about it. Enjoy it.
posted by Elmore at 1:48 PM on March 1, 2007

I'm sure there are better materials than transparency film. But also... pinhole pictures are so low-tech I'm not sure you'd notice.

FYI, I've had great fun over the years making pinhole cameras out of all kinds of materials, from cookie tins to 35mm film canisters. I'd use either photo paper or lithographic film (positive B&W film). Take a few minutes to take a pic, go into darkroom and develop, instant prints. Don't even need a "real" darkroom. Very fun way to teach basic photography to kids and noobs.
posted by RustyBrooks at 1:53 PM on March 1, 2007

Actually, lithographic film is negative like regular film, now that I think about it. But you expose and develop it like paper. So the result in both cases is negative images - you can use the litho film to make positive contact prints though.
posted by RustyBrooks at 1:57 PM on March 1, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you all. I'm going to stop worrying and just try it out.
posted by nomad73 at 2:13 PM on March 1, 2007

Ironically, a pinhole camera lens cap is a great way to check for sensor dust.
posted by chairface at 2:39 PM on March 1, 2007

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