How to make a pinhole camera and why they’re so cool

Pinhole cameras are a fascinating concept and make for a great craft project you can do at home using regular materials. Pinhole cameras work by passing light through a very small aperture into a light-proof box. The light passes through the aperture and projects an upside-down image on the back of the box.

How does a pinhole camera work? (camera obscura)

A pinhole camera works through the camera obscura effect, which is a naturally observed phenomenon. It’s most notably seen during partial solar eclipses, where you can see crescent-shaped shadows on the ground in a thickly shaded area.

Essentially, the light is being blocked by the tree cover, letting very little pass through, and an inverted image is projected on the ground.

This was extrapolated by early scientists to safely look at solar eclipses. As you know, solar eclipses are extremely dangerous to look at with the naked eye. This is because you can’t look at the sun directly with the naked eye anyway!

Just because the sun is partially blocked, the light does not become any less intense, so thinking the light is less and looking directly at an eclipse can do serious damage to the eyes.

Most early uses of the camera obscura effect were done by using a dark room with a curtain. By opening the curtain very slightly, the amount of light let in could be controlled and the image could be observed on the wall opposite the curtain.

This post from Reddit is a great example of a camera obscura in action:

camera-obscura-reddit

Interestingly enough, camera obscuras have unlimited depth of field, which means everything will always be in focus.

You can either project the image on a translucent screen for viewing, or you can put a film in the box and manually expose it by opening and closing the shutter.

How to make a basic pinhole camera

It’s super easy to make a basic pinhole camera. In fact, it’s so easy and fun to do that an entire business idea was born out of it called the Pop Up Pinhole Company! They started out as a Kickstarter project.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A cardboard box
  • Electrical tape
  • A 2 x 2 inch square of aluminum you can cut out of a soda can

What to do:

  1. First off, take a good look at the box and use electrical tape to seal off any areas where there are small gaps or tears. You need to make sure no light can get in! Keep one side open as you still have to install the shutter.
  2. Next, choose a point to make your shutter. Ideally, it should be somewhere in the middle of the box.
  3. Cut out a small (1 x 1 inches is fine) square from the box where your shutter will go.
  4. Use a pin to prick a hole in the piece of aluminum, and use some sandpaper to smooth the the pinprick down.
  5. Stick the aluminum square behind the square you cut out: glue will give the strongest bond, but you can certainly use electrical tape to secure it as well.
  6. Finally, use electrical tape to make a shutter flap on top of the pinhole.
  7. At this point, you can either cut out the wall directly behind the pinhole and stick some tracing paper on it to see a projection of the image, or you can use some film and open-close the shutter to take photographs.

More pinhole camera tutorials

When to use pinhole cameras

Now that modern cameras are so accessible and in everyone’s pockets, pinhole cameras have become more of something just for fun!

Here are some interesting use cases for pinhole cameras:

  • Viewing solar eclipses: solar eclipses are incredibly dangerous to look at directly(the sun is dangerous to look at directly anyway!). Using a camera obscura, you can safely view a solar eclipse. For a solar eclipse, you’ll have to modify the design a bit by using a separate bit of paper for projecting the light. This is because you can’t hold the camera up to the sun and look at the back of the camera at the same time!
  • Fun projects with kids on weekends: chances are you’ve got boxes lying around so if the kids are bored, this is a great craft idea to do and kill some time on a dull weekend!
  • Teaching people about refraction and cameras: Pinhole cameras do a great job of demonstrating how light and cameras work. What better way to explain the concept than to demonstrate it?

To pinholes and beyond

The laws of light and refraction work in really fascinating ways! The pinhole camera forms the basis for modern photography. It’s amazing how far cameras have come since then.

The very first cameras were adaptations of the pinhole camera, as they were essentially a box where light came in from a tiny aperture on one side and was projected onto a piece of photographic paper on the other side.

Modern cameras are built on the same principles, but they’re a lot more advanced, of course! From mirrorless cameras, SLR cameras, to tiny action cameras, they all rely on light coming through a very small hole(called the aperture) and projecting upside-down on a point behind it.

In the old days, film cameras would capture the light on photographic film which was coated with chemicals that reacted with light.

Digital cameras capture the image on a light-sensitive sensor which immediately processes and saves the image through complex software!

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Capture One Vs Photoshop and Lightroom: Which is better?

When it comes down to image editing, two programs have taken the lead over the years. These programs are Capture One and Photoshop, which each have their own following.

However when it comes to Capture One vs Photoshop, which image editing software is actually best? We take an honest look at each one to determine which one comes out on top!

Capture One Vs Photoshop: Compared

General functionality

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Both programs undoubtedly have their benefits in the area of functionality. However, when comparing Photoshop to Capture One Pro, we think Photoshop still beats Capture One’s functionality.

When it comes to imagine manipulation overall, Photoshop definitely provides the better product. Image stitching, HDR, retouching and comprehensive RAW image adjustments all belong on the list of functionality.

Another big plus of Photoshop is how well the this program incorporates a raster and vectors, which can be invaluable for advertisement campaign designs to even architectural designs.

On top of that, Adobe also provides tools for video editing and three dimensional printing. So, the point for overall functionality and versatility goes to Adobe.

Interface

One of the biggest difference between both programs is the interface. When you put the interface of Capture One next to Adobe, it is immediately clear that each software took a completely different approach. Evidently, this causes photographers to have a preference for one program over the other.

The interface of Capture One is mainly situated on the right-hand side, where you select your imported photographs. One the left, you can choose your adjustments for images. Evidently, this breaks up the interface. For some users, this can be a little easier in terms of finding things, while others do not like it. In short, it really is a personal preference.

Adobe on the other hand, provide a special module where you can browse through all the settings, which means you do not have to change tabs. On the left, you will find your history, making it easy to make jumps in the editing history if you need to do so.

Both interfaces require a little experimentation to master. However, we do find that Adobe does have an interface that is a bit friendlier than its rival. Since you can browse settings through one simple module and not have to mess around with tabs, beginners tend to find what they need a little easier.

Evidently, some users will prefer the divided settings interface of Capture One. If you are a beginner, it is best to find a tutorial on Capture One so you get a little familiar with the interface before you start editing images.

Related

Which is more beginner friendly?

When it comes to suitability for beginners, we always look at presets. Presets are easy to implement and enable you to transform images in minimal time.

We are excited to report that both Adobe Photoshop and Capture One score well when it comes to presets. Adobe Photoshop does have a little more than Capture One Pro, and this is something to take into consideration.

While Adobe Photoshop has more presets, there are other factors to think about when it comes to suitability for beginners. However, Adobe Photoshop wins this part of the argument.

Another interesting feature for beginners is the presence of tutorials. While you would not expect this from an image editing software, Adobe Photoshop has an excellent range of tutorials available.

Raw image processing

We already touched upon the subject of Raw image processing, but we have not gone into too much detail. However, it is important that we do, as Raw images determine the quality of your photo editing results.

Earlier on, we mentioned that Capture One does add a little more saturation and contrast to the uploaded Raw files. This is something that Adobe does not do, and you could argue that the photographs on Capture One Pro look better for it.

At the end of the day, we do think both programs score the same where image processing is concerned. While photos on Capture One might look better than on Photoshop or Lightroom originally, these Raw images are subjected to color adjustments and other setting changes that makes the original Raw upload a little less important.

Both uploads are decent for the both softwares, it just looks a little bit different before editing. This is what it comes down to.

Organization

When you take loads of photos and upload your Raw image selection , you want to have a comprehensive overview of all your photos in a convenient location. Both Capture One and Adobe Photoshop has its organization features, but there are some differences.

Comparing Capture One’s organization tools to Adobe Photoshop, we concluded that Capture One is more suitable for a larger image collection. Capture One divides your photographs into sessions, which means you can organise them into individual collections, by occasion, time, or even person.

In Lightroom, photos are uploaded into a catalogue, which does have multiple collections within that one catalogue.

One of the features that makes the Capture One Pro better at organizing is the keyword search feature. As long as you save your images with the appropriate meta tags, it is so easy to find the right images in Capture Pro.

Custom color profiles

capture one vs photoshop and lightroom

Photographers looking for image editing software are always looking for the best color profiles. Those who use Capture One often claim that the photographs automatically look compared to Adobe Lightroom. But we wonder if this is actually the case?

Our research has shown that there is a difference between Capture One and Adobe Lightroom, but the difference may surprise you. The actual difference between Adobe and Capture One is that the latter has individual color profiles for each camera. As a result, the photographs on your screen will be close to those on your camera preview.

When you upload photographs in Adobe Lightroom, the program uses a neutral color profile to display your photos. In conclusion, each editing software has a different starting point.

So, which is best? If you are looking for neutrality in your images, more specifically with more muted colors, then Adobe wins the argument in Lightroom vs Capture One. However, if you like vibrant results with few adjustments needed, Capture One wins the fight with Lightroom.

Color Adjustments

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When it comes to color adjustment options, Capture One Pro provides the better option. When you use Adobe Lightroom, you only get the basic hue saturation luminance panel with RGB adjustments.

The Capture One Pro adds additional options such as mid-tones, highlight adjustments and even shadows. With the Capture One Pro, it is also much easier to get rid of any skin redness in photographs, providing much better and more flattering image results.

Camera Support

Both Capture One Pro and Adobe Lightroom provide good compatibility for a variety of cameras, this goes from hobby to professional cameras. However, we did find a minor difference that could be crucial for the RAW files of some photographers.

Adobe Lightroom provides the quickest updates for compatibility with the newest cameras. So, if you tend to keep your photo equipment up-to-date with the latest models, then you must have the appropriate support for that RAW image selection. In these cases, the Adobe Lightroom is the way to go.

However, this does not mean that Capture One has nothing to offer when it comes to camera compatibility. The program does offer support for more than four hundred and fifty cameras at the moment, so it is still a solid choice for photographers.

An interesting feature of Capture One’s software is the tethered capture implementation. Within this framework, you can gain access to composition mode, allowing you to automatically replace the last image taken.

Evidently, this saves a lot of space in terms of hard drive space. Where camera functionality and compatibility is concerned, this is a very useful feature and might convince some users to make the switch to Capture One.

More adjustments

We already discussed some of the general adjustments that can be made with Lightroom and with the Capture One Pro. But what about local adjustments? Is one superior over the other?

Comparing both Capture One Pro and Lightroom, they both provide similar local adjustment features. But, one is more convenient than the other. Capture One’s local adjustments are easily done on multiple layers without making any changes.

If you want to use Lightroom for local adjustments, you need to switch back to Photoshop to get your multiple layers and local adjustments. Evidently, this makes precise adjustments much more difficult in Adobe Photoshop than in the Capture One Pro software.

Connectivity

In a world where everyone is connected to one another in one way or the other, connectivity has become all the more important for software programs. While there is some connectivity for Capture One’s software, Adobe provides connectivity that is second to none.

With Adobe, you have the option to store your files directly on the creative cloud, ensuring you never lose a project again. Using the creative cloud also saves in portable storage, as you can access your photographs everywhere at anytime.

To access the creative cloud, you need the creative cloud photography subscription. However, you will not have to pay extra for Lightroom, as this is included in the package.

Cost

As the later versions were released, Adobe Photoshop made the decision to offer its software to users on a subscription basis. Obviously, not all users like that decisions, but it did provide a major benefit. While the overall software package was a major investment for beginners without the subscription, the subscription option did make the software affordable for everyone.

Capture One also works with a subscription, but it is a little more expensive than Adobe. However, Capture One does do something Lightroom does not, more specifically give its users the option to purchase the software package fully without needing a subscription moving forward.

In other words, Lightroom and Capture One Pro actually score the same when it comes to price. While Lightroom does not offer the option to purchase the full suite, the subscription is cheaper than Capture One Pro. However, Capture One Pro does compensate for that by allowing users to buy the latest version without needing any more subscriptions moving forward.

We do need to mention that Photoshop offers Photoshop Elements. While it does not provide the full Lightroom functionality, it does deliver a standalone application for photo editing for half the price of Capture One Pro. Still, Capture One Pro does provide the better option for the price, as the suite is not toned down upon purchase for its users.

The Verdict

Adobe Photoshop has been around for a long time and is still somewhat ahead of the Capture One Pro. With that being said, the Capture One Pro is catching up fast, and is even rivalling Adobe Photoshop in many different areas.

But, if we would have to pick one at the moment, it would still be the latest version of Photoshop.

Photoshop provides a lot of interesting features and is still a staple in the image editing industry. This does not solely apply to hobby photographers, but also workplaces such as magazine publishers and more.

As the software has been around for quite some time, and is known by most, you will find that the learning curve is not as steep because of the multitude of tutorials and help to find online.

Of course, Capture One is catching up in that regard, so Adobe should not rest on its laurels and continue to develop its product to keep on providing the best software for editing images.

The reason why we choose Adobe Photoshop is its mobile compatibility, creative cloud platforms, friendlier interface, and overall better connectivity.

However, if Capture One becomes better at these things too, we might have to revise our opinion on the better image editing program. So, the coming years will be extremely interesting to witness, as this decision was not an easy one to make.