I Printed a Scura 6×6 Pinhole Camera

Actually my brother printed it on his 3D printer and I assembled it.

Dora Goodman Cameras is an analog camera maker and designer. They also offer up their designs so you could 3D print the camera at home.

There are two versions of the Scura, a 35mm and a 6×6 format. You could buy the camera as a kit and you assemble it at home, you could pay them to build it for you, or you can download the files and print it at home. You have options.

My brother Dave has been learning how to 3D print in school and when he asked me if there is anything I wanted printed, I jumped at the chance to get a Dora Goodman camera built. I was leaning toward building one of their Zone models that uses Mamiya Press lenses but I ultimately decided on a pinhole camera.

Assembly is quite easy once you get it printed. However, once all of the parts come off the machine twenty hours later, there is some clean up, if you have experience, then you should already know how that works. The filament I used is called PLA+ and it worked quite well and was easy to finish. There is also a step where you need to cut out the covering and a light seal from a piece of felt. I did all of my cutting by hand with scissors and it did not go well. Cutting the light seal from the felt was tough. The felt I used has glue on the back side and you just need to pull of the backing. Cutting the circles is NOT easy, it took me a couple of tries. Ideally, you should use a Cricut (cutting plotter). This will simplify the process. Cutting the felt and the vinyl covering took the most time. There is also a red window, I just found a red translucent plastic sheet and cut a circle, easy peasy.

I was able to assemble the camera, just using the exploded view and the part sheet. There are a lot of small nuts and bolts that you need. If you live in Boulder, Co you could find them at McGuckin Hardware, but I don’t live in Boulder anymore, I had to try to track them down here. That didn’t go well at all. Fortunately, I found an online source, Bolt Depot. They fulfilled my order in a matter of days.

There is super glue involved in the process. There weren’t many parts that needed to be super glued. There is a 4mm nut that gets glued into place and that was a little tricky. The film wind knobs have retainer clips that should get glued, and there are 3 ø4x2mm cylindrical magnets needed to hold the shutter door in place that need gluing. I could not find those magnets anywhere. I found slightly larger magnets that I cut down with an Xacto knife, It worked but fortunately you can’t see them behind the front plate. The pinhole needs a drop of super glue as well.

You could buy laser drilled pinholes. I chose to make my own pinhole. I used an aluminum can and a small sewing needle. Typically the smallest needle you could find is .6mm, this is too large for a this application. What I did was, flatten out a square piece of aluminum and with a fine point permanent marker a traced 15mm circle (this is where I would later cut with snips), I scored the aluminum with an X using the Xacto knife. This is to mark the center of that circle. I lay the aluminum down, X faced up and I place the sewing needle point on the X and I slowly spin the aluminum to bore a small hole into it.

Measuring the hole is a little tricky. I take another piece of aluminum and I punch a 1mm hole in the center using a small screwdriver, it happens to be 1mm. I cut the aluminum so I could tape it to an empty 35mm slide then I do the same with the pinhole I just drilled. I project the 1mm circle onto a piece of paper where I have hash marks every 1mm. I move the projector back and forth until the projected 1mm hole spans exactly 10 hash marks. I pull the 1mm slide out and I put in the pinhole slide. I count how many hash marks are lit. In my case it was 2.5 hash marks, which works out .25mm. This is not an exact process. The Scura camera is 50mm focal length (the distance from the lens plane to the film plane). The .25mm pinhole is gives me f200. Is it easier to just buy a laser pinhole? You bet.

What I think of the camera

I dig it. It’s a fun pinhole camera. To be honest, there are tons of other options to get into pinhole photography. Go to B&H Photo’s website and you will see a bunch of other options. Most of those are large format cameras, they usually made of wood. They are beautiful cameras. You could get a pinhole Holga which uses 120 film. The the thing about the Scura that really intrigued me, the curved film plane. It’s a brilliant idea. It minimizes (not eliminates) vignetting and what little sharpness there is, stays more consistent across the frame. That is what separates the Scura. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone starts mass producing curve-backed pinhole cameras.

The camera is very light. If you are going to shoot outside, you need a tripod. I used my Gorillapod. Don’t follow my example, it was not stable.

I do plan to build another one, just for fun. I would love to have a 6×7, or even a 6×9 version. It’s still hip to be square.

My first roll:

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