I have shot film since my childhood, but I completely switched to film 5 years ago. During all this time I gained a lot of experience experimenting with different film, formats, and cameras and gradually realized what I like most — the square format and slowed down shooting. This naturally led me to the idea of ​​trying pinhole photography and one day I bought an ONDU multiformat camera.

I didn’t like my first attempts very much and I felt that I had neglected her for a while. But on a cold morning on December 31st, 2021, while everyone was waiting for the New Year, I went for my usual walk and took only the ONDU camera and a roll of my favorite fim — Rollei Superpan 200.

Not far from us there are abandoned buildings from a former big machine-building fabric, some of which were used for administrative purposes. It was such a building that I passed this morning, and my attention was drawn to the broken glass at the entrance. Since I knew about the possibilities of pinhole cameras for a very large depth of field, I decided to try to capture the broken glass up close. I placed my camera in front of the hole in the glass and tried to imagine what the camera would “see”.

The camera itself doesn’t have a viewfinder, and I don’t have that wide-angle viewfinder, so all I could do was imagine what would fit into the frame. I find this to be the most difficult, but also the most interesting and attractive quality of pinhole photography. You can never be sure what will be in the frame unless you use a special viewfinder. But let’s not forget the parallax when shooting so close…

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Of course, after determining the approximate frame, I set about determining the exposure with a light meter and using the table that ONDU offers when buying the camera. As the exposure time is relatively long, especially for inside shots, it was necessary to take into account the loss of reciprocity. Unfortunately, in my phone application, I could not find values ​​for my film and decided to take the values ​​of ILFORD SFX 200. The day was a little foggy and the exposure time was between 3 and 6 minutes. Given what I expected and the result, I think that I would overexpose myself by about 50% of the time.

I find shooting with the ONDU camera extremely fun and stimulating. I really like shooting with simple but smart cameras, with which I do not feel the need and worry about batteries, electronics and the vagaries of time. I will be very happy if you find what I wrote fun and useful, especially since this is my first experience as an author in EMULSIVE.

~ Rosen

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About the author

Rosen Kalpachki

I am a doctor, professor of neurology. I am the founder and head of the biggest stroke center in Bulgaria. I have been fascinated by photography since childhood, but only in the last 10-15 years have I...

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  1. Your pinhole images are really lovely! Pinhole shooting workflow really is different than when using other types of cameras. It’s a nice change of pace and is good to slow down once in a while and take these deliberate photos. I have been using my Noon 66 pinhole camera off and on for a couple years and I’m always drawn to using it down by the water. Most of my pinhole shots have been taken either at a nearby beach,or at the local marina. I think pinhole photos really shine when you are able to capture a moving object and render that movement over the course of the extended exposure that pinhole usually requires. Here’s a link to a relatively recent pinhole shoot I did at a local beach. https://photos.app.goo.gl/d5ytEpmNhLqMQkaw9

  2. Hi Rosen,

    thank you very much for this nice article! Like Brad, I have been contemplating the Ondu – and the pinhole workflow in general – for quite a while, so I found your report very inspiring.

    You wrote that you settled with the 6×6 format. However, you bought the multiformat version of the camera. Have you already been experimenting with the other formats, especially the panoramic one? And as you seem to like architectural subjects: Did you consider the rise version of the Ondu back then?

    A few words about me: Like you, I have become a big fan of the square format (love my Rolleiflex!). Favorite subjects are landscapes and architecture (with industrial architecture ranking the highest). I use different cameras for 35mm and 120 film, some of them with perspective correction. In the past, I even owned a 6×12 panoramic camera with a fixed shift for the lens (a Linhof Technorama). Although I pretty much liked the wide format – as it’s a nice antithesis to the square – I never got lucky with this exotic apparatus. It turned out just too difficult to find enough suitable subjects for it in my surroundings.

    As you pointed out, the pinhole approach is rather trial and error than absolute control. I would expect a more liberating mindset of the pinhole compared to a so-called professional camera. Framing is a little out of whack, exposure is not spot on? Doesn’t matter, that’s part of the game! With my Linhof camera, I always got upset about little imperfections.

    Cheers,
    Christian

  3. It’s been a long time since I shot with a pinhole. You have inspired me to go out and create some again. Thank you.

  4. Hello Rosen,

    I’ve been contemplating purchasing an Ondu for quite sometime. Love your images especially the Picasso like line art.

    I’m on board with you in regards to camera simplicity. My current photographic endeavor centers around images produced using my Kodak Bull’s-eye camera (the 50/60’s flavor)

    Ironically, there’s something liberating about being locked into f11 and 1/50 of a sec.

    Cheers,
    Brad

    1. I really agree with you. The simplicity of a camera requires special effort to work with, but on the other hand it releases a lot of creative energy. Success!

    2. Thanks for the comment and compliments, Brad! Yes, the simplicity keeps liberty and more imagination indeed. Enjoy your Brownie!

  5. These look fantastic to me – exactly what I’d hope for in pinhole images. Just enough detail combined with beautiful diffuse softness that doesn’t look like the usual lens blur. Like a photographic equivalent of mezzotint prints.

    I’m not sure if I understood you correctly when you implied you’d like to have exposed them longer but the exposures look spot on to me, both indoors and outdoors. Adding more light would shed too much light on the situation and gradually start turning them into ordinary photos.

    Thanks for sharing these, they’re inspiring me to try pinhole photography myself.

    1. Thanks a lot for the comment and praise! When I said longer exposure, I meant exactly the power of the film. When there is more light, there are more options for the final image, and some of these shots (and the rest of the roll) were “on edge”.