I cannot believe that it was 2018 when I wrote the first two parts [1][2] of this series of articles documenting my conversion of a 1940s-era Agfa Agifold 6×6 medium format camera to shoot pinhole photography. The time has flown by. Granted, we have had a year of exceptional circumstances. A global pandemic and a series of lockdowns have somewhat stifled my creativity. Although I have managed to keep on shooting in various formats, pinholing for me has fallen by the wayside of late.

I decided that it was time I shrugged off this personal pinhole malaise and got on with it. I shot some more AgiPinFold rolls and here for you is my third and final article on converting a 1940’s folder into a pinhole camera.

I should point out at this stage of the article that I still have not painted the camera. And the pinhole is still fixed in with blueback…

I won’t bore you with the ins and outs of lightmetering or reciprocity failure graphs, I just want to assure you that the slow motion aspect of pinhole work – with exposures lasting from a few seconds up to 60 minutes and beyond in certain lighting conditions – is a very calming activity.

Using the AgiPinFold is no different from any other mid 20th Century folding camera. With the exception of the (lack of a) need to focus. Depth of Field in pinhole photography is so massive it takes care of itself. 

It’s just that there’s nothing sharp either.

The AgiFold is actually a fantastic camera. Eye level and waist level viewfinders, a nice chunky feel when opened up, not too heavy, but slim and pocketable when folded. Having managed to maintain the shutter integrity so that I can use a cable release to make exposures — instead of needing to use a bit of gaffer tape for the shutter — is fantastic as well.

Since part 2 of this mini series, I have acquired a Manfroto Pixi, a much stabler tripod than the GuerillaPod I was using originally. 

I have found that close-up framing is a bit tricky; I have had a few frames where I only got 50% of the composition that I was hoping for. 

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That light leak is still there, and I still have zero inclination to attempt a bellows repair. I cover the bellows with a black cloth. Sometimes. And the longer the exposure — especially in direct sunlight — the more light leaks I accrue. 

Someone on the internet said that light leaks are ‘Arty’.

So, what’s my conclusion? If you like pinhole photography and creaky old 1940’s folders then the AgiPinFold is a winner. I enjoyed both the build process and the shooting process in equal measures. 

Have you ever experienced the emotional highs and lows of smashing a lens element out of a camera with a hammer and screwdriver?!!?

I understand that pinholing isn’t necessarily a mass appeal practice within analogue photography. A niche within a niche for sure, but the original idea for this conversion was so I could shoot 12 frames without having to constantly retire to my darkroom to reload, as I was having to do with the Ceramic Pinhole build I wrote about here some time back!

This build was as much fun as shooting the camera and I would reiterate my previously made assertion that any of you reading this article could do something similar. I encourage you all to have a go yourselves.

The AgiPinFold did what I wanted it to do, and I have had fun shooting it, but to be honest, I am now starting to think that large format negs are the way forward. I now have an actual darkroom (albeit, shared with a freezer, a washing machine and the boiler) but no enlarger, so contact printing is where it’s at. I have already made (prototype) pinhole cameras of 10×4 and 5×7 format from foamcore, with an eye to using wood in future builds.

You never know, this year’s EMULSIVE Secret Santa may well see the AgiPinFold giving someone a Christmas Day surprise…!

~ Toby

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About the author

Avatar - Toby Van de Velde

After 13 years as a local news staff photographer, with a healthy little freelance business on the side, I have now launched into the world of the full-time freelancer. This blog will document the highs and lows of my photographic way of life as I talk about...

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