Zero Image 6x9 pinhole camera

By the tracks -- by Joe Reifer

By the tracks -- by Joe Reifer

I got my holiday gift early, a Zero Image 6x9 multi-format pinhole camera. The shot above is from my first roll -- a 4 second exposure triggered just before the train passed.

I emailed Zero Image to see if the camera was in stock, and received a quick reply from designer and Zero Image head honcho Zernike Au, who said he had one ready to ship. Postal speed from Hong Kong was quick -- the camera was on my doorstep 3 days later. I'm quite pleased with the quality craftsmanship and clever design. The cameras are produced in editions of 2000, and come with a certificate, plastic viewfinder, and instruction manual.

The camera takes 120 roll film, and can shoot 645, 6x6, 6x7, or 6x9 format. Simply move two pieces of wood into the appropriate grooves in the back of the camera. Use one of the three film indicator windows on the back depending on your choice of formats.

The pinhole is f/235, which means a 2-4 second exposure with black and white film in bright daylight. I have an Arca Swiss style tripod head, and used a handy B9 plate I had lying around which is small but works fine. There is an exposure calculator on the back of the camera -- just use sunny 16 and turn the dial. You could also use a hand held light meter - mine only stops down to f/90 -- I added three stops to this reading for f/235, which includes accounting for reciprocity failure. This exposure calculation method worked like a charm, and my first roll looked great.

Film loading is easy, and unlike my Holga winds tightly. I paid the extra bucks for the deluxe version, which has a built in bubble level and trick cable release adapter. The camera comes with a plastic viewfinder that you hold in the camera position to guestimate what the heck you're shooting. The focal length is about a 40mm equivalent, which translates to around 21mm in 35mm format when shooting 645 (90 degree angle of view). I shot 6x6 square for my first roll, but plan to try 6x9 next time, which is a super wide 112 degree angle of view.

The viewfinder and a standard mechanical cable release are in my bag with some Fuji Acros film, and I'm ready to grab my tripod and hit the streets again. Fun stuff.