Stereo Pinhole Photography

After successfully building several pinhole cameras, I decided to convert my favorite camera into a stereo pinhole camera. This involved building a new 'lens' board that held two pinholes along with a septum to keep the two images from overlapping. I built the septum out of 1/4" plywood and used two braces made of scrap wood to hold it in place. I built a single shutter from 0.005" brass and painted the camera side flat black.

The directions that follow are for the construction of a stereo pinhole 'lens' board to be used with a pinhole camera constructed as described on my camera page.

Since the only difference between a standard pinhole camera and a stereo pinhole camera is the 'lens' board, most likely you'll be using one camera body for both types of pinhole photography. The stereo pinhole camera produces two images of about 2-3/8" X 3-3/4" on a single 4" X 5" negative. The design uses a stereo base (distance between the pinholes) of 2-1/2" since this is about the average distance between adult's eyes.

This project requires two pinholes that are well matched in size. I made my pinholes out of 0.001" brass using a #12 needle and some 1500 grit emery cloth. I measured the size by setting my enlarger to a known magnification and then mounted the pinhole in the negative carrier to measure it.

Once I had developed the negatives, I simply contact printed them and was able to view them in 3-D by crossing my eyes.

I have also cut apart some pairs and remounted them so that they can be free viewed wall eyed or using a standard viewer for stereo prints.

For more information on stereo photography, start with the 3-D FAQ and the stereo mounting manual available on the 3-D Web site. Also read the 3-D tutorial available on the Rocky Mountain Memories site.


1) Cut one piece of 1/4" plywood 6" X 4-3/4" in size. This is your 'lens' board.

2) Cut another piece of 1/4" plywood 4" X 3-5/8" in size. This is your septum, which will keep the two images from overlapping.

3) Cut two 45 degree braces out of scrap wood, each 4" in length. The shape of these braces is easiest to see in the top view of the 'lens' board.

4) Cut a piece of 0.005" thick brass to about 4-1/2" X 3". This will be your shutter.

5) Using the locations shown in the drawings, cut two 1" square holes in the 'lens' board.

6) Sand the 'lens' board and septum and, using the palm sander, round over all of the outside edges. (I used 150 and 220 grit sandpaper.) Make sure to smooth the edges of your 'lens' hole.

7) On the 'lens' board build a 'U' shape of 1/16" X 1/4" balsa wood that the shutter will fit into. Then glue a slightly smaller 'U' on top of the first one, forming channels that the shutter will slide in.

8) Glue the septum and the two braces onto the center back of the 'lens' board as shown by the dashed lines in the front view.

9) Once the glue has dried and any excess glue has been removed you may pain the 'lens' board and back of the brass shutter with several coats of flat black spray paint.

10) To finish off the 'lens' board, glue the pinholes to the back of the 'lens' board and then tape over the edges with black electrician's tape.

11) Drill two small holes in the top edge of the shutter and tie a loop of thread through them to make it easier to open the shutter.

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