My name is Oliver, I am 34 years old and have been a keen photographer and inventor my life so far, taking after my Dad Harry New who invented the Nova Vertical slot processor back in the 1980’s which our company Novacrylics Engineering continued to manufacture for 40 years.
I have now invented a product of my own: Pinsta, pinhole camera and mini-enlarger which develops prints internally meaning prints can be made, at home, out camping, on the bus and without any further investment in darkroom equipment… But before I get to that, a little bit of background as to why I am so happy to bringing a product like Pinsta to market.
A Bit of Background
Sitting on a stool next to my dad in his darkroom is one of my most distinct memories as a small child. The combination of sounds, smells and the wonder of watching images illuminated by the red glow of the safelight magically appear in front of my eyes is something I will never forget. He would shoot a lot of weddings and show jumping events and would allow me to sit in sometimes and watch the magic happen.
My first proper camera was a Pentax ME which my Dad gave me for my birthday. I had a fascination with long exposures and can remember going into the garden at night with my camera and a torch and experimenting, setting my camera up with a fixed open shutter and shining my torch on the plants and trees. I’d take the film up to the local photography shop to have it developed for collection the next day. The wait all part of the enjoyment of the process. Something lost with the instant gratification lifestyles we all live in now…
At some point since then I strayed away from film photography, consumed into the ease and immediacy of digital like everyone else. Modern digital photography is amazing but I have found it to be the perfect example for how our lives have changed in the last 20 or so years. Everything now is instant and easily acquired and yet it’s all somehow less satisfying. We seem to have lost the joy of the process and how the process effects the enjoyment and appreciation of the final result. Remember how much more enjoyable watching a film was when your Dad would give you a few quid and drive you down to the video store and you’d spend an hour looking through the videos only to get home and have to rewind it before watching it. Even if the film was garbage you’d appreciate it so much more. Now we sit in front of Netflix with a million options frying our brains into an insurmountable state of indecision.
Which is why bringing something like Pintsa to market feels important to me – it’s about bringing back something of the joy of the process, but also in a way that’s hopefully more accessible to more people.
In a small factory in Warwickshire my company manufactures a pinhole camera for one of the biggest names in the industry. We had been making them for years when one day it occurred to me that there was an opportunity for us to produce something much better and more importantly something more accessible to people without a darkroom. Could we produce a camera which you can develop the photograph inside of?
With this idea Pinsta camera was born, a ‘develop in’ pinhole camera which shoots directly onto photographic paper (ideally ilford direct positive). After lots of prototyping I started making some good headway, the camera has a special hole on the side which connects to a chemistry canal. Through this canal the chemistry is inserted and extracted intravenously meaning you can develop your print internally without a darkroom, all you need is a dark bag to load your next shot. This is a real game changer. Peoples faces when you pull out a photographic print after ten minutes of messing about with a black box and some syringes is priceless, and the ability to develop there and then means you know you have got the right shot/exposure. Not a given when you don’t have a screen preview of your shot and varying light conditions..
Other features of Pinsta added along the way were an internal slide for adding filters, and a rotating shutter disc which allows you to take full frame shots as well as oval or round vignetted crop shots. The body has landscape and portrait tripod mounts and bubble levels and is made from tough ABS.
A Darkroom in your Camera Bag?
Some way further into the development of the camera I had another idea. Would it be possible to enlarge negatives using Pinsta? Afterall the pinhole negates the requirement for focusing. If the light passes in straight lines through the pinhole then surely if it passes through a negative it will expose the image onto the paper?
The moment I opened my first pinhole exposed enlargement was a true eureka moment. I quite literally jumped for joy. Not only had it enlarged the negative it had far surpassed any expectations I had for what sort of quality it would achieve.
Pinsta had quite literally become a darkroom in your camera bag. It gives me immense joy to think that Pinsta might help to bring new people into traditional photography. As well as being amazing fun to use and a better pinhole camera for current enthusiasts it can also be an excellent educational tool for people who want a little more experience of analog process in their lives without the commitment of a darkroom and all the associated equipment.
Pinsta camera is now complete and will be launching on kickstarter soon. If you’d like to learn more then please visit our instagram page www.instagram.com/pinsta_camera or join our mailing list at www.pinstacamera.com
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