5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Zero Image 2000 and Fuji Acros 100 – By Iksung Nah

April 10, 2022

My wife bought me a Zero Image 2000 for Christmas in 2008.  I was delighted because I had been wanting to try pinhole photography for some time ever since I had come across other photographers’ works of pinhole photography.  I anticipated finding new ways of image making with a pinhole camera.

Zero Image 2000 is a 6×6 medium format pinhole camera that has been manufactured by Zero Image in Hong Kong since 1999.  It is a beautifully crafted wooden box with a tiny pinhole.  It has a film winder, a film counter window, a spirit level (extra accessory) and a mechanism with which you manually uncover and re-cover the pinhole, that is, shutter control.  This pinhole camera is a 25mm focal length (approx 14mm, 35mm equivalent), hence, it provides a super wide angle.  According to the manufacturer’s manual, the aperture is f/138.  This means the depth of field is enormous.  However, due to diffraction, the image is quite soft.  However a soft dream-like image is one of its characteristics.

It took me a while to get used to the fact that the pinhole camera has no viewfinder.  This means you don’t see exactly how your intended image is going to be framed, especially around the edge of the frame.  You are simply guessing at the time of exposure.  To overcome this, I cut a square hole (6×6cm) on a rigid plastic sheet and use it as a tool for composition.  I hold it together with the camera. It is rudimentary but it helps to achieve more controlled results.

For pinhole photography, I always carry a tripod, a light meter and two ND (neutral-density) filters: a 2 stops and a 3 stops.  I use these ND filters, either one on its own or two together, when I want to exaggerate the movement of clouds, the flow of water or if the ambient light level is too high.  During exposures I hold them in front of the pinhole as close and parallel to the camera as possible.

The fastest shutter speed I ever tried is ½ second. I don’t think any faster shutter speed is achievable, although someone might challenge this.

In my early attempts at pinhole photography, I wasted a fair number of frames.  The most frequent mistake was forgetting to wind the film after exposure to the next frame.  This resulted in unintended double exposure images. Unfortunately, nothing was worth saving of these.

In order to avoid these unwanted double exposures, I religiously started making note of exposure details, subjects and frame numbers.  This way I know which frame number is the next.  I have also developed the habit of advancing the film immediately after the exposure.  As a result, the waste rate has almost been eliminated.

The images shown below were made over a long period of time because the pinhole camera is not one I carry around with me all times.  It is very portable and light but the process of using it and the necessity of a tripod (or its equivalent support) is cumbersome.  I used a roll of Fujicolor Acros 100 to produce these images.

I prefer to use Fujicolor Acros 100 for pinhole photography as it does not suffer from reciprocity failure up to 2 minutes, thereafter, up to 17 minutes you need a half stop compensation.

Oxford, UK – Zero Image 2000 pinhole camera, Fuji Neopan Acros 100, 3 seconds, f/138

Oxford, UK – Zero Image 2000 pinhole camera, Fuji Neopan Acros 100, 1/2 second, f/138

Broad Street, Oxford, UK – Zero Image 2000 pinhole camera, Fuji Acros 100, 3 seconds, f/138

It goes without saying that the city of Oxford is a haven for photographers, especially for those who specialise in architectural photography.  Unfortunately, on this occasion, I was unable to spend more than 4 hours there and managed to take only the 3 images seen above.   When I was framing the 1st image, I had the dilemma of whether or not to include the group of people, but in the end I decided to include them as it would provide a nice focal point.

Michinhampton Common, Gloucestershire, UK – Zero Image 2000 pinhole camera, Fuji Acros 100, 15 seconds, f/138

I passed this vantage point on a number of occasions when I was walking on Minchinhampton Common (Gloucestershire).  My main interests were the row of trees initially.  However, on a spring day, when I turned up there with the pinhole camera, the ground was covered with buttercups.  So I put more emphasis on the buttercups and the trees become of secondary interest.

Richmond, Surrey, UK – Zero 2000 pinhole camera, Fuji Acros 100, 2 seconds, f/138

Richmond upon Thames is one of the favourite towns I enjoy wondering around with a camera.  I made variations of this scene with digital as well as film cameras in the past.  On that day it was the pinhole camera’s turn and luck was on my side.  For me the passing pleasure boat was blurred perfectly.  The 2 seconds exposure was just enough.

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Bill Brown
    April 10, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    Iksung, A pinhole camera definitely requires a different way of thinking/ seeing. I have been fortunate to know and work with a local artisan who has created some of the most beautiful pinhole work you can imagine. He has traveled to China and Vietnam, plus other places , with only his pinhole camera to record his daily encounters. Check out his website, http://www.franklopez.com , and be inspired as you continue your pinhole adventure.

    • Reply
      Iksung Nah
      April 10, 2022 at 3:43 pm

      Thank you, Bill for the introduction to Frank Lopez site. As you said, his website is full of beautiful images.

  • Reply
    Kurt Ingham
    April 10, 2022 at 3:25 pm

    Very nice images! Often beginners are stuck with a poor quality pinhole and get fuzzy results that they think are normal. Not in your case!

    • Reply
      Iksung Nah
      April 10, 2022 at 3:57 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, Kurt. The lack of a tripod or some sort of support might lead to avoidable and excessive blur. However I have to say carrying a tripod is a chore.

  • Reply
    Arthur Gottschalk
    April 10, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    I have a 6×9 adjustable Zero Image that I love. Great cameras. My best pictures were made in the Forest of Fontainebleau near Paris. My only problem theses days is finding film with numbers that I can see legibly through the red window on the back. Any suggestions would be helpful.

    • Reply
      Iksung Nah
      April 11, 2022 at 8:15 am

      Well I myself find it rather difficult to see the frame number through the dark red window. I just wind the film very slowly and carefully. Other than that, I don’t have any suggestions. Sorry. Perhaps other readers might have a better idea.

  • Reply
    Louis A. Sousa
    April 10, 2022 at 7:57 pm

    Super images.

  • Reply
    Bob Janes
    April 12, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    I think it is lovely that RRS make a plate that fits…

    • Reply
      Iksung Nah
      April 13, 2022 at 9:12 am

      Years ago I bought that plate for my back up camera (Nikon D300) together with a L Plate for D800. It was a universal plate which is suitable for many cameras.

  • Reply
    Graham Orbell
    April 19, 2022 at 12:59 am

    Beautiful pictures with an old world look. Thank you Iksung. For a while I’ve been wondering if I could make a hybrid pinhole camera out of my old Russian 6 X 9 folding camera. Leave the lens in place and make a pinhole disc to attach in front or behind or possibly inside the lens. All the other bits; winder, red window, tripod mount, viewfinder etc are all there. From memory I think Edward Weston did something like that using large format to photograph gourds etc.

    • Reply
      Iksung Nah
      April 19, 2022 at 8:51 am

      Hi Graham. Thank you for your compliments. What an interesting idea! The idea of combining a lens with a pinhole disk is really intriguing. Please share the results with us.

  • Reply
    Lee
    April 19, 2022 at 1:38 pm

    Gorgeous shots! I particularly like the shot by the river with the bridge, and the one taken on Michinhampton Common. I like using Acros II for pinhole photography myself. Even with the inherent fuzziness of images shot through a pinhole aperture, the super fine grain of Acros film gives the final image a painterly look IMO. Below are some of my most recent pinhole shots, taken on 120 Acros II using a Noon 66 pinhole camera.

    https://imgur.com/LvhEn3R
    https://imgur.com/WhraL5C
    https://imgur.com/RjBDcxp

    • Reply
      Iksung Nah
      April 20, 2022 at 9:02 am

      Hi Lee. Very nice images, particularly, I like the lone tree.

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