That time I shot with a...

That time I shot homemade red scale in a pinhole-modified Zorki 4 – By Alex Purcell

I guess this all started when James Guerin of RealitySoSubtle posted some photos taken with one of his 0.1mm pinholes, on a digital APSc camera. Until then, despite having tried and pretty much failed, I had no idea how good small format pinhole photography could look.

From that I decided I had to have a pocketable wide angle 35mm pinhole camera, but since I couldn’t find quite what I was after online, and having three Zorki’s and a FED mostly just gathering dust, I decided to sacrifice one to the cause.

Previous experiments with recessed pinhole body caps had taught me that the angle of view I wanted wasn’t possible with the lens mount in place. So after a couple of hours of careful dissembling, unscrewing, bending, snapping and sawing, followed by at least another hour of foamcore cutting, hot glue and duct tape, my ‘Zorki 4’ was reborn as ‘Zorkinstein’.


Then a few weeks ago, packing for a family holiday to Mallorca, trying to work out how many cameras I could get away with taking, and how I could shoot pinhole in very bright sunshine, it dawned on me! If I re-spooled some of the cheap rolls of fujicolor 200 I’d bought for the trip, I’d be able to rate it around ei25-50, which would give me the 2 or 3 second exposure I like for capturing people moving.

I finished just two rolls of the Redscale in Zorkinstein on holiday, and even though I’m very happy with how they turned out, next time I’ll overexpose the film a lot more to get past the deep reds and into the yellow tones beyond.

You can find the rest of my photography at instagram and flickr

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  • Avatar
    July 15, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    Great photos and sounds like a fun project!

    • Avatar
      July 15, 2019 at 9:25 pm

      Thanks 🙂

  • Avatar
    Oscar Segovia
    July 15, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    I would like to ask you more … what did you sacrifice? the mirror and the shutter only? What changes did you do?
    With what parameters did you take the photos? You placed Iso 50 the roll of 200?

    • Avatar
      July 15, 2019 at 9:39 pm

      Being a rangefinder it didn’t have a mirror, so thankfully I just had to remove the lens mount. The focal plane shutter is still in use. Redscaling the film massively reduces its sensitivity. The amount you expose it over the box speed, determines how red it turns out. The closer to box speed the redder it appears. I initially aimed for 3 stops over at ei25, but the broad latitude meant I didn’t have to precisely meter. I just shot for approximately 5 seconds in bright sun.

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