Pinsta Is a Pinhole Camera, a Pocket Darkroom, and a Printer

This is definitely not your smartphone camera

Key Takeaways

  • Pinsta is a pinhole camera that doubles as a tiny darkroom.
  • It can even make prints from your own film negatives.
  • At last, a way to make film photo prints without even opening the camera.
The Pinsta camera setup.

Pinsta

Even for a dedicated DIY film photographer, developing your films at home can be a bit of a daunting task.

I love developing, but digging out the chemicals, chilling (or warming) the water, and generally rearranging the kitchen just to develop one or two 36-exposure rolls is easy to keep putting off, which is why the Pinsta looks like so much fun.

You just "snap" a photo, inject some chemicals, shake things around a little, and 10 minutes later, you have a print. What could be easier? Apart from, you know, anything else in the world?

Pinsta-Gram

The Pinsta, an instant pinhole camera, is a kind of spiritual cross between a Polaroid, a pinhole camera, and a wet-plate collodion camera.

The Pinsta captures photos directly onto photographic paper instead of onto a film negative. You load the Pinsta with a sheet of paper and then expose the photograph. Then, when the capture is done, you inject the developer into the camera body itself, then the stop bath, then the fixer. When you're finished, you can pull out the wet print, ready to view and safe in daylight.

Because the camera uses a pinhole for the lens, it is essentially a big black box, dark inside, and without any internal parts that could be damaged by the liquids used. In theory, you could make something similar yourself, but this looks a lot less messy and much easier to use. You can extract the chemicals as well as inject them, and there are pressure escape valves that are also light-sealed, so it's more than just a box with a hole.

Darkroom in a Box

That alone would probably be enough for me, but the Pinsta's inventor, Oliver New, took a look at his device and thought, "Would it be possible to enlarge negatives using Pinsta?"

The answer was yes. It's possible to load up the Pinsta with 35mm or 120 films, along with another sheet of 5 × 5-inch photographic paper, and expose the negative onto the paper. It's like a darkroom, an enlarger, and a print-processing setup all in one camera-bag-ready box.

The Pinsta camera body, with photographic film and a developed negative nearby.

Pinsta

Why is this better than regular home-developed films? Well, it's not. It's way more limited. Images captured directly onto paper will never have the fidelity of film photos.

But that's the point. Things can go wrong at any moment, and the result will always be unpredictable. It's the very opposite of taking a picture with your phone, which you will probably glance at once and never see again.

The Pinsta gets around the inertia that stops me from digging out the chemicals and kit to develop films in my kitchen, too. Once you take a photo, you have to process it before you can take another one. Maybe, after the novelty wears off, this will also become a chore, but at least it won't take up much space.

Kickstarter, But Good

The Pinsta will soon be up for grabs on Kickstarter, but with a twist. New's family business is Novacrylics Engineering, which manufactures, among other things, a pinhole camera for "one of the biggest names in the industry." So it would follow that this Kickstarter is almost certain to deliver well-built cameras promptly.

A photo taken and developed with the Pinsta camera.

Pinsta

Is this a practical way to take and make photos? Not even close. It is neither convenient nor especially easy. And the results are likely to be highly unpredictable. But it also looks like a ton of fun.

Nobody will be using the Pinsta to snap a quick record shot of the login passcode off the back of their Wi-Fi router (although that might make for a great art project), but 100% of the folks who try this out will have more fun than they'd ever get out of a camera app.

The price, along with the Kickstarter launch date, is yet to be disclosed, but if the price is right, I'm all in on this one.

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