High Speed Pinhole and Zone Plate Photography, Part 1


Part of my ongoing creative exploration of Zone Plate and Pinhole photography has entered a new area… high speed film. Most applications of Pinhole or Zone Plate photography require the use of a tripod or some sort of support device but that does not fit with my current shooting style SO I have just run tests of Ilford Delta 3200 and Kodak P3200 in a variety of different developers from an EI of 3200 – 25,000 to see if it would be possible to hand hold exposures under a variety of common lighting situations and get a negative that-when-scanned would have all of the expressive grey tonality I need with contrast in check… the answer is Yes! The best film for pinhole and zone plate high speed applications in my opinion would be the Kodak P3200 at 3200 – 6400. The sample images below are just a very quick test done at the end of the day in rainy overcast very flat light… the image on the left is a 28mm F32 zone plate on my Leica M7, the image on the right is a 28mm F151 Pinhole also on my Leica M7… both hand-held at shutter speeds over 1/30th even in this dismal low light… shot at an EI of 6400. The cropped image  is a 5″ x 5″  example section of the pinhole image scaled to 20″ x 30″ … remember this is an EI of 6400 shot through a pinhole. I think the visual quality is amazing and I plan on shooting this afternoon and posting a fuller series of articles starting in a few days with the “secret” developer info as well as thoughts on working with pinhole and zone plate with high speed films on a variety of different cameras. Just a quick note- no noise reduction or sharpening has been applied to any image and all images are dry scans on my Imacon Scanner.

Left Zone Plate, Right Pinhole
5" x 5" Crop of a 20" x 30" Print.

The sun has just come out (lots of rain here in VT this time of year) so I am off to shoot!

Viva la Revolution- Stephen

UPDATE: Ok so most of the day has passed and I have managed to shoot two rolls of the Kodak P3200 at and EI of 6400  (the sun was out for exactly 2 hours!) and just finished processing them… they look fantastic! My exposures were for the most part using the pinhole (f 151) at shutter speeds ranging from 1/60 to 1/15 on my M7. I will post images sometime tomorrow…

2 thoughts on “High Speed Pinhole and Zone Plate Photography, Part 1

  1. This is great! I’ve converted an old rangefinder camera to a pinhole and have been trying to figure out a film/ developer combination to get an EI of 25,000 ASA. Then I can use it as a point and shoot. Tried Rodinal 1 to 50 for 51 minutes stand development but I think I’m about 2 stops short (this was with tri-x). They are probably printable but losing too much detail in the shadows so I’ll be interested to see what you come up with. I also tried a 1 to 100 mix (Rodinal) and let it sit for 12 hours but there wasn’t any difference so I think I’ve hit a wall as far as the Tri-x /Rodinal combination is concerned. Interestingly I did the same thing with Tmax 3200 but it didn’t push any further than the Tri-x.

    Other recommended developers are Xtol and Microphen but I haven’t got that far yet.

    Nice to read your research on Diafine. My favorite developer! – but its no good for this project.

  2. Cool Pic’s, I would have never thought of using higher speed films i.e. 3200. The most I’ve tried has been 400 Ilford. but the majority I use is 100. I would like to see more of your work with zonplates.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s