The Dirkon Paper Camera

Dirkon Camera

now this is something. apparently back in the 1970s when communism was all the rage, it was hard to get a hold of decent magazines so people would share them. one magazine though roughly translated to “An ABC of Young Technicians and Natural Scientists” published an article showing how to make a fully functional camera out of stiff paper. yes, its 35mm too. it’s called the “Dirkon” paper camera and obviously bears a pun to the tune of nikon. there’s even a few sample photos to go along with how to make it. we wanna see someone make a modern day one

20 thoughts on “The Dirkon Paper Camera

  1. Awesome! Looks pretty good, although not really sure of the use besides novelty. Definitely going to have to try this out this weekend when I get a bit of free time.

  2. I have seen this before but I’m glad you posted it. Too many cool hacks get forgotten cause they are old and no one wants to post’em. Bah to them, I say post’em all plenty of people haven’t seen’em and they remind some of us of projects we never got around to. Keep it up hack a day you guys are doin great.

  3. This is pretty cool. Ansel Adams actually discusses building pinhole cameras like this one in his book, The Camera, although not in nearly so much detail and without the handy schematics. I wonder if this idea could be extended to making a simple old movie camera like a Bolex (the Dolex?); they’re really not much more complicated.

  4. it’s easy to forget how resourceful and brilliant people were in the eastern bloc. surely there must be more great inventions in czech or the former deutsch demokratisch republik.

  5. sweet hack ill have to try this one in a fue weeks when i got some more time. it will be fun to do this again. i did something similar in my highschool photo class a fue years ago

  6. This is a really cool project!

    I think the printer is a much overlooked source of material for building mechanical devices, especially when you consider that the finished work can be layered and/or treated with various glues/epoxies to create a very durable result.

    Does anyone know of a source of freely available paper/printer-centric projects such as this one or the famous paper clock?

    You would think the printer company’s would be more involved, but from what I’ve seen they seem more interested in “craft type” stuff, then something that could be actually useful.

  7. Very cool.

    I made myself a pinhole camera out of a round Quaker Oatmeal box earlier this year. It uses negative paper film (shoots one photo at a time). Some of the photos are just amazing!

    Very fun project for the summer time!!

  8. This shows you can make a pinhole camera with some style. I made one in summer school in about 1971 out of a Kodak 126 (128?) film cartrige, a piece of folded black cardboard and a popsicle stick to advance the film. It was a black square box rubberbanded to a chunk of plastic — no class :-) But, they work surprisingly well, and I think every aspiring photographer should experience the joy of a homemade pinhole camera at least once!

  9. what gague card/paper should be stiff and opaque enough for this to work? I want to build one, but would rather save the headaches of poor card leading to crappy functionality.

  10. i made one of these after boing-boing posted it. i printed it out on greeting card stock, the thickest that would go through my printer, and then used StudioTac to adhere it to black poster board, which you’ll want to do anyway to make it opaque. be sure to check for any holes to, especially in the corners after completion. It took me about 6 hours construction time. do a search for ‘dirkon’ on flickr to find example pictures

  11. few tips:

    glue a pieces of black terry cloth inside the camera or use a lots of black ink to make inside the camera as dark as possible

    the pinhole should be small and round, no fluffy edges – I had good results with a piece of thin aluminium foil. Smaller hole = sharper picture, but longer exposure

  12. they reccomend a piece of sheet metal with a 0.4mm hole in it (thats 0.01576 inches, figure out the fraction yourself because i’m too lazy) either way it’s a #12 sewing needle, so go check out wal-mart’s sewing section (hopefully you’ll get someone thats speaks english, mine spoke spanglish, and since i speak very limited spanish it was mucho difficult)

    print it out in the actual acrobat program, i tried to print it up on a mac (meaning it was in the ie window) and it was cropped and reshaped to fit the page, the only reason i noticed was the handy dandy ruler at the top of the page

    ***remember to check the ruler after it has printed!!!***

    has anyone made this? my photo teacher is making us make a pinhole camera, and i want a dirkon to play with (sounds like something that you would hide from the kids, doesn’t it?) and make all the other students look bad (god i hope he grades on a curve!)

  13. Another way to make a very convenient pinhole camera is to take a body cap for an SLR camera, drill a hole about 1/4″ diameter (+/- whatever drill bit you’ve got) and tape a piece of aluminum foil over the hole. Poke a hole in the foil with a needle, put the cap on your camera body and use it as if it were a manual lens.

  14. I’ve built one of these; and I managed to get interesting results out of it.

    Some continual tweaking adds to the fun and hopefully I can improves the results it yields. It’s also a great way to get more into photography; and is light years away from the easy and (dare I say it) slightly mundane approach of digital.

  15. I’ve just made a Dirkon couple of days ago, and took it out for a shoot yesterday, being all sunny and beautiful out. It didn’t work as I think i prbably over exposed everything. Does somebody have a idea of the correct exposure times ?

    And to rewind the film, to answer a question, I locked myself in a dark bathroom and rolled in back in manually. You can also take another empty canister, flip it upside down and tape the film you’re about to use to the remainder of the old one.

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