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Pinhole camera

A pinhole camera is a camera without a lens. The image is produced by a simple hole. In order to produce a reasonably clear image, the aperture has to be extremely small, on the order of a pinhole. The shutter is normally just by some light proof material covering the pinhole.

The image may be projected on a translucent screen for live viewing (popular for viewing solar eclipses; see also camera obscura), or picked up by film or a charge coupled device for recording. Such pinhole cameras are sometimes used for surveillance work.

The small size of the hole produces significant diffraction effects which result in a less sharp image than what is available by a lens. The depth of field is basically infinite, but this does not mean everything will be definitely be in focus. Depending on the distance from the aperture to film plane, the infinite depth of field means everything is either in or out of focus to the same degree. Due to the small aperture, very long exposure times are required with traditional photographic films.

These characteristics could be used for creative purposes. Once considered as an obsolete technique from the early days of photography, pinhole photography is from time to time a trend in artistic photography.

Related cameras, or image forming devices, or developments from it, include Franke's widefield pinhole camera, the pinspeck camera, and the pinhead mirror.

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