Solarcan lets you take long pinhole exposures using a $15 pop can

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Pinhole cameras create dramatic long exposures — but typically require that users design their own camera or assemble one from a DIY kit. However, that could change with Solarcan, a one-time use pinhole camera that comes ready to shoot and only costs around $15. The disposable pinhole camera’s Kickstarter campaign has already exceeded its original goal four times over with over two weeks remaining.

In order to mass produce a pinhole camera, U.K.-based photographer Sam Cornwell decided to create the camera inside an aluminum can — yes, the same kind that pop and energy drinks come in. Since the body of the camera is already made, the camera doesn’t cost as much to make, though Cornwell said securing the machinery to make the machines was one of his biggest challenges.

Once the camera arrives, pulling off a tab in the side of the can starts exposing the strip of photographic paper inside. After the exposure is complete, you just need to take a can opener to the top to remove the negative inside. Since the idea is to create an easy-to-use pinhole camera, Cornwell then suggests snapping a photo of the negative and inverting the colors using a mobile app.

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A sample image shot with the Solarcan Sam Cornwell / Solarcan

With an f/132 lens, the camera needs to be left alone for at least one week, though the best photos emerge from putting the can facing the sun and waiting several months to capture the pattern of the sun rising and setting each day.

The designer says that the Solarcan is something that can be made from scratch, but by commercially producing the camera, he hopes to bring the art of extreme long exposures to more people, including kids and students, and even avid photographers looking for a fun side project.

Cornwell says the manufacturing equipment and materials have already been secured, while funding from early backers will help cover the time involved in making the cameras. A single Solarcan sells to early backers for $15, and a five-pack can be picked up for about $63, with shipping expected to begin in May. The campaign reached full funding after less than 35 hours of exposure and will continue to be open to backers until May 17.


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