First shots with a Reality So Subtle pinhole camera

I’ve just extended my range of pinhole cameras with a Reality So Subtle 6x6F model. I haven’t taken any photos OF the camera yet but there’s a range of images on the supplier website.

I already have a Ondu multi-format pinhole which can be adjusted to make 6×6, 6×9, or 6×12 images – and I can swap the lens in my Intrepid 4×5 for a pinhole – so why buy another pinhole which can only manage one of those image sizes ? Well of course, I didn’t need another pinhole, but the reason I wanted the RSS camera was so that I could attach screw-in filters for contrast control, to force a longer exposure, and for creating infra-red images.

I used to be able to fit 52mm filters to my Holga WPC 120 pinhole camera; it didn’t have a thread but the filters could be pushed on and, if necessary, a bit of blu-tack applied. But since the Holga fell apart, that isn’t an option anymore.

Ondu themselves have a new Mk III range of cameras on the way, which will have a snap-on filter system, but they’re not actually available yet, and they are considerably more expensive. The wooden Ondu cameras are, to my eyes, much more attractive than the black High Impact Polystyrene of the RSS models, but not every camera has to be a work of art and I’m happy to trade artistry against cost on some occasions.

For my first trip I took the RSS 6*9F to North Blyth, a harbour in Northumberland which has a bit of an end-of-the-world feel to it because not many people have a reason to go there; but there is still industrial activity there.

I used a yellow filter here to increase separation between the clouds and the sky, but the 140 second exposure led to a lot of cloud movement so the effect is lost. The long exposure helped to smooth the river out though.

Before the trip I’d read reviews of the camera which remarked that the angle of view is very wide – 99 degrees according to the supplier. This is something like the equivalent of 15-17mm in 35mm terms (although since the RSS 6×6 gives square images compared to the 3×2 ratio of 35mm/digital full frame, that’s not a very good comparison).

The advice I heard was to get as close as you think you need to be to your subject, and then get closer! I followed that advice on my first image above so the camera was only a few inches away from the foreground rope.

A yellow filter again but the sun had come out so a 30s exposure was enough.

You can click on any of these images for a larger view.

Underneath a water tank. The low sun at my back left a shadow of the tripod and camera, which I cropped out.
The vessel with the helicopter landing pad looks a long way off, but it’s actually only about 50meters away.
The same vessel from the other side, at the bauxite terminal
A navigation light, sometimes called “The Dalek”. The dark sky here was caused by the use of a red filter – some more clouds higher up in the sky would have been ideal.
The “Dalek” from the other side. This is the first time I’ve experienced flare with a pinhole camera. In this instance I quite like the effect, it’s as if something strange is happening …
“Sea View”. I was hoping that the wind turbine which I had carefully position through the gap would be visible, but it can barely be made out when I zoom in. Normally the blades would not be captured in a long exposure, but they were not moving at the time.
The bauxite storage tanks. These are an orange colour, but I used an orange filter which has made them appear lighter.
The last image on the roll, taking a mile or so further north at Cambois, where the River Wansbeck joins the sea.

My initial impressions of the Reality So Subtle 6x6F are that:

  • It’s light and compact
  • It produces relatively sharp images, by pinhole standards
  • I found the top-loading method of loading the film a bit awkard, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.
  • I found it difficult to read the frame numbers through the red window on the back of the camera.

Since the red window has a cover so it won’t be open long, perhaps the red plastic could be a bit lighter. I did manage to mis-read the numbers and ended up with 11 exposed frames instead of ten. I also had one accidental double-exposure, but that’s user error and not the fault of the camera. Still, 10 useable frames out of a possible 12 isn’t bad going for pinhole.

For completeness, here’s the double exposure, because some people like them. It’s the water tower, both from outside and underneath:

I’m looking forward to using this camera again soon.


  1. Kevin, interesting to see square format combined with such a wide lens. It would be intriguing to see some more images like the “last image on the roll” one with fast moving clouds and a longer exposure, I think this combined with the wide angle could make for some even more dramatic shots.


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