Shooting with the Zero Image 2000 Deluxe Pinhole Camera

I bought a Zero Image 2000 Deluxe pinhole camera and it came last week. The first thing I did was load it with 120 Tri-X and went to Belle Isle in Detroit to shoot.

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Belle Isle is an island off of downtown Detroit and it’s a cultural gem. Two structures I wanted to shoot were the casino and the conservatory. The casino was never really a casino per se. It opened in 1908 and was used for events, dances, and meetings.

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The 2000 Deluxe is an easy camera to use. It’s made of teak and the mechanical parts are brass, so it’s unlikely it will ever wear out if I take care of it. The 2000 Deluxe is a good camera to hand down one day. It’s a little tricking loading the film but it’s something I’ll get use to over time. To use it, there’s an exposure dial on the back. Just set your light meter as you normally do and take a reading in incident or reflective mode. The 2000 Deluxe is set at f/138, so just look at the inner dial where 138 appears and read the corresponding exposure time to the mark on the outer dial. Put a little mark next to 138 to easily find it, since the print is very small and hard to read if your eyes aren’t perfect.

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The Zero Image 2000 Deluxe takes 120 film.

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The difference between the 2000 Deluxe and base 2000 model is the cable release mechanism and the bubble level on top of the camera.

I like using a cable release so I opted for the Deluxe version. On the baseline 2000 you just use your finger to open the shutter and close it. The transition is smooth, so it shouldn’t jar the camera sitting on a tripod if you buy the baseline model. I’ve only used the bubble level on one or two shots.

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Film wise, the day was very bright and clear for January when I went shooting. I normally use Ilford FP4 at ISO 125 for pinhole photography, but I already had a roll of Tri-X in the camera and didn’t want to waste it.

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One of the cool features of a pinhole camera is the nearly infinite depth of field. For pinhole composition, it’s always to have an object in the foreground to offset the background. With all objects relatively in focus, the effect looks good.

 

Belle Isle was owned and operated by the city of Detroit for many, many years. A few years ago the State of Michigan took it over and it’s been going through renovations right and left.

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Visiting Belle is like stepping back in time when Detroit was the mechanical Silicon Valley in the early 1900s. Tons of great photo opportunities here.

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Bottom line, do I like the Zero Image 2000 Deluxe pinhole camera? Yes I do, and I plan to . My other pinholes are Holgas, so this is a big, make it my main pinhole camera.

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For a video of Belle Isle and the Zero Image 2000 Deluxe pinhole camera and how to use it, check out the YouTube video here: Belle Isle Pinhole Shoot

 

Holga Pinhole, One January Morning in Royal Oak

I went shooting on the edge of downtown Royal Oak, Michigan on a recent January morning. The temperature has been hovering in the low teens since early December and we finally got a small break in the weather- it went into the high thirties, so it was a good morning to go out and shoot.

I loaded the Holga Pinhole with Ilford FP4 (ISO 125) and headed out to Royal Oak, Michigan, where I grew up. Royal Oak offers some decent photographic opportunities, and I shoot there a lot. Today, I first shot at the train stop then took a couple shots downtown, on Washington near Fourth Street

Holga Pinhole cameras, like all Holgas, are quirky. Here’s mine:

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There are exposure guidelines printed on the back of the camera, but they are just that- crude guidelines. for “Fine Weather” the exposure it 1.5 to 3 seconds, for “Overcast” 4-6 seconds, and for “Morning or Dusk” the exposure is 7 seconds on up. I’ve found in general, around 3 seconds or so works for most situations,except for at night. Anything above four or five seconds, you will need a cable release.

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I use a Manfrotto Backpacker Classic tripod when I go shooting with a pinhole, or most other cameras for that matter. It’s light, but not too light and can easily hold a Holga or other small pinhole camera steady, such as a Zero Image 2000. I have yet to use it with my Mamiya 645E, which is a large, fairly heavy medium format camera. I plan to, and will post a review.

As a side note, I have a Zero Image 2000 Deluxe pinhole camera coming soon and will post a review. I’m really looking forward to getting this camera. It’s on its way from Hong Kong as of this writing.

As far as film goes, I use a slower ISO, typically in the 100-125 range whenever I use a pinhole camera. On bright days using a film like Tri-X at ISO 400 the pinhole may only need to be exposed for less than a second, and it’s almost impossible to manage manually. A slower ISO film gives you more time and control when making exposures.

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The first thing I did at the train stop was to throw my Holga cable release in the garbage. It pops apart at the shutter release without fail, no matter what I use to fix it- tape, glue, spit, you name it. It failed on the first exposure, so enough was enough.

Holgas leak light like crazy, and mine is no exception, as shown in the shot below on the lower left. Sometimes it helps an image, sometimes it doesn’t.

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Again, if you’re careful, for a three second or so exposure you don’t really need a cable release if you steady the camera on your tripod when taking your shot.

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Back home I had a terrible time getting the film on the developing reel, which rarely happens. I tried and tried with my plastic reel then gave up and went to my stainless reel and tank. I accidentally exposed the roll to light for an instant, but that was enough to destroy some of the outer exposures. I’ve since ordered an Omega Universal reel, so I’ll see how that works out and post a review.

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It wasn’t the greatest shooting day, but I did manage to get a few decent shots. The benefit is that I got out and shot with the Holga Pinhole. I’m still learning my Holga’s quirky characteristics, since no two Holgas are alike. I’m starting to really value the Holga, since the pinhole version is no longer made and the price is heading upward quickly. If you find one reasonably priced, grab it. Holga Pinholes are becoming far and few between.