Pinhole Photography: From Historic Technique to Digital Application

Pinhole Photography Book Cover Pinhole Photography
Eric Renner
Focal Press

What they say

A respected guide for creatives, artists and photographers alike, Pinhole Photography is packed with all the information you need to understand and get underway with this wonderfully quirky, creative technique. Covering pinhole photography from its historical roots, pinhole expert Eric Renner, founder of, fully explores the theory and practical application of pinhole in this beautiful resource. Packed with inspiring images, instructional tips and information on a variety of pinhole cameras for beginner and advanced photographers, this classic text now offers a new chapter on digital imaging and more in depth how-to coverage for beginners, as well as revised exposure guides and optimal pinhole charts. With an expanded gallery of full-color photographs displaying the creative results of pinhole cameras, along with listings of workshops, pinhole photographer's websites, pinhole books and suppliers of pinhole equipment, this is the one guide you need to learn the craft and navigate the industry. * Discover the history, theory and practical application of pinhole photography in this unique guide by worldwide pinhole expert, Eric Renner * Packed with large, full-color photographs showcasing the most original and imaginative ways to use pinhole photography, including digital application of pinhole techniques * Includes extensive resource section with reliable information on pinhole suppliers, websites, books and workshops that no pinhole photographer can do without.

What I say

Sometimes products don’t live up to expectations, or wide spread claims. This is one of them. What killed the book for me, and especially its author, was the inclusion of 4 images that are offensive and insensitive. This alone made me give it just 1 star as I find Eric Renner a person of questionable judgment to say the least. I do not find it interesting, appropriate or relevant to include a camera with a SWASTIKA shaped pinhole on page 159. In fact, it is a despicable choice. I also do not see any need to show human genitals, in a technically mediocre image, that page 151 is simply disgusting.  In order to examine the book for this review, I had to cover the offending ill advised choices with self-adhesive stickers, otherwise I just could not get passed it.

If I could forget above, I’d give this book 3 stars. The reasons are many.

  • it is a boring read with information (if there) difficult to find
  • contrary to many claims, this is not a reference book, partly because a reference has it all organized and easily accessible (here, even if you find the right chapter or page, you’re treated to a long word chaise to find the part of interest), and secondly there are a lot of topics either just glanced over, or omitted entirely
  • it clearly is a catalog of products available from Renner’s web site, which I won’t mention here, ever
  • it is an overly expensive publication, which will leave many wanting more, unfortunately the uninitiated will hardly know what hit them, as an example, I find the part on exposure an utter insult basically stating, that HE exposes from experience and doesn’t need to know how, then he glances over the issue with information any semi skilled analog photographer will have a good grasp of anyways
  • choice of included images is also bothersome, the above despicable ones aside, you’re going to see pinhole photography as one which can only distort, deform, misfire, never stay in any focus etc., this is actually a shame because there are a few images of higher artistic quality, but they fade into oblivion among the rest
  • then, his “advise” on improving pinhole image sharpness is … sharpening mask in software, I must confess this is a show stopper that tells me enough about the author, just remember he said it in a book on pinhole photography, better yet, a book claimed to be THE book on the subject, the topic of what makes pinhole more or less sharp is so glanced over, I actually doubt author would have much to say about it if he had to (this topic is an easy several pages for a decent discussion)

Whatever you can find here (for a pretty chunk of money), you can find for free on the web.

Whatever you cannot find here (quite a lot actually), you can find for free on the web.

And, if you actually want to know all there is to know about pinhole, well … you need to do a lot of research and I’d never start here. You can’t even get a quick timeline on how to progress.

Bottom line: overhyped, overrated, overpriced, and … disgusting (see pages 151 & 159)

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