How to make a pinhole camera with a pringles can

Updated April 17, 2017

A pinhole camera, or camera obscura, is a simple optical device with no lens. It can be any shape, but it must be light-proof and have a small hole on one end. When you point the camera at a lighted object, it appears as an inverted image inside the camera. You can make a simple pinhole camera with a recycled Pringles can and a few household supplies.

Remove the plastic lid from top of the can and use a damp cloth to wipe out any crumbs.

Use the ruler and pencil to draw a line around the cylinder, about 2 inches up from the metal bottom of the can.

Use the utility knife to cut along the line, making two pieces. The shorter one has a metal bottom.

Use a thumbtack to poke a hole in the centre of the metal bottom. Be sure to remove the thumbtack.

Put the lid over the open end of the shorter piece. Put the longer piece on top of other lid, and use tape to hold it all together.

Tape a piece of foil to the can and wrap it around snugly, making sure it overlaps. Tape down the other end. The foil keeps the light out of the camera. Put the can cosy over the open end.

Take the camera outside on a sunny day. Point the bottom end with the small hole at something, and look through the hole on the end of the cosy. You’ll see an image imposed upside-down on the lid.


If the plastic lid is clear, glue a piece of waxed paper to the inside. The lid must be translucent to see the image. Most large craft stores stock foam can cosies.


Children should be supervised when using utility knife.

Things You'll Need

  • Empty Pringles can
  • Paper towel
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Thumbtack
  • Tape
  • Foil
  • Foam can cosy
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About the Author

Susan Brockett worked in the computer industry as a technical writer for nearly 20 years at companies including Motorola and Dell Computer Systems. In addition, her articles have appeared in Society of Technical Communications publications. Brockett has a master's degree in English composition and communications from Kansas State University.