GOMA Glasgow

The new Reality So Subtle 4x5z

Could this be the perfect multi function large format pinhole camera? 

I will start off with function.

Does it function as expected, without any drama or bits falling off? Big tick here. 

It easily holds the darkslide in place, with no worries that it's going to leak in light. James did send on some foam after I received  it to ensure there wasn't going to be any stray leaks coming in, however I hadn't seen any in my light tight tests before using. 

The camera comes with a wooden back strap to securely lock the darkslide in place. I removed it and sunk the wee bolts in a bit deeper, the reason I did this is for purely practical purposes, I will be using a roll film back and possible a Grafmatic at a future date. Removing the wooden bar fits in with this plan. The locking "nuts" are wide and shallow allowing you to easily grip the darkslide and hold it snug. 

On to design. 

It's a simple as it comes but perfectly engineered, I wouldn't expect anything less from an engineer like James. Made from marine grade ply, it's going to be great outdoors even in harsh weather. 

Snapping together using small but extremely strong magnets, I wasn't worrying about it falling apart whilst being used or transported. 

The various "focal lengths" snap together the same way and the different pinhole boards are securely held in place. I have a 0.2mm 3 hole variant for my 35mm back this allows repositioning of the horizon using either the landscape or portrait modes. It also allows lateral movement. My favorite use is dropping the horizon into the bottom 3rd of the image. This can also be flipped with the horizon positioned in the top 3rd.

The lateral movement will also come in handy at some point, I am just not sure when yet. 

Ease of use. 

It's so easy, you really don't need any instructions, so long as you have the appropriate pinhole for the focal length and can measure F16 on a meter, the handy reference card supplied will work out the rst for you. The F stop does change depending on the focal length so make sure you get the right one on. 0.2mm for the 35mm and 0.3mm for everything else. I suppose you could go with the 0.2mm for longer focal lengths but you will have to work out the F stop yourself. As standard it varies F175 at 35mm,  F166 at 50mm, F250 at 75mm and F300 at 90mm. All very workable and pretty standard for pinhole cameras. 

Quality of Pinhole. 

Laser drilled mind blowingly accurate and beautifully made. I think James has these made by an external supplier, one that specialises in laser cutting. This way he gets consistency and can keep quality control at the highest levels. 

The pinholes are behind small perfectly formed shutters. They feel as if they have magnets build in as they snap closed and open. You have the standard single 0.3mm with the ability to mount a small camera filter in the back. It looks around 52mm without measuring. There are also the multi ones as discussed above. 

On the flip side the images can be that sharp, it's sometimes difficult to tell they were taken on a pinhole camera. I don't find this to be an issue and I would be perfectly comfortable swapping them out for my slightly rougher around the edges, homemade ones should I ever feel the need to do so. 


I have made some changes to mine in the short time since receiving. I painted it a beautiful dark blue, leaving the front natural wood coloured. I also fitted small target spirit levels. I am quite particular about making sure my photos are level especially when I am making images of  architecture, so having levels on it is a really big deal for me. I have fed this back  maybe we might see it and an option for future batches. These wee things aren't important to everyone and can drive up costs and time to manufacture  so I can understand why they are not standard on the camera. For me it was 5 mins work drilling and gluing the levels in place. 

As discussed above I took the wooden strap off the back and drilled the bolts deeper into the camera. Purely person choice here, but the camera is adaptable enough that it can take it. 


I would recommend it for its portability adaptability and ease of use. 

It's definitely going to find a place in my camera bag and may force me to dig more sheet film out the freezer.

I opted for the wider version at 35mm, James threw in a 50mm for me in exchange for some images to be added to his website, I felt this was a really good deal however it has not influenced my review, it just means I have 2 lengths rather than 1 to play with and he has some cool images to showcase his lovely camera. 

I have the longer focal lengths covered by home made cameras, after using the 3 pinhole version here I might go back at a later date and buy the 75mm and 90mm variants.

Sample images

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In