It looks far too good to be anywhere other than behind glass in a cabinet. The Zero 2000 6×6 (120) roll film camera has an equivalent 35mm focal length of 25mm and is capable of producing stunning images but forget about sharpness. Pinhole photography is all about atmosphere!
The Zero is made of Teak wood from Thailand, which has more than 15 layers of coating applied by hand with solid brass fixings and the interior of the camera is painted in matte black to prevent the reflection of light. There’s not a circuit board in sight!
Loading the camera is easy
Unscrew the top plate which allows the rear cover to slide up and off. There are two 120 cassette sprockets with the right socket taking the unexposed roll and the left sprocket requiring an empty 120 cassette for the exposed film to be wound on. The single direction winding mechanism prevents the film from curling back and has a good amount of resistance.
Simply place the film leader into the empty cassette and turn the film winder knob whilst looking through the rear red window until you see a number one, which should be printed onto the film back. I say ‘should see’. In dim light its not easy so I would advise always carrying a little torch if you are working in dull light. Working the camera out without reading any instructions was straightforward enough after I worked out there was only one way the film could go in based on the winding know direction.
Pinhole exposure calculations which can be intimidating to the first time user but are in fact simplicity. I downloaded an exposure calculator based on the Zero’s f stop of f138. Taking an exposure reading based on a normal exposure an at f8 and reading across the given times every exposure was spot on. There is no need to take account of the film’s ISO. Using negative film there is also a lot of latitude if you are out on your exposure by a few seconds but I do prefer to slightly underexpose anyway.
I used the Zero permanently attached to a Manfrotto tripod. Working with any camera breeds confidence and this is even more true shooting with a pinhole. I think for my taste black and white film shows better as the final image but Im no great lover of colour anyway. Choosing the right scene is obviously important with a pinhole camera. Shadow and light play create the best images and the Zero is capable of superb results. I was actually surprised with the consistent exposures I was getting with the Zero so the only dilemma left is how to frame the shot. There is no hotshoe to fix an optical viewfinder but these can be found plus Zero now produce a non optical viewfinder. But I’m a purist and there is definitely something very satisfying with getting a good image using nothing but instinct.
This is a camera that looks stunning and produces images with a very specific signature. Its strange how some cameras you bond with very quickly and others either take longer or you never want to know them again. Pinhole photography isn’t for everyone but for those who want to produce images beyond the norm would do very well with this camera. Shooting just a few rolls of film Ive shot some of my best work in year with this camera. This is a back to the roots of photography camera and I’d thoroughly recommend every photographer regardless of level to go back to basics and forget the pixel race when the mood takes you.
Set your exposure meter/camera to f8 and the ISO loaded in the Zero . The shutter speed indicated needs to be revised down for the Zero’s aperture of f138. Therefore a shutter indicated of 1/60th second (at f8) will be 5 seconds exposure for the Zero.
2000th – 1/8th
1/1000th – 1/4th sec
1/500th – 1/2th sec
1/250th – 1 second
1/125th – 2 seconds
1/60th – 5 seconds
1/30th – 9 seconds
1/15th – 19 seconds
1/8th – 38 seconds
1/4th – 1 minute 15 seconds
½ second – 3 minutes 31 seconds
1 second – 5 minutes 3 seconds
2 seconds – 10 minutes 7 seconds
4 seconds – 20 minutes 14 seconds
8 seconds – 40 minutes 29 seconds
Words and images © Stewart Weir 2012