A few months ago I was contacted by ONDU to review and showcase their pinhole camera. I've used one before and was really interested by their 6x12 medium format model. Wide format photography is something I wanted to tackle but couldn't afford it, and definitely not in medium format.
When the camera came I was delighted with the build quality. Most pinhole cameras are made of paper or plastic and cheaply built, the ONDU is not that. Made with walnut and maple it's a beautiful thing to hold. Small details like rounded corners and edges, clean jointing, precise milling and smooth finishing show that the ONDU was made with love and care. I used to dabble in word working and seeing something made this well is really inspiring.
The camera itself is simple. The only moving parts are the shutter and winding nobs. The frame selection system is cutaways on the film plane with small spacers you can use to select between frames (6x6, 6x9, 6x12). Two winding nobs on top of the camera advance the film in either direction. On top is a very useful spirit level and on the bottom a metal tripod mount. View lines are etched into the top and side of the camera.
I took the ONDU out an a couple of trips to test it. I chose the 6x12 frame giving me 6 images on a 120 roll. This means using the center window and shooting on frame 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 to get 6 images. Most forums recommend being conservative with winding and to stop advancing when the even numbers are barely visible. This ensures the images don't get cut off if the 120 roll is a bit short. Frames 6x6 will give you 12 shots, 6x9 will give you 7.
I placed the ONDU on a small tripod and added some pressure to the top of the camera as I opened the shutter. I always worried about camera shake but didn't see any in my images. The shutter was open the length of time that ONDU recommended and after that elapsed I closed the shutter and advanced the film to the next number.
Shooting on Ektar 100 I got some great images with some interesting color shifts. The images weren't the sharpest but didn't look like mush either. Vignetting was pretty strong but that's part of the charm with pinhole. The images had a very specific character and style that you don't see much of anymore.
I don't think the ONDU should be your first pinhole camera, you should start out using those cheap plastic and paper ones to get your feet wet and to see if you even like pinhole. If you do, the ONDU should be your second camera. It's extremely well built, acts predictably and makes the pinhole process, which is hard enough, simpler.
You can purchase the ONDU 6x12 and other models from www.ondupinhole.com.