"Merlin" pinhole camera
|1-quart "Little Merlin"|
image by Graustark (Image rights)
Merlin and Little Merlin are the brands given to a simple pinhole camera constructed from (unused) paint cans, in 1-gallon and 1-quart sizes, respectively. A label on the front of the camera is pierced with a pinhole of the correct diameter; and a soft vinyl magnet is provided as the "shutter." (The original camera also offered an alternate pinhole in its lid.) The camera exposes single shots of sheet material (typically, B&W enlarging paper). The curvature of the image plane results in a distinctive "boomerang" distortion to the subject.
The Merlin cameras originated with James Kosinski, who obtained a patent on his design, primarily for the feature of offering multiple pinhole orientations in a single camera. Since 2008 the design has been produced and sold by Noted LLC as the Paint Can Pinhole Camera, although only a single pinhole is used in these.