Royalty, espionage, and erotica: secrets of the world's tiniest photographs


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I am coveting that pocketknife like a dirty sinner. Want.


This has me wanting to put together a small B&W developing kit and get or build a cheap film camera just to make a few of these myself. Any suggestions(cheap and portable like WW-II spy stuff is perfect)

I wonder what else I could make using photomasking techniques, I wish I remember more of being a fab engineer at Fujutsu(Japan) 20 years ago.(horrible management and work culture)

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You can use the optics from a cellphone camera. It has all the glass needed to project a reasonably good image on a small flat area. You can put the shutter on the outside of the lens. The small size of the optics makes it friendly to all sorts of concealments. The rear-facing cameras are typically bigger, though still pretty small; the forward-facing cams are outright tiny, though the image quality is more sucking.

There are techniques for making your own photo emulsion, using silver nitrate as starting point. Given the lousy availability of black/white film these days it may be a more viable way than sourcing off the shelf, especially if you want to experiment with less classical substrates (cloth, paper, polymer foils…). Microscope slides could be a good substrate for such photo plates. The cover glasses for microscopy are a very thin (and very fragile) alternative, too. For plastic foil, mylar or kapton (though that one is yellow) seem to be suitable, may need surface etching to adhere to the emulsion.

Also, extremely fine grained emulsion can be used for making microdots. Could be fun trying. For that, lens assemblies for microscopes may be handy to use.

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The fact that some of these are in knives, and some feature nudes, makes me think of the “Little Wonder” that Jud tries to kill Curly with in Oklahoma!

My dad gave me one in the shape of a pig, about the size of a charm, from about 1900, I’d guess.
When you look up it’s butt, there’s a harem girl inside.


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