Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Pinwide "lens" - or real life Instagram

I recently bought the pinwide cap for my micro 4/3 camera (Panasonic DMC-GX1). Sure, you can also make a pinhole by making a hole in a camera camera cap, but this one is "optimised", with the pinhole receding inside the camera body to get an image as wide as possible.

The adapter is made of good quality plastic (polycarbonate "char siew" according to DigitalRevTV), and comes in a nice little metal box.

Pinwide in its box
I found mounting it on the camera is a little difficult, you need to align the "W" with the red dot on the lens mount, but even then, I feel like I need more force to screw it in compared to any other lens I own. I was also a bit scared that the receding part would hit the shutter mechanism, but thankfully, it doesn't...

The center of the pinwide adapter is covered with a membrane, and the hole (about 100 microns diameter) is cut on that membrane. The membrane is hard to break by accident, as it is about 2mm inside the adapter.

Pinhole and its membrane.
"Thanks" to its incredibly small aperture (f/96 in the center of the image to f/128 on the edge), you need long exposures, even in broad daylight. The following picture is taken on a very sunny day, but even at high ISO (1600), the camera needs 1/50s exposure time.

What you get is this kind of "Instagram"-like pictures:

ISO 1600, 1/50 exposure. Click for higher resolution.
ISO 1600, 1/60s. The sun flares in an interesting manner. Click for higher resolution.
There is a lot of vignetting (dark edges), as expected from a pinhole. Also, the image is far from sharp, as can be seen in the 100% crop, partly due to high ISO, but mainly due to diffraction.

100% crop near the center of the image.

Finally, another interesting effect of the small aperture is that everything is in focus, from close to infinity. Actually, absolutely everything is in focus, even dust on the sensor itself shows in the images. You can see every single speckle of dust of the camera sensor, which cannot normally be seen with a normal lens, even at low aperture (e.g. f/22).
Dust on the sensor
In short, an interesting "lens" to add to my collection. Probably a bit expensive for a pinhole (39.99 USD), but it provides opportunities for some creative shots, and I still need to explore its full potential.

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