Izumi's Diary Page 25      Thursday 26 May 2011  
How Soft is My Pinhole?

Hello, here is Izumi here again. I will say Hello with a softer voice today because I have gone a bit further away from the purity of M Cartier-Bresson and his single lens by getting a Holga pinhole, as I wrote about in my News.

And I also did not go along the streets but went back to the resting place of the ancestors, but there was a reason for this as I will explain.

And also as I wrote about in some previous Diary page, I am still considering about the wonder or not of the pinhole lens when you have such a small sensor as a Micro Four Thirds, such as my PEN has. So with my new lenses and a clever idea I had for making a telephoto pinhole I went back to the ancestors with the Pinwide which is 11mm or I can make it 22mm and the Holga which is 18mm or I can make it 36mm (giving me 22mm, 36mm, 44mm and 72mm eqivs) to have a little test of them all.

Serried Ranks
Olympus E-PL1 w 14-150mm, 1/125 sec, f/5.4, 100 ISO, 252mm (eqiv)

Here above you can see the resting place which was the arena for my testing.

When I had found a subject which could be used for wide angle as well as closer up photographs I started with the Pinwides and then put all the pinhole lenses on my PEN in turn, going from most wide to most telephoto.

Like this:

Wanderlust Pinwide at 11mm
Olympus E-PL1 w Pinwide 11mm, 1.6 sec, f/96, 400 ISO, 22mm (eqiv)
Holga Pinhole at 18mm
Olympus E-PL1 w Holga Pinhole 18mm, 1/125 sec, 400 ISO, 36mm (eqiv)
Wanderlust Pinwide at 22mm
Olympus E-PL1 w Pinwide 22mm, 4 sec, f/128, 400 ISO, 44mm (eqiv)
Holga Pinhole at 36mm
Olympus E-PL1 w Holga Pinhole, 2.5 sec, 400 ISO, 72mm (eqiv)

So you can see there is some sort of optical illusion for tricking the eyes because the closer cherubs seem sharper than the far ones, although by the laws of opticals pinhole images have the same sharpness (or not sharpness) all over.

And to be fair to all the different lenses my PEN was always on my Man Friday tripod and I set the shutter delay to 2 seconds so my finger pressing on the button did not cause any untoward shaking.

Holga 25mm Prime
Olympus E-PL1 w Holga 25mm, 1/12 sec, f/8, 200 ISO, 50mm (eqiv)
SLR Magic 35mm Prime
Olympus E-PL1 w 35mm, 1/250 sec, f/1.7, 200 ISO, 70mm (eqiv)
Panasonic Lumix 14mm Prime
Olympus E-PL1 w 14mm, 1/500 sec, f/6.3, 200 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)

You can see that I didn't want to waste the trip so I had some other lenses along with us and I put them on my PEN when I saw something interesting.

I am putting them here for you so your eyes won't think that the world has gone blurry after looking at all the pinhole photographs.

It was just after sunrise that I started shooting so the light started very warm and then cooled down a bit as the rays became more direct. I have left the colour temperature as my PEN thought it best as I almost always agree with him, but you can see how the different lenses and no-lenses affect the colours of the images.

And when the early morning clouds went away the sky became very blue which I liked as a contrast to the stone and marble of the resting-places.

Now here are some more of the testing ones.

Pinwide at 11mm
Olympus E-PL1 w pinwide 11mm, 1/2 sec, f/128, 200 ISO, 22mm (eqiv)
Holga Pinhole at 18mm
Olympus E-PL1 w Holga Pinhole, 1/3 sec, 200 ISO, 36mm (eqiv)
Holga 25mm Prime
Olympus E-PL1 w 25mm, 1/250 sec, f/1.8, 200 ISO, 50mm (eqiv)
SLR Magic 35mm Prime
Olympus E-PL1 w 35mm, 1/200 sec, f/1.7, 200 ISO, 70mm (eqiv)
Holga Pinhole at 36mm
Olympus E-PL1 w Holga Pinhole, 1.6 sec, 200 ISO, 72mm (eqiv)

Now I will let you know my clever idea.

I have written before about the wideness of the Pinwide Pinhole lens and how some of the wideness is lost because of the vignetting, mainly caused by the lens being very close to the sensor of the camera, which is the focal length of 11mm. So I thought that if the lens was a bit further away from the sensor the focal length would be greater and there should be less light falling off at the edges to give the image a vignette.

And the way to do this is to use a short extension tube, such as you would use if you were taking macro photographs of small objects like jewellery or insects.

So I sent away for a set for my PEN and when they arrived I was pleased to find that I had thought correct ideas because they worked. But because of the increased distance from the pinhole to the sensor there is less light to be collected and turned into a photograph so the exposure is longer, but not by much. Perhaps from a quarter or half of a second to one or two seconds. But because the camera is on a tripod and the subjects are not moving it does not matter.

However, even though the impression is given that the photographs are a bit sharper, they are still not sharp enough to give me excitement and pleasure as much as I would like. As I have said, I think is it because of the small size of the sensor to start with.

When I think of the pinhole photographs I have liked they have almost all been on medium format film. My uncle's wonderful wooden Zero pinhole camera used 4x5 sheet film and the photographs it produced were sometimes quite magical. I really enjoyed helping him in the darkroom processing the films too. I think that when you have to use your hands to make a creative art happen then you become a part of it in a way and it becomes a part of you. This feeling I like very much and have since I was a little girl making much mess with paints.

So I have to have a decision with myself. Have I enough experience with pinholes to use them occasionally when they will make a happy photograph or will I see if there is a lens that will satisfy my desires for sharpness and yet still keep the look and feeling of what a pinhole can do? I think though perhaps that if I find such a one it will be another camera, not a lens for my PEN. And it will not be used when walking the streets seeking that Decisive Moment, which is what gives Izumi her best creative happiness as you can see in these pages here.

I think I will not decide such things for a little while and will let my natures take their course to find the right decision for me in their own time.


And as a rest for our eyes here are two happy photographs where the light rays travelled through some glass before alighting on the sensor…

Innocence in Stone I
Olympus E-PL1 w 14mm, 1/250 sec, f/4.5, 200 ISO, 28mm (eqiv)
Innocence in Stone II
Olympus E-PL1 w Holga 25mm, 1/125 sec, f/8, 200 ISO, 50mm (eqiv)

… so the images are nice and sharp, even the Holga one, which I must now confess to you my memory tells me that he has a plastic lens in him, not a glass one. But I think you understand the point I am saying.

So I will end here and I thank you for listening to my mind trying to make up its decision.

Your friend,


To fully understand my footsteps, please read me from the start.
Izumi's Diary Page 25
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