Review of the Pinwide Pinhole "Lens" for Micro Four Thirds Cameras

I've mounted a Pinwide wide angle pinhole cap on my Olympus E-PL1 micro four thirds camera and have been shooting crazy shots. The first thing I noticed about my behavior when I'm using the Pinwide is that all bets are off. It's like it challenges you to be creative.

Soccer Net

Since we are dealing with a pinhole for our light transmission to the sensor, I found myself using ISO 1600 to get decent handheld shutter speeds. In broad daylight, most of my shots were between 1/15 and 1/60th of a second. You get some image noise at ISO 1600 with the E-PL1, and that seemed to contribute to the overall texture of the shot.

One of the reasons I like using Olympus bodies for this type of work is that the stabilization is built into the body, not the lens. So I still have IS with a pinhole cap.

Mom's Apple Pie

One of the attributes that jumps out at you when looking at these images, is the natural vignetting that comes with pinhole photography. Plus there's substantial depth of field, and, for lack of a better way of saying it, just pure color. It's much easier to understand pinhole photography by looking at it, rather than trying to explain it.

Sr. Marlene Dr.

As for the Pinwide cap itself, I found it well designed and high quality. It snaps securely into place on the camera and seems quite durable. There's a tiny glass element on the backside of the adapter that protects your sensor from dust entering through the pinhole. So you can leave it on the camera without worry. When it's time to put it away, it includes a cute little tin for storage that reads, "Designed in Chicago, manufactured in the USA."

During the shooting process, I found it easier to compose the image with the accessory Olympus VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder rather than on the LCD, especially in bright light.

You can order the Pinwide directly from the Wanderlust site for $39.99. It's a great way to bring out the creative artist in you.

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So, I thought the back of the pinhole was covered with a glass element, but I was wrong about that. So here's what the Pinwide people say about dust on the sensor:

"Q: What are those dark spots? What about dust?
A: Sensor dust is a constant issue for any interchangeable lens camera, and even more so for the Micro 4/3 cameras, which don't have a mirror-box to serve as protection when changing lenses. In developing Pinwide, we experimented with using sealed, film-based apertures, but they softened the image unacceptably. Our aperture is a hole, so it's technically possible for a particle of dust to pass through it, but statistically and practically speaking, you introduce far more dust to your sensor every time you change the lens. Even lenses can blow dust onto your sensor when they're collapsed or zoomed. But because Pinwide has infinite depth of field, it makes any existing dust on your sensor more visible. Dust shows up as slightly dimmer round spots. Regular sensor cleaning will help cut down on sensor dust, and for Pinwide shots, we have software coming soon that will allow you to completely eliminate them."