DB in Focus Photography | Pinhole lens
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Pinhole lens

December 13, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

This post is going to be a little on the photo geek side today.  But part of what my blog is about is the art and craft of photography, and helping others to become better photographers. So let get to it.

Well, I ordered a "toy lens" the other day, or rather a couple of weeks ago, just to play around with.  It seemed to be on the slow boat from Hong Kong even though it was shipped via air mail.  The lens I ordered is a Holga 60mm.  Holga is best know for its "lomography" cameras.   For those not familiar with lomography it is simply just a low image quality style of photography, popularized by the filters and such that people are applying to their cell phone images used on social media sites, such as Instagram.  In you phone apps or computer software the filters take these super high resolution photos that our cameras produce today and apply effects that replicate the old school look of the photos from our past.

The Holga cameras are made from a very cheap, plastic body, and lens.  They are film cameras and not digital.  The imperfections in the cameras and lens are what give the images they produce a lot of individual character.  

Plastic body no glassHolga lensThe simple Holga pinhole lens

The Holga company also has a line of lenses that are still very inexpensively made, from cheap plastic, that can mount on your DLSR.  These lenses are kind of like snowflakes, no two are the exactly the same, so you get vastly different results depending on the lens you have.

If your like me you are asking "why would you want to put a low quality lens on a hight quality camera?"  Indeed.  I have asked the same question about some of the filters that we are using on our phones as well.  We pay top dollar to get hight quality only to make the image look like it came from the 60's or 70's.  Well the reason I wanted to try a lens is that I like to get it right in camera as much as I can.  I have photoshop and lots of software that I can use to make an image look old fashion, but like I said above, the lenses have a quality or character that you just can reproduce well with software.  So I guess it is more about the art of photography and less about the post processing.  These low quality lens make you focus more on the composition and lighting of your images.

Well I mentioned that I had ordered a 60mm lens.  What Holga shipped is something entirely different.  They shipped me a pinhole lens.  The term pinhole goes back to the very beginnings of photography.  If you have ever taken a photography class you more than likely made or at least used a pinhole camera, just to teach you how photographs were made in the past.  The first cameras had no lens just a "pin hole" for the light to travel through the box and onto the film.  So there is no focusing, no aperture to adjust, just a hole that you covered until you were ready to shoot.  Then you would remove the cover from the hole for a given amount of time, and then recover the hole.  

IMGP9143Holga Pinhole for Pentax DSLRHere you can see no lens and plastic body IMGP9144See the pin holeAll the light from your image has to pass through that small opening


Above up can see the tiny opening that the light must pass through to the sensor on the camera.  

Since they shipped it, I thought it might be fun to play with as I have not shot a pin hole camera in probably 30+ years. 


Here is the fist image I took.  You can see the lens is very soft.  

IMGP9134-EditSoftness of the pinholeYou can see just how low the image quality is with this style of photography

There is no focusing and no aperture adjustment.  You can only adjust your exposure by changing the ISO (sensors sensitivity to the light) and or the shutter speed (length of time of the exposure).  I read somewhere that the aperture is somewhere around f.152 which means you have to have a LOT of light or a tripod for a very long exposure.   This image is shot at ISO 3200 and at 1/20th of a second.  








Then I turned the camera towards the sun, and turned the ISO down to 200 because I knew that I was going to be letting a lot more light in so it did not need to be so sensitive to the light.  This first one is also shot at 1/20th of a second to expose for the sky.  It has an interesting flare going on around the tallest stack and then in the lower part of the image as well. IMGP9135-EditISO 200 1/20th secExposed for the sky


Then I decided to crank up the shutter speed to 1/1000 to expose more for the sun and go for a much darker effect. 

IMGP9139-EditSun shot through a pin holeIso 200 1/1000th sec

I have emailed Holga about the error, and they came up with a resolution that made it so that I will be keeping this lens, and the other will be here in week or so.  I must say the customer service with Holga was top notch.  Very responsive and took care of the situation in a way that was great for both parties.  Errors are made, but what makes for great customer service is how you handle those errors.

I would not have kept the lens, but I don't want to deal with sending it back, & it just did not cost much to begin with.  It will be fun to play around with, but there are not many things that I can think of that would fit my style of photography.  However having said that, that is exactly the point of playing around with a lens like this.  It will slow you down, and really make you think about your composition and the way the light is falling on your subject to hone your photographic eye. 

So now you might know a little more about lomography and pin hole cameras & I got to mess around with some old school photography techniques.  Still looking forward to getting the correct lens, and will post some samples here once it arrives.  







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