Q: Is my Pinwide defective? I see strange image artifacts.
A: The pinhole creates some interesting image artifacts that you may notice from time to time. We've come to love many of these quirks, as they're all part of Pinwide's own unique look. Below we address what causes these image artifacts.
Q: Why is the aperture of the pinhole given as a range from f/96 - f/128?
A: Because of heavy light falloff, Pinwide's effective aperture varies across the frame. So if you're using center-weighted metering, it will be closer to the f/96 end of the range. If you're using frame-wide average metering, it's more like f/128, or even higher. Also, different people will have different tastes in terms of what looks like a "correct" exposure; while some won't mind the center blowing out if it means more exposure in the corners, others will want the center to be a zone of "normal" exposure. That's why we give the aperture as a small range.
Q: When I attach my Pinwide, my live view on the LCD goes black. Why is that?
A: Because of Pinwide's very small aperture, the live view image on the LCD may be black or very faint when shooting indoors or in low light. Try setting the camera to manual, the ISO to 800, and the shutter speed to 10 seconds, and then take a picture. From there, you can adjust the shutter speed and/or ISO until you obtain the correct exposure.
Q: How sharp is a image taken with the Pinwide? Is everything in focus?
A: The pinhole produces infinite depth of field, so the entire image is in the same relative focus, from the closest object all the way to infinity. Because of diffraction, any pinhole image will be less sharp than an image taken with a glass lens, but this softness is part of the charm of pinhole photography and the Pinwide. We've done extensive testing to arrive at the optimum aperture for the Pinwide, and it gives the sharpest pinhole image possible on the Micro 4/3 size sensor. The result is that Pinwide has a soft, dreamy look, but enough sharpness to recall the look of analog pinhole.
Q: What are these color shifts I see in the sky?
A: In areas of homogenous color, such as the sky, you may notice colors shift slightly. Your camera's sensor is covered by a color filter array (CFA) which is designed for lenses which direct the light straight onto the sensor. But Pinwide's aperture is so close to the sensor (11mm) that it projects light on the CFA at extreme angles, causing the false colors. We think it's kind of a cool effect, but we're also working on software to remove it for the times when you'd rather do without it.
Q: Why are the corners of the image dark?
A: That is called "light falloff" or "vignette," and we love it! It happens in all types of wide angle photography, not just pinhole, and is a result of the corners being further from—and at an angle to—the aperture. We specifically made sure that the Pinwide was wide enough to produce some natural falloff, but not so wide that it left the corners completely black.
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.
Q: What are those concentric rings that sometimes appear in my image?
A: Those are called Diffraction Rings, and are a phenomenon of light created by the aperture itself. Because Pinwide's aperture is so perfectly engineered, these rings show up more clearly than with other pinhole products. Generally you will only notice rings surrounding very bright points, such as specular reflections and distant lights. These diffraction rings are sort of Pinwide's version of sunstars, so we love them! They prove how perfectly round our apertures are!
Q: What is this crazy rainbow flare effect?
A: When shooting directly into the sun or a strong light source you will sometimes get some wild flare. This is created by light diffraction as it passes through the tiny pinhole and spreads out on its way to the sensor, and may be further compounded by the sensor's color filter array. We embrace this phenomenon and use it creatively! If you don't prefer this effect, avoid shooting directly into strong light sources.
Q: Have you considered adding a filter thread?
A: Pinwide is molded in a high-end polycarbonate, which allows us to deliver a precision product without a premium price tag, but polycarbonate is not the best material to create durable fine-pitched threads. While it would have been possible to add a threaded metal ring to the Pinwide, it would have increased the retail price beyond what we were comfortable with. If you can't live without your screw-on filters, Pinwide should be pretty easy to glue a step-up ring to!
Q: Is the pinhole fragile?
A: The pinhole is photo-etched on incredibly thin vapor-deposited foil. While it's well protected by the lip on the back of the Pinwide, you should return your Pinwide to its case when it's not mounted to the camera. The pinhole itself is permanently secured to the Pinwide, and trying to remove it will quickly destroy the aperture. You should never touch or clean the pinhole with anything, including your fingers. Should dust get into the recessed pinhole area, gently use a bulb blower to remove it. With that said, don't sweat it too much—if you use its protective case, your Pinwide should be fine!
Tips & Ideas
Because Pinwide has such an extremely small aperture, your camera's autoexposure system may get easily confused. For best results, put your camera into manual shooting mode. Adjust your ISO and exposure time to get exactly what you want. Use a higher ISO to get shorter exposure times. Use a lower ISO to get longer exposure times with less noise. Program and other AE modes on your camera will most likely not give you the best exposure in a lower light, but they may work sufficiently in bright sunlight.
Try shooting with a flash and "dragging the shutter" (use a long shutter speed).
Try some lightpainting! Use a bright LED flashlight and/or an external flash to illuminate the subject over a long exposure time.
Don't forget about pinhole video! Video works best on camera models that have manual control over video settings.
Don't be afraid to get super close to your subject. Exploit the benefits of a pinhole on a small camera! You can get very unique images that no other camera and standard lens can create.
Use a tiny tripod or a Gorillapod to hold your camera steady at unique angles for long exposures.
Experiment and see a whole new world right in front of you!
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