Pinhole Lens on E-PL1

Searching for interesting lenses for my m43 digital Olympus E-PL1, I stumbled across a site where someone had made a pinhole lens for their E-PL1. There are a few commercial models available such as the Wanderlust Pinwide which is recessed to provide a 22m equivalent. I thought I'd make my one from a £2 body cap off ebay, some tape and a little foil.

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Lens Design

Placed 1" square piece of foil on a wooden board and gently pricked it with a pin. Foil is an excellent material to use because it is very thin so you do not get much interference from the edges of the hole.

Make a tiny hole in the foil. Do not push the pin right through unless you want a large hole and pretty fuzzy images. The smaller the hole the sharper the image but exposure times increase so play around with different sizes. A small pin prick gives slightly fuzzy images with a respectable ~1/250th second exposure times in sunlight. 

Drilled a 1/2" hole on a plastic body cap for the E-PL1 and taped the foil over the hole.

The distance from sensor to hole is ~23mm so that sets the focal length; equivalent of 46mm for a 35mm camera. FYI, according to this pinhole aperture calculator the optimal size of the hole should be 0.2mm for a 23mm hole-to-sensor distance. My tiny pin prick looks like it could be about right.

Most, if not all, my photos were taken on bright days. Generally my favoured settings are:

  • Auto-exposure
  • auto-ISO (typically 1600)
  • Sharpness +2
  • Contrast +2
  • Monochrome

There was no vignetting, however, most images needed a bit of contrast-enhancing to get the most out of them.