Adventuring with the Skink Pinhole Lens

skinkToday’s Post by Joe Farace

One of the things I like to do (as I’ve mentioned before) is customize my cameras. In scouring the Web for these gadgets and gizmos I sometimes stumble across other interesting photographic items, such as the Skink Pinhole Pancake lens, that’s available more many different kinds of cameras, including mirrorless.

Skink’s is a little different than other traditional pinhole lenses in that it has a modular design that uses disks, zone plates or zone sieves that can be installed between the retaining rings in the center of the lens. (I was unable to get any of the optional plates or sieves to test for today’s post.)

pinhole1While the Skink Pinhole Pancake is constructed significantly better than my 9mm Olympus f/8.0 Fisheye Body Cap lens it’s about the same size. The focal length is 16mm (32mm equivalent) that I wish was wider and the aperture is f/90. Yup, that’s not a typo. Traditional pinhole lenses create relatively sharp images with exposure times ranging from one second to several minutes. With a zone plate or zone sieve, photos shot with the Skink Pinhole lens can be made without a tripod and if lighting conditions permit higher shutter speeds. Without a plate or sieve, I decided to increase the ISO settings to get shutter speeds close enough to handhold and hedged my bets by shooting with an Olympus OM-D EM-5 that has five-axis in-body image stabilization.

I took this combination to the Meadows for some test shots. In shooting from ISO 800 to 1000 I ended up—in Aperture Preferred mode—with shutter speeds ranging from 1/8 to 1/15 sec depending on the lighting. Unlike the Oly 9mm lens, that has actual optics, the pinhole produced images that would best be described as soft. As I began working with the Skink Pinhole Pancake the images reminded me a lot of Steigletz’s Photo-Secession. So I used Oly’s Soft Focus Art Filter again hedging my bets by shooting in RAW+JPEG mode.

skink3

These images also reminded me of the great shots of cars that Mark Toal did with the Lensbaby Velvet 56, which has me inspired to shoot cars (outdoors of course) using the lens. If I do, I will post on my car photography blog and mention it here in an update. Like the Lenbaby, the Skink Pinhole Pancake lens is not for everybody but it’s perfect for those who want to try something new, get out of a rut they find themselves in, or just want to have fun with their photography. And for Mark and I that’s one of the reasons we like mirrorless photography—it lets you have fun with your camera.