Let's dive into the world of pinhole photography, where we capture moments using simple cameras.
In this journey, we face a choice: digital or film?
Pinhole photography, with its basic yet artistic approach, raises an interesting question. We'll explore the advantages of digital's precision and the nostalgic charm of film. Join me in discovering the magic of light and time, as we navigate the balance between modern technology and traditional allure in pinhole photography.
Some time ago, my social media friend Dave from Elland sent over the Thingyfy Pinhole Pro to borrow for a few weeks, It's a pinhole 'lens' designed for DSLR/Mirrorless cameras. The specific model he sent my way was the Pinhole Pro Multi-Aperture Professional Pinhole Lens P111X, boasting a range of apertures from 0.1 to 0.8mm. I've got to be honest; it was a thing of beauty – impeccably crafted, sturdy, and engineered with precision. So, naturally, I seized the opportunity to put it to the test mounted onto my old Fujifilm X-T1.
Now, this is not a review for the Thingyfy and the Thingyfy is just 1 option for a digital pinhole, most people will drill a hole in the camera body cap and either make a pinhole or buy a top quality laser drilled pinhole to stick over the hole, and this works well and produces results just as good as the Thingyfy.
However, having the Thingyfy mounted to your camera certainly looks better than a drilled body cap with a pinhole stuck on the front with tape.
My first few photo with this I tested out in the garden, but for some reason it didn't have the same "feel" or even the "look" I was use to with a film pinhole camera.
I am more use to much wider pinhole cameras, I wasn't sure if this was it, or maybe the instant feedback which Im not use to when using a film camera, the experience of being out and not knowing what your going to get is all part of the film experience, digital removes that, even though having an LCD screen to compose the photo was certainly nice.
The garden crab
Some strange thing the kids found and placed in the garden
The Dragon windsock
Out of these images, I didn't mind the windsock, it seemed to work better than the others
Please also excuse my insanely dirty sensor. A pinhole camera has an extremely small aperture, resulting in a very large depth of field. This means that objects at different distances from the camera are all in focus. While this can be an advantage, it also means that dust particles on the sensor will show up.
Not being completely satisfied that digital pinhole is the best option, I decided to do a side by side comparison using my Mia 6x6 a medium format film pinhole camera.
The Mia 6x6 and a Mirrorless digital camera using a Thingyfy are slightly different, primarily the focal length, the MIA Pinhole is much wider giving a greater angle of view, however Thingyfy do offer a wider version with an angle of view of 120° on a mirrorless camera. but to compare the version I had here are a few comparison stats below.
Focal length 20.5 mm
Pinhole diameter 0.15 mm
Angle of view 125°
Focal length 26mm
Pinhole diameter 0.1mm-0.8mm
Angle of view 80°
This first photo was taken with my Mia 6x6
From the same position I captured this with my fuji X-T1 and the Thingyfy
Changing the pinhole size from 0.1 to 0.8, you get a much shorter exposure time, but also a MUCH softer image
The second set of images were off this "Keep of the rocks" sign, again both from the same position.
I then went onto a simpler image of just the beach and the sea.
The last few of a couple of boats
As the light started to fade exposure times are starting to get too long on the film MIA Pinhole, so I decided to do a few extra with the digital where I can obviously adjust the ISO to get a much shorter exposure times in the lower light.
While I personally find the visual aesthetics and tactile experience of analog film photography to be far superior to digital, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both mediums. Digital photography can certainly provide the desired 'look' and unmatched convenience. On the other hand, film delivers sharper images but demands more patience and is heavily influenced by available lighting conditions.
Digital pinhole Advantages
Digital pinhole cameras provide immediate feedback on the captured image, allowing photographers to review exposure, composition, and other elements on the camera's LCD screen right away.
Adjustable ISO Settings:
Digital cameras allow for easy adjustment of ISO settings, providing flexibility in various lighting conditions. This adaptability is particularly useful in low-light situations.
Digital pinhole images can be easily enhanced and manipulated using post-processing software. Photographers have the freedom to apply creative filters, adjust contrast, and fine-tune other aspects of the image.
Live View Mode:
Digital cameras often feature a live view mode, enabling photographers to compose and focus their shots using the camera's LCD screen, making it easier to set up pinhole shots precisely.
No need to worry about film processing, as images can be transferred directly to a computer or printed from a digital file.
Digital pinhole Disadvantages
Lack of Analog Charm:
Some photographers appreciate the unique aesthetics of film, and digital images may lack the distinctive characteristics associated with analog photography.
Digital cameras rely on batteries, and if they run out, you might miss capturing a moment.
Film Pinhole advantages
Film imparts a distinctive and often nostalgic aesthetic to images captured with a pinhole camera. The grain, colour rendition, and overall character of film contribute to a unique and timeless look.
Film typically comes in rolls with a limited number of exposures. This limitation encourages a more thoughtful and intentional approach to each shot, discouraging rapid-fire shooting and promoting a focus on composition and subject.
Unlike digital photography, where instant feedback is the norm, using film requires patience. Photographers must wait until the film is developed to see the results, fostering anticipation and a sense of excitement.
No Dependence on Batteries:
Pinhole cameras that use film don't rely on batteries. This can be advantageous in remote locations or situations where battery availability might be a concern...but, you can run out of film.
Simplicity of Equipment:
Pinhole cameras are inherently simple devices, and when coupled with film, the equipment is uncomplicated. This simplicity can lead to a more immersive and mindful photographic experience.
Film pinhole Disadvantages
Limited Shots per Roll:
Depending on the film format, you may have a limited number of exposures per roll, and reloading can be time-consuming.
Cost of Film and Processing:
Film and its processing can be more expensive than digital, especially if you experiment with different film stocks
In pinhole photography, the choice between digital and film is a deeply personal journey, a quest to discover the medium that resonates most with your artistic soul.
As for me, the allure of film proved irresistible. The anticipation of waiting, the hands-on ritual of capturing moments, and the artistry of developing my own film created a tapestry of experiences that digital pinhole photography couldn't quite replicate. The images, too, held a certain allure—capturing nuances and subtleties that felt more profound than their digital counterparts.
While some may find the convenience and flexibility of digital pinhole photography perfectly suited to their creative vision, the tactile nature of film remains my preferred canvas. The joy lies not just in the final image but in the entire process—each step an exploration of creativity.
Ultimately, whether your heart leans towards the immediate satisfaction of digital or the unhurried charm of film, the essence of pinhole photography lies in the joy of experimentation. Different mediums, different strokes—each contributing to the rich symphony of your artistic expression. So, embark on your own photographic odyssey, experiment with zeal, and let the pinhole guide you through a world where personal preference paints the canvas of visual storytelling.