We report the optimization design and experimental results for the imaging properties of a photon sieve, which is formed on a layer of metal film supported by a thin glass substrate. As an example, we considered a micro-optical element with parameters of diameter D = 50 mm, 3,564,290 hole number, and 10 mu m minimum micro-hole diameter, which was designed and fabricated by means of surface machining technique in the lab. To evaluate its imaging performance, both on-axis and off-axis imaging experiments were carried out using the element. Compared to a Fresnel zone plate lens with the same feature size, the photon sieve has super imaging performance. Some quantitative analyses and initial qualitative explanations were given for the imaging characteristics. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.