Fisheye 2



120studio.com
December 31, 2014


Background


Fisheye 2 from Lomography is a 35mm film camera.  Like its friend La Sardina, the Fisheye 2 has one shutter speed, one aperture setting, and a simple, non-interchangeable lens.  This is definitely a "toy camera".

Is the Fisheye 2 worth getting?   Is it more than just a novelty camera? 

Let's find out.


A Quick Note


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In This Article


The Camera

Build Quality

Shutter Speeds

Lens

Focusing

Wide Angle Distortion

Fisheye 2 vs. Fisheye 1

Similar Cameras

Conclusion






The Camera

The Lomography Fisheye 2  contains a permanently-affixed, circular fisheye lens.  The resulting pictures will not fill the entire 35mm frame, but that's to be expected from a circular fisheye.

In its standard incarnation, the Fisheye 2 is black plastic with a silver-colored metal band around the center.  The lens housing, also silvery metal, gives the impression of a porthole. I reckon that works out pretty well, since the camera sort of has a nautical theme (there is a crab decorating the top panel).

There is a fisheye viewfinder on top of the camera;  remove this viewfinder, and you've got yourself a functioning flash hot-shoe in its place.

The camera also has a bult-in flash, as well as a film counter.

It includes a translucent lens cover, attached to the camera via the wrist strap. 





Build Quality

This camera has moderately good build quality for a toy.  It's not built like a tank, but then again it's not made of insta-fly-apart materials. 

As you would expect, it's mostly plastic. 

The only aspect that really seems cheap is the film-door release latch.  It's just a bit stubborn, but it's still functional.  Also, the film rewind crank seems just a bit on the insufficient side, although it does work:  slowly, because the crank handle is rather short.  They had to do this, otherwise you'd have to remove the viewfinder every time you rewind the film.

Aside from these minor gripes, the Fisheye 2 is actually pretty well made. 



Shutter & Aperture

There are three shutter modes:  Bulb, Normal, and MX (Multiple Exposure), controlled by a mode switch in front of the viewfinder.

Normal is 1/100th of a second. 

MX does the same thing as on La Sardina:  you can keep shooting pictures on the same frame, if you want.  I would probably limit this to two, unless you want very busy compositions.

The Fisheye 2 also has an "L" setting ("Lock").  This is very handy when you've advanced to the next frame but don't want to take the picture right away. 

The aperture is said to be f/8.  Some people say it's more like f/16.  Based on what I've seen with slide film, it could be f/11.





Lens

The Fisheye 2 has... well, a fisheye lens.   Focal length is 10 mm, which for a 35mm camera is very firmly in fisheye territory. And wider, and you'd be able to see in back of your head.  (Not really, but...)

This camera lives up to its name.  Field of view is about 170 degrees.


Wall With Ice Machine

December 2014

Lomography Fisheye 2
Fujifilm Superia 400
Bulb mode, handheld @ about 2 seconds

Yep, this lens is so wide that you can hand-hold the camera in Bulb mode and still get reasonably sharp pictures.  You have to stand really still, press the camera to your face and all that, but as you can see from the picture, this camera is OK without a tripod. 

Actually, there is no tripod socket, and that's probably why.   Still, it would be helpful, because the camera has a surprisingly sharp lens.  It would be nice to get the most out of it.  (By the way, I'm sure this camera would be good for night photography using a monopod.)

Going by the "reciprocal of focal length" rule, you should be able to get sharp pictures at 1/10th of a second.   The tree photo (shown below) was probably about 1/8th, using Bulb.





Focusing

You don't have to focus this camera.  The focus is fixed permanently. 

The "minimum focusing distance" doesn't really apply, because this is a fixed-focus lens. 

Instead we want to know the near limit of depth-of-field(DOF).  For this camera at f/8 with its 10mm lens, that should be about ten inches from the front of the lens.   Actually, it may be more like eight inches or even six, because the aperture may be narrower than f/8.

Everything from there to infinity will be in sharp focus.   In fact, you can even see the inside of the lens barrel in your pictures.   As you can see, the front edge of the lens barrel is really not that far out of focus.




Wide Angle Distortion


It's a fisheye lens, so you know you're going to get massive distortion.  That's part of the fun.   The overall aspect is generally better than you'd get with one of those cheap fisheye adapters.  I don't know if you'd call the distortion more "uniform", or what, but it's got that classic fisheye-lens appearance.



A Tree In December

Lomography Fisheye 2
Superia 400 film
Bulb mode, handheld @ about 1/8 second

Circular fisheye lenses have about as much wide-angle distortion as you can get.   That can be distracting if you have a lot of horizontal or vertical lines.  With something more random, like a tree, it looks more natural (if cramming a 170-degree view into a 2-dimensional photo can be thought of as "natural".)



Flash

The built-in flash is powered by one "AA" battery, but it works very well.  The On-Off switch is on the front of the camera. 

The only drawbacks are inherent to how a fisheye lens is normally used... up close.   Here, the flash is so bright that it will probably blow out highlights.

Even with color negative film, which has an extremely high exposure latitude, it's still possible to lose highlights when the flash is very close to a light-toned subject.  The good news is that it won't give that nasty shelf-blowout you would get with digital.

If you really want to, you can always do some digital editing of your scans to even out the tones.   The result will probably look better than a digital photo that had lost highlights, because shelf clipping is basically unfixable.

Better yet, you could always hold something over the flash to diffuse it a bit.  Even the translucent cover that goes over the lens should work.    Or, make something out of thin paper (like a coffee filter).



Snowy Evergreen Branches

December 2014
Lomography Fisheye 2
Superia 400
Normal shutter mode (1/100th)
Built-in Flash

If you want good illumination with this flash, stay within five feet of the subject if using 200 film, ten feet if using 400, and twenty feet if using 800 film.

There's one other issue with the built-in flash (see photo, above).  When you have the lens really close to something, the lens itself will cast a shadow in the lower-right-hand part of the photo.  This is not really desirable.  

A hotshoe flash centered over the camera would not do this.   (The shadow would be in the bottom center.)

Even more useful, if a bit more bulky, would be this hotshoe flash, which you could use on a lot of different cameras (not just the toys).  Adjustable power output is a good thing.  Bounce the light off a large white card, and it will get rid of the lens shadow.

These flashes would still be too bright for really close-up photos.  That's because of that highlight washout problem I mentioned.   If you do a lot of very close photography with the Fisheye 2, I would recommend getting one of these for it.  It's not that powerful, but actually that's a good thing.  When the lens is only a foot away from something, you really don't want a mega-powerful strobe. 

The ring flash also doesn't cast a lens-barrel shadow, because the light is from all sides.



Fisheye 2 vs. Fisheye 1


Lomography also makes the Fisheye One, which sells for less.  The Fisheye One doesn't have the fisheye viewfinder, the flash hotshoe, Bulb mode, or the MX switch.

The Fisheye One limits you to daylight photography, or flash photography at night.  Get the Fisheye 2 because it has Bulb mode.




 

Similar Cameras

I already mentioned the Fisheye One.  

Aside from that, there is nothing else like it. 

This camera costs considerably less than a decent fisheye lens for your film SLR.   





Conclusion

The Fisheye 2 from Lomography is tons of fun.   It has a couple of serious features, such as Bulb mode and a flash hotshoe.  For the money, I can't think of any better way to shoot film through a fisheye lens.  Any dedicated fisheye lens for a film SLR is going to cost you at least twice what this camera does. 

Considering how much one of those lenses would cost, you could grab a Fisheye 2 and a La Sardina, you'd have two ultra-wide focal lengths, and you'd still be spending considerably less.

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