Monday, November 23, 2009

Medium-Format Fisheye Fun

I have no doubt that there are "Lomography haters" out there, but whether one loves or doesn't love the Lomo folks, there is no denying that they have introduced some fun into film-based photography. I reviewed the new Diana+ quite a while ago, and yes, it's a cheap plastic camera, but I saw that they had cleverly added some features, such as the pin-hole and removable lens. Now, I see where their design has paid off. Back in October, I purchased the 20mm Diana Fisheye lens (as well as the Nikon SLR adapter, but that's another review) from Lomography online store. I felt it was a pretty cheap accessory with a potential big fun factor.

I give big kudos to the Lomography people for their colorful packaging and fun aspect of their products. Really, there is no understated yellow and black box here. The box contained the 20mm fisheye lens, a cleverly-designed accessory viewfinder, front and rear lens caps, a carry pouch, and instructions. The accessory finder easily attached to the Diana+ camera, as did the Fisheye lens. I suspect the finder is the same as the one on the 35mm Fisheye 2 camera. It gives a pretty good approximation of what you'll get with the new lens.

The lens close focuses to within a foot of the camera, which is pretty darn cool, though most of my shots have been made of subjects 2 meters or more from the camera.

OK, so it looks cool and funky, but how does it work? Let me first say that I think the image quality surpassed my expectations. Second, to get the full circular fisheye effect, you need to remove all the masks and shoot full-frame (12 exposures). Otherwise, the negatives will be cropped a bit. Third, this is a lot of fun to use.

Load o'pumpkins

I took a bunch of images back in mid-October, and these pumpkins were among my favorites. I took some shots for World Toy Camera Day, and this one of the top of the spillway at Barton Dam is kinda neat. You can see the bridge in the background.
Barton dam

The Diana Fisheye lens ought to be great for shooting in tight spaces. Sure you will get fisheye distortion, but if that effect appeals to you, then go for it!
garage studio
Take in my garage at the studio night for the Ann Arbor Area Crappy Camera Club.

Overall, I would rate the 20mm fisheye as one of those accessories that justifies the purchase of a camera. There is no doubt that the Diana+ is a fun camera. But, having a circular fisheye image on 120 film is a real blast. I can't wait to make some darkroom prints from some of those shots.

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