Happy New Year, nerds! I hope whatever you were doing to welcome 2013 made you happy, and if it didn’t then at least it means that things can only improve. Hooray!
I spent my post-Xmas limbo week (the week between Xmas Day and New Year’s Eve) getting reacquainted with my old friend 35mm film thanks to being gifted a Lomography Fisheye2 camera by my sister-in-law, and it’s been a hell of a lot of fun.
Lomography is a genre and method of photography that uses “toy” cameras to capture and share analog photographs (ie. on rolls of film) with other Lomo fans, and because of the often slightly shonky construction of these cameras, the little quirks and foibles associated with Soviet-era photographic technology. Basically… crappy plastic cameras that occasionally make pretty photos through sheer luck, tinkering and messing about. Exactly the kind of thing I enjoy.
The Fisheye2 has been updated slightly from the original Fisheye to include a hotshoe with viewfinder attachment, a tough metal body, a bulb setting and a switch to make shooting multiple exposures easy-peasy. The result is that the new Fisheye is hardier, has more features, a proper fisheye viewfinder, and is cute as a button:
If you’ve used any sort of old-skool film camera before operation is fairly self-explanatory. There’s a shutter release button, an on/off switch for the flash, and wind wheel/crank for moving film along a frame and winding it back into the canister when you finish a roll.
The lens is set at F8 with a focal length of 10mm, and it can’t be removed from the camera body. The supplied lens cap is cute, but not very secure and it will pop off with any small knocks or inside your bag. Apparently a better cap is in the works, but I think it goes quite nicely with the brand if I’m honest. A bit shonky, but charming.
(By the way if you like the nifty little wrist strap the camera is toting, you can visit the store of a lovely Etsy seller known as FunkyMutt - she makes dog collars and camera straps. I use one of her larger straps on my K5 and it’s so comfortable and awesome)
Another nice feature of the Fisheye2 is the LNB slider:
This lets you either lock the shutter (so it doesn’t go off in your bag/pocket/at the slightest bump), shoot a normal exposure, or switch it into bulb mode for long exposures. In normal mode the camera shoots at 1/100s. There is no light meter on this camera, so it is strictly “shoot it and see”, but if you have experience with taking wild guesses depending on the light available and the ASA (ISO) of the film you’re using, it’s not a big deal. It reminds me of snapping things with an old Kodak Tele-Instamatic that an aunt gave to me when I was six and would eagerly await the trip to the photo developers to see what delights I’d created. Good times.
Using the Fisheye2 is easy as hell. Peer through the viewfinder (or not; sometimes “shooting from the hip” can make some pretty awesome snapshots), release the shutter, wind the film along and there you go.
Time for some sample shots? Yes, I think so! All of these photos were taken with Fujicolor C200 film that I picked up from my local Boots. Other brands are available (‘natch), but this particular variety was on offer at the time.
I had a lot of fun getting these shots, especially as I had to guess how long I should open the shutter for. One thing I would recommend is finding a sturdy flat surface or tripod if you don’t want jiggly photographs, as the camera body is very light. One thing missing from the Fisheye2 which was slightly disappointing is a tripod mount, but I got around this by using a cheap mount for a smartphone which perfectly fit the height of the camera. I then broke the mount by dropping it on the ground later, but hey.
Also very, very fun to do. There’s no limit to how many exposures you want to use on a single frame, so go nuts. You can combine the different shutter modes, use the flash for some shots, or just shoot and shoot and shoot to see what happens.
The Fisheye2 shoots with a 170 degree field of vision, which means that images in the centre of the frame look relatively normal, but towards the edges they curve in a fairly lovely way. As you get closer to your subject it appears slightly distorted and bulbous, which is also fun.
I mentioned earlier that the construction of Lomo cameras was a little iffy, and one thing they are notorious for is light leakage:
Like I give a damn. You can buy apps that let you add light leaks to smartphone snapshots, so when they happen by accident it’s quite nice.
If you’d like to see more of my first forays into the world of Lomo you can visit this Flickr set. None of them have been post-processed, so everything you see in the frame was done by the camera and an incident when I accidentally triple-exposed some frames during a film rewind error.
What do I think? I think if you miss the olden days of snapping and hoping, or want to get away from sterile, prescribed methods of photography and try something a little more chaotic, you can’t go wrong by messing with a toy camera. The one big downside is that buying rolls of film and getting them developed is a lot more expensive these days, but the excitement and pleasure at discovering that you’ve made something interesting is worth it. Developing your own negatives and prints is also an option, and if you have the space and equipment for your own darkroom (or have easy access to one), let me know so I can visit because The Nerdly Household doesn’t have any space to set one up in ;)