Sunday, November 13, 2011

Random Camera - Lomography Fisheye No. 2

Last week I shared a few images and my thoughts on Lomography's Redscale film.  This week, I'll do the same with the Lomography Fisheye No. 2 camera.  I received this camera as a Christmas gift from my wife last year.  I ran a test roll of Fuji Superia 400 color negative film through it and had it processed at the local Walgreens.  The results were less than satisfying, but they did unveil a few pecularities of the Fisheye camera that would be helpful for all future rolls.

The Lomography Fisheye No. 2 camera was launched by Lomography in 2006; just one year after their successful launch of the original Fisheye camera.  According to their site, the original Fisheye quickly became the best selling plastic camera of all-time; I'm not sure if those numbers still stand, but based on the Flickr groups and the images uploaded on Lomography, it's still very popular.

The Fisheye No. 2 camera is a very compact, lightweight, 35mm shooter.  It's 10mm f/8 lens captures roughly 170 degrees of your surrounding environment.  The camera has two shutter speeds; 1/100 of a second and bulb, which of course allows for long exposures.  The Fisheye No. 2 also comes with a hot shoe mount and a built in flash as well as a handy multiple exposure switch.  All of these features make for a compact, fun, lomographic experience of film photography.

After shooting a roll of film and viewing the results, you'll quickly discover that the Lomography Fisheye No. 2 is a camera that likes a lot of light.  Even if you shoot 400 speed film like I did, a sunny, well-lit environment performs best for this camera; unless of course you're shooting at night and using the long exposure button.  In my first roll, I wasn't aware of this fact and only about half of my exposures came out.  I fared much better with my second roll; I didn't lose a single exposure.  The other thing that takes some practice is the viewfinder.  Similar to all toy/plastic cameras, their is not a mirror system in place.  So, what you see through the viewfinder is not exactly what the lens sees.  With the Fisheye No. 2, I've had a tendency to frame the top of the shot too close.  With a little practice, it's easy to adjust and you won't be in for any surprises when you get your results back.  The multiple exposure button is a nice feature that makes double exposures super easy.  Once you fire a shot, simply click the MX switch and fire another exposure.  Do it again for a triple exposed shot or simply wind the film to the next frame.  I didn't try the MX switch with my first roll, but I did with my second and I liked the result. 

The second roll of film I ran through the Fisheye No. 2 was again the Fuji Superia 400 color negative.  This roll took about 10 months for me to finish.  I loaded it in January and it stayed in the camera until October.  I carried the Fisheye No. 2 with me everywhere, but I only shot it when I felt I had the appropriate subject or the appropriate scene for the extreme look the fisheye lens creates.  Once I received the processed film back from Blue Moon Camera and Machine, it was like Christmas.  Each image, possibly taken months ago, was like a present.  I literally experience the changing of the seasons on one roll of film.  The Fuji Superia 400 is a basic consumer film, found at local supermarkets and big box stores.  The colors are not heavily saturated and the film produces a very noticeable grain.  The Superia is not a film that I will purchase on a regular basis, but it was perfect for experimenting with a new camera. 

All in all, the Fisheye No. 2 camera is a fun little camera.  I wouldn't recommend it for everyday shooting, but it's a great camera suited for experimentation.  The multiple exposure button, the 170 degrees of view and the extreme close-ups are perfect for creating unique images that help communicate artistic vision.  If you're shooting the camera for fun versus artistic expression, it's perfect for parties and hanging out with friends because of the unexpected results.  In fact, after seeing my second roll of film, I'm looking forward to using the Fisheye No. 2 a lot in 2012.

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