For a different view of the world the Lomography Fisheye 2 is an ideal camera. This camera has a super wide lens making the world look like we might expect a fish to see it, especially from inside a fishbowl.
The Fisheye 2 is considered a toy camera. There are very minimal controls and it is a one trick pony. Even with that, it is actually quite well put together. Most importantly it is aimed at having fun, which in the end, is why we enjoy photography.
Funnily, fish really don’t see this way, it is a human interpretation. This particular view is more aligned to chameleons, though they actually have 360ovision. In the underwater world, the predators like sharks are closest but theirs is more of a sharp focus in the middle rather than a full distortion. Try and be out of the focus area of a shark!
The first question to resolve when you get a camera like this is where do you use it? Answering that is quite easy, use it everywhere. It does change the way you shoot to some extent, as framing becomes something totally different.
Rules like the rule of thirds get thrown out the window with a fisheye. The photo needs strong point of interest whether it is right in front or even with some distance. If this is omitted the photo seems to feel like a circle of colour only.
I got the Fisheye 2 during 2020 which has meant it was the perfect dog walking camera with the restrictions that were in place for a few weeks. Read on to see how I got it and found it to use.
I have previously covered the history of Lomography in Lomochrome – Feeling the purple and turquoise so I won’t cover it again. Feel free to have a read and come back to this article.
It is not very often a current film camera gets a chance to be reviewed here, but that is what the Lomography Fisheye 2 is. It can be purchased at the online Lomography store currently. Not only can you purchase a new one, you can also buy accessories for it.
The first Fisheye camera from Lomography was released in 2005. It was branded the Lomography Fisheye One. It was for made taking fisheye type photos, which are essentially wide angle photos in a circular distorted view. In this case it offered 170o.
The fact that at the time of writing this series of camera has lasted 15 years actually ranks it as one of the successful lines. In the world of digital upgrades after 24 months, it is actually quite remarkable. Though it was updated in 2011.
That was when Lomography released the Fisheye 2. This was done in style as it was in Hong Kong where they celebrated analogue with the Lomography Times Square Exhibition. Within the crowd which totalled over one hundred thousand people, it was released alongside the special edition Sprocket Rocket and Diana F+.
Since then, it has consistently sold as a great gift, novelty and fun creative camera. For the small price it has continued to be a hit.
The Lomography Fisheye 2 is a toy 35mm camera which has a permanent 10mm fixed aperture f/8 glass lens. This gives a view of 170o. The circle is bigger than the height of 35mm film, so the result is more of a snow globe view with the top and bottom cropped out.
Across the frame, the inside of the lens shows up outside the circular sections. This then presents the creative option of including that or cutting out the circular section.
Shutter speed is limited to 1/100thsecond and Bulb, which is controlled by a switch at the top. It also doubles up as the on/off switch. Speaking of power, the Fisheye 2 uses a single AA battery for the operation of the flash. This means that with the shutter being fully mechanical, the camera will operate without the battery unless you require the built in flash.
A double exposure switch is also found on top of the camera, next to a snappy moulded depiction of a crab. People have asked what the crab has to do with photography. My theory is in the form of a question, what do the crab’s pincers do? They snap!
A shutter release button in chrome is on this version, but without a remote thread. The film advance wheel is at the back of the camera, something Olympus Trip users would be used to. Flash control is at the front of the camera, as it is a manual selection.
No tripod socket is at the bottom, which makes use of the Bulb feature requiring a flat surface and steady hand, if any sharp parts of the exposure are required.
Loading film is easy, flick the switch on the side and the back swings open. Thread some film through and make sure when you move to the first frame you check it is rotating the rewind lever. A little window at the back reminds you what film you are using. The counter on the top will update with every frame.
Viewing is through an external viewfinder, slotted into the cold shoe on top. Designed in a round “fisheye” type of design, it gives you an approximate view of the frame. There is no parallax correction markings or adjustments.
As a final touch, there is a rubber lens cap included, which hangs off the camera.
The Lomography Fisheye 2 made it into my household and collection in a camera lot I purchased, mainly for another camera I wanted in my collection. When I first looked through the viewfinder I did a doubletake and thought, this might be fun.
As mentioned above, I thought this would be a great dog walking camera, something our lovable Oscar got quite a bit of for a while, being our only outdoor activity for a few weeks.
Sometimes having something like the Fisheye 2 is perfect for scenes you see day after day. While in general use the 1/100thsecond shutter speed is more than ample, when you have a dog tugging at you, it can be a challenge to get a sharp photo. Surprisingly I had a large number of sharp photos.
My first film in the camera was the wonderful Kodak Pro Image 100. At this point I did not have much of an idea of what the frames would look like. I was quite surprised to see that the inside of the lens actually comes up in the frame. The cropped top and bottom was also something I was not aware of.
Using the camera was as easy as can be. Getting the film loaded needs some care to make sure it has caught on. Once you are on the first frame, it is as easy as deciding if you want flash or not (I did not) and then fire the shutter.
I did find that I was getting too close to my subjects sometimes though, as through the viewfinder it is deceiving and exaggerates the distance. This can risk some out of focus images due to the minimum focus distance.
Basically, you point the camera and shoot. You know that this will not be regular photos, which gives you a sense of freedom.
My second film was a bit of a mistake, I meant to take some Ilford FP4 Plus with me, which is an ISO 125 film. I accidentally took Ilford HP5 Plus with me, an ISO 400 film. I used it anyway, and I believe the results were actually better, which sort of breaks my thinking. Such a slow shutter speed may struggle with a fast film in sunshine, but this worked a treat.
One of my favourite results is actually the photo above, where I shot into the sun and you can see the sunbeams flow through into the inside of the lens. As you can see, flare is very prevalent.
As a toy camera it does come with some compromises. The rewind function on mine feels like it has sand inserted into the mechanism. It works but feels really scratchy but works well.
The lens cap initially feels like a great idea and is a soft jell type. It does fall off very easily which defeats its function. More of an issue though is that (apart from forgetting to take it off) it can hang into the frame as it is connected via the wrist strap. Examples of lens cap fails are below.
In terms of performance, I was surprised. It is actually quite sharp and while it distorts, it is quite sharp for considerable part of the frame. The little 10mm lens has produced results I have really enjoyed. Contrast is quite well defined onto the negative.
The results it gives you are with a 3D type of feel, which is quite interesting and entertaining. With decent contrast and the fall away of everything as you move out of the centre. It is a bit of a strange effect, but really helps you zero onto a subject.
I went into this thinking it is a toy and have really enjoyed using the Lomography Fisheye 2. The results are great fun and sharing them is always followed by a conversation. They are not very expensive new and can also be found used for less. Definitely something worth a try.
On Kosmo Foto, Ronnie Brandon also reviews the Lomography Fisheye 2 here.
This camera is good to take on a holiday, which is exactly what Alex Vye did on 35mmc, in Lomography Fisheye 2 Camera Review – Family Vacation.