New Video! Use A LOMO Fisheye Camera Lens on a DSLR.

When I was studying photography it seemed like everyone was buying a Lomo camera, shooting a couple of roles of film on it, and then forgetting about it. I was no exception, and my camera of choice was the Lomo Fisheye No. 2. The honest truth is these cameras are fun, but shit. Everything that's cool about the lens is held back by the crappy camera body it's married to. And they don't shoot video!

For almost as long as I've owned the camera I have wanted to liberate that quaint fisheye lens from its restrictive film body, mount it on my DSLR and actually use it. I've been especially interested in using it to shoot video, and have its characteristic look in mind for a particular short film I'm working on.

So after six years of shelf time, I tore my Lomo Fisheye No. 2 camera to pieces, smashed the Lens off it, taped it to a filter ring and screwed it onto my digital SLR. The results were awesome.

Check out the video above to see exactly how I did it, and to see a bunch of fun test footage that I shot with the lens. Then keep reading this article for more details and sample still images.

Click to enlarge.

As you can see from the stills on this page, the lens has a bunch of really fantastic characteristics. Most obvious is the warped ultra-wide field of view, but the lens also features a really intense and natural vignette - the sample images in this post aren't photoshopped. You can leave this vignette as is, or if you're shooting RAW you can recover those shadow details and really show off that warped fisheye perspective most prominent at the edges of the image.

There's also heaps of chromatic aberration. It's like a National-Geographic-Stereoscopic-Dinosaur-Special-Edition. You could possibly try and wrangle that in your RAW processor, but I'd rather just call a crappy lens crappy and go with it! Finally the focus is all over the place in a very cool, impressionistic way.

These characteristics may sound undesirable to a discerning cinematographer or photographer, but with this Lens they come together to create a really honest, impressionistic look. I say embrace the funkiness. Nobody is putting a Turner or a Monet through Lightroom and adjusting it into a Jeffery Smart, and nor should they be. Not everything has to be sharp all the time - leave a little room for the imagination. 

Click to enlarge.

At the moment I'm shooting on a Nikon DSLR, so I have my modified fisheye screwed in front of an old school Nikkor 28mm Prime. To get the best results with the fisheye I have the Nikkor wide open at f 2.8. This is for purely aesthetic reasons and is not based on any technical reasoning whatsoever. But the more you stop down the lens the more the vignette closes in on the image.

I'm sure the field of view, vignette, colour reproduction and depth of field will all vary depending on what lens you mount the fisheye in front of. So some experimentation would probably be worthwhile.

I repurposed (read: smashed up with a hammer) a Hoya filter for the mounting system, so that may not be the most versatile option if you're thinking of moving between lenses, as filter sizes are far from universal.

The adapted Lomo Fisheye No. 2 lens mounted on an old school Nikkor 28mm. + Hand.

Click to enlarge.

Now, I know what you're thinking... "MAX YOU'RE SO STUPID! - Lomo make a fisheye lens for DSLRS you wasted so much time... HAHAHA". I know. I've known that for ages. I knew that before I did this. I knew it before you were born. Shut up. I wanted to do this, so I did it.

The whole lens adaptation took less than an afternoon to accomplish and was well worthwhile. I turned a camera/toy that I never used into a tool that I'm going to use a lot, and had a lot of fun doing it. If you enjoy tinkering and have one of these cameras to spare, check out the video up top to see exactly how I did it, then give it a shot yourself.

Click to enlarge.

Thanks for reading my article. Let me know what you think.
You can follow me on twitter @MaxPiantoni or get in touch.
or, watch my short film South By Scooter.

This Bird Has Flown...


Sadly it’s over! Thanks to everyone who came along to see The Descent of the Dodo in First & Last at the Counihan Gallery… All six hundred and sixty six of you!

I can’t emphasise enough how much of a treat it was to be in this show! It was especially wonderful to have the opportunity to show work with my fellow Brunswick Arts committee members. When we get together it’s usually to discuss the work of others - so you can imagine how much of a thrill it was to work together on our own project. Such a delightful bunch with varied - but surprisingly complimentary - practices! I encourage you to keep up to date with  Jenna Corcoran, Alister Karl, Carmen Reid, Adele Smith, Ive Sorocuk, and John Stevens.

Adding yet more delightfulness to the delight was the fact that we were sharing the Counihan with Melanie Jayne Taylor whose show A Room For Ordering Memories was truly enchanting.

The Counihan is a really beautiful gallery, top-notch, it was a true pleasure working with everyone there. I cannot thank them enough for having me!

Before I rush on to the next big thing (Pokemon, or Tazos, or something) here are a few collected tidbits regarding First & Last:




What a blast!

Dodos: Reviewed! Verdict: 'Pube Tingling'!

Nick Tapscott writing for The Melbourne Arts Club has posted a really entertaining review of First & Last. There are a couple of thrilling thoughts regarding my work The Descent of the Dodo.

Firstly this:

‘What struck me when I walked into that room was a tiny stuffed toy dodo that chilled me to my pubes. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, or on my pubes, but for some reason the darkest places of my sub-conscience started growling with recognition and violent imagery, like I once had a nightmare about this friendly looking bird. Weird.’

Then this:

‘The next works featured the chilling bird I had seen when I walked in and again it made my unmentionables freeze with shuddering cold. The piece was aesthetically beautiful and superbly crafted as a series of photographs told the story of the fate of the Dodo, but with a twist (They escape to outer space). I was fascinated, mostly because of the images of grinding meat and bloodied fangs that popped into my head every time my eyeballs crossed their purpled plushing plumage. It was seriously freaking me the fuck out, so I moved on to the other room.’

And in summary:

‘So over-all a pretty sweet show.’

So, wow! Meat grinders, bloodied fangs, pubes! … None of which were at the forefront of my mind whilst creating the work, all of which are awesome reactions. It never ceases to excite me how once you set work free it takes on a life of its own! Superb! 

The bird in question:


So… if you haven’t seen the show yet get down to the Counihan Gallery in Brunswick before the 24th of June. It’s worth it. I promise!