July 1, 2014

Create Unpredictably Beautiful Video by Hacking Old Lomo Fisheye Still Lenses for DSLRs

Fisheye hackFisheye lenses are great for so much more than skate videography and videos of cute animals being cute to cute polka music. They can also be used to create stunning, artistic images, as demonstrated by Australian filmmaker Max Piantoni. He has shared a short tutorial that shows you how he repurposed the lens in his Lomo Fisheye No. 2 still camera by mounting it onto an old Nikkor prime in order to capture some truly interesting, beautiful, and unpredictable video on his DSLR.

First, check out Piantoni's tutorial below:

Let's get this out of the way first: Lomo makes fisheye lenses. There isn't really a need to hack (read: bust open) your old Lomo still cameras and retrieve their fisheye lenses. However, if you're into experimentation, tinkering, and/or getting a unique, beautiful image full of flaws and weird behaviors, then Piantoni's tutorial will show you how he managed to pull it all off.

He first started by taking apart his Lomo camera to retrieve the fisheye lens. He then took the glass out of a filter ring, attached the lens to it using electrical tape, and mounted the whole thing to his Nikon DSLR. It may not be the most sophisticated way to go about this, but it looks like it works for getting some seriously interesting images. Check out some screenshots from footage shot with Piantoni's hacked lens.

As you can see, there is quite a lot going on in these images -- possibly the most noticeable thing being the vignette. But here's Piantoni to explain the characteristics he found with this lens:

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.

The cool thing, too, about this hack, is that you can couple your Lomo lens with virtually any other lens you have lying around, meaning that you could get all sorts of different looks depending on which lens you decide to combine with it. So, while the aesthetic possibilities are somewhat limited, they're also vast!

If you're looking for something clean, clear, and predictable, you're not going to find it with this hack. But if you're looking for a lens that will let you experiment, get a little creative with your visuals, or even take away some of your artistic control over creating your images, then you might want to give Piantoni's hack a whirl! Head on over to his blog post to learn more about it!

Link: Use a Lomo Fisheye Camera Lens on a DSLR -- MAX!

Your Comment

8 Comments

Great little post V. Renee!

You're right, there is actually no need per se to hack this kind of lens, (I'm sure there are many ways to achieve this visual effect), but I love the idea of taking these extra steps to create something that has a unique element to it that very few others would implement.

July 1, 2014 at 8:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply

Has a very nice dreamy look effect. Awesome hack. Beautiful imagery

July 1, 2014 at 9:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Yashu

Would like to see what on camera talent looks like...

July 1, 2014 at 10:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

2
Reply
Tim

Bro…. When you speak, I can easily imagine Blue speaking from the movie Rio and Rio 2. SAME VOICE!

July 1, 2014 at 11:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

2
Reply
Paulo

I like how your references to fisheye are skate vids and animals, and not like, say, hype williams' cinematography

July 2, 2014 at 12:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
john jeffries

that is creative and I love taking old tec. and combine it with maybe other old tec and use it for todays filmmaking. everything is still useable in some since. great job man making use of something old....RG

July 2, 2014 at 1:06AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

1
Reply
RG

Reminds me of how George Kuchar would but gauzes over the lenses. What was it that he called it? Cucamoris?

July 5, 2014 at 9:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply

Really appreciate this website. I've been super busy and have gotten out of the loop on all things film/digital and what's going on out there. But always get a fresh does of the latest here!

July 5, 2014 at 9:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

4
Reply
Dan