August 23, 2009 4:23 PM   Subscribe

I just got a Lomo Fisheye 2 for my birthday! I am super excitemented. Hive, hit me with your bestest Lomo / fisheye tips and tricks!

Background: my experience level is medium, but I haven’t used a film camera for years. I’m located in the middle of nowhere for the next week (the South Australian outback) and then I’ll be in Brisbane, Australia mostly.

So far, I’ve been browsing the Lomography.com forums and looking at lots of pics on Flickr, as well as taking my new toy everywhere and shooting lots of different stuff – everything from concerts to landscapes to close-ups of my long-suffering boyfriend and camera-gifter. It’ll be a while before I can get the film developed though. In the meantime, I’m hoping AskMe has some Lomo-lovin’ experience to share.

So I’m wondering…

-Best film? (A couple of rolls of 100 and 100 redscale were part of my gift and I went and bought a few rolls of 400 print film, which is all that’s available here. I’ll be able to order over the net back in Brisbane, and camera stores there will have more variety, I’m sure.)
-Processing tips? (I won’t be doing it myself and I'm not really interested in prints, more in having the film developed and scanned to CD.)
-I’m especially up for fun and creative photo adventures and experiments. I have nearly a whole week of free time! Ideas?

All suggestions, ideas, inspiration welcome!
posted by t0astie to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
First, check the manual for a recommended film speed, since some Lomos can only work with one.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:33 PM on August 23, 2009

It works with everything up to 1600.
posted by t0astie at 4:42 PM on August 23, 2009

Looks like your camera is fixed at 1/100 f/8, which means you will need to use approx ISO25-50 film if you're in full sunshine, ISO100 for a bright hazy day and probably ISO400 will be fine for an overcast day.

For ISO25-50, your only option in colour is something like Velvia but that has a very narrow exposure range (you have to get it right within about half a stop) so you are likely to get poor-to-unusable results from it unless you use it in exactly the right light level. It should produce good results on a bright-to-very-bright day though, i.e. Sunny-11 or Sunny-16 lighting as Velvia is often best exposed at about EI40.

If you're happy with B&W, try Pan-F. It too is a bit finicky but not nearly so bad as Velvia; the main drawback is that getting labs to process B&W these days is an exercise in burning cash for crap results so you're best off processing them yourself which is a whole other adventure. I'd recommend it, but probably only initially in combination with a camera that has a meter and controllable exposure. Pan-F works great at ISO25-40, which means if you're processing it yourself, you can get great exposures at Sunny-16 or Sunny-11 from your camera.

If you want cheap but decent C-41 (colour print film to be processed at labs), get Fuji Superia. If you want bright saturated colours and great sharpness, try Ektar 100. If you want B&W C-41 (it's B&W but processed in colour chemicals), get Ilford XP2. If you want portrait film with good skin tones, try Portra NC. Most of the C-41 films are very tolerant of overexposure but not really underexposure. 2 stops over is not really a problem for them - you'll lose a bit of quality but it won't be terminal. 2 stops underexposure though will destroy all your shadow detail.

Does the camera support the use of a filter? Using an ND filter would allow you to go with a faster film (400) for use in dim conditions and then sticking a 2-stop or 3-stop ND in front will give you an effective film speed of 100 or 50 for the bright days. If you're using B&W and can use a filter on it, definitely get red and orange filters as they will make blue skies dark and therefore very dramatic if containing clouds.

Not sure what "medium" experience level is... but in my experience, fisheyes work best as extreme-closeups. Get right up next to your foreground subject so that it fills like half the frame and you'll still get a huge swathe of background in focus. The short focal length of a fisheye means your depth of field is huge. f/8 and 16mm gives you a hyperfocal distance of about 1m, maybe less, which means that (if the lens is set to focus at 1m) everything thing from 50cm to infinity will be pretty well in focus. The wide view means that there is a huge magnification difference between close things and far things, which means it's great for making small stuff look unnaturally big next to large stuff in the background.

Try not to photograph your toes all the time... it's hard ;)
posted by polyglot at 4:55 PM on August 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

I used to love looking at the tons of pictures in the LJ Lomography community.
posted by cashman at 6:23 AM on August 24, 2009

Polyglot gave you decent advice but is kind of obviously not familiar with Lomos.

Because of their plastic lenses, they do a little color separation in images and aren't great for things that need a lot of sharpness to work as compositions. That color separation also means that black and white film really isn't the greatest to use, unless they've bumped up their quality considerably since I've had one. Because you're using color film, you've got a LOT more leeway in exposure—color will usually let you cheat a stop or two (which kind of makes up for the fact that you can't really push it).

The film that comes with the Lomos, again unless they've bumped up, is expired color film, usually 100. That tends to accentuate the color bleed, which can make for some cool images—I tend to like to buy discounted expired color film for my Lomos, because it's cheaper and the images are supposed to look "off."

You can try asking your local lab to push/pull your exposures if you, say, take a bunch of shots at 100 inside (push two, two and a half stops) or 400 outside in bright sunlight (pull one or two), but your results will very much rely on your lab, and pushing and pulling color film can totally destroy the white balance. But sometimes it's fun to have shots where everyone has orange skin. Since you're going to get 'em scanned anyway, you can always fiddle with the image in photoshop.

I do second the Velvia, but I also like Kodak's 100vc. Velvia does better with blues, VC does better with oranges, at least at my local lab. One trick for super-saturated images is to use a positive (slide) film and then print it normally.

Final notes: Lomos are all different, and part of using one is getting used to its quirks. It may have a bent spot in the lens somewhere or may not like 36-exposure rolls. The f-stop or shutter speed may not be exactly what it's advertised. These cameras are for experimental picture taking, and are a bit gimmicky. So be prepared to take a lot of photos and get only a slim number of usable images compared to, say, an SLR or a real rangefinder camera. Take notes on what you're doing with each roll (something I'm bad at but that helps immensely) so that you can cut down on repeating your mistakes. Don't ever rely on the Lomo for a once-in-a-lifetime memory shot. But without that pressure to make everything perfect, you get a lot of freedom to take crazy "bad" shots with the camera to see if anything cool comes out. That's why I recommend expired film and screwing with the processes—it makes a weird camera weirder. Might as well.
posted by klangklangston at 9:17 AM on August 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

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