PetaPixel

Review: Lomography’s Experimental Lens Kit for MFT Cameras

lenskit3

Today I received an Experimental Lens Kit from Lomography and immediately took it on a test ride while having my lunch break.

In case you don’t know about it, it is a newly-released kit of thee plastic lenses with plastic optics. As well as an integrated shutter, so you can take ‘real’ double or multi exposures just like in the analog days.

Packaging And Contents:

lomorev_1

In the package there are the three lenses with front and rear cap, on the rear cap the focal length and name of the lens is written:

lomorev_2

Also in the package is a tiny pouch with little filters which can be inserted into a filter slot on the back of each lens:

lomorev_3

So we have yellow, blue, orange, green, violet and two different ND filters. The ND filters are helpful for doing Multi Exposures in bright daylight.

The Filters are mounted in a dedicated slot at the back of the Lens. Stacking Filters is also possible:

lomorev_4

Also included is a big poster with Instructions in all different languages and sample pictures on the back. You can see it acting as a backdrop here where I mounted each lens on a camera for your enjoyment. From left to right: E-P2-IR with 12mm Wide-Angle Lens, E-M5 with 24mm Standard Lens, E-PM1 with 160° Fisheye Lens:

lomorev_5

Although they look a bit different in size, they are not. Only the Fisheye is a bit shorter than the rest, as it does not have the integrated hood.

Handling

As I said, the lenses are plastic. Plastic mount, plastic lenses, plastic everything. Only the shutter level-knob and I guess the screws and a spring inside the lens for the shutter are made of metal. Mounting the Lenses on a camera is done as with every lens with a Micro Four Thirds mount. Align the dots, twist, and you’re done.

The lens shutter is closed in the original configuration, so to see a picture on the viewfinder, you need to open that up. Turn the triangle-shaped lever downwards until it snaps in and you can compose your shots. The integrated shutter is disabled in this position (T-Mode). Set your camera to A-mode and you are done. If the shutter speed is too low, raise your ISO. All three lenses are fixed at f/8, just like the Olympus Bodycap Lens.

Multi-Exposure Mode

To make real multi-exposures, I find the easiest way is to leave the camera in A-Mode. Compose your shot, close the shutter with the triangle lever, push the little metal-shutter knob, recompose (you will of course need to guess your composition from know on) and trigger the shutter again.

As the meter will measure with the shutter closed, your shutter speed will be at about 4-5 seconds, which should be enough time to take a multiple exposure image. The manual says to use bulb mode, which, of course, works as well.

Optical Performance

I tested those lenses today at lunch time on an Olympus E-PM1 and an IR converted E-P2 (720nm). The standard images are all straight out of camera, with no adjustments beside resizing in Adobe Lightroom. The IR pictures only have some increased clarity, as they would look very flat out of camera. White balance of the E-P2 was on green grass.

12mm Wide Angle Lens E-PM1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course, optically speaking, all of the lenses are only mediocre. Well, less than mediocre to be honest. The 12mm specifically is a contrasty, quirky colors, wide angle lens with a nice vignette. The center is not as soft as the corners and it has very strong barrel distortion. Focus goes from 0.2m to infinity

Pros:

  • Wide angle of View (24mm FF equivalent)
  • Lightweight
  • Close focusing distance

Cons:

  • Plastic fantastic (should be a pro, though)

24mm Standard Lens E-PM1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nice colors, quite sharp in the center and typical lo-fi TV lens look in the corners. Not so much distortion as you would expect. I guess this is quite a fun lens at night with color filters and a flash. Put a red gel in the lens and a blue gel in a flash and you’ll get crazy colors like you’ve never seen before. Focusing goes from 0.6m to infinity.

Pros:

  • Nice ‘Standard’ FOV (48mm FF equivalent)
  • Good colors
  • Focuses nearer then any Leica Lens

Cons:

  • Only f/8 (might be tuneable)

160° Fisheye Lens E-PM1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On a visible light camera, this is my favorite of the set. Red almost gets rendered as from a Canon camera, and the circular fisheye is always an eye-catcher. Focus is a non-issue because of the large depth of field. Focus distance: from 0.05m to infinity. The last image sample shows a double exposure.

Pros:

  • Finally a fisheye for everyone, a shame that this not available as a single lens
  • Very flare resistant

Cons:

  • Strong internal reflections

Infrared performance

As there so many MFT bodies now that can be bought (or sold) for very little money, many people have decided to convert their old body to different wavelengths. Personally, I have an E-P2 converted to 720nm (near Infrared).

I mostly shoot it with the Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye and can say it is a wonderful combo. Examples of false color and B&W pictures taken with this camera can be seen in this Flickr set.

12mm Wide Angle Lens in Infrared

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In IR, this is my favorite out of the three. You can take nice, contrasty IR images without worrying much about fstops, focus, sharpness and all that technical stuff. Shooting directly into the sun? No problem. Hotspots? Non-existent.

One thing I found you can do with all three lenses is close the T-shutter only partially to create a strong vignette in the lover right corner. If you are a fan of heavy vignettes and don’t want to fiddle around with post processing, these are your lenses:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

24mm Standard Lens in Infrared

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The 24mm is usable for IR as well, but just not my focal length for this type of shooting. Hotspots? Negative report!

160° Fisheye Lens in Infrared

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the only lens of the three that doesn’t have enough focus for infinity focus in IR. In a converted camera, the focal plane is different because of a) the different wavelength of IR and b) the different thickness of the filter glass in front of the sensor. It might be hackable to achieve infinity focus, and I really hope so as I like the circular effect.

Focal length comparison:

Just for reference, here’s the same scene, taken with a E-PM1 in A-mode, ISO 200, center weighted metering:

160° Fisheye

160° Fisheye

12mm Wide Angle

12mm Wide Angle

24mm Standard

24mm Standard

Conclusion

I think it is a great addition to the MFT family. It shows that the system has enough users for new companies to produce lenses for it. No need to mess around with quirky adapters to get these lo-fi shots. No messing around with post processing if you want to add a certain effect to your pictures.

If you want to take a break from your usual photographic style, take these lenses with you and enjoy an afternoon of worry-free shooting.


About the author: Dirk Essl is an IT professional and photographer based out of Germany. He loves Polaroid cameras and film shooting film, but favors MFT cameras when shooting digital. You can find more of Dirk’s work on his website here. This article was originally published here.


 
  • http://www.eriklaurikulo.se/ Erik Lauri Kulo

    To me, the 12mm is definitely the winner. It has the quality that I guess most people look for in these experimental lenses, while not going overboard. It’s subtle, but has character. The 24mm is just too much with that corner (un)sharpness. And the fisheye is utterly useless in my opinion – but I respect if someone would disagree. I just don’t like any lens that crops the image.

  • Christopher Hugh Hiscocks

    A fascinating example of how to sell absolute crap for lots of money. Can’t help but be impressed.

  • Baa Bra Brack Ship

    I wish the fisheye could have covering the whole sensor, otherwise after cropping there’s not much left.

  • Jonathan Barge

    SLR Magic Toy lens 11mm is a far better option if you want that wide angle, and with it stopping down to f1.2 (or there a bouts) and not being too expensive it’s a winner. I’ve taken it to concerts and all kinds of places and it takes some magical looking photos that are so different.

  • Espen

    Can’t help to be impressed with those who think you can buy yourself into making great looking pictures. I’ll rather see an artist with “crap” lenses than a fool with top of the line lenses shooting mundane boring stuff.

  • Christopher Hugh Hiscocks

    You’ve missed my point. People who’ll spend ££ on these will kid themselves that crap lenses make your pictures ‘creative’. Absolutely not the case. A crap lens doesn’t make one an artist, as much as a good lens doesn’t mean good photographs!

  • Jonathan Maniago

    I’ve just checked their site for sample shots. In terms of marketing, it’s interesting to note that Lomography seems to have no intention of imitating Lensbaby’s approach. They’re not even -trying- to be artistic; it’s just one bad shot after another.

  • herby heretic

    I totally agree with Christopher-kudos to Lomography for successfully marketing crap to those who feel their pictures aren’t artistic without vignetting, distortion, soft focus, color shifts etc…It baffles me-there is a plethora of good used old analog gear out there for next to nothing. Too sharp? put some veseline on your lens or breathe on it…still need those vignettes? stack some filters….Much like all the victims of the “Hipstamatic” App who think the application of endless filters will “Artify” otherwise uninspired, lifeless pictures.

  • Ash

    I have recently took delivery of these lens with the intention of using on a Samsung NX1000.
    Sadly, the lens do not fit.
    Can anyone recommend a 24mm lens mount adaptor that would be suitable?

  • Jeremy

    What the hell does MFT stand for?

    More poor editing at Petapixel.

  • maris

    Micro four thirds

  • Franck C.

    Yes, but for once it’s not so expensive for a Lomo product ; less than 100 eur it’s incredible ;) ! And without mocking at Lomo products, I think that it’s nice to be able to buy 3 lenses for this price, which one is a fisheye.

    Even if it is not so good, it seems to be fun to use !

  • joao1515

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  • anfyrt

    To me, I got 12mm in my e-m5′s kit zoom lens, 12-50. It’s not as bad as most of people can think. It’s an ill fameб mostly. From all these 3 plastic toys I would like to take as a present =) fisheye lens, ’cause I not shure in buying good fisheye lens, such as samyang 7.5mm f3.5, but everything can change.