History time: an old fisheye converter

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philzucker Veteran Member • Posts: 9,009
History time: an old fisheye converter

Well, it's lockdown in Germany, and what can one do on a free Sunday but rummage a bit in ones own photography accessory collection?

I did, and I found a "Albinar Ultrawider (sic!) Lens" - a fisheye converter for my Takumar 28mm I used back on my Ricoh XR7 in the early eighties. It sports a Series VII thread, and the back cap reminds you on a helpful sticker that you have to "stop down the camera lens to f11 or under" for "optimum results":

Well, those results weren't that "optimum" even back then. But for one thing I just hadn't the money for something better, and for another I did some memorable pictures with it in the summer of 1983 in New York, e.g. capturing the World Trade Center from the outside (boy, this building was definitely too large for my 28mm, standing in front of it  ...):

Please note that I heeded the advice of the manufacturer and really did step down to f11! Back then I had an extra notebook with me jotting down exposure data and lens used - "FE" stands for "Fisheye", of course - after each pic taken. After developing the slide film I transferred the data to the frames. EXIF sure is progress ...

But back from the old days to today. I thought: Why don't I give the Albinar converter a try on a current DSLR? I rummaged a bit further, found some fitting step-up and -down rings to mount it on a Sigma 24mm AF wide angle (sold the 28mm Takumar some decades back ...) and took some shots. Well, "washed out", "low contrast", "sharp only in the middle", "horrible CA on the edges" were the results, as you can imagine.

But one "home decoration" indoor shot I found somehow pleasing all the same:

And after a bit of contrast enhancing, CA eliminating, de-noising and some more cleanup I arrived at this rendition:

YMMV, of course, and some object clean-up before shooting the tulips sure also would've helped, but all the same I thought to myself: Optics don't have to be perfect. It helps, of course, and it all depends on the subject - but with a bit of work you can get acceptable results all the same.

Acceptable, not stellar ... Sharpness still is in center only, and the tulip blossoms somehow melt away at their edges. My fault to a bit, because I only stopped down to f8, BTW ...

So what about your historical accessories? Give them a whirl and share!


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