A Viewfinder Darkly

Photography tips and tutorials

Polaroid’s New Lenses

August 24 2011

by Philip Northeast

Polaroid recently released a range of conversion lenses for digital cameras and a mirror lens for interchangeable lens cameras.

The conversion lenses attach to the front of existing camera lenses using the filter screw thread on the main lens. The conversion lenses modify the focal length of the main lens by their multiplier. For example: the Polaroid 0.43x wide angle lens mounted on the front of a common 18-55mm Digital SLR kit lens turns it into an 8-23mm wide angle zoom.

Unlike traditional SLR teleconverters that fit between the existing lens and the camera body, the effective aperture remains the same when using the front mounted conversion lens.

The Polaroid travel kit telephoto and wide angle conversion lens

Camera lenses have a variety of front diameters so the Polaroid Studio Series 58mm 2.2x Telephoto & 0.43x Wide Angle Lens Travel Kit includes 52mm and 55mm adapter rings. The step down adaptor rings allow the conversion lens to mount on lenses with a filter thread size smaller than 58mm.  These sizes are compatible with the common DSLR kit lenses for Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Olympus.

“Polaroid is known to offer innovative, intuitive and easy-to-use products that help both hobbyists and professionals take their photographs to the next level,” said Scott W. Hardy, President of Polaroid.

“We’re thrilled to offer photographers of all skill levels high-quality lenses that help bring creative visions to life, at an affordable price.”

The affordable price is one of major advantages of the conversion lens approach. At a recommended price of $US49.99 for the travel kit, photographers get a 2.2x telephoto and the 0.43x conversion lenses, plus the 52mm and 55mm adaptor rings. The conversion lenses are also smaller and lighter than most conventional lenses offering the same focal length capabilities. As Polaroid have identified this makes them a serious consideration for photographers traveling light.

Polaroid also offer the 2.2x Telephoto & 0.43x Wide Angle Lens Travel Kit in 37mm kit comes with ring sizes of 30mm, 30.5mm and 43mm for digital still and camcorders with smaller diameter lenses that have threads for screw in filters. The 37mm Polaroid conversion lens also has a recommended price of $US49.99.

The Polaroid fish eye conversion lens

Another interesting item in the range is the Polaroid Studio Series 0.3X HD Ultra Fisheye Lens Adapter that is available in 37mm and 58mm (which also includes a 52mm ring) and has a recommended priced of $269.99. The low price is makes it attractive for photographers who want to experiment with extreme  wide angle views.  Polaroid says the lens produces a 180 degree view through a circle that exaggerates depth, pulls nearby objects closer and causes straight lines to curve.

Polaroid 900mm Mirror Lens

The Polaroid 900mm mirror lens – the piece in the centre does not affect the photos

This is a full lens designed to mount on DSLR and other interchangeable lens cameras. This type of lens is also called a  Catadioptric lens. A mirror lens uses a combination of  conventional refraction lens and mirrors to achieve a super telephoto focal length in a compact package. The Polaroid 900mm mirror lens has a recommended price of $US299.99.

One of the trade offs for this extreme focal length at  such a reasonable price is the lack of any variable aperture in mirror type lenses. The Polaroid 900 has the typical fixed aperture of f8, and this is slower than conventional super telephoto lenses.

The Polaroid 900 mirror lens is manual focus only and does not have any image stabilisation(IS) built into the lens. The lack of IS (or VR ) is not a problem for owners of DSLRs with the IS system built into the camera body.

This lens uses a T mount adaptor system where the lens comes with a standard fitting on the camera end and this mates with one of the adaptors designed to the different DSLR lens mounts. Polaroid have T mount adaptors for a range of DSLRs. The DX lettering on the body suggests it may not be suitable for full frame DSLRs.



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