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Thread: Plastic Lenses

  1. #1
    bvy
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    Plastic Lenses

    I'm deliberately not placing this in the Toy Camera forum, since the discussions there seem to start and end with Holga and Diana (it's a short list anyway).

    Are there any other 35mm cameras that have plastic lens elements and produce at least mild vignetting -- i.e. ones that don't readily fall under the "lomo" label? Maybe a better (if more naive) question is, how can I recognize a plastic lens versus a glass one? The thrift stores have lots of film cameras and most of them are delightfully cheap. But I'm fairly new to film cameras and my appraisal skills are still in their infancy.

    I like the look of plastic, and might still resort to one of the aforementioned proper plastic models. But I'd like to get a feel for what else is out there, and just how ubiquitous plastic lenses really are.

    Thanks.

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    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    Why not just put a piece of plastic over your standard camera lens? Darken the corners with soot for the vignetting signature of high-quality plastic lenses.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

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    Canon uses plastic lens elements in their consumer grade lenses. But I don't think this is what you meant.

    Many of the no-name focus-free cheapie cameras that you'll find in the thrift store will have a plastic lens.

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    Disposable camera uses those too. If you use a rangefinder, then pull the lens off a disposable and glue it to a lens mount converter.

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    With an SLR, you could simply take 2 filters (dollar bin), rub vasoline on one then screw the second one over it. As long as it doesn't leak out of the threads, you have a lomo lens attachment that you can remove to shoot sharp images. Need vignetting? Add a hood that's too long for that focal length or stack more glassless filters -- that way the amount of vignetting is determined by you for any given shot.

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    http://www.instructables.com/id/M42-...OMO-lowest-Co/

    This is based on a Holga (sorry) but the general idea can be used to take ANY plastic lens of similar size and mount it to an SLR. I have considered hacking a Holga just for this very purpose.

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    I made this image with a little plastic 35mm camera. It has the initials VAC in bold letters on the left side, and gives you four aperture choices: f 6 through 16. They have little sunny, partly sunny, kinda cloudy, and cloudy icons as well on the lens.

    It is fixed focus, and a fixed shutter speed, but does have a hot shoe
    I like it because it gives me vignetted corners, a sharp spot in the center, and soft swirlies like a petzval lens towards the outside corners. And for a $1.50. it is a fun camera to shoot with.

    It is a clone of the Time Magazine cameras that were given away with subscriptions during the 1980's.

    Here is a link I found regarding the Time camera:

    http://www.merrillphoto.com/TimeCamera.htm

    Good luck,
    steve

  8. #8
    alexmacphee's Avatar
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    Would a Lensbaby do what you want?
    Alex

  9. #9
    bvy
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    Thanks. I wasn't really looking for ways to get a plastic look from a non-plastic camera (although some of the ideas here are worth remembering).

    The Time magazine camera looks really cool. It says it has a "kinetic optical color lens." What does that mean, exactly? Is it plastic?

    In general, when inspecting junk cameras, how does one identify if the lens is plastic or glass?

  10. #10

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    Hold a soldering iron to it: if it mets, it is plastic, otherwise glass.....
    A bit destructive though.

    Names givven to optic's come often from an advertizing firm, esp with the plastic optic's, meaning ........

    What are you realy after ?
    Select a high quality glass lens over a low quality plastic one, or adapt a plastic lens to a high quality camera ?

    Peter

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