The Independent SONY NEX Fisheye Lens Converter Review


Sony's NEX Fisheye Lens offering is for me the best part of the whole NEX camera and accessory trial. I love very wide angle photography anyway and was very keen to get my hands on the VCL-ECF1 Fisheye Converter. Made specifically for Sony NEX E-mount Pancake Lens SEL16F28 which is quite nice too in its own right. It comes as part of the NEX C3D package, vaunted as a go anywhere DSLR quality travel kit. And that is what attracted me to this little gadget in the first place.
It does promise a lot and in a fairly compact little package; lots of megapixels, good sensor, and the twin lens kit versatility. It seems to promise both quality and inconspicuity for urban & travel work, and I wanted to give it a go. Just going on holiday I tend to take half a flight case of professional kit, which weighs some too, so not good on Ryan Air... I'll be taking it to Derry shortly so will report back on how well it fares.
I have been using the whole bundle in tandem with other kit on my photo-tours since January. It is small enough to carry alongside a full size pro camera and not get in the way. The Fisheye Lens Converter is a premium accessory unfortunately, but on balance it does add another dimension and some value to the bag. I've shot more images with it fitted than not so far, and that says a lot about this. It is great fun, but there are some key things to beware of as you run around shooting at everything that might look good in a bubble.
The angle of vision is so wide; a full 180 degrees, that it is very difficult to keep you, or the cameras strap, or case, or your own shadow out of the frame. Review your images carefully before calling it a wrap.
The lens cap is a pain; doesn't stay on very well, has a big lip and is easily dislodged and while I still have mine I can see it getting lost soon enough leaving a prime lens element vulnerable to damage. It is quite difficult to replace the lens cap without contacting the front element because of this lip as well..
It is easy to get dust between the pancake and converter, and on occasion the camera has failed to recognise the lens as fitted.
There doesn't seem to be any way of using filters with this lens either over the front elements or between the adaptor and pancake lens which is annoying.
On the plus side I really enjoy the odd perspectives, and the worms eye view you can get by shooting close to the ground. The adjustable lcd viewer makes this easy to do too.
Now the camera itself is a fun little compact capable of full manual control, with one important exception. And this annoys me so much about this camera. Shame on you Sony, how do you control the B setting? There's no facility for remote control at all on this model, and so the B setting is just useless. Why bother? For those interested in doing night time photography it does have a setting for both tripod and hand held night work which I have to say works surprisingly well. This just about redeems it from damnation for the B setting sham.
Nonetheless I want full bulb control for maximum creative control and especially from a camera purporting to offer DSLR quality, and at that price too!
It has a host of other in-camera, Photoshop type effects it will do for you but these don't really add any value for me....
Like all compacts it is fiddly and difficult to use in full manual. I've found myself getting quite frustrated with this thing but it is a camera you can easily carry around, it does have some gadget entertainment value, and I do love the Fisheye Lens thing. The professional in me would sooner spend the money which with the Fisheye Lens converter, is enough to buy a very nice premium Fisheye Lense which I could use on any of my canon DSLRs.