I was going to write a post about how Lomography has released their latest gimmick novelty camera that – while I’d love to have one because I’m a cameraholic – I might never buy. And then I saw the Fisheye Baby.
Cute. That’s the word that comes to mind when first seeing the Fisheye Baby. Or key chain. It is tiny! A copy of the Fisheye No. 2, a favourite among some Lomographers, the Baby is almost half the size and uses 110 film.
110 film? Why? Most likely it’s because Lomography just released their own line of 110 film, but also because it is a fun retro format that photographers like. And what else does Lomography do but give photographers fun things to play with (long/multiple exposures in 110 – need I say more)?
Introduced by Kodak in 1972, the cartridge film was designed for use with the Pocket Instamatic cameras, a cheap line of small cameras meant for taking anywhere and for the regular person to use for snapshots. Whether being used in cheap cameras, or expensive subminiature products, the quality was generally grainy or unsharp and could not be enlarged by much (the negative is only 17mm wide).
Lomography’s black and white Orca 110 film claims to be sharper and provides a high contrast monochrome picture that analogue enthousiasts love. It is the first production of 110 film since Fujifilm discontinued their line in 2009.
Why does this all matter to me? My first camera used 110 film. Ironically, over a decade before I started my Lomography adventure, I owned a bright red Micro-110 Holga! I loved it to death, all three inches of it, and remember with sadness the day it broke. I don’t even remember how old I was, but I remember distinctly picking it up from the curb across the street from my house and not being able to use the shutter anymore. I don’t know if I dropped it, or if the shutter button was actually broken or not, I just remember it sat on my shelf for a few months/years before my mom made me throw it away.
I don’t have any photos from that original camera. I don’t remember ever seeing any, but I wish I had and imagine them being gorgeous.
Back to the Fisheye Baby. Here’s another mini camera in the veins of the Diana Mini, the little sister to the royal Diana F+ that I use today. I first used the Mini because of the ease of 35mm film compared to the Diana’s 120 format. I used it religiously for almost two years. I travelled around Europe with it always in the front pocket of my bag. I loved that camera. Until one day, on the last day of my trip, she broke. A moment of silence please.
Here would be a good time to send a shout-out to the lovely blonde lady at the Soho Lomography Gallery Store who consoled me when I came rushing in to her store like a lost kid looking for his mom in a busy mall. She put my Mini in a dark bag, pulled it apart, and saved my last roll from destruction. Then she gave me a lens cap!
It turns out the winding/rewinding function doesn’t work anymore and was ripping my film… Today my Mini sits ingloriously under some papers on my desk. I could use her again, and just take my film out in a darkroom, but I won’t put that much effort into it – why I might not convert to 110 as well, since few labs still develop it. Now I also own the 35mm back for the Diana F+, and it’s such a nice, easy camera to use.
When I first saw the Baby I thought “I’d never buy it.” But now that I’ve looked into the camera a bit more (and looked back at my childhood) I realize the fun that I could have. I’m not sure I’d ever buy a Fisheye 2, the full-size 35mm version, because I just don’t think I’d use it that much. I use my Diana and my Nikon DSLR, I have an iPhone, and I carry an Actionsampler in my bag in the vain hope I’ll someday find something moving to shoot. I usually go through a roll a year on the four lens toy, the gimmick camera I did fall for.
I think I would use a fisheye if it was the size of a key chain.
I’d carry it around like I do my Actionsampler and I’d whip it out at parties, at concerts, and with my crazy friends. I’d make people laugh, go awww, and then I’d show off the film size. Sure it’s still a gimmick, but it’s much more civilized and has an appeal somewhere past novelty, and that’s why I like the Fisheye Baby.
Now, with that all said, I’ve never used one let alone seen one in person. Lomography just unveiled it this morning and only 100 of each type are for sale online (for $39 in plastic and $59 in metal though; a bargain I’d say!). Unless someone buys one for me, or for some reason they send me one to review (hint hint) I may never return to the 110 bandwagon. I’ll live. Until the 110 line of film and cameras grows and I’m sure I’ll jump on when I can afford to.
But I will know why they called it Baby. Not for its size, or the fact it is a small copy of a bigger camera, but because when you first see it your heart melts and you make baby noises at your computer screen.
Yes, I know you did. I did too.