Exciting things are afoot. As hinted, I’ll be Visualisting my way around the country soon. Touring Australia = Large chunks of time sitting on a bus, so when that hits I expect to be a veritable fountain of CDMotion content (including some of that hot new NAMM gear, stay tuned), but until then it looks like things are going to be a little… cramped? I don’t expect to have much time to devote to devote to the extensive, handcrafted editorialising we’re all used to.

Which is a problem, as I have loads of awesome stuff to tell you about, and it just can’t wait two months. So my plan is to do a series of Pocket Reviews, getting all of the salient points (which are quite easy to write) without the filler (which takes time to get right).

First up: My Russian Spy Lens – the Zenitar 16mm Fish Eye – arrived today.

From Russia with Love

I really need to buy more stuff from Russia. That box is fantastic.

Zenitar 16mm Fish-eye lens

It arrived with a complimentary coating of genuine Russian dust. Bonus!

US$150 including shipping from East Wave BestOptics. I’m using it on my Pentax *ist DS. The Digital SLR Focal Length Multiplier is 1.5, so it’s probably closer to a 24mm lens on this camera, but still gives a beautifully wide view angle, and plenty of lens distortion.

Obligatory Dog Nose Fisheye Shot

Yes, it is mandatory for new fisheye lens owners to take closeups of animals’ faces

The lens is fixed length, manual focus, manual aperture, so great for stop-motion and time-lapse as you don’t have any of those pesky auto-whatevers to stuff up. Minimum focal length seems to be around 20cm, and I’m not sure if it’s a bug or a feature, but the front element of the unit I received is able to be unscrewed around 5mm, allowing for ghetto super-wide angle macro photography. Not the best thing for lens longevity, but if used in a controlled environment it will allow some interesting effects without filling the lens with dust and fungus.

Full unboxing and a couple of test photos are available in the Flickr set. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of images from this in the coming months – it gives a nice perspective for product shots – but the initial impression is:

Cheap thrills! This isn’t going to win any awards for engineering, came wrapped in tissue paper and preloaded with dust, but it’s the least expensive “proper” fisheye on the market. It’s reasonably fast, solidly built, and if you don’t like the factory configuration you can hack the focus.