Polaroid now has a full line of Polaroid branded camera conversion lenses. These are accessory lenses that screw on the front of an existing lens, not interchangeable lenses for your DSLR’s lens mount. Polaroid says the lenses will work on point-and-shoot cameras, camcorders and DSLRs.
While Polaroid says the lenses are “precision engineered and multi-coated,” and will produce “flawless results,” let’s keep this in mind: Every time you have a glass/air interface, you run into optical problems. Making really good lenses requires not only top quality glass and precision coatings, but also optical engineering designed to limit or remove the image aberrations caused by the movement of light from glass to air to glass. That’s why the really superior lenses can cost a bundle.
Polaroid’s Studio Series includes a 2.2x tele, 0.43x wide angle, and 0.3x HD Ultra Fisheye lenses. The first two are going to run you – guessing Canadian retail prices – less than $75, but the third one, producing a 180-degree view (you know, the circular images which exaggerate depth, pull nearby objects closer and cause straight lines to curve) is probably going to cost you closer to $300. All lenses will be available in a couple of standard screw ring sizes, and may also have adapter rings so they can fit different camera lenses.
The really oddball lens in the bunch is a 900 mm mirror lens. Think telescope. No, not the size, the construction. Think fat and stubby. Light comes in the front, hits a mirror at the back, bounces forward in a focused beam to another mirror at the front, then heads out the back of the lens. The use of mirrors shortens the length of the lens significantly.
Mirror lenses are not common for a number of reasons, including the fact that they have a fixed aperture. You can buy them for your DSLR, although you may have to do some hunting. Optical quality? Well, it depends on the manufacturer. Usually, you get what you pay for.
The Polaroid lens is going to sell for something less than $400. I’ve seen new interchangeable mirror lenses for your DSLR on e-Bay, for less and, I suspect, at the same quality.
No word yet on their Canadian availability.
By the way, in case you’re wondering, the Polaroid we’re talking about here is a name owned by PLR IP Holdings, not the instant camera manufacturer, which was broken up and sold many years ago, and whose name lives on, embossed on any number of consumer products. I’ve even seen it on TVs!