Review: Bower VL46TC Fisheye with Macro Lens Extension

The Bower VL46TC Titanium Super Wide-Angle “Fisheye” lens with “macro” claims to be:

  • “Titanium” (I think it’s actually aluminum)
  • “High Resolution” (It’s a glorified magnifying glass, so it unavoidably blurs around the edges.)
  • “Digital” (This one baffles me. It contains no electronic parts whatsoever.)
  • AF” (AutoFocus. Again, contains no electronics, or even moving parts. My lens’s autofocus still works when this is attached, for the most part. However, under some circumstances, the attachments confuse the camera and necessitate manual focus.)
  • “To fit : […] ALL FINE SLR CAMERAS.”

OK, now the fun stuff: pictures! I used a Canon Rebel XT for all of these, and did white balancing with Aperture.

(Quick note: I have a Canon 50mm Compact-Macro lens as well as the new “macro” adapter. For clarity, the word Macro without quotations refers to the former, while the word “macro” with quotations refers to the latter. )

Bower 0.42x Fisheye/Panoramic Lens Extension with Detatched Macro

First I played around with the “macro”. I attached it to my Macro (no need to unscrew the UV filter already on the Macro, as typical simple filters are double-threaded, with both ends being the same measurement) and set the focus on as close as possible, first without, and then with the “macro”. Here’s what I saw:

Canon compact-macro without extension

Canon compact-macro without extension

Canon compact-macro without extension

Then, on the same lens, I added the “Fisheye” part. The Macro has no zoom; its field of view varies a little bit with the focusing required, but other than that it has a certain field of view that doesn’t shrink or grow. On the left is a picture illustrating the breadth of its view, and on the right is the same lens in the same position taking the same picture with the “Fisheye” (I’m putting it in quotes because the full Fisheye effect, i.e. vignetting, distortion, etc. is only really seen with this lens under certain conditions. More about this later.).

Canon compact-macro with Bower 0.42x adapterCanon compact-macro without adapter

Canon compact-macro with Bower 0.42x adapterCanon compact-macro without adapter

I was a little disappointed not to see the true “Fisheye” effect (though it’s considered by many to be a flaw of wide-angle photography or call it gimmicky, I like it). I decided to test the “Fisheye” out on my Promaster 28-80mm zoom. You’ll notice that 28 is less than 50 and that therefore even without the aid of the “Fisheye” it can view a much wider frame than the Macro can, when it’s fully zoomed out. I did just that and attached the “Fisheye”, and viola!

Promaster at 28mm with Bower 0.42x adapterPromaster at 28mm without adapter

Vignetting! Distortion! Blurred edges! Oh joy!

Now, it’s still no Lomo Fisheye, but until Lomo makes hi-res, digital versions of its cameras, my heart will beat unrequited.

[A photo I took with my LomoFisheye] [And another. Look at those internal reflections!]

One last detail about this Bower doohickey: I read on messageboards that these extensions were all cheap plastic, but that doesn’t seem to be true of this one. As I mentioned, it seems to be made of aluminum, and even has this snazzy little retractable light shield:

Bower Fisheye with extended light shieldBower Fisheye with retracted light shield