With film photography, there are more-or-less two groups: those who used rangefinders, SLRs, TLRs, etc., and those who used cheap point-and-shoots and disposable cameras. Generally speaking, pros and hobbyists used SLRs, while novices who didn’t have much interest in photography primary used point-and-shoots (my parents’ and grandparents’ photo albums are full of these pictures). Of course, there are always exceptions, such as the novice who insisted on using their SLR despite not understanding how it worked, or the artist who used cheap gear for artistic effect.
As you probably know, I like to create approximations of classic analog looks on Fujifilm cameras with Film Simulation Recipes. Much of the time, the facsimile aesthetic is based on film shot on SLRs, etc., but occasionally I like to replicate the look of cheaper gear, such as disposable cameras, Holga, pinhole, 126, light leaks, etc.. I do crazy things occasionally—like when I distressed a camera or when I used tiny lenses—so I’m not afraid to try something that’s a bit unconventional. In the case of this article, it’s the Xuan Focus Free 30mm f/10 Body Cap Lens.
What is the Xuan Focus Free 30mm f/10 Body Cap Lens, you ask? Well, someone took a cheap third-party Fujifilm body cap, drilled a hole in it, and attached (via glue) a recycled 30mm f/10 lens from a Kodak Funsaver disposable camera. They’re selling them for $26 each. You can actually do this yourself without too much trouble, but for such a cheap price (and with free next-day delivery), it made sense to go the easy route.
The reason why it’s called a “focus free” lens is because it’s pre-focused, and you cannot adjust it (nor can the aperture be changed). I don’t think the distance from the lens to the sensor on my Fujifilm X-E4 is exactly the same as the lens to the film on a disposable camera, so the focus point is slightly different. Xuan claims that from roughly 5′ to infinity is in focus, but that’s not my experience. I believe the focus point is set to about 11′, and the depth-of-field is more like 6.5′ to 37′, and 8′ to 15′ seems to be the sharpest zone.
If you want to shoot with a pancake lens on your Fujifilm X camera, your options are limited. You have options—some excellent options, in fact—but only a handful in total. The Xuan Focus Free 30mm F/10 Body Cap Lens is another pancake choice, but is it good? Is it even worth $26? I used this lens recently on my X-E4, attempting to capture beautiful LoFi pictures—more resembling those found in picture albums, and less like those printing in magazines and hanging on gallery walls. How was my experience? What do I think of the Xuan 30mm lens? Read on to find out!
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I don’t understand the draw of these types of lenses. I don’t think I could spent $1700 on a camera body and then make photos with a $26 lens.
How much does a lens need to cost at a minimum?
I think some people find it fun and/or they appreciate the rendering of a lens like this, and that’s the draw for them. But obviously they’re not for everyone, which can be said of probably every lens ever made—some are more universal than others, which is probably why some sell in large quantities and others in small quantities. This one is certainly not for everyone, and likely doesn’t sell a whole lot of copies (compared to others). But I had a lot of fun with it and don’t at all regret the $26 I spent.
Let me flip that around? Do you need a $500-$2000 lens to make great photos or is a $26 plastic lens capable enough?
It depends on what you are photographing and the aesthetic you are after. I think of David Burnett’s famous Al Gore picture, captured with a Holga (cheaper quality lens than the Xuan). https://www.davidburnett.com/gallery.html?gallery=Holga+Eye&folio=galleries#/3
Or like an incredible pinhole of Toronto https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/01/01/yearlong_exposure_of_toronto_skyline_produces_dreamy_image.html
A $26 lens could be more than capable, or it might not be capable enough, just depending on the artist and what they are trying to accomplish.
Great post! My first old lens was a cheap Nikon zoom that produced weird light reflections and over-exposed skies, but the effect was pretty unique compared to my modern lenses. I’ve tried using the original lens baby (for Nikon) on my Fuji XT3 and produced some nice effects. Never owned a pancake lens though, I’ll have to look out for one of these!
For $26… even if you think it’s a bust, you didn’t lose much. But if you have fun and captured some pictures you like, it doesn’t take long for it to be “worth it” because it’s so cheap.
I think the original lens baby would be quite interesting to try, I bet it has more character than their latest copies. Thanks for sharing!
These kinds of lenses can be fun, particularly on a small camera like an X-E#. Something of the fun of shooting from the hip with a plastic point-and-shoot as a kid.
To that end, I wish one around 20mm was out for Fuji. The 7Artizans 18mm UFO is really ugly and a hair too wide. These FunSaver lenses are a bit too tight on APS-C at 30mm. I know Reto makes a decent 22mm lens for cheap film cameras, between f/9.5 and f/11 depending on version. That’s something I’d love to see adapted to a Fuji bodycap.
Yeah, I don’t mind the 30mm focal length (I shot with nothing but a 50mm lens on 35mm film SLR for years), but maybe a 20mm or 22mm pancake would be good. Honestly, Fujifilm should offer more than two pancake options.
Oh, I love a 30-35mm lens on APS-C, I just don’t know if it’s the right length for the point-and-shoot vibe of a cheap lomo lens. I guess that’s a strange little bit of hair-splitting.
Looks like they are only available for Sony and Leica (at least at the moment)
Oh, that’s crazy. There were some yesterday, must’ve sold out!!
Your post probably helped that happen. 🙂
Maybe so! 😀