5 frames with...

5 frames with a 360 degree Lens – By Dan Cuny

August 25, 2020

My interest in anything photographic has spanned for more than 45 years., I’ve had the opportunity to photography with many different cameras and lenses in those years, from subminiature cameras, like the Minox or Minolta 16 to huge 8×10 cameras. But what gives me a thrill is trying out something odd or peculiar like the Be Here Portal S1 Plus lens, which I purchased for a local camera store a few years back. They know I’m an avid collector, and the used buyer is a friend of mine and will put away or at least let me know when something like this comes in.

The outside of the Be Here Portal S1.

The Be Here Portal S1 Plus lens is an upgrade from their regular S1 Portal lens, which I found on a website doing a review on this odd and unusual lens. This lens is a double reflective, conical-shaped lens where you put your camera body into and photograph your subject. You shoot through a lens onto a flat mirror that reflects onto the conical or coned shaped mirror. You get and very silly looking round image that you’ll need to use software to straighten the image. By doing this process, you have an extremely long image that is a 360-degree image.

The unit I have is relatively beefy in size and weight. The dimensions are approx. 12″ in diameter, and 12″ tall, measuring from the bottom of the tripod mount to the top. On the top plate is a mirror is pointing down. The unit I have weighs in at 6 lbs. 2 oz., so not real light.

Under Portal S1 where the camera is mounted. You can see the reflective mirror on top.

The camera I use when shooting with this lens is my Nikon D800. The Portal S1 Plus already had the Nikon lens mount attachment in it, so it makes using it very easy. When I use the lens with my Nikon D800, all you need to do is attach the camera body to the Portal S1 since there is already a lens in the unit. I set the camera for aperture preferred mode, and l just let the camera figure out the best shutter speed for the image I’m shooting. It does a great job. The biggest thing you’ll need to be aware of if you come across such a beast is where you stand, so you’re not in the photo? I did some images in my backyard, and lying on my back and holding the lens up, and you can still see parts of me. You’ll need to put this someplace and duck under the lens, so you’re not in the image unless you want to be.

Unprocessed file from the Portal S1 Plus

Final results after processing

Now for the bad news on my part. When using the lens the last time, I was putting it on a fence to shoot, and the lens fell, broke the top mirror, and dinged the top a bit. The problem I’m having with it is it doesn’t focus properly. Whereas before, the images were pretty sharp, and you could read type, etc. Now everything looks blurry. I replaced the mirror and still blurry. Since there is a lens inside the unit, I’m going to see if I can refocus the internal lens to get it back to normal. Another company makes a similar item, 0-360 lens. This lens fits onto an existing standard or medium zoom lens through stepping adapter rings. They are going out of business and have reduced their lenses from $595.00 to $295.00. I have one arriving today and will update this post once I’ve had the opportunity to shoot with it.

Processed images. You can see part of me on the bottom.

Processed image. I didn’t duck low enough.

Processed image in our living room.

Processed images

I do a weekly camera collecting blog post, which you can read on my website, and you can also follow me on Instagram, where I show many old and unusual photos.

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Bob Janes
    August 25, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    Wow!

  • Reply
    Peter
    August 25, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    I second the statement of Bob Janes! I like ultra wide lenses but this really something else! Amazing perspective!

  • Reply
    Ben Garcia
    August 25, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    Cool gear!

  • Reply
    Matthias Rabiller
    August 26, 2020 at 7:23 am

    OK, this has to be the most exotic lens I ever saw, and it’s probably pretty hard to beat at that!

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