Update 8/30/16: After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Lensbaby Circular 180+ is now available at retailers including Amazon, and at the manufacturer’s website. The GoPro fisheye lens retails for $80.
The lens mounts directly to the Hero’s waterproof housing and captures 185-degree spherical footage — an even more dramatic field of view than what the built-in wide-angle lens shoots. It’s compatible with the Hero3 and newer, except the Hero4 Session. Besides giving the Hero lens a new perspective, the Circular 180+ also enhances the depth of field, allowing even close-up objects to be sharply focused, Lensbaby said.
While the last few GoPro Hero updates included an ultra-wide-view – about the equivalent of a 14mm lens – the Lensbaby Circular 180+ expands that even further, to a perspective wider than the human eye can take in all at once. Underwater, the lens captures a 120-degree view. The lens resists splashes, but an extra lens housing is necessary for safe submersion. Since the lens is mounted directly to the housing and not the camera, adding the lens shouldn’t affect the housing’s performance underwater.
The lens works best with the higher-end Hero cameras, it seems, since they offer manual controls. For best results, Lensbaby recommends shooting in 4K, 1080p, or 720p, and an evaluation compensation of -1.5.
Lensbaby’s co-founder and chief creative officer, Craig Strong, is a professional photographer with a love for the outdoors. “I wanted a lens that would give me the perspective of our Circular Fisheye lens for DSLRs in a small, rugged package so I wouldn’t have to worry about my gear when I’m in the wild,” he said in a release. “A good circular fisheye, and this is a great one, makes adventures more adventurous. GoPro shooters are all about exploration, making this the perfect GoPro add-on.”
Lensbaby is using Kickstarter in order to get the lens out by August 2016. With the first samples already completed, the campaign will help fund parts and assembly.
“Traditional funding would mean putting this lens on hold due to our development resources being tied up by products we’ve already committed to,” Lensbaby wrote on its Kickstarter page. “Counting on the Kickstarter community to fund this project allows us to take the risk and make this lens a reality in 2016.”
Early backers can get the lens for a $69 pledge, with an additional waterproof mount for the lens for $35.