Super-Secret Spy Lens Shoots at 90 Degree Angle

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by richterjw, Dec 11, 2008.

  1. For all street photographers who thought you were discreet, here's the ultimate in conspicuous technology. This fabulous device allows the user to stand at an angle perpendicular to the subject. I'm also certain it's optical abilities are unsurpassed. JR
  2. They've been available on eBay for years. I once had the chance to try one. The optical quality of the mirror in it left a lot to be desired
  3. These things have been around a very, very long time. Typically, they have front surface mirrors, which can get scratched if you look at them the wrong way. I wouldn't call them " fabulous."
  4. All spy lenses have a serious disadvantage for street photography. If you encounter a grumpy subject an ordinary camera can get you off the hook because, hey, it only takes ordinary pictures. If you are challenged while being in possession of a SPY LENS then that constitutes absolute proof that YOU HAVE BEEN SPYING!
    Try discussing that at the local hospital emergency department when you explain to them..."You have a camera and lens, where?!"
  5. Old news, actually, but not many under 30 would know. Spiratone, much lamented of memory, and many other vendors offered these in several versions over the years. The earliest were just boxy right-angle mirrors (Mirrotach), the later ones, like the link above, tried to disguise themselves as long lenses (Circo-Mirrotach)
  6. I remember these in photo magazines from the '70s.
  7. Ahh, the good ol' days of the back page ads in Modern Photography. The "Girlwatcher" lens (the ubiquitous 500mm f/8 T-mount preset tele). The sideways-look periscope lens, an idea cribbed from mirror peepsites used in WWI trench warfare (the new version looks a bit sleeker).
    Big boys versions of comic book ads for X-Ray Specs.
  8. I knew someone that actually bought on of those right angle attachments. I said, "instead of sneaking a photo of the young lady, just ask her politely if you can take her photo. You will get a better picture, and if you're lucky, her phone number."
    Lex- I think Tele Astronar used the "Girl Watcher" text in their ad copy. If I'm correct, they offered both 400mm and 500mm versions.
  9. Yup, the 400mm f/6.3 T-mount preset was also somewhat popular, but never as ubiquitous as the 500/8.
    Of mild interest to trivia buffs, Vivitar also sold a 300mm f/5.6 T-mount preset that was at least a notch above the 400/6.3 and 500/8 in optical and build quality. Not very common, roughly comparable in performance to an early 300mm f/4.5 Nikkor I tried (the pre-ED version).
    Spiratone... brings back memories of my misspent youth in the late '60s, early '70s. They had a store in NYC. When I was around 12-13, a buddy and I used to haunt that Spiratone store looking for bargains, pestering the staff to let us look at the goodies advertised in their catalogs. They were really grumpy. "Hey, ya gonna buy sumpin', kid? What's yer name? Lou? Looky Lou? Hey, Lou, ya got money? Nah? Giddaddaheah, ya boddah me."
    It was great. Spiratone was the epitome of a generation of photo geeks, closet comic book readers and kneebiters.
  10. I remember it well when I had to save to buy a filter.
  11. PAul strand used one to make this image:
    sometime around 1917.
  12. Not to be rude, but was it really necessary for him to be so inconspicuous in that case? JR
  13. He was probably just being ironic. Artists. They luvs them some irony.
  14. I suppose I was being too dense to notice it. JR
  15. Spiratone really loved to push the teleconverters with their long preset teles and their mirror lenses.
  16. I have a book from about 1960 called Weegee's Creative Camera , in which he demonstrates this device.
  17. Is it really that much of a secret with that HUGE hole on the lens pointing at your subject's direction?
  18. Johnson Smith and Co. were the company that had the comic book ads for the x-ray glasses and the like.
    And for sure, Spiratone was the "grown-up" equivalent. Adorama and Porter's sort of carry on the tradition of offering lots of do-dads and gim-cracks for photographers.

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