Fisheye lenses are perfect for any photographer looking to take creative wide angle shots instead of straight angle perspectives. The fisheye lens offers a panoramic hemispherical image that covers 180° angles, with some lenses going even further offering up to 220° angle coverage.
The lens is capable of producing dynamic, abstract images, making it the perfect lens for landscape, extreme sports, and all genres of artistic photography. The fisheye lens is perfect for snapping entire landscapes, creating visually stimulating action shots, and artistically powerful images when experimenting with the distortion the lens creates.
Of course, when shopping for any lens it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for. The last thing you want to end up doing is investing your time and money into a lens that doesn’t fulfill your requirements and fisheye lenses are no exception.
Fisheye Lens Types
Fisheye lenses come in two main types:
- Diagonal fisheye lenses – sometimes referred as ‘full-frame’ fisheyes. They produce a larger image that is circular and fills the entire image sensor.
- Circular fisheye lenses – they also produce a circular image, but the edges of come out black because the image has to fit within the boundary of the image sensor.
We will review both diagonal and circular fisheye lenses so you can work out which option is best for you.
The Altura Photo 8mm f/3.0 fisheye lens allows you to take creative wide angle shots while also retaining sharply defined images working within a tight budget. This lens is great for landscape photography and is difficult to beat on price. If you shoot with an ASP-C camera, you will take striking, dramatic wide angle shots. However if you shoot with a full-frame camera, expect to get the iconic circular edges that give an artistic retro feel.
It’s also worth noting that the 8mm f/3.0 also takes stunning low-light shots, making it a great choice for any astrophotographer or anyone intending to shoot at night. If you’re working within a budget and want to experiment with a fisheye lens this durable, practical, and easy-to-use lens is perfect for you.
The Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM was announced in August 2010 and it is a game-changer for photographers. Like many other fisheyes, it can be mounted on both full-frame and APS-C camera bodies, though the best results are produced with full-frame cameras.
The key feature is that this lens works as a circular fisheye at its shortest 8mm focal length, but at a full zoom range of 15mm, it produces an ultra-wide rectangular image with a 180° diagonal angle of view that fills the frame completely.
When it comes to image quality, the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L performs beyond expectations. It features Canon’s special Subwavelength coating that helps remove lens flares. Chromatic aberrations are very well handled by the 14 elements combined in 11 groups. The picture remains very clear and crisp even in the most curved and distorted edges.
This is basically the same as the above fisheye lens from Canon. The zoom range of both the lenses is same, which means that the Nikon AF-S 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED also acts as a circular fisheye at the short end, and as a diagonal fisheye at the long end.
The image quality of the lens is excellent and, like the Canon, it also comes with electromagnetic aperture control. While all the Canon lenses come with the same feature, it’s a new thing for Nikon, making it incompatible with some older bodies.
One thing that Canon doesn’t offer is the variable aperture design, but as you extend through the zoom range this lens’ aperture shrinks from f/3.5 to f/4.5. It features a Nano Crystal Coating, which keeps the ghosting and flaring effects at a minimum. You can use the supplied lens hood for the longest zoom setting.
The 15 elements combined in 13 groups reduce the chromatic aberrations. It weighs 485g and has a minimum focus distance of 0.16m.
The Samyang 12mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS fisheye works with a full-frame camera. This manual focus lens covers a 180-degree diagonal field of view with curved fisheye distortion, and it delivers stunning results if used effectively.
The build quality of this 12mm fisheye lens is excellent. High quality plastics are used for much of the lens barrel and the lens mount is metal. The optical design includes 12 elements in eight groups, in which three are the ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements. It has nano-structure coatings.
It can be used with Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Four Thirds, and Sony SLRs, as well as mirrorless camera systems such as Canon M, Micro Four Thirds, Fujifilm X, Samsung NX, and Sony E.
Image quality is great in all specified options, however, instead of a 180-degrees on a full-frame option, it gives a diagonal viewing angle of 124 degrees on APS-C format bodies, and just 97 degrees on Micro Four Thirds. Unlike the Nikon version, the lens features a manual aperture control.
The Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG is a lightweight and compact fisheye lens due to a low number of optical elements. Its optical design includes only seven elements, combined in six groups.
The lens has a special multi-layer glass coating, which does an excellent job of reducing ghosting and flare effects. Near the rear glass you will find a holder for a single gelatin filter, which helps add some special effects or colors.
This 15mm lens provides a 180° diagonal angle of view on any Canon or Nikon DSLRs. The circular hood gives protection to the bulbous front element and can be used to create the circular fisheye effect with APS-C sensors.
Professional and advanced shooters with their Canon or Nikon full-frame/APS-C cameras, who are in search of a compact lens to take funny and creative shots, the Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye lens can be a reliable choice for them.
Fisheye lenses come with specifically shaped glass which is why they may cost twice as much as a prime lens with a longer focal length. This is where the Rokinon HD8M-C 8mm f/3.5 fisheye lens comes in.
This lens is an affordable solution for beginners as well as for advanced users with the Canon Rebel-series cameras. It has all the equipment needed to take fisheye photos with great contrast and saturated colors. The construction of the lens is solid and when it comes to chromatic aberration or other image artifacts, its performance isn’t too bad.
The EF-mount of this lens is fully compatible with full-frame Canon cameras. However, despite having an 8mm focal length, the semi-circular image appears with cut off edges at the top and the bottom on a 35mm sensor.
The attractive price of the Rokinon HD8M-C 8mm f/3.5 HD not only may interest the Canon users but also others with full-frame camera bodies.
The Sigma 4.5mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM circular fisheye lens is excellent for astrophotography and Aurora photography as the f/2.8 produces a bright image in the viewfinder making this lens great for taking pictures in low-light conditions.
The super fast HSM autofocus makes it easy to take great shots with quick and quiet focusing, but you can also override the autofocus by simply rotating the focus ring. For the money, this is the best fisheye lens that has autofocusing capabilities.
The Pentax DA 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 ED is a well-rounded fisheye that also has a super protective oil and water repellent lens coating that enables for easy cleaning. The lens boasts superior sharpness and color correction in comparison with its slightly cheaper counterparts due to the fact that it’s made with extra-low dispersion glass. The quick and easy-to-use functionality of this lens also makes it a wise choice for the all-round photographer.
Take sharp interesting shots with this fisheye lens. Easily switch between manual and autofocus with the quick shift auto response. This lens is non-limiting and perfect for experimentation. The new design boasts a more durable, lighter and practical lens compared with other lenses that have similar specifications.
3 Tips for Getting Creative with Your New Fisheye Lens
Firstly, try pointing the lens up high to create a visually interesting panoramic view and be dazzled by the amount of content the lens is able to pick up in the frame and the soft edges it produces. Alternatively, try shooting a building from the ground upwards and you will see how the lens impacts both straight and curved lines, creating artistically stimulating hemispherical shots.
Secondly, remember that the fisheye lens removes curved lines. Try shooting at round objects such as round stairways and you will notice that the round curves straighten. The use of the lens in these types of shots is unrecognizable to the untrained eye and creates an interesting image out of the ordinary.
Lastly, get creative! As with any new lens, experimentation is key. Play around with the fisheye lens and create original, contemporary, satisfying images. Fisheye lenses are perfect for any photographer looking to add some creative flair into their photography. They can enhance the possibilities of what is achievable with a camera, offering a completely new perspective to photography.