Deal 8: Here it is: The most requested deal of 2014!
Neil Creek is a regular contributor to DPS, authoring Photography 101 which is temporarily on hold. While trying to find the time to continue the series, he’s managed to write a quick post or two for you in the meantime. Please visit his blog, and check out his prints for sale on the Fine Art Photo Blog.
My 8mm f4 Sigma Circular Fisheye lens is my absolute favorite piece of gear!
It may surprise you, but this ultra-wide angle lens is incredibly versatile, and gives a unique perspective on just about any subject you turn it to. Even more important than that, it is simply the most fun I’ve ever had with my camera.
Due to the unique properties of fisheye lenses, the resulting images are unlike those taken with any other lens:
I’ve always shot with a circular fisheye on a cropped sensor DSLR, which results in black round corners, but this has never bothered me. On the few photos where this is a distraction I can cover them up with Photoshop, or crop them out. I look forward to experimenting with the lens on a full-frame sensor one day, when the whole circular image will appear in the frame.
Here are fifteen examples of fisheye photos from my collection that show the versatility of the lens, and will hopefully inspire you to try one for yourself:
It’s amazing where you can stick a DSLR with a fisheye lens to get a truly unusual perspective, such as this photo inside our dishwasher.
Just like the dishwasher, the washing machine was a cool unique perspective that was achieved with the self timer and a little off-camera lighting magic. These two photos are actually part of a series of photos exploring unusual perspectives of mundane objects with the fisheye. You can check out the rest of the series on my blog.
Though potentially unflattering for portraits, when used for good rather than evil, a fisheye lens can really add character and humor to a portrait.
Or take a totally unique group photo. More pics from this shoot >
Or a tongue-in-cheek self-portrait.
Nothing beats a fisheye for getting it all in. More pics from this shoot >
And the view from below can be a wide vista while still getting in close for the details…
More pics from this shoot >
…no matter what your subject.
Use the distortion to your advantage.
Though almost cliche, an all-sky starfield is only possible with a fisheye.
Careful cropping can conceal the fact a fisheye was even used to capture a sweeping view.
With a bit of extra work, ideally a specialised tripod head, and some very clever stitching software, a fisheye lens is absolutely the best way to capture a full spherical panorama, and in fewer shots than is possible with any other lens. This is best viewed however, as an interactive panorama which puts you right in the scene and lets you look all around you with the drag of a mouse. Have a look at this interactive panorama on my blog.
The Pinnacles at Sunset © 2005 Neil Creek
Fine art prints of this panorama are available on the Fine Art Photo Blog.
With the same clever software, a spherical panorama can be remapped into a “little world”. No lens is better suited to this unique kind of photography than the fisheye.
If you think fisheye still photos look cool, time lapse video taken with a fisheye is even cooler! More details >
Inspired? I bet you’re thinking “yeah, but fisheye lenses are really expensive!” Well, they’re not cheap, no. Amazon has the Sigma 8mm f3.5 for Canon for about $680USD, but it’s an outstanding lens (I use the now superseded f4 version) well worth the price if you want to do fisheye photography. There are cheaper options out there, including a Belarus made Peleng fisheye. And you’re sure to find plenty of second hand lenses on ebay.
But if you’re really cheap, or only have a compact camera, there are a surprising number of hacks you can find online to make very basic fisheye adapters for your camera, often using door peep holes. For example this one at Instructables.
So now you’ve got no excuse! I want to see some of your fisheye photos, so post links to them in the comments below! I can’t wait to see your creativity with this widest of all lenses.
Neil runs monthly photo projects on his blog. This month’s project is 3D For Everyone. Be sure to participate, as every entrant will be sent for free a new on-screen 3D viewer for testing, and the winner will score a 3D Lens in a Cap and deluxe viewer from Loreo for their DSLR camera!
May 8, 2012 03:44 pm
Just wondering if you could possibly describe how you took and stitched the photos to make the little world photo? You can email it to me if impossible.
Thanks for the tips and the great photos.
May 26, 2011 11:12 am
Great article. Just beginning to experiment with fish eye.
Do you use PS to stitch together your circular panoramas? I've been trying to figure it out for quite a while and would love to be able to create images on this level.... eventually.
Thanks so much for your help!!
March 11, 2011 03:28 am
I recently got a great bargain on a Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 from Amazon via Cameta for $260 (looks like it's back up to $290 now) and it's great fun! I really like the images and it seems to have less distortion than some others. I believe this same lens is also sold under the names Bower, Vivitar, and others. It's manual focus but the DOF is huge so it's not difficult to use. Check it out if you are in the market for an affordable fisheye. It also gives full coverage on crop sensors, so no blacked out corners either.
[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbnet/5448516219/' title='IMGP6534' url='http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5297/5448516219_f0cce83ebb.jpg']
[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbnet/5449125056/' title='IMGP6514' url='http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5180/5449125056_8214d416bb_o.jpg']
January 28, 2011 01:40 am
dunno why, but the photo of the lense is the one I find to be the best on this page.
December 28, 2010 01:35 pm
You have nice photos. I'm lovin' them. If they're yours, lol.
I've always been interested in photography and I'm just now taking a step in it and actually making it a hobby.
Photography is an expensive hobby yes.
I'm not really experienced with fish eye lens. I don't know much about them. What brands are the best or anything.
So I settled with ordering a cheap one. Just to figure out what I'd want more into the future. It was about $55 dollars.
I have a Canon Rebel XS
December 10, 2010 03:53 pm
Hey Neil, I looooooooovvvveeeeeee the Shot of the Church of the Good Shepherd.. In Lake Tepako NZ isnt it?
That was one of the first places i got to really use my new DSLR... and to see it again with such a different perspective is very inspiring.
November 15, 2010 02:45 pm
The photo I like best on this page is the one with the person holding the tea cup.
For now, I've got a Tokina 10-17mm and that's adequate for the present. It's 50/50 whether I ever get a circular.
February 19, 2010 06:48 pm
Hi, I've got a Canon 400D and recentl bought a Canon 15mm F2.8 diagonal fisheye lens, which is jus fab. Now I want to buy a circular fisheye and can't choose between the following: Sigma 4.5mm F2.8, Sigm 8mm F3.5 or Sigma 10mm F2.8. Any suggestions on which circular fisheye is best suited for my Canon 400D? Thanks.
January 20, 2010 05:23 am
hi. i just got the sigma 15mm ex DG fisheye.... but im using the d200 nikon. not full frame... so i aint getting the full efect ... im gutted !... any way i can get the full effect with out buy a new camera !? cheers
December 3, 2009 12:49 am
I am an fisheye addict looking to shoot some "planet" panoramas. Anyone know where I can find a good tutorial for shooting and editing in CS3?
Those who are shopping, look Tokina 10-17mm. You won't be disappointed. Evidence here...
[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/prizz22/4148634924/' title='Temple Bar' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2654/4148634924_c07899bce1.jpg']
November 11, 2009 06:53 pm
Thanks for the correction and the links Neil. I also appreciate the prompt response to my comment.
October 11, 2009 03:17 pm
Zoe, you may have missed the last few paragraphs of the post, where I refer to a couple of cheaper alternatives, inclucing hacking door peepholes (particularly for compact cameras) as well as cheaper alternative lenses, such as the Peleng. The link I provided to the Peleng is outdated, but here are a couple of new ones:
There are other manufacturers making fisheye lenses as well of various features, quality and price. I'm sure you'll be able to find something at a reasonable price.
October 10, 2009 07:48 pm
Unfortunately creativity is limited by the cost of fish eye lens, thus making it unavailable for many amateur enthusiasts
February 11, 2009 02:54 pm
Here's another gallery of intriguing fish eye images:
December 14, 2008 12:24 am
I just got my fisheye lens from ebay today and I went out at once to play with it. lol. I love it.
May 17, 2008 02:34 am
I'm a little confused. According to the Sigma website that lens does not exist. They show the 8mm F3.5 EX DG Circular Fisheye.
Is this the same lens ???
May 9, 2008 11:03 am
Excellent tip. This is the type of creative photography I'm looking for. :)
May 9, 2008 12:49 am
Fisheyes work pretty well on crop sensors, I use a Tokina 10-17 fisheye on my 400d and it goes from mild distortion at 17mm to big curves at 10mm.
Using the Canon 15mm on a crop won't produce a huge fisheye effect. But I bet the Sigma 8mm and 4.5mm would.
Plus the close focussing is great
May 8, 2008 01:21 pm
@grant and josh:
It's possible josh, you thought that the D50 was a Canon, where using an adapter, you do indeed have to manually focus everything.(though with a typically huge DOF it's not a great problem)
The D50, being a Nikon, I don't believe there should be any problem.
That said, if you are doing panoramas, it's best to shoot with everything on manual to get a good transition between images.(eg. you don't want different exposures for ea. image)
I usually take a couple shots and choose aperture/shutter speeds based on them in full manual, switch off autofocus. If you are not shooting in RAW(ie. you are using JPG) then also lockdown your whitebalance.
May 8, 2008 03:32 am
The new experience of the fish eye lens is very cool, I have one too and I have a lot of fun with it :D
Here is my set of fish eye photos, http://www.flickr.com/photos/raypg/sets/72157600095080476/
let me know what you think :D and if you get a chance to own these lens happy shooting :D
May 6, 2008 03:00 am
I love fisheye shots but I think fisheye lenses are to expensive for the limited usability. I don't want to spent money on a lens I hardly use. I already have to many lenses that I don't use.
May 5, 2008 08:14 pm
I especially love the one from the washing machine!
May 5, 2008 05:04 am
You're right they do look like a lot of fun, it's got me interested in fisheye photography!
May 4, 2008 07:50 am
Really fun photos. Now you've inspired me and forced me to find the bucks to get a fisheye. Can't wait.
May 4, 2008 06:57 am
Does the Canon fisheye work with reduced-size sensors, eg the Canon 400D? If so, how does that change the photo?
May 4, 2008 02:53 am
I can't wait to try some shots with a Fisheye lens! These are amazing shots...and has given me some really cool ideas!
Thanks as always for inspiring!!
May 4, 2008 02:25 am
wow! i was debating a fisheye lens... i knew i could get some really cool effects, but didn't know if i would use it enough to warrant the cost. i had no idea it was so versitile! inspiring article, thanks for sharing those photos!
May 4, 2008 01:19 am
To: ryan97ou and others.
If I remember correctly Kodak's Digital Science folks in Austin, Texas USA has a $50 piece of software that takes the curves out of fisheye shots.
This software uses advance intelligence to recognize what is in the image and (for example) doesn't stretch people who are on the edges.
There is a very cool $10 piece of software that I bought when I owned a Nikon 10.5mm. It's PTlens by Tom Niemann. Check out the web site: epaperpress.com/ptlens for more information.
BTW, I traded in the 10.5mm Nikkor for a 12mm to 24mm Nikkor when the real estate agents complained about the distortion. Lesson learned.
Atlanta, Georgia USA
May 3, 2008 11:50 pm
amazing shots! need to get myself a proper camera first though... very inspiring.
May 3, 2008 09:07 pm
These are amazing I also liked:
Night sky over the Church of the Good Shepherd, The Pinnacles
and Under the Milky Way Tonight.
I am saving now for a DSLR camera and a Fish eye lens.
May 3, 2008 03:53 pm
I can't get enough of fisheye photos. Great images Neil. I particularly liked:
Night sky over the Church of the Good Shepherd
Under the Milky Way Tonight (great song too)
May 3, 2008 01:45 pm
very nice. btw what kinda software do you use to make the timelapse video?
May 3, 2008 11:55 am
Stunning snaps! Makes me wish I could afford a DSLR and a few lenses.
May 3, 2008 11:13 am
@josh: ehhh, I thought the Nikon 10.5mm is an AF lens??
May 3, 2008 09:18 am
Sweet! Thanks for those in-the-machine shots--that's given me some serious inspiration! I've gotten far too used to pulling out the Sigma 8mm only for pano work. BTW, I can recommend upgrading to the newer f/3.5 version--the chromatic aberration and vignetting of the f/4 version are almost completely corrected.
And handy tip to those just starting out with a Sigma 8mm: take the collar off with the lens cap when you shoot.
svf1972: the Canon 15mm FE is a diagonal fisheye, while the Sigma 8mm is a circular fisheye.
May 3, 2008 08:59 am
Thanks Neil, Great post as always.
Eagerly awaiting return of photog 101
May 3, 2008 07:05 am
@grant: plus you'd have to manually focus everything.
May 3, 2008 05:06 am
Very fun photos. I especially like the panoramas.
What are your thoughts on the Sigma 8mm FE in comparison to the Canon 15mm FE
May 3, 2008 02:23 am
Yah fisheye shots are pretty neat. Would like to get the Nikon 10.5mm for my D50, but it is somewhat pricey.
May 3, 2008 02:11 am
@ ryan97ou: ImageTrends makes an incredible "straightener" for both full frame and circular fisheyes. (I use a Nikon 10.5mm) You'll still get distortion, but such is the case with any super-wide lens.
May 3, 2008 01:54 am
is there any software you can use do de-fish-ify a picture so you don't see the warping?
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