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Review – Lensbaby Circular Fisheye

A dedicated circular fisheye lens from Lensbaby for under $300.00 sounds great, but how does it perform?

Lensbaby Circular Fisheye

Lensbaby Circular Fisheye 5.8mm f/3.5 Lens

Lensbaby kindly sent me their new Circular Fisheye lens (the Canon version) to review about four weeks ago, and I can tell you that I’ve had a load of fun with it since then! The Lensbaby Circular Fisheye is best used (or optimized for) APS-C sensor sized cameras. I’ve been using it on a full frame Canon 5D and actually quite like the results it gives. You can see in the photographs below that it is a full circle, you might also note the shiny outer ring in the photographs – this is because the little lens has a polished barrel. With the barrel being polished, you can mess about getting neat flare and shine into your images, but you can also avoid that by tilting the lens away from direct light and moving it around to suit.

The 5.8mm f/3.5 circular fisheye from Lensbaby is a full manual lens, it doesn’t talk to your camera, it only talks to your hand – aperture ring and focus ring are within easy reach, feels good in your hand, sturdy and solid enough. The little lens has a pop-on, pop-off plastic lens cover and a plastic mount.

lensbaby circular fisheye review

The Lensbaby Circular Fisheye will focus (manually, remember everything is manual) really really close – 1/4″ close and then out to infinity.. Which means it’s hilariously perfect for when your baby decides to lick the lens – a photo series I thought about producing, but strangely nobody else wanted to lick it after baby slobber! Ah well.

Lensbaby Circular Fisheye Review

With a maximum aperture of f/3.5 it’s fast enough for most situations and with an ISO bump in dimly lit rooms, I wasn’t left wanting.

Lensbaby Circular Fisheye Review

The field of view is 185° which is very very wide… like, see behind you wide – well, almost!

lensbaby circular fisheye fro knows photo

Yes, that’s Fro Knows Photo, yes he was holding my lens… We were together for a week in Israel – more on that later!

I’m not going to talk about edge to edge sharpness or chromatic aberration, I think we’re sort of missing the point if we’re looking at those factors in a $299 lens – this lens is about making fun photographs. It’s sharp enough, it’s well built and pretty sturdy – I’ve taken it from Melbourne, to Coffs Harbour, to Israel and back and it’s performed really well. Is it worth the price tag, yes absolutely. 

Who would buy this lens?

I’d say people that enjoy exploring different types of photography would enjoy this lens, people that like making fun pictures will love it. Sure, it’s not the Canon 8-15mm L series Fisheye, but then it’s not $1500 either.

Who wouldn’t buy this lens?

People that have a spare $1500 to drop on the L series Canon (or Nikon.. sorry, not sure which Nikon fits the bill)

In closing…

My opening line “how does it perform” is kind of a silly thing to ask on a cheap lens, and lets face it, this is a cheap lens by comparison to other available options. So for the fun the lens brings and for its affordable price point, Lensbaby, I give you five of the available five stars – good stuff! (And no, you can’t have your lens back!)

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Lensbaby Circular Fisheye
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(aka #gtvone) is the customer support manager for dPS, and lead blogger in our Cameras and Gear Blog. He’s a Melbourne based photographer, www.gtvone.com and please feel free to follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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