Robin’s fisheye adventures

Firstly – a happy Lunar New Year to all our readers!

Fisheye lenses fall in the love-it-or-hate-it category – there is no middle ground. The excessive distortion is not widely accepted and frankly does not work for many scenarios. I was curious about how I would approach street shooting with such a lens as it would, no doubt, change my execution in street shooting by forcing me to look for different subjects and compose my scenes differently. I found that I needed to be more careful in my framing as the lens can fit in more than intended. Also, to find subjects and scenes that work well with fisheye is a huge challenge in itself. I used the Olympus M.Zuiko 8mm F1.8 Fisheye PRO lens for all images in this article.

I wanted to shy away from the popular use of fisheye lenses. I avoided extreme close up shots with exaggerated perspectives like a gigantic head of a person or an animal relative to their body size. While that can appear fun and unique, I don’t like the gimmicky and silly outcome.  Instead, I tried to find a use for the fisheye lens that resulted in images that are otherwise impossible to achieve with other conventional methods. For example, I was able to fit the entire building in the opening image using the fisheye lens, which was something I could not do even with an ultra wide angle lens.

I admit that it was not easy using the fisheye lens as a lot of shots just did not work out with so much barrel distortion. This will not be a lens that I use often in my own photography, but I acknowledge that in certain situations when the fisheye did work, the results can be unusually charming. Here is a short collection of images with this lens from my recent street shooting session.

The Olympus M.Zuiko 8mm F1.8 PRO Fisheye lens is available from B&H

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Images and content copyright Robin Wong 2019 onwards. All rights reserved

Comments

  1. Michel Higuet says:

    Good work to remember me to never invest one kopeck in a fish-eyes…

  2. Robin, excellent work! I have used the 9-18 for several years and when I was looking for a wider lens I bought the 8mm FE instead of the 7-14 f2.8. I found this lens initially challenging and I fully concur with you feelings and observations, but I found the 8mm pushing my creativity more than any other lens. I use it primarily for landscape, but also for tight space like indoors. It is a wonderful tool.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks John for the kind words, and yes, it does push creativity! We need to think differently when using the fisheye lens.

  3. Great images, especially the pastry makers. Did you find you had to stop down to get sufficient depth of field or is it good enough wide open?

    • Robin Wong says:

      I was shooting under bright sun, so there was no need to shoot at F1.8 wide open. In most cases I stopped down to F4 or F5.6. For subjects that were not too near, I believe F1.8 would be ok, especially when lighting condition is dimmer. When shooting wide angle I always have the habit of stopping down my aperture to get as much depth of field as possible.

  4. An interesting set. The sort of encouragement I need to get out with mine more.

  5. Carl Wheeler says:

    Nice job Robin. When I was studying Photography in the 1980s my teacher told me to go out for the afternoon, don’t take any photos, don’t even take a camera, and just “see”. The exercise was to help me to see light, form, composition, angles etc. With the fisheye lens I think you have to do the same as so much changes with the distortion but with creativity can produce excellent results. I think you have done this here. Not a lens I use very often but is another tool in my bag when needed.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks Karl for the kind words. It is very important to train our eyes/vision to “see” creatively, sometimes that is more effective without a camera in hand. Actively clicking away distracts the important thought process on conceiving an idea for the image. So I believe your teacher and I do the same from time to time!

  6. Will Ravenel says:

    I won’t say I hate fisheye lens photos but as a general rule I’m not fond of them. Your photos have provided exceptions to that rule. In particular I love number 8, the women making pastries, and how the image manages to show the work underway and the environment in which it takes place in a way not possible without the 8mm field of view. For some reason the distortion is not as obvious to me as in some of the others even though it is there. I also like number 4, the man, his cat, and his world. The others are interesting, but for me the distortion produced by this lens is too severe. I don’t think I’ll be lusting for a fisheye, but you’ve shown me some interesting examples of their potential to create amazing images.

    • Robin Wong says:

      Thanks Will for the kind comments. I am fully aware that fisheye does not work generally, and can cause annoying distortions which many may not like, so that was quite a challenge for me. I still need to work on getting better execution but hey, it is a work in progress! I like the man and the cat too!

      • What I like about some of the images is the attention to the background in the composition. So the sculpture image emphasises the tower in the distance, and the pastry makers features the street. Given the angle of view, it is a bit like a mural where the painter has to provide little details in the corners and away from the main action to bring people in for another look and maybe communicate something else.

        And I like the way that in the image with the man and the cat, the natural enlargement is centred on the cat and the man’s hands in a way that isn’t immediately unnatural. But the cat would surely appreciate its panther-like portrayal!

  7. superbe !!!

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