Fisheye – For Me?

Before purchasing a Fisheye lens I had heard a lot of people say they were a novelty. Fun for a few days, then gathering dust unused after only a few shots. Despite this, I wanted one, so I took a punt on a Samyang 8mm and gave it a shot (Terrible). Looking through the viewfinder was incredible – it’s so wide! Much wider than the human eye. Your feet are suddenly in your photo’s, and everything is so far away! If you want someone on one side of your image they will swear you aren’t pointing the camera anywhere near them.

The most obvious use for me was Mountain Biking. Sometimes the trail is so tight I can’t get far enough back with my 20mm prime, or fit in that entire sweeping bend. What you can fit in a single frame is incredible and you can give your subject a great sense of context, fitting the surrounding environment into the frame effortlessly. It also means extreme angles very close to your subject are possible. The 8mm has quickly become an essential to take with me on any single track excursion. It’s also fantastic for other sports such as Skateboarding or BMX.

As well as this, the lens is brilliant for events. Especially crowds of people. Wedding photographers will often use a fisheye and a ladder to get shots of the entire crowd. As well as stepping back and getting everything in, a Fisheye lens also means you can get really close to the subject – giving viewers a sense of being there.

The following photo is from the mass start of the Karapoti Mountain bike race. I got there really early secured a spot right in the river next to where the competitors need to run. I was so close that the camera that a few tyres bounced off the front of the lens and I got soaked. it was worth it though, getting so close to the action with the fisheye gives a great perspective and drops of water on the lens just adds to the shot.

Like anything, have a play. Landscapes, or just squeezing the camera into tight places can also be perfect. The distortion the Fisheye effect has on the image can be minimised or embraced with positioning in the frame and angle of shot. Anything near the edges will be distorted while anything near the center will appear normal. Tilting the camera up or down with further emphasize this.

I have to admit, I wasn’t too sure how much I’d use the lens upon purchase, but the 8mm has secured a near permanent place in my camera bag. In terms of recommending a lens like this, I wouldn’t say it should be your first or second purchase normally unless you mostly photograph a niche, or sport the lens is suited to.

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