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A Beginner's Guide to Fisheye Lenses

A fisheye lens is a special type of ultra wide-angle lens designed to capture an extremely wide image around 180 degrees giving it a panoramic or hemispherical feel.
Amruta Deshpande Jun 14, 2019
An American Physicist and Inventor Robert Wood coined the name in 1906 based on how a fish would see the surface from under the water with a wide and hemispherical view.

Originally developed for meteorological purposes, this lens is now widely used in filming and photography both.
Fisheye lenses are capable of producing a high level of visual distortion in the images. It creates an illusion of extreme depth by making the objects that are closer to the centre appear to look huge, while the others curve off into infinity.

How Does a Fisheye Lens Work?

While a typical lens corrects or minimizes barrel and pincushion distortion, the fisheye lens shows circular distortion for a hemispherical effect.
Considering the strikingly amazing panoramic views captured by this lens, it is not surprising to know that the fisheye lens is one of the essential equipment used in Google Street View photography.

Types of Fisheye Lense

Fisheye lenses for camera are of two main types, each having a unique effect, and they are: 
  • Circular Fisheye Lens
  • Full-Frame Fisheye Lens

Circular Fisheye Lens

The Circular Fisheye lens captures a full 180 degree view of the image in all directions resulting in a fully circular image on a rectangular frame with black edges. 
This type is majorly used in artistic photography for shooting unusual landscapes and also in action sports photography.

Full-Frame Fisheye Lens

The full-frame fisheye lens captures only 180 degrees of view along its diagonal, the vertical and horizontal sides of the image not exceeding beyond 180 degrees.
This results in producing a less wide angled rectangular image without the black edges, making these lenses more suitable for traditional landscape photography.
Fisheye lenses can be best used for:
  • Underwater photography

  • Photography in confined spaces

  • Shooting directly pointing up or down (Over-Under shots)

  • Extreme Sports Photo Shoots

  • Shooting through the Peepholes

  • Creative Photography

  • Artistic Photography

Top Fisheye Lens for Canon

  • Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L 
  • Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 
  • Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG
  • Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5
    AT-X 107 AF DX
  • Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 HD

Top Fisheye Lens for Nikon

  • Samyang 8mm f/3.5
  • Rokinon 12mm f/2.8
  • Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E
  • Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX
  • Lensbaby 5.8mm f/3.5