Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses
Illustration by Petra Stefankova

Understanding fisheye lenses


From:

Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses

with Ben Long

Video: Understanding fisheye lenses

Ultra-wide lenses give you a fantastically broad field of view, but it's actually possible to go even wider. Fisheye lenses give you an extreme field of view, but at a cost. Unlike the rectilinear ultra-wide angled lenses we looked at earlier, fisheyes will have a lot of spherical distortion. This means that straight lines might get bent dramatically and at the middle of the frame can get very bulbous. Because they lack rectilinear correction, fisheye lenses can actually have a wider field of view than a rectilinear lens of the same focal length.
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  1. 4m 10s
    1. Welcome
      1m 46s
    2. Roadmap of the course
      2m 24s
  2. 3m 53s
    1. Words about focal length
      2m 6s
    2. Understanding camera position
      1m 47s
  3. 39m 19s
    1. What filters are for
      2m 37s
    2. Shopping for filters
      3m 55s
    3. Understanding neutral density filters
      4m 53s
    4. Applying neutral density filters
      3m 55s
    5. Polarizing filters
      3m 4s
    6. Some shooting tips for working with a polarizing filter
      2m 32s
    7. Using infrared filters
      9m 15s
    8. Processing the infrared image
      6m 7s
    9. Handling stuck filters
      3m 1s
  4. 38m 37s
    1. Working with ultra-wide lenses
      7m 19s
    2. Using a wide-angle lens
      4m 43s
    3. Understanding fisheye lenses
      4m 2s
    4. Working with fisheye lenses
      3m 59s
    5. Understanding fisheye exposure
      3m 3s
    6. Taking fisheye further
      4m 16s
    7. Processing fisheye and wide-angle images
      7m 38s
    8. Correcting tone in fisheye images
      3m 37s
  5. 35m 37s
    1. Understanding super telephoto
      6m 21s
    2. Shooting distant subjects
      8m 26s
    3. Compressing the sense of depth
      7m 53s
    4. Working with shallow depth of field
      5m 35s
    5. Working with teleconverters
      2m 38s
    6. Editing telephoto images
      4m 44s
  6. 16m 47s
    1. Understanding macro basics
      2m 47s
    2. Shooting close
      4m 52s
    3. Shooting macro
      5m 20s
    4. Working with a point-and-shoot for macro
      1m 58s
    5. Using a two-lens strategy
      1m 50s
  7. 16m 39s
    1. Understanding tilt shift
      3m 37s
    2. Correcting perspective
      4m 29s
    3. Creating the toy effect
      4m 41s
    4. Deepening depth of field
      3m 52s
  8. 32m 39s
    1. Working with specialty lenses
      2m 43s
    2. Using the Lensbaby
      9m 13s
    3. Working with the Lensbaby Macro attachment
      3m 50s
    4. Shooting with a Holga attachment
      3m 4s
    5. Using an alternative mount lens
      2m 18s
    6. Using super-fast lenses
      1m 47s
    7. Correcting Lensbaby images
      9m 44s
  9. 39m 48s
    1. Correcting perspective
      10m 41s
    2. Creating the toy effect
      6m 31s
    3. Getting the lo-fi Holga look
      11m 17s
    4. Reproducing the effect of a Lensbaby
      8m 17s
    5. Cropping and enlarging images
      3m 2s
  10. 2m 47s
    1. Choosing whether to borrow or buy
      2m 0s
    2. Goodbye
      47s

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Watch the Online Video Course Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses
3h 50m Intermediate Dec 17, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Join photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long on location in San Francisco as he explores the creative options provided by the kinds of lenses and lens accessories that don't always make it into most camera bags.

The course begins with a look at several common and inexpensive lens attachments, from polarizers to neutral density filters. The course then explores ultra-wide angle and fisheye lenses as well as ultra-long telephoto and macro lenses. The course concludes with a look at tilt-shift lenses, which are useful for architectural photography and special effects, and at offbeat lenses, such as Lensbaby and Holga attachments.

The course also contains Photoshop postproduction advice and examples that illustrate the creative possibilities that an expanded lens collection provides. And because some specialty lenses are extremely expensive, the course also contains advice on renting gear.

Subject:
Photography
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Ben Long

Understanding fisheye lenses

Ultra-wide lenses give you a fantastically broad field of view, but it's actually possible to go even wider. Fisheye lenses give you an extreme field of view, but at a cost. Unlike the rectilinear ultra-wide angled lenses we looked at earlier, fisheyes will have a lot of spherical distortion. This means that straight lines might get bent dramatically and at the middle of the frame can get very bulbous. Because they lack rectilinear correction, fisheye lenses can actually have a wider field of view than a rectilinear lens of the same focal length.

So the first advantage of the fisheye is that it simply gives you a wider field of view, than even an ultra-wide. But I also think of that spherical distortion as a possible advantage sometimes. In certain situations, having those curved crazy lines can add a lot of visual interests to your scene and can make a somewhat stead scene much more dynamic. So here's the Sigma and here's another fisheye which we'll talk about in a moment. Look at on both of these, the front element is incredibly spherical. This is how the fisheye lens is able to gather such a wide field of view, but this big spherical glass on the front means that you can't put lens filters on these lenses.

You can see that there really are no lens threads here. Now, the Sigma technically comes with this cap that has threads in it. But on my full-frame camera, when I put this cap on the end of the lens, the cap is actually visible on the frame, so this still isn't a solution. If you really need to use a filter on your fisheye lens, check out the Wonder Pano System, which offers a way to mount filters on lenses that don't offer lens threads. Be careful when you're using filters on a lens this wide, though. Just as with ultra-wide, polarizers are going to be a very bad idea on a fisheye.

Now, you can also see that this Sigma has a built-in sun shade with a very specific shape. Because they are so wide, fisheyes are very susceptible to flare, so you need to be constantly on the lookout for it when you're shooting. And not just flare from the sun, if you're shooting indoors, lights anywhere in the room can create flare problems because the lens is so wide. Now, while this lens is very wide, there are even wider fisheyes, such as the Canon 8-15-mm zoom fisheye. In addition to having a wider field of view and much more pronounced distortion, a fisheye like this doesn't always fill the entire frame of your camera.

In fact, at 8 mm, this lens produces an image with a very strange shape. These images have to be cropped so they may not be printable at the sizes that you're used to straight out of your camera. If you really want to use every pixel, and you want to be able to see the exact framing of your shot in camera, then a fisheye that goes this wide may not be for you. Note that if you put either of these lenses on a crop sensor camera, you'll lose a lot of the fisheye effect. Most of the visible distortion on a fisheye happens at the edges of the frame and your cropped sensor camera will crop those parts out.

So if you're shooting with a cropped sensor camera, you want to be sure to get a fisheye designed for smaller sensors, typically, these fall on the 10 to 10 & 1/2-mm range. Fisheyes are great for all of the same situations as ultra-wide, and they come with all of the same shooting concerns. You need to really pay attention to your entire frame when you're shooting with a fisheye, because there are lots of details to keep track of, both in terms of composition and exposure. One of the ultra-wide concerns I mentioned earlier in this chapter was that you need to be careful that you don't get your own shadow in the frame. That's true with the fisheye, but with the fisheye you also need to be careful that you don't get your own body in the frame. Yes, fisheyes can actually shoot that wide.

If you have the camera tilted down, it's possible you'll see your own feet or legs. So be sure to keep an eye on the bottom of the frame anytime you start tilting the camera down. A lot of people avoid fisheyes lenses, because they think they yield images that are too weird or too recognizable as a fisheye, but with modern fisheye optics and a little care, you can really create some great images that aren't upstaged by their own fisheye-ness. So if you've already got an ultra-wide, and you really like it, you should try out a fisheye. You may find that it opens your eyes up to a new type of imaging.

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