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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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