Fisheye Lens Effect - Photography Tutorial

I'm not a big believer in expensive camera brand names, although I have been a consistent Nikon user for over two decades. If I can do a good job and get the results that I want with any brand of equipment; I'm happy. Not to mention that when I bring expensive gear to exotic locations, I'd be worrying more about my equipment than my assignment.

Recently, I took my newly purchased third party 4.5mm f/2.8 circular fisheye lens for a ride through four countries. I started on Corregidor Island in the Philippines, a few hours' boat ride from Manila. I have been to Corregidor several times, but I never had any success photographing the big cannons that were used in World War II. (The Americans installed these big expensive weapons; however, it is said that they never fired a single shot.) With the fisheye lens, even standing right next to the gun I was able to "shoot the cannon." Finally, I could fit an entire cannon in a single frame without any difficulty.

That was the very first image I recorded with this lens. Though it was exciting and fun, I realized that the lens did not come without problems.

First, you cannot use a tripod the normal way with the fisheye lens. When the lens axis is parallel to the ground, the Iegs of the tripod will be included in the image. This can only be avoided if you shoot upwards.

Second, I realized that most camera meters are not optimized for such a wide view, so you may find it difficult, as I did, to balance extreme contrasts in the scene such as bright sky and shaded ground. It worked well enough in none-too-contrasty scenes such as indoors or in shaded areas. But whether shooting indoors or outdoors you will have better control over your exposure if your camera is set for spot metering. After my return trip overseas, having learned to handle metering with the fisheye, I managed a fantastic shot of the outdoor wedding of Jory and Kat in Club Paradise in Palawan-a perfect capture of puffy clouds, backlit white sand, and billowing white streamers.

Third, since the lens does not take filters over the front element, but rather in a slot behind the rear element, one of my biggest problems was keeping the lens free of dust and fingerprints. This is another reason that the lens is more difficult to use outdoors, besides the metering problem.

On Using A Fisheye Lens

Be careful you don't include your tripod legs or your own feet in the frame. With a field of view, nearly 180 degrees wide, it's apt to include more than you bargained for.

You will have better control and fewer surprises if you set your camera for spot metering. Camera meters are not optimally equipped to handle a 180-degree view.

You will be able to take pictures with better contrast range and saturation in shaded areas, indoors, or after sunset.

Look out for dust and fingerprints, since the protruding half-dome front element precludes using filters of any kind, even for protection.

The lens sees the world in a different way from the rectangular or square formats we are used to seeing. Maximize, but don't overdo it.

Curved or circular subjects will not exhibit barrel distortion as much as linear objects.

The lens creates three-dimensional depth more dramatically than any other wideangle lens.

When looking through a fisheye lens, it's easy to forget that you may be just inches or a foot from your subject.
Fisheye Lens Effect - Photography Tutorial | Victoria Knight | 5