A fish-eye lens is a wide angle distortion lens that creates a really wide panoramic image with no straight lines.
I used to be a fish-eye lens snob and thought I wouldn’t be able to use it often in my photography. What actually changed my mind was the panoramic feature in my iPhone camera that gives the effect of having a fish eye lens on a smartphone. Then I decided to start trying to use a fisheye lens on my DSLR and I just loved the versatility that it provided me. I actually found that the fish-eye lens motivated me to take more photos and to play around more during editing because I loved having such a different perspective. Here are five reasons why you should give fish eye lenses a try:
1. They're great for shooting landscapes
Fish-eye lenses were first used in the early 1900s to allow meteorologists to take photographs of the sky. That’s why it comes as no surprise that fish-eye lenses are great for shooting landscapes. The key to taking a good landscape photograph when using these lenses is to take a photograph that doesn’t look like it was photographed using a fish eye lens. You don’t want your final image to look rounded and distorted, you just want the fish eye lens to give you a wider field of view.
The trick to achieving this is to keep the horizon line in the centre of your frame to limit the amount of distortion in the final image, because the middle line will always have zero distortion. The easiest way to test this is by looking through the viewfinder at all times - the more centred your horizon is in the frame, the less distortion there will be and it will just look like you were shooting using a standard wide angle lens.
2. They provide a different perspective
Let’s face it - all photographers get bored with shooting at some time. Whether it’s because they do it for work, or they get tired of shooting in the same locations all the time, sometimes inspiration runs dry. A fish eye lens lets you see the world from a different perspective, and has the power to turn old locations into new, exciting and fun places to shoot.
3. They breathe life into event photos
How do you pack a lot of people into a single frame when you’re working in a limited physical space? Most people who have done event photography can attest to the fact that group shots can get quite tricky during certain events. Shooting with a fish eye lens effectively lets you achieve wider group shots.
4. They make spaces look bigger
In the ever-expanding world of online real estate photography, a high premium is placed on a photographer’s ability to make spaces look bigger. Fish eye lenses naturally do this to everything they capture, so they provide you with the ability to get an entire room into a single frame. Photo editing apps like Lightroom and Photoshop have the ability to “de-fish” images without losing too much detail or resolution.
5. They're perfect for photographing the sky
Fish-eye lenses are most ideal for doing what they were originally created for - showcasing the sky in photographs. To do this, make sure that the centre of your frame is the point of the sky directly above you - no horizons are allowed! This will make your images look completely circular - kind of like how fish would see the world from underwater. Once you have your perfectly circular images, play around with them during editing, to give them an extra hit of creative flair.