A fisheye lens may be exactly what you need in your photography bag. Here’s seven reasons why.
1. Instant creativity
Instant creativity is my number one reason why I love fisheye lenses. There have been times in which I have been doing night photography and was stuck or distracted. I’ve gotten calls before that distracted my creative process. However, if I attach a fisheye lens, I feel like it turbo-charges my creativity. A fisheye lens seems to create a lot of ideas.
2. New perspectives
Even if I have been to a location numerous times before, I can always count on fisheye lens to give me a new glimpse into the world. After all, who looks at the world from a fisheye perspective regularly – besides, well, fish? Fisheye lens allows us to pull back and get a beautiful, distorted 180-degree view of the world. Or we can jam it in close to something to get an almost macro view, going for detail. Or add a surreal or psychedelic look to some portraits or album covers!
3. See the whole sky
That’s right. That 180-degree view (or so) works wonders for capturing the whole sky. Stick your lens straight up. There you go. A lot of times, what is on the ground will surround the periphery, cradling the photo. This is great for night photography, astrophotography, and so forth. And as a bonus, a lot of fisheye lens have wide apertures. They can let in a lot more light. This means that you can shoot faster and capture the stars as pinpoints, if that’s what you want to do.
Get a lot of what is going on around you. And do so easily! Context is key for a lot of photos. I should add here that if you wish, you can use a fisheye lens and fix the distortion later if you choose not to have it. And you do have choices. Photoshop and other programs can address this. You may also use PTLens, which gives a lot of control over lens correction. Or you can photograph panoramas by combining several photos and fixing the distortion in post-processing.
5. Objects in your lens may appear larger than they are
I love this sort of distortion. The elements in the distance fall away and look small, while anything up close looks larger than life. How fun!
6. Don’t worry about straight lines
A lot of times, we need to address keystoning, straight lines on buildings or other things, and maintain proper perspective. Not here! Let it fly! Have fun!
7. It’s weird
Weird is great. Embrace your inner weirdness.
What I use
I have been using a Rokinon 12mm 2.8 fisheye lens since 2017. It’s good and sharp. Although it’s manual focus, it’s rather easy and forgiving to focus. Of course, there are many different types of fisheye lens. Explore a little and see what each one offers.
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BOOKS AND PRINTS:
Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more. My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!
Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)
Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020
How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022
Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night
A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols