A fisheye is one of the most overlooked lenses a photographer may consider when updating their glass. It’s a “creative” lens with a distinctive look, which automatically puts it as a likely candidate for a dust-collecting paper weight. However, I’d like you to reconsider a fisheye lens and add it to the top of your long list of photographer wants. Here are my top nine reasons why my fisheye is my most utilized and loved piece of glass:
1.) Price. I own the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye (Canon version here and Nikon version here). I am usually a firm believer in purchasing the best glass I can afford. However, the Canon 8-15 f4L lens is more than double the price of Sigma’s. I rented both lenses to see which I preferred – and while the Canon series was admittedly slightly superior in sharpness, I preferred the 2.8 aperture that the Sigma lens offered. At half the price, the Sigma version was more than enough and is one of my very best photography purchases.
2.) Portability. My Sigma fisheye is also my smallest and most lightweight lens. This means that taking my “big camera” isn’t such a big deal anymore. At a mere 13 ounces, it is hardly noticeable and is my preferred lens when I know I am going to be walking a lot. Last fall I found that it was perfect for the fair – it’s small size and weight didn’t impede any tilt-a-whirl riding or fried pie eating.
3.) Everything in the frame. Sometimes my background is so big that the only lens I own that could capture the entire thing is my fisheye. In each of these images below, I knew that the fisheye wouldn’t chop off an important part of my background/subject. It takes storytelling to a whole new level.
4.) Capture that sky. The images below are real skies (not added in photoshop). To me, the clouds are as important to the image as the subjects are. They add to the story and create drama that wouldn’t be seen without a super wide lens. If it is a cloudy day, I immediately reach for my fisheye.
5.) Speaking of sky…. I love using my fisheye for night photography. With the 2.8 aperture on my Sigma, capturing a night sky is actually possible (yet another way the Sigma version has Canon beat).
6.) Nothing is better on the beach. Let me just repeat that. Nothing is better on the beach! I promise! Gorgeous sunrise? Perfect! Beautiful cloudy day? The fisheye captures it perfectly. NO clouds and glaring sun? The fisheye is your most forgiving lens in harsh light. No matter what scenario I have found myself in when taking pictures at the beach, my fisheye never let me down.
7.) Add whimsy and playfulness (if you want). If you keep the horizon in the center of the frame and your camera exactly parallel to the ground, you can achieve a straight horizon. Alternatively, if you angle your camera up to the sky or down to the ground, you can create and exaggerate the curvature that fisheyes are known for. Take a look at the images below and see the difference that the angle of your camera makes. It’s another way to be creative with your photography, and add some whimsy to an image that would otherwise be a little boring.
Hot Air Balloons: Camera angled up to the sky
Indoor Crib Shot: Camera angled down to the ground
Outdoor Running Shot: Camera kept parallel to the ground
8.) Get Close. Closer. Closer. When working with my own family or clients I am very interactive and playful. I like playing games and transferring a joyful energy from me, to my clients, and finally to my images. There’s no better way to do this than to get all up in my subject’s business! I can literally get focus when I am a mere 6 inches from my subject. That’s close!
9.) Your clients will love it. Chances are your clients don’t have a professional image of their family that was taken with a fisheye. They may not be able to put their finger on WHY the fisheye shot is different, but they will certainly recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of the shot.
So, what are you waiting for? Order that brand new fisheye lens… you won’t be disappointed!