Fisheye views

I mentioned a few posts ago that I had just purchased a Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens. Well, I finally picked it up in Portland and had the opportunity to put the lens through its paces. My first impression was how small the lens was. I really hadn’t paid much attention to the specs but figured that a fisheye lens would likely be bulky and possibly a little heavy. What a surprise. I think of the 10 or so lenses that I own this one is the smallest and lightest. It almost looks silly on my D300, not that it matters.

I have pulled the lens out of my camera bag a couple times so far. It’s interesting that I certainly don’t “see” the way the lens does although as I get used to the lens I likely will, maybe not however. Our eyes just aren’t meant to see 180 degrees of view like a lizard. What I’m finding is that I need to put the lens on the camera and find the image if that makes sense. I have an idea what it might look like but require the camera to my eye to actually see the image.

Nikon 10.5mm fisheye - Joshua Trees

Nikon 10.5mm fisheye - Joshua Trees

What’s it like to shoot with? As expected the lens distorts like crazy. This isn’t a Nikon problem but just the reality of this type of lens design and calling it distortion may not be the correct term. If you point the lens down you can get very curved horizons, buildings tend to curve and subjects can look downright strange. On the other hand, moving in really close to flowers or keeping the horizon centred where it doesn’t get curved and some amazing images can be obtained that one would never guess comprise 180 degrees of view. I should mention at this point that there is software that can remove some of this “distortion” but I haven’t explored that side of the lens use yet. You have to get close, fortunately this isn’t a problem for me as I’ve always thought of myself as an “up close and personal” photographer who tends to use wide angle lenses a lot. This lens is different however. Getting close means really close. You look through the lens and your subject seems very distant, move closer and it’s still distant. Move even closer! On a purely subjective quality aspect this lens appears to be very sharp. I haven’t had the opportunity to view images on my large high quality monitors yet but on my notebook they appear far sharper than my Sigma 10-20 which I’ve never been 100% impressed with for sharpness.

Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park - a fisheye view

Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park - a fisheye view

Was the lens worth the money? I should note that I purchased the lens used for what is a quite reasonable cost of $425. New I believe they are in the $650 range which really isn’t that bad for a fairly exotic piece of glass. A few of the photos I have shot so far really suit the treatment and this has me very excited about using the lens regularly. I think the challenge will be to not use the lens too often as the effect could get old very quickly. This is true of many lenses however, part of the reason that most serious photographers have an assortment to play with.

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4 Responses to “Fisheye views”

  1. Dave Blackey says:

    Kevin, I really like both of these images. You’ve gotten the knack of the lens very quickly. Dave

  2. […] produce some interesting photographs. I previously talked about my first reactions to this lens in Fisheye Views. Well, I haven’t used the lens a huge amount morThese two images are of a Beaver Tail Cactus […]

  3. […] have mentioned a number of times in previous posts (A few more 180’s from the Nikkor 10.5mm and Fisheye Views. The other lens I recently purchased was a Sigma 50mm Macro, not the most recent version but still […]

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