How does a fisheye lens work?
Fish-eye lenses are the most creative tools you can use to create striking images that can challenge convention. Never thought about including one in your equipment? Today we explain why owning a fish eye lens is a great idea, and how to get the most out of them on your shoots, no matter what the discipline.
Fish eye lenses: everything you need to know
On another occasion, we showed you 30 examples of great photos taken with fish eye lenses. If you look at them, you will definitely want one of these lenses in your equipment. It must be said that their possibilities are unlimited. When you are new to photography, the first attempt to get familiar with the camera is to take one with a standard lens, with a variable focal length between 18 and 55 mm.
These lenses are perfect for understanding the distances and compositions that can be used, but very quickly you specialize in one discipline rather than another, so you need to specialize your equipment. If you want to practice architectural or landscape photography, you will need a wide angle lens. If you want to photograph nature, birds or the moon, you will need a telephoto lens, while if you prefer portraits, you will need a lens with a focal length of 35 or 50 mm. But what happens when you want to get away from the seen and seen again work? Fish-eye lenses are a great alternative.
Characteristics of fish eye lenses
Unlike other lenses on the market, fish eye lenses are very easy to spot at a glance because they have a particularly curved and domed lens. This is because they can cover a much wider field of view than other lenses on the market, even more than wide angle lenses. In fact, fish eye lenses cover a 180º field of view and the resulting photos show details and information that would have been excluded from the field with another lens.
Focal length of fish eye lenses
This type of lens has focal lengths between 7 and 17 mm but there are exceptions. The fisheye lenses are therefore lenses that cause a more or less important distortion on the lines that compose the image. There are fisheye lenses with a field of view greater than 200º, so that a black frame or vignetting appears around the image, which makes it very creative.
This vignetting is also a consequence of using an APS-C or Full Frame sensor. For the latter type of sensor, as the full frame is larger, it reveals all the details of the lens and reveals this creative edge and characteristic of fisheye lenses.
When to use a fisheye lens?
The first thing to consider is the advantages of fisheye lenses. Because they encompass a larger field of view, it's important to carefully analyze all the details that make up the scene. This way, you can remove all the information that is not interesting or that is disturbing for the final result or, on the contrary, you can add details that are part of the context of the image and that give a stronger character to the shot.
Fish-eye lenses are without a doubt the ideal tool for interior photography. If you don't have a lens with these characteristics, it will be difficult to show the full extent of a room that you can see with your own eyes. Find the ideal place where the details can be appreciated and where the lines will give the scene its fullness. The corners of the room are usually the key areas for maximizing the potential of the lens and the room in question.
This is another great discipline to use fisheye lenses for, as you will give a new dimension to your landscapes. Add to this a sunrise or a sunset and you will produce spectacular results.
Imagine you need to shoot a group portrait, whether it's for a wedding or another event. With fisheye lenses, not only will you make sure all the components show up in the image, but you can also include details surrounding them. But beware of the excessive distortion produced on individuals on the edges of the frame. These lenses are great allies for creative portraits. By choosing the eyes or nose as the point of interest and opting for a frame that is impossible to achieve with a standard lens, you will get beautiful results.
You may find it hard to believe, but fisheye lenses are great for night photography. Not only because they allow you to capture details of the night sky, but also because they give a creative effect to photos of stars, for example. But when we talk about night photos taken with fisheye lenses, we are not only talking about star photos, but also about urban photos and night portraits, where we manage to give an interesting character to the shots.
Another great discipline that gives spectacular results with a fisheye lens is architectural photography. When we think of architectural photography, the first thing that comes to mind are the straight lines of the buildings and facades that make up our area of interest, but here too, the use of a fisheye lens can mean a huge advantage over ordinary lenses. Imagine photographing the famous Sagrada Familia, the cathedral of Barcelona designed by Gaudi. You would need at least a wide-angle lens to appreciate all its grandeur, but with a fisheye you can go further and include details that make it up and thus reinforce the power of the shot.
How to take advantage of fisheye lenses?
The first thing to take into account is to know the advantages that they imply and to exploit them to the maximum. Let's take a closer look at how to make the most of these lenses.
Place the point of interest nearby
It is important to take into account that any object close to the lens will appear with less distortion, or at least less distortion at the edges.
Do not neglect the background
As we've seen, one of the advantages of fish-eye lenses is the increase in depth of field, so why not exploit this advantage? To do this, don't lose sight of the background of your photos because even if you guide the viewer's gaze to a specific object or individual, the background is part of the context and is just as important for bringing information to the image.
Place the horizon in the middle of the frame
We explained in a previous post where to place the horizon on your landscape photos but you must also take into account the distortion. Here, it is better to place the horizon on the middle line of the frame so that it remains straight, unlike the other components of the image.
Opt for different perspectives
As we said, changing the perspective of your frame and composition is a great idea to take advantage of the distortion of these lenses. Go for low and high angle shots, get creative with your work and you'll see how impressive your work will become. You can even play with the lines that appear on the scenes to use them to your advantage, to convey a sense of scale.