8 Best Fisheye Lenses | March 2017

We spent 33 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whether you are a professional photographer or just a keen hobbyist, you'll find the perfect fisheye lens on this list to create stunning images. They're ideal for all kinds of pictures, including close-up/action shots, interiors and, of course, landscape panoramas. Skip to the best fisheye lens on Amazon.
8 Best Fisheye Lenses | March 2017


Overall Rank: 4
Best Mid-Range
★★★★
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
★★★★★
Overall Rank: 8
Best Inexpensive
★★★
8
The Opteka Aspherical lens produces a semi-circular image on a full frame camera, while closer images will appear proportionately large for added drama. It has HD super multicoated optics for capturing the sharpest images.
7
The Vivitar 8mm F3.5 Fisheye lens is designed for Canon DSLR cameras but works with other brands as well. It features a hybrid aspherical lens for extra crisp images and has a decent minimum focus distance of just twelve inches.
6
As the name hints, the Rokinon Te.8 Cine is designed primarily for videography, but it also works with full frame and APS-C sensor Canon DSLR cameras, allowing you to capture wide, unusual, artistic still images.
5
The Rokinon Ultra Wide Fisheye Lens is a compact, ergonomically designed high quality lens designed for Sony E-mount and Sony NEX cameras. It is available in silver or black, so you can add a bit of style to your hardware.
  • balanced, comfortable fit on cameras
  • includes front and rear lens caps
  • may produce overly distorted images
Brand Rokinon
Model 28FE8BK-SE
Weight 13.6 ounces
4
The Samyang Ultra Wide captures dramatic 180 degree scenes with full frame coverage. The lens features a Nano Crystal Coating System and Ultra Multi Coating, which together maximize transmission and reduce internal reflection.
  • includes removable lens hood
  • minimum focusing distance of 7.9 inches
  • ideal for architecture and landscapes
Brand Samyang
Model SY12M-N
Weight 1.5 pounds
3
The Sigma Diagonal is designed for Canon cameras, and allows photographers to shoot creative images by exaggerating perspective and distorting scenery. It has an amazing minimum focus distance of 5.9 inches.
  • excellent for underwater photography
  • gelatin filter holder included
  • images often unfocused in corners
Brand Sigma
Model 476-C
Weight 1.2 pounds
2
The Nikon Nikkor Fixed Fisheye is compact, lightweight, and has a fast aperture and autofocus thanks to Nikon's silent wave motor design. It doesn't offer zoom capability, but it captures images with clarity and contrast.
  • close range correction for crisp photos
  • includes four year warranty
  • developed for use with nikon dx format
Brand Nikon
Model 2148
Weight 1.2 pounds
1
The Sigma Circular EX DG Circular fisheye lens produces high quality, rounded images with a 180 degree angle of view. It can be used with 35 millimeter or DSLR cameras interchangeably, and works well for many video applications too.
  • 8 mm lens with maximum aperture of f3.5
  • digitally optimized auto focus
  • lens coating reduces flares and ghosting
Brand Sigma
Model 485-N
Weight 1.3 pounds

The World Through The Eyes Of A Fish

There's a long-standing myth out there that fish don't have especially good memories. I remember growing up hearing that goldfish, in particular, had about a 30-second memory span. It is, however, a myth, as modern research claims fish can retain information and training for up to five months. Still, through the eyes of a fish, after five months, everything looks new again.

Fisheye lenses carry with them the wide field of view with which most fish would see. If a fisheye lens also carried with it the memory issue, well, your photographs would have to self-destruct after five months like a dossier from Mission Impossible.

To be more specific about a fisheye lens, these are the lenses with wide fields of view and a clear amount of barrel distortion, making the video and images captured through them appear evenly curved all around the sides. The shorter the focal length, the wider the angle, and the further distorted the edges of the image will be.

There are wide angle lenses out there that are not technically fisheye lenses, but they can only reach a certain focal length before they, too, begin to capture a little distortion.

Fisheye lenses achieve their unique effect by utilizing a much larger, fatter, more overtly convex front lens element. Light hits this lens element from a far greater number of angles than a rectilinear lens captures. That light funnels through a system of additional lens elements designed to focus the image to the size of the camera's sensor while reducing a distorting phenomenon called field curvature. The result is a sharp, evenly distorted image that may just convince you that you can breathe underwater.

The Power Of The Third Party

For one reason or another, the United States has had a whale of a time trying to establish a third party for its presidential races. There have been minor successes throughout the years, but the two-party system has, by and large, remained tactically unassailable. Fortunately, in the world of optics, third parties have finally made their way into the serious conversation about quality glass.

For many years, companies like Samyang, Sigma, and Tamron made perfectly fine lenses, but if you had the extra money, it was wise to bet on brand.

In the past decade, however, these companies have caught up to the heels of the big manufacturers, creating lenses that rival the name brands in speed and image quality, as well as price. In fact, if you take a close look at our list, only one of our recommendations is made by a specific camera company for its specific system; everything else is third-party.

Whatever brand you choose to go with, there are a few key differences among the lenses on our list that ought to guide your hand to the perfect selection. The first of these is focal length. As I mentioned earlier, smaller focal lengths (8mm, say, as opposed to 14mm) will get you wider fields of view with a greater sense of barrel distortion. That width is partially predicated on the size of your camera's sensor, with smaller sensors multiplying the focal length by that sensor's crop factor.

Most introductory-level DSLRs have APS-C sized sensors, which multiply the focal length of a full-frame lens by about 150%. That means that if you buy a 14mm lens designed for a full frame camera and pop it on your APS-C body, you'll get a 21mm image.

There are a couple of lenses on our list that are specifically made for APS-C sensors, though, and if you own a camera with a full frame sensor, these won't fill the sensor with an image, and you'll get the same crop factor applied to your shot. In the previous example of a full-frame lens on an APS-C body, you lose barrel distortion. In this case, you keep closer to 100% of it.

The Whole Sky In A Single Image

Despite a century of experimentation and manufacture, it took lens makers until the 1920s to produce what we would now consider to be a fisheye lens. They did so with the intention of being able to capture the entirety of the sky in a single photograph, and the lenses were primarily used for this type of photography, meteorology, and astronomy for many years.

More recently, the fisheye lens found popularity among filmmakers who sought a larger viewing angle and a closer filming experience to their subjects. With a good fisheye lens, you could get right on top of your actors and still see a great deal of the setting.

The 1990s experienced a boom in the popularity of these lenses, particularly among music video directors, but the viewers soon connected their unique look with the very specific music and fashion styles of the day, and, by the early aughts, the look seemed dated.

More recently, a video image bearing fisheye barrel distortion has found new popularity thanks to the explosive sales of GoPro brand and other action cameras, whose fields of view are, almost by necessity, all-inclusive. And since these cameras are mostly water proof, the average consumer can easily get an underwater look through the eyes of a fish.



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Last updated: 03/29/2017 | Authorship Information

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