For some time I've been meaning to write something here about using the Zuiko Digital 8mm Fisheye lens, specifically for landscape. This is the first true fisheye I've ever used. Many, many years ago, I used a fisheye adapter on Canon FD lenses, a combination which puts most Holga photos to shame.
The lens is very well built and the focusing ring rotates smoothly with just enough friction, making it a pleasure to use. The huge front element is very impressive, and a bit exposed. A fixed lens shade is included, and a large lens cover fits over the barrel.
Conventional wisdom claims that fisheye lenses cannot be used for landscape photography, but I think that images here demonstrate that this is not always true. Using a fisheye for landscape work requires a certain approach. First, you need to have a suitable subject, usually with a range of subjects from very near field to very far. Second, you need to make sure that any feature which you do not want to distort is centered vertically and horizontally. The “normal” rules of composition do not work with fisheye photos. Exposure is always critical, especially as it is likely that there will be a wide contrast range. Don't trust automatic exposure with this lens - check the histogram. It is best to under-expose slightly, to reduce the danger of localised flare. As with any fisheye chromatic aberration or localised flare (purple / blue fringing) in high contrast areas is going to be a problem, but with care and attention this can be avoided. You also need to decide if you're going to 'correct' the fisheye effect, using Olympus Studio v1.5 for example. Other options exist, but, for example, the lens correction filter in Photoshop CS2 is nowhere near as good as Studio. Personally, I tend to approach subjects with the idea that I am looking for a fisheye view. Although the correction tool is very impressive, inevitably the corners are very soft, and a lot of cropping takes place. However, this itself gives a certain feel which works well with some subjects.
The first shot is of the Strokkur geyser, at Geysír in Iceland. The first version is geometrically corrected and processed from RAW using Olympus Studio 1.5, and the second processed without correction. The shot directly into the sun shows how well flare is controlled by the 8mm fisheye if carefully managed. Exposure details f5.6, 1/3000th sec, -1.5EV, ISO 100, tripod mounted. In this particular case, I find that the uncorrected version works better.
The second shot is of Gullfoss, also in Iceland. Again, the first version is geometrically corrected and processed from RAW using Olympus Studio 1.5, and the second processed without correction. Exposure details f5.6, 1/90th sec, -0.5 EV, ISO 100, tripod mounted.
geometrically corrected....note very soft foreground edges.
Fisheye photos are obviously on the borders of tastefulness in many cases, and in others are just illegible. But to capture really dramatic views, such as the geysir shots (I have about 100 variants of this...), they can really work. The Zuike Digital 8mm is a very expensive lens, considering that it will be used rarely, but sometimes specialist lenses give special results. Just don't try using them everywhere :-)
Zuiko 8mm Fisheye for Landscape
in Olympus E-System , Monday, July 03, 2006
Posted in category "Olympus E-System" on Monday, July 03, 2006 at 09:48 PM