Fisheye Lens Adapter Buying Guide

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Fisheye Lens Adapter Buying Guide

Fisheye lenses are popular with both professional and amateur photographers, and have been used for generations by individuals wishing to give their photos a 'fly on the wall' effect, or those simply looking to play around with an inspiring artistic tool. These lenses typically provide viewing angles of around 180 degrees, and some more modern lenses can even go as far as a 225 degree viewing angle, thereby allowing the capture of vast stretches of landscape in a single shot, or the visualisation of individual objects while working in cramped quarters.

Lens or Lens Adapter?

Many individuals new to the area of camera accessories have a hard time choosing between a fisheye lens and a fisheye lens adapter. The difference between the two lies in the fact that a camera lens is a self-contained structure attached directly to the front of the camera, often making electrical connections with the camera body, and contains the only pieces of glass found between the subject of the photo and the detector. A lens adapter is a component which is attached to the end of another lens to confer new properties on the lens, or to amplify its existing properties. Although these two accessories are only subtly different, each of them comes with both advantages and disadvantages. The pros and cons of each fitting are explored in the table below.

Lens
 

Capture of sharp, high-quality images due to the minimal amount of glass the light has to pass through before hitting the detector.
 

Fitting a completely different lens to a camera is often time consuming, and the lens itself large and cumbersome to carry. In addition to this, full-fledged lenses are often more expensive than lens adapters which perform the same function.

Lens adapter
 

Lens adapters are cheaper alternatives to full lenses. They are much easier to carry, and much less time consuming to fit onto the camera. They also can be quickly removed from the lens onto which they are placed to allow for rapid changes in effect with minimal effort.

Poor-quality lens adapters often result in the production of soft or fuzzy images due to the increased amount of glass that light has to pass through before hitting the detector.

As alluded to in the table above, a full fisheye lens is often much too expensive for an amateur photographer, and provides increases in quality likely only useful to trained professional photographers. Fisheye lens adapters are designed to facilitate speed and efficiency when changing scene, and are incredibly cost-effective when compared to their full fisheye lens equivalents.

Choosing a Fisheye Lens Adapter

Because of the complex nature of the fisheye lens adapter, purchasing such an item is often a complex endeavour and, thus, requires the appropriate level of thought and consideration. Reading through the points below will give any interested photographer a great start in the world of fisheye lens adapters, and will act as a platform for further in-depth research into the subject; a must before making a purchase. It is important to consider the functions required when purchasing a fisheye lens, and to make sure that the specifications of the lens match the functionality expected of it. The sections which follow will describe a number of the essential features of the fisheye lens adapter, and will give advice on what to look out for when selecting for each of the properties discussed.

Rectilinear vs. Curvilinear

Early fisheye lenses produced profound distortion of the image in order to facilitate their famously wide angles of image capture. These lenses, known as curvilinear lenses, were capable of making even straight lines appear nauseatingly curved, and making scenes involving curved objects practically unrecognisable. With new technology available in the fields of lens design and of digital image capture, rectilinear fisheye lenses have begun to grace the camera world with their presence, providing the impressively wide image capture angles associated with traditional fisheye lenses while maintaining straight lines as true to life as possible. While some photographers prefer the allure of the curvilinear effects created by the more retro fisheye lenses, more realistic imagery can be obtained by making use of a rectilinear lens.

Viewing Angle and Full Frame Fisheye Lenses

Generally speaking, as the focal lens of a fisheye lens is reduced, its magnification factor is also reduced, but the viewing angle is increased. When approaching a 180 degree angle the effects of distortion become more and more apparent. The more expensive a lens is, the less distortion experienced as the lens viewing angle increases. That said, it is often necessary to install a specialist suite of software on any digital camera fitted with a fisheye lens in order to get the best pictures and fullest functionality when using the lens. Lens adapters are usually much simpler than their full lens cousins, but give an increased amount of distortion per degree of viewing angle gained. A lens or lens adapter with a 10.5mm focal length is perfect for dealing with viewing angles of 180 degree, though at 180 degrees, a fisheye lens with a focal length of 35mm or more will produce major distortion when capturing images of objects just short distances away. A full frame fisheye lens cashes in on this distortion, allowing for capture of the prototypical circular fisheye image, heavily warping lines and features in the process.

Fisheye Lens Adapter Brand

A mistake many photographers make when choosing a fisheye lens adapter is to stick with the manufacturer who makes the lens or camera to which the adapter will be attached. While it is true that some differences exist between the lens designs of different manufacturers, the broad plan of each system remains the same allowing specialist manufacturers to construct generic lenses capable of mounting on a huge array of lenses and cameras. By branching out from the manufacturer's own website, it is easy to pick up a bargain and get a superior-quality fisheye lens adapter for less than the going rate.

Minimising Lens Flare

Lens flare is the effect observed when bright sunlight directly impacts a lens, thus creating artefacts originating from inside the lens itself and allowing these to be seen in the picture. Although the effect of lens flare can be aesthetically pleasing, and indeed is highly sought after by many photographers, this particular effect is best added digitally since genuine lens flares are incredibly difficult to manipulate accurately in order to get the desired effect, and are essentially impossible to remove by editing techniques later. To minimise the effect of lens flare, many photographers use a lens hood - a small plastic extension to the top of the lens which casts a shadow on the lens itself, thereby minimising the occurrence of lens flare.

Conclusion

Using this guide as a jumping off point will allow any user to achieve the level of background knowledge required for a purchase of this importance. The key tip to bear in mind, though, is that no matter how much theoretical knowledge any individual has about the subject of fisheye lens adapters, there is no substitute for spending a few hours shopping around to find the highest-quality lens for the best price.

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