This is not a product review, although I will write about some of the specs and about the performance of my Pro-Optic 8mm Fisheye lens. If you want a full blown product review, go somewhere else. If you want to read about some average guy's experience with a low priced, entry level fisheye lens, then you have come to the right place!
So, it was Christmas 2010, and my family had no idea what to get me for a gift. To be honest, I didn't know what I wanted. I was reading a review of this fisheye in Shutterbug Magazine, and the lens looked promising. I have always wanted a fisheye lens, but the Canon offerings were too expensive for my budget. The article promised full 180 degree fisheye performance in a lens with a price under $300.00! I thought, "Can't beat that with a stick!", so I ordered the lens.
I love Adorama. I think they have great products and for the most part great service. I have to tell you though, their decision to partner with Streamlite to ship their products have made me reluctant to purchase anything else from them. I ordered my lens the Monday after Christmas. Now, Adorama is in New York, and I live in Atlanta. Normally, when I order products from New York based companies, I can choose normal shipping and I will see my order within 5 days. With Streamlite, my order took over 2 and and a half weeks to show up. Streamlite's business model is that they will pick up the packages for shipping from vendor, ship them via USPS, then pick them up at the destination and deliver them. Huh? Why not let the Post Office handle this directly? Why add a middle man? By the time my lens arrived at my house, my head was ready to explode with frustration. If you decide to order something from Adorama or any other business that offers Streamlite as an option, pay a little more for UPS or FedEx. Streamlite blows. Okay, that is the end of my rant.
The Pro-Optic fisheye is only for cameras with an APS-C sized digital sensor. It will fit on film cameras or full sized digital sensor cameras with the same mount, but the image circle will not fully cover the sensor or film. You set the aperture manually and you focus manually. There is a funny thing about the manual focus. At 8mm, I can't see anything out of focus when looking through the viewfinder or after looking at the images on my computer, regardless of the focus or aperture settings. So, all I do is leave the lens on infinity and set the aperture to f/22. For me, the point of a good fisheye photo, is that everything in the shot is in focus. Fisheye shots are not the place for bokeh.
If you don't know the fisheye effect, basically, the lens captures everything in a 180 degree field of view. It does this with a severely rounded front optic, which looks like a fish's eye, thus the moniker. The photo below shows the effect well, I think.
I was right under the pedestal of this sculpture. The angle is so wide, I couldn't lay down to get further away because my feet were getting into the photo. You can also see that the severe curvature of the front optic bends the vertical and horizontal lines in the composition as they move farther away from the center. Some will use corrective software to straighten the lines, but personally, I love the effect. The fisheye lens gives a unique perspective to the world.
If you do not have a fisheye lens, I highly recommend that you buy or rent one and give it a whirl.