Sigma 8mm f3.5 Circular Fisheye Lens

Well, I’ve dropped a few hints, and posted a few sample pictures, but I was holding off talking about this new toy until I could get to the Quayside and take one particular picture. What we have here is a nicely entertaining bit of glass, which gives a full 180Ëš field of view in a circular image when used with a full-frame camera like the Canon 5D MkII. The image is, of course heavily distorted, but this effect can be reduced by cropping or by giving it a good bashing with a suitable filter in Photoshop. These things are a matter of taste, of course. And while some people really hate fisheye images, I’ve always had a soft spot for them, and I’ve had a vague yearning for a lens that would do the fully circular thing for quite some time.

I did look at one while I was using the Canon 30D, but didn’t get round to doing anything about it, which is probably just as well, as if I had, it would have been hard to justify getting another one when I moved to the full-frame beast. Anyway, after much dithering, and noticing that Amazon had the lens for something approaching £100 less than most reliable suppliers, I decided to go for it.

It’s a compact little lens, with a pronounced bulge in front – you won’t be fitting any filters on the front of this one. Beneath the bulge, you can clearly see the domed main front element of the lens. Other than that, it’s got the usual switch to select manual or automatic focus – note that this isn’t one of those friendly lenses that lets you tweak the focus by hand even in auto mode, and a combination lens cap and mini hood thingy, much like the other wide angle lens I have. You need to remove the whole assembly to get a proper image.

Initial impressions are good – I can see I’ll need to play with aperture settings to get the best results, and I’ll have to go back on a sunnier day, but here are a couple of examples. First, the shot I had to take:

Now that's what I call wide

Now that’s what I call wide

This does point out one of the problems with this kind of lens – it’s way too easy to find yourself in the image – that’s my sleeve in the lower left! But it does capture the arches of the Millennium and Tyne Bridges, each with a lovely reflection, so I quite like it.

Twisted Swing Bridge

Twisted Swing Bridge

This one’s just for fun – it’s a distorted view of the Swing Bridge, with the High Level Bridge behind. It’s exactly the kind of oddness I was hoping for with this lens, and I’ll be looking for more subjects to attack in the same way.