When I was a teenager just getting into photography I wanted a fisheye lens so badly. The shots taken with fisheyes were so warped, twisted and cool. Of course the reality is that these lens typically are hugely expensive and don't lend themselves to everyday use. Overuse of a fisheye is certainly one way to turn off anyone.
But recently I've discovered a rather inexpensive 7.5mm fisheye lens. The Rokinon lens with mounts for micro-four thirds cameras as well as Cannons and Nikons is under $300. The official fisheye from Panasonic is double that cost.
- 180 degrees angle of view
- 9 elements in 7 groups
- Aperture range F3.5-22
- Minimum focusing distance of 0.295ft
- Approximately 1.9 inches long
Now what you don't get with the Rokinon is autofocus. But with a lens like this it really doesn't matter much because the depth of field is so great. You simply just dial the lens to the distance of the subject. Anything greater than about one foot to infinity is going to be in focus. If you want to get really close just dial in the manual focus ring.
The only other complication of this lens is that you'll have to set up a custom setting for the lens. On my Panasonic G3 for example, the camera thinks that there is no lens attached unless I use the special settings. To use this lens, you must set your camera to "Shoot Without Lens" before using this lens because there is no electrical connections between the camera and the lens and the camera will not know that it is attached.
I find my Rokinon provides sharp images and the color for some reason is very saturated when I use this lens. See for yourself with some of these examples of shots taken with this lens in Fort Myers Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada:
Fisheyes can be great if used sparingly. You can easily over do it. They are great for interior shots and capturing huge things when you need to be close. Keep in mind that the further you get away from the center line the more distorted things get. Some of the distortion can be corrected with software like Adobe Lightroom or simply cropped out. But most of the time you'll want to keep the distortion as its part of the fisheye look.
Some fun things to try with a fisheye is pointing it towards the ground to increase the distorted effect. You can create humorous portaits of your pets by getting really up close to their nose like those "The Dog" images. You can also take photos of tight spaces like the inside your dishwasher.