Is a fisheye really useful?

I asked myself this question many times over the years. While the images I've seen looked interesting (most were close up's making full use of the fisheye effect), I figured it would get old pretty quick and wouldn't be that useful a lens. Given that the most reasonable way to even try a "GOOD" fisheye (as in a really sharp one) was with my OM 35mm stuff (which I hate using 35mm after shooting with med and lrg format) which was over $600 for the cheapest "bargain" rated zuiko lens I have seen. It wasn't hard to talk myself out of needing this type of lens. given that most MF fisheyes are 5-10 times that much, using a medformat one was out of the question. Well once I got a kiev, a 30mm fisheye was within reason.  At $230 new with filters,caps,case it would be hard not to get one just to have one! 

So now that I've had one for a while and played with it, I've found it to be a VERY useful tool for doing landscapes. While it does have the classic fisheye distortion, if used with some thought, being very careful composing and leveling the camera, it makes a great SUPER wide angle lens for all sorts of subjects. Also because of it's optical design, it doesn't have the severe light fall off issues a rectiliniar lens does. Given most landscapes don't have straight lines anyway, you can REALLY get some neat shots with one. I would have never guessed that this kind of lens would be good for "normal" looking landscape photography until I experimented with one. Below is an example of a shot I took last weekend at a local park. I've been shooting there for years trying to get a good shot of the lake front. This lens got the "look" I've been trying to capture for years but never could.
This lens is going to be a take everywhere one!

  Stephe Thayer


Your sample photograph illustrates how a fisheye lens can be used to make tasteful rather than gimmicky images.  Thanks for posting it.
It's a really nice looking shot. 

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