Jul 142014
 

Shooting Skateboarders with Micro 4/3

By Tony Zhang

Hello everybody, first of all, I would like to thank Steve and Brandon for providing me with this opportunity to share my thoughts. I am a daily visitor of this site and I really appreciate this opportunity. This is the first time I have written anything remotely formal on the internet so please bear with me and my more than likely boring rant about skateboarding, photography, filmmaking and my gear.

My name is Tony, I am seventeen years old and I live in New Zealand. I discovered photography about two years ago. I am a skateboarder, and about two years ago I wanted to purchase a camera to make videos of my friends and myself skating around and doing tricks. After many hours of internet research later, I decided to shell out my savings on a Canon t4i, kit lens, 50mm f1.8 and a 6.5mm fisheye. My primary interest was video but I inevitably found my way to the world of photography. I eventually sold my kit lens and 50mm and sprung for a Canon 17-55mm f2.8 IS. I was convinced that my setup was good enough(not only in terms of image quality, but also usability, size and weight) for both my video and photo purposes, until I discovered mirrorless and micro 4/3rds.

I feel that skateboarding photography is very different to other forms of photography. For good results, much knowledge about the activity is essential. Knowing exactly what time to press the shutter button, by the millisecond, when shooting a particular trick is essential, a photo early or late by milliseconds is often the difference between a keeper or a throwaway.

Unlike other sports photographers, who are often seen with a behemoth of a DSLR and 100000mm telephoto lens, firing non stop in continuous autofocus mode from the sideline(no offense intended), a skateboard photographer shoots and skates with his friends, he is often down on the ground or up on the roof, in the blazing sun, struggling almost as much as the skateboarder trying to land the trick. The photographer is almost part of the action.

You may notice that for many of my ‘trick’ photos, I use a fisheye lens. The fisheye is a staple in the world of skate photography and it is used to get the camera up close to the spot and skater, to distort the environment, often making the ledge, rail, stair set or other obstacle involved in the trick look much bigger, and hence the stunt more impressive.

Camera rig

Many amateur and professional skate photographers frequently use external strobes and off camera flashes to help freeze the fast-moving action and to light the subject up better. Many amazing skate photos are taken with many external flashes. However, I have never used off camera lighting. Mainly because carrying around so much equipment while cruising around town on a skateboard is a pain, but also because it is a laborious process which somewhat takes the fun out of shooting. (I will also admit that I am a bit intimidated by off camera lighting because it all seems so confusing)

I love skate photography because it captures the life, adventures, talents and efforts of myself and my friends. It is a difficult and special form of photography. I also enjoy the pressures of skate photography, waiting for the skater for hours to land the trick, hoping that the lighting does not change rapidly, getting up high or down low into uncomfortable positions to get the shot, the risk of injury or damaged equipment (my fisheye lens has been hit multiple times by skateboards as a result of being too close), and the chance of getting told of by security, these factors are all parts of skate photography. It is never a controlled environment and I truly enjoy these challenges.

Air(g6)

Backside heelflip(g6)

For the first few months, I was very satisfied with my camera setup. However, after learning more, filming and shooting more, I developed the feeling that something was missing, the ergonomics of a DSLR was not ideal for shooting video, mainly due to the lack of an electronic viewfinder, I had to use a large and cumbersome stick on viewfinder when shooting video. A video mode with 60 frames per second is essential for skating due to the need for slow motion at times, and Canon DSLRs only have 60fps in a softened 720p mode, filled with moire and aliasing artifacts. Despite being an excellent all round lens, the size, weight and front/back focusing issues of the 17-55mm f2.8, was irritating. I longed for a smaller camera with an electronic viewfinder and clean 1080p video in 60 frames per second.

There are few mirrorless cameras with aspc sized sensors that provided clean 1080p 60fps video, good video and stills ergonomics, a good, wide enough fisheye lens option, and an external 3.5mm mic input. Enter micro 4/3rds, after months and months of internet lurking. I decided that the Panasonic g6 would be the best all round camera for my purposes at a good price point. At the start of 2014, I sold my entire camera setup but kept my external microphone and homemade handle which I use for filming ‘lines’ (a video clip in which I am on my skateboard, following a skater with my camera and fisheye lens low to the ground and close to the skater, filming him do several tricks in a sequence.) I purchased the Panasonic g6, the Bower 7.5mm f3.5 fisheye, the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4 and the Panasonic 14-140mm f3.5-5.6 zoom lens. For me, this was the best all round compromise for stills and video that I could afford. I chose the g6 over the gx7 due to the external mic jack and overall ergonomics, and the gh3 due to the price difference. I find the difference in stills quality between the g6 sensor and my past Canon DSLR sensor to be negligible, and in fact I find contrast detect autofocus to be more reliable. However the difference in video quality and ergonomics between the two setups is worlds apart. I prefer the electronic viewfinder for both stills and video. The touch pad AF function on the g6 is perfect for my style of shooting, this, along with the accurate contrast based autofocus and the 25mm f1.4 makes shooting much more enjoyable than it was on my Canon. I do not require lightning fast tracking autofocus because when shooting tricks, I prefocus on a spot and lock the focus. Nothing else I shoot moves at a fast pace, and contrast detect autofocus works perfectly for my needs. The 7fps burst rate is very useful and I have the camera set to burst mode almost all the time.

Chill(g6)

Frontside noseblunt(g6)

Kickflip(g6)

I love the Panasonic 25mm f1.4, I try to use it as much as I can. The depth of field is shallow enough for me and I love the rendering and micro contrast of the lens. I often shoot wide open, and the 25mm is very sharp wide open. I also purchased a polaroid variable ND filter for about $30 USD so I can shoot video wide open during the day, the quality of the filter is excellent for video, there is a slight compromise for stills but I am not at all bothered by the incremental reduction in sharpness. The fisheye lens is compact, sharp and solid, however I do wish that it had a slightly wider field of view and increased barrel distortion. It is noticeably less wide than its aps-c DSLR counterpart which I had. I purchased the 14-140mm zoom planning to just use it for video, but its stills capability is also very decent, I find depth of field at the long end to be very adequate for portraits given that there is enough working distance. The OIS works amazingly, I can sometimes shoot fairly steady handheld video at the very telephoto end. I use it mostly for zooming video shots (unlike in usual filmmaking, many traditional skateboarding clips have some sort of zooming action in them, so video nerds please don’t rip me to shreds), however, I still wish I had a typical camcorder style zoom rocker.

Mum(g6)

Nollie crooked grind(g6)

With my birthday money, Chinese New Years red bag money(haha many of you will know what I am talking about), and addition chip ins from my parents for doing surprisingly well in my SATs first try, I purchased a Ricoh GR. I originally had my eye on the Fuji x100s, but it was not pocketable and cost too much. I wanted the GR because of it’s tiny size, ergonomics and it looked fun to use. It is a camera that fits in my pocket, I take it with me almost everywhere in the weekends, often without the intent of taking photos at all. The GR is the camera that allows me to get candid photos of my friends and out skateboarding adventures without me having to take out my big(ger) camera(and often removing it from my homemade handle.) I was originally worried I may not have been able to adjust to a 28mm prime lens and expected myself to frequently use the 35mm crop mode(which by the way is excellent), but I quickly found it to be the perfect ‘storytelling’ lens, wide enough to include many elements in the photo putting the shot into precise context. I also find the 28mm equivalent perspective very dynamic and lively, unlike many telephoto focal lengths which appear distant, compressed and flat(but this is good for many things). I usually shoot in TAV mode with the aperture wide open or at f5.6, and use it typically up to ISO 3200. Much to my surprise, I found the in camera raw developer to be very useful and fun to use, I especially like the positive film effect. The low light performance of the GR is great, the handling and interface are amazing, the sharpness is incredible throughout the aperture range., it is built well and most of all, it is fun to use. The 28mm and 50mm prime combo I have is great for most of my purposes when it comes to stills.

Ollie(trick) - Wynyard quarter(g6)

Portrait(g6)

However, nothing is perfect. Despite all the benefits of my new camera setup, I can still find some noticeable flaws, no deal breakers though. Firstly, the build quality of the Panasonic g6 is questionable. Being part of the entry-level range, the buttons feel slightly flimsy and often have a slight delay, this is especially noticeable when I want to scroll through photos, or quickly change the aperture or shutter speed. It is not a big deal however, just takes some getting used to. I wish there was a flatter picture style for video so I could squeeze out some more dynamic range when filming. When in manual mode, there is no constant exposure preview in the viewfinder and screen, the viewfinder always displays a correctly exposed image, this is frustrating as one of the main benefits of an electronic viewfinder is to have a constant preview of the exact exposure. The eyecup of the viewfinder is also very hard and uncomfortable, and I am unable to tightly press it against my eye for stability, much better than nothing though. The 25mm f1.4 is almost perfect, but I do wish it were a bit smaller and had a reversible lens hood, with the hood attached it is quite big. Chromatic aberration is also a concern, however this is easily removed in Lightroom. When filming with the 14-140mm, I sometimes notice slight shifts out of focus for milliseconds before coming back to focus while zooming, even when in manual mode, meaning that it is not a true parfocal lens. This is usually not an issue, but frustrating at times.

Push(g6)

Squat(g6)

The Ricoh GR, for what it is, is close to perfect, however there is a risk of sensor dust attraction. After about a month, I noticed a slight speck of dust on the sensor, it is noticeable when I shoot a picture of a white wall, however it cannot be seen in most situations. It is annoying but usually not an issue. I also wish that there was a manual video mode, I know it is a camera completely designed for stills but some sort of control in video would be nice. A slightly faster maximum aperture would have been nice, I really like the surreal look of wide-angle photos with shallow depth of field, however I understand that the size of the GR would have been compromised. A pop up EVF would be amazing, I have gotten used to shooting with the screen and it is fine, even in sunny conditions, but after seeing the Sony Rx100 iii, I really wish my GR also had one. Perhaps I am asking for a bit too much here.

Backside smith grind(gr)

Lastly, for those who care, here is my homemade camera rig/handle I have mentioned a few times. It allows me to shoot much steadier video due to the extra weight, as well as to film ‘lines’ due to the top handle. Prior to this, I had the Opteka X-grip, but it felt flimsy, was too big and wasn’t really efficient. I drew a few sketches of what I wanted on paper, then purchased various parts off eBay to put it together. The camera slides in and is connected by the hotshoe screw at the top as well as the quick release plate at the bottom. The height is adjustable and the frame can extend enough to fit some entry level full frame cameras. There is no frame on the left side so my LCD screen can flip out, and I mounted my external microphone(sony ms908c) upside down on the side so the rig fits in my bag without me having to take it apart. The quick release plate is a recent addition. With the plate added, it takes about 3 seconds to take the camera on or off the rig, without it, that time lengthens to about twenty seconds. If anyone is interested in the pieces. required, I am more than happy to send you a list of parts and how to put it together. By the way, the photo of the rig itself was taken on my Ricoh GR, wide open at ISO 1600 in raw and then processed in camera with the positive film effect.

Here is my Flickr- https://www.flickr.com/photos/87200229@N04/

Instagram- http://instagram.com/t_zhangg

Youtube channel- https://www.youtube.com/user/TonyZhangsChannel

I would really appreciate it if you could view my photos follow me on instagram and flickr, I know I don’t have much content, in fact, hardly any, most of my work is kept to myself. But rest assured that I have been steadily uploading more and will continue to put out more content.

Most of you will probably have little to no interest in skateboarding, but it would mean a lot to me if you could click on my channel and watch a few videos, it would really help me out, even better if you subscribe!

Once again, many thanks to Steve and Brandon for this opportunity, as well as to all of you who have taken time out of your day to read my article. I apologise for my rambling and heavy digression into video. I really enjoyed writing up this user report, it has allowed me to thoroughly rant about my thoughts. I hope that this report has been informative or useful to some of you who may be considering the Panasonic g6 or Ricoh GR, despite all the flaws I pointed out, they are excellent cameras(Trust me, I could tear any camera to pieces). Being able to carry around so much camera gear but still have the overall weight and size of it all being fairly minimal is amazing, especially when I skate around town with everything in my backpack. However, in the end, it is not about the equipment you have, but how you use it and your creative vision. No matter how good your gear is, there is always room for its improvement. People have create amazing images with mediocre gear, so try not to be like me and go crazy about gear, instead focus on the actual process of taking photos and your final product. But let’s be honest, talking about gear is pretty fun :)

Cheers,
Tony

Filming(gr)

Frontside bluntslide(gr)

Lurk(gr)

Sunset(gr)

May 072014
 

Using the Samyang fisheye

By Rob Scheurwater

Hi Brandon/Steve,

Half a year ago I bought a Samyang 7.5mm fisheye lens. I bought it from someone who didn’t like the silver version of this lens on his black Panasonic GX7 body. He also sold me his silver Panasonic 20mm II.

I think they both look great on my black Olympus OM-D EM-5 body and more important, I like the IQ of both lenses. After experimenting with Samyang for a while now, i’m quite happy with the results.

It now belongs to my standard equipment, I usually take with me, my Olympus OM-D EM-5 with three lenses, a Panasonic 14mm, Panasonic 20mm and the Samyang fisheye.

I think this lens stimulates the creative eye, it’s great for architecture but I also use it for landscape photography.

Thanks for the inspiration your site has given me.

Rob Scheurwater, The Netherlands

Paris subway

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The Rotterdam building of Rem Koolhaas. Dutch photographer Ruud Sies made a really nice photo documentary, called „Building the Rotterdam

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Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

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The old library of Bologna

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Feb 012014
 

User report: Rokinon 8mm in the Fuji X-E1

By Frank Conley

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This is not a technical review of the Rokinon 8mm. This is just some musings about actually using the lens.

My evolution into an all-Fuji toolkit has had an empty hole: the ultra-wide. I do a lot of wide work, and have daily relied upon the Canon 10-22mm, which is an absolutely superb lens. Fuji’s product roadmap has them releasing an XF 10-24mm sometime in March 2014. It will be a half-stop slower than the Canon, but it will fill a serious optic need that’s kept me tied to Canon.

One of the primary reasons for the move to Fuji was smaller, lighter, less obtrusive gear for documentary work. Having to lug the Canon along to get the utility of the 10-22mm is unfortunate. So while I wait for Fuji to get its manufacturing act ramped up, Rokinon’s lens makers offer an engaging and fun fill in.

While I had a few off brand lenses when I first started as a photographer, I quickly replaced them all as soon as I could. I’ve kept the tradition of sticking to lenses within the brand ever since. (That hasn’t been true of accessories, but glass is a separate issue.) There are many benefits of buying within a brand, especially with digital bodies and the communication that needs to go on between lens and the camera’s computer.

I happened across a review of the Rokinon 8mm, however, and was intrigued. Although slightly less than a true fish-eye, it’s an ultra wide. It’s wider than I usually work with, but that also means that it will still have a purpose once Fuji releases their lens. B&H had one in stock, and I’m up for any excuse for a trip to Manhattan. With my bank account $300 lighter, I’ve rolled the Rokinon into steady use rotation.

I have no prior familiarity with the brand. Apparently Ronkion also sells under the name Samyang. I have no idea if there’s a difference. All I know is that the lens I bought is solid, doesn’t rattle, has positive (if possibly stiff) clicks on the aperture ring, has a stiff focus ring, and has a mount that fits solidly to the X-E1. It’s a heavy lens, with a lot of glass in it. The X-E1 is small and light to begin with, so any lens on the front is going to unbalance the camera. There’s enough room to grab the Rokinon by the barrel and keep things steady, though.

In operation, it’s fine. It doesn’t have the polish and subtlety of the Fuji lenses (whose feel reminds me most of the bulletproof Nikkor glass of yore). But, it doesn’t feel cheap. It feels quite acceptable for the price point. It has an integral hood, which is useful for not chipping up the glass. However, because of the extreme convex, it picks up smudges very easily.

Part of what that price doesn’t buy you, though, is the ability for the lens to talk to the camera. And so we learn some of what all those extra dollars are paying for: there’s no autofocus (though, focusing is overrated on an ultra wide). There’s no aperture control. In fact, the camera doesn’t think that there’s actually a lens attached, necessitating you to turn on the “Shoot Without Lens” option. That means there’s no record of the lens or its aperture setting in the EXIF data (though you do get shutter speed and ISO). Although the camera doesn’t know what the lens is up to, the sensor on the X-E1 will still figure out the required shutter speed and ISO. The electronic viewfinder on the X-E1 does a very decent job of representing the scene, making full manual an option, too.

These are minor annoyances, though, and I’ve been pleased with the performance of the lens. I don’t worry about things like edge to edge sharpness, and lens flare and chromatic aberration, and I’m sure that the Rokinon suffers from some or all of such things as compared to a Zeiss or Fuji lens. The images I can make with it are interesting, and there’s enough resolution that I can crop out excessive distortion if that seems to be the right thing to do. Focusing seems to be largely irrelevant so long as nothing is closer than a foot away, and it gathers quite a bit of light at f/2.8. It’s very wide, though, which means that fingers, shoes, and sometimes my shirt can find their way into the corners of the frame.

The center of the lens suffers surprisingly little distortion. Depending on the subject matter, the edges sometimes aren’t that when they aren’t close in. Even when the distortion is severe, however, it’s less distracting than I would have guessed. All the images here are uncorrected for lens distortion. It’s obvious that it’s an ultra wide, and I think viewers are more comfortable with that than the subtle distortion of, say, a 20mm lens. Subtle distortion is more easily mistaken for a manipulated photograph, or just a feeling of queasiness. In either event, in my experience a subtle distortion is more likely to cause unease than an ultra wide, so I don’t mind it.

This is a very decent lens. The perspective is easy to abuse and could easily get tiring, but with mindfulness and the occasional crop, it fills the ultra-wide void for a very reasonable price, and has the quality to remain a working tool after Fuji finally catches up to their production calendar.

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Pedestrians in front of a New York City bookstore.

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A gargoyle on Notre Dame breathes the clouds into being.

email: [email protected]

website: fjamesconley.com

twitter: @Philatawgrapher

Oct 212013
 

The Lomography Experimental Lens Kit Review

by Dirk Essl – His website is HERE

Today I received an Experimental Lens Kit from Lomography and immediately took it on a test ride while having my lunch break. In case you don’t know it, it is a kit of 3 Plastic Lenses with plastic optics. and an integrated shutter, so you can take ‘real’ double or multi exposures just like in the analog days.

Packaging And Contents:

packaging

In the package there are the three lenses with front and rear cap, on the rear cap the focal length and name of the lens is written:

rear-caps

Also in the package is a tiny pouch with tiny little filters which can be inserted into a filter slot on the back of each lens:

filters

So we have yellow, blue, orange, green, violet and two different ND filters. The ND filters are helpful for doing Multi Exposures in bright daylight.

The Filters are mounted in a dedicated slot at the back of the Lens. Stacking Filters is also possible:

filterstogether

Also included is a big poster with Instructions in all different languages and sample pictures on the back. You can see it acting as a backdrop here where I mounted each lens on a camera for your enjoyment. From left to right: E-P2-IR with 12mm Wide-Angle Lens, E-M5 with 24mm Standard Lens, E-PM1 with 160° Fisheye Lens

TheThree

Although the look a bit different in size, they are not. just the Fisheye is a bit shorter, as it does not have the integrated hood.

Handling

As I said the lenses are plastic. Plastic mount, plastic lenses, plastic everything. Only the shutter level-knob and I guess the screws and a spring inside the lens for the shutter are made of metal. Mounting the Lenses on a camera is done as with every lens with a m4/3rds mount. Align the dots, twist. done.

The lenses shutter is closed in the original configuration, so to see a picture on the viewfinder, you need to open that up. Turn the triangle-shaped lever downwards until it snaps in and you can compose your shots. The integrated shutter is disabled in this position (T-Mode). Set your camera to A-mode and you are done. If the shutter speed is too low, raise your ISO. All three lenses are fixed at f8, just like the Olympus Bodycap Lens.

Multi-Exposure Mode

To make real multi-exposures, I find the easiest is to leave the camera in A-Mode. Compose your shot, close the shutter with the triangle lever, push the little metal-shutter knob, recompose (you will of course need to guess your composition from know on) and trigger the shutter again. As the meter will measure with the shutter closed, your shutter speed will be at about 4-5 seconds, which should be enough time to take a multi-exposure image. the manual says to use bulb mode, which of course works as well.

Optical Performance

I tested those lenses today at lunch time on an Olympus E-PM1 and on an IR converted E-P2 (720nm) The Visible images are all straight out of camera, with no adjustments beside resizing in Adobe Lightroom. The IR pictures only have some increased clarity, as they would look very flat-out of camera. White balance of the E-P2 was on green gras.

12mm Wide Angle Lens E-PM1

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Of course, optically all those lenses are only mediocre. Well less than mediocre to be honest. The 12mm is a contrasty, quirky colors, wide-angle lense with a nice vignette. The center is not as soft as the corners and it has very strong barrel distortion. Focus goes from 0.2m to infinity

Pros:

Wide angle of View (24mm FF equiv.)

lightweight

close focusing distance

cons:

plastic fantastic (should be a pro, through)

24mm Standard Lens E-PM1

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As well nice colors, quite sharp in the center, typical lo-fi TV lens look in the corners. Not so much distortion as you would expect. I guess this is quite a fun lens at night with color filters and a flash. Red gel in the Lens, blue gel in a flash and you get crazy colors like never seen before. Focusing goes from 0.6m to infinity.

Pros:

nice ‘Standard’ FOV (48mm FF equiv)

good colors

focuses nearer then any Leica Lens

cons:

only f8 (might be tuneable)

160° Fisheye Lens E-PM1

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Infrared performance

As there so many m4/3rds bodies now that can be bought (or sold) for very little money, many people decide to get their old body converted to different wavelengths. I have an E-P2 converted to 720nm (near Infrared). I mostly shoot it with the Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye and can say it is a wonderful combo. Examples of false color and B&W pictures taken with this camera can be seen in this flickr set

12mm Wide Angle Lens in Infrared

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In IR, this is my favourite out of the three. You can take nice, contrasty IR images without worrying much about fstops, focus, sharpness and all that technical stuff. Shooting directly into the sun? No problem. Hotspots? non-existent.

One thing I found as speciality on all of the three lenses is that the T-Shutter can be closed only partially to create a strong vignette in the lover right corner. If you are a fan of heavy vignettes and don’t want to fiddle around with post processing, these are your lenses:

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24mm Standard Lens in Infrared

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The 24 is usable for IR as well, but just not my focal length for this type of shooting. Hotspots? Negative report!

160° Fisheye Lens in Infrared

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This is the only of the three that has not enough focus for infinity focus in IR. As in a converted camera the focal plane is different because a.) the different wavelength of IR and b.) because of the different thickness of the filter glass in front of the sensor. It might be hackable to achieve infinity focus, and I really hope so as I like the circular effect.

Focal length comparison:

Just for reference the same scene, taken with a E-PM1 in A-mode, ISO 200, center weighted metering.

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Conclusion

I think it is a great addition to the m4/3rds family. It shows that the system has enough users for new companies to produce lenses for it. No need to mess around with quirky adapters to get these lo-fi shots. No messing around with post processing if you want to add a certain effect to your pictures. If you want to have a break from your usual photography style, take those lenses with you and enjoy an afternoon of worry free shooting.

You can visit Dirk at his very own blog HERE

Nov 152012
 

Fisheyes are more than a gimmick.

A recent post discussed the choice of fisheye lenses for 4/3 cameras, particularly the Panasonic f3.5. The comment was made that these lenses are mostly a gimmick because of the severe barrel distortion. That is true in many instances. These lenses do not work for portraits, for example, unless you want to show someone with a really big distorted nose. I would not take a fisheye to walk around a city.

But I have found a fisheye an indispensable lens for shooting some landscapes, especially wide open desert vistas in southern Utah. Some of the best shots are those that capture as much of the whole vista as possible and a fisheye, used correctly, is the ultimate wide-angle lens. Here are some examples.

This is an early morning shot from an overlook at Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park. It takes in a nearly 180 degree view. Island in the Sky is a 6000′ elevation mesa with the Colorado River on the east side and the Green River on the west. Both sides of the mesa have 1000′ cliffs dropping to a level of concrete hard white sandstone named the White Rim. From the White Rim a maze of canyons drop another 1000′ to the two rivers (which eventually converge at the southern end of the mesa). This view is to the east. The mountains in the distance are the second highest in Utah at over 13,000′. Capturing all of this in one shot is key to depicting what is so spectacular about this region. The secret to getting the shot without distortion is to put the horizon in the middle.

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There are three iconic arches in this area. Two are in Arches National Park (Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch) and the other is in Island in the Sky, named Mesa Arch. It is a spectacular sight at any time but especially on a clear morning when the sun hits the cliff below the arch and reflects up making the bottom of the arch glow a brilliant orange as if it were on fire. There are thousands of photos of Mesa Arch but virtually all show only a portion of the arch. The best shot shows the many formations that can be seen through it down to the White Rim but you have to stand close to get it. Only a fisheye can both capture the full arch and the scenery below it. Shot straight on a fisheye makes the arch appear like a big mouth but off to the side it works better than any other lens to capture the whole scene.

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This is a shot of the goosenecks of the San Juan River near Bluff, Utah. Again, the most spectacular feature is the whole scene, the number of meanders the river takes through this section. Monument Valley is in the distance. Only a fisheye can capture this whole scene in one shot. A very wide-angle like a 14mm would only get three meanders. The fisheye gets all four. Another option would be a series of stitched shots but sometimes you also want the foreground and the sky with the sun. This is not that spectacular because it was shot mid day but that is the only time to see the details down in the canyons.

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This final shot is of a place named The Citadel in Cedar Mesa, near Bluff, Utah. This was a defensive site accessible only across a very narrow neck leading to a rock outcrop surrounded by deep canyons on both sides. These 600 year old Anasazi ruins cannot be seen from the neck and there is very little room to back away from the ruins for a shot. I wanted to get the ruins and the canyon next to it so show how precarious this site is. Again, only the fisheye would do the job. A 35mm lens would only capture a portion of the ruin and none of the canyon to the side. My son is only about 4 feet from me when this shot was taken.

Obviously a fisheye is not a take everywhere lens but at times it is the best lens for the job.

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved
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