The Olympus 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Quick Lens Review
Well well. Olympus has been successfully creating cameras and lenses for decades now. When the original E-1 camera came out in 2003 (Four Thirds mount, NOT Micro 4/3) I loved it to pieces. For me, that camera had some magic at the time. While today that’d E-1 falls way short I do know some who still shoot with that camera every now and again and still treasure it. There is just something about Olympus that always keeps me with a body and a lens or two, no matter if I move on to bigger and better things (like full frame).
Even when I am shooting my Leica heavily, or my Sony heavily I always come back to Olympus in the form of the E-M1, E-M5 II or now the new E-M10II (currently reviewing). Olympus, for me, means I will always have a fun time shooting. It also means I will always get my shots as my Olympus cameras never seem to fail me, they offer a huge lens selection and they are fast and have some of the best features on the market. While not holding up to full frame image quality, the IQ from these little wonders is nothing short of astonishing when you consider the small sensor and size of these camera bodies.
Video showing off the 8mm Fisheye
That leads me to this new lens release from Olympus. The 8mm Fisheye f/1.8 Pro. Yep, Oly is listing this as a pro lens as it is dust and splash proof, and it offers a worlds 1st for a fisheye..an f/1.8 aperture. Usually these 8mm lenses come in with an aperture of f/3.5 but this one, at f/1.8, actually will offer you more creative possibilities than any other fisheye that I am aware of.
Olympus E-M10 II with the 8mm Fisheye Pro
I love fisheye lenses and while I only use them 3-4 times per year I find that owning at least ONE fisheye is well worth it. With so many less expensive fisheye’s out there today, most coming in between $250 and $350 with even the promo Panasonic 8mm fish coming it at round $600 how can Olympus charge $999 for this little guy?
Well, it is a PRO lens which means it will survive the elements. Rain, snow, freezing temps, dust.. this lens should survive any of that. It also has the worlds fastest aperture for a fisheye at f/1.8, and it has Auto Focus, something the less expensive models lack (and yes, you can mis-focus a fisheye). This lens is the nicest looking, feeling and well made fisheye I have ever used. I find it bitingly sharp contrary to one report I saw that said it was not that share wide open. My copy is VERY sharp wide open.
Next two shots, E-M5II and the 8mm Fisheye
If you have never shot with a Fisheye lens before, you are in for either a treat or disappointment. What a fisheye does is allow you to get massive surroundings into the frame. Usually offering a true 180 degree field of view, this means that it is WIDE..beyond ULTRA wide. It will also give you massive distortion, which is the character of these lenses, hence “fisheye”.
QUICK SPECS OF THE 8MM 1.8
Micro Four Thirds System
16mm (35mm Equivalent)
Aperture Range: f/1.8 to f/22
1 Aspherical, 5 ED, and 3 HR Elements
Anti-Reflection ZERO Coating
High-Speed Imager AF with MSC
Expansive 180° Angle of View
Dust, Splash, and Freezeproof Design
Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm
When used correctly (and it is very hard to do, I rarely can get a GREAT fisheye shot) the results can be spectacular. When used incorrectly, the shots are average. This is a challenging lens and if you slapped this guy on your M 4/3 camera and kept it there for one week, by the end of that week you will be much better with the lens than if you just use it sparingly.
This kind of lens can really put the viewer into the moment and scene.
1st shot E-M10 II, then E-M5II for 2 and 3
I have owned and loved the Panasonic 8mm f/3.5 but compared to this Olympus it was slower to Auto Focus and did not offer the pro build or the f 1.8 aperture. Coming in at $400 less I feel this Olympus is priced right for what it offers above and beyond that Panasonic. (speed, pro build, aperture). While not the fastest lens in the Olympus lineup for Auto Focus, it is fast for a fisheye. Imagine what the camera would think if it had a brain…
The sensor would see a MASS amount of information due to the ultra wide view…”what to focus on”?!?!? So this will not be as speedy to AF as a 25 1.8 or 12 f/2, rather it will be a touch slower but not slow enough to call it slow or sluggish. It is quite quick, and depending on light it can go from super fast to semi fast. So no worries on AF speed or accuracy. I remember my Panasonic would often times focus incorrectly and while many think you can not mis focus a fisheye, you very well can, ESPECIALLY when you have a faster aperture like f/1.8. Luckily the AF is working very well here.
While having this lens for review I started to really enjoy it..a lot. While walking through the catacomb like pathways of an old ghost town in the AZ desert I was doing some long exposures and the ultra wide view helped to show exactly where I was…THIS is when I found this lens invaluable. No other lens would have worked quite the same. I also have the 7-14 f/2.8 pro here and that lens did very well in these areas as well, but the fisheye really shows the viewer more of what I was seeing while in these spots.
E-M10II and 8MM Fisheye, long exposures.
So at the end of the day, after 1st renting this lens for a week a month or so ago, and now having a review copy here I have a solid two weeks with this lens and I now want it for my Micro 4/3 lens collection. I sold my Panasonic month ago because I knew this was on the way, and it does not disappoint. I found ZERO weakness. No flare issues, no softness issues, no missed AF issues and no build issues. I even caked my review samples with massive dust and dirt while out in the AZ desert during a windy night where dust and dirt was blowing everywhere. The lens was coated but after a clean up that took 2 minutes it was good as new.
So now I must own this lens. Even for video it rocks – for Vlogging it does well though the distortion my bother some. I once did quite a few videos for public viewing using mostly a fisheye lens, and it works out great. In some tight situations, if shooting video, this lens would be fantastic (as would the 7-14 without the distortion).
This lens mated to an E-M1, E-M5II, or E-M10 II or any of the other M 4/3 cameras out there will offer you a unique, different and sometimes surprising view of the world. While not an every day lens (no fisheye is) it is a lens that with selective use can expand your photo portfolio with shots that stick out. While not cheap at $999, I consider this lens to be priced JUST right for what it offers over other less expensive Fisheye lenses.
So once again I say BRAVO to Olympus for releasing yet another amazing lens for their M 4/3 system. The new 8mm Pro offers you a “no compromise” fisheye that can be used in nearly ANY situation and I find it to be a notch above the competition in every way. AWESOME! Highly recommended for those who have been itching for a Fisheye lens!!!
You can order the lens at my preferred Olympus dealers below:
WHERE TO BUY
B&H Photo – Olympus 8mm fisheye
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I often read of EM1 and pro lens nit being up to FF IQ. 5 axis stabilizatoon + light weight affordable f1.8 at what print size would you see a difference. Very few owners a tally shoot at hi ISO in dark situations and I think only 1% even print their pictures other than an 8 x 10 occasionally.
I shoot the Pan/Leica 25 mm 1.4 wide open and love the results shooting flowers.
What FF camera can touch what Firmware 4 will bring to Oly cameras. FREE!
USED TO SHOOT 4 X 5, Hassy, Nikon and Canon 5D + L lens. But Oly cameras are sheer joy to shoot with. The EM1 has so many features at finger tips…
Love your site just tired of seeing stuff only very wealthy people can buy..
Bob in Chicago
i have a Em1, stabilization with 12mm olympus is difficult
do you think firmware v4.0 will be able to put at the same level of E-M5 II ?
If you speak of the Olympus 12mm f/2 that lens stabilizes like magic with 5 Axis IS. Make sure you have the 5 Axis IS on. The 5II 5 Axis is improved but even so, the 12mm Oly lens stabilizes amazingly on the E-M1.
Yes on my E-M1 , SI movie on
on static shoots, it s not perfect with 12mm
the smallest lateral distance, the image in the background has a bizarre appearance.
This does not do this with the Panasonic 20mm or 25mm Leica
Have you got the focal length in the IS menu set to auto?
on movie mode
i choose the focal in info
no answers ?
So it is safe to assume that you have made the change from EM1 to EM5II?
That colour is stunning!
I have an E-M5II now, personally. I have an E-M10II here for review 😉
It looks great, but doesn’t have a manual focus scale does it? Massive fail by Olympus, manual focus is essential for low/no light situations where autofocus doesn’t work, and given the wide aperture this lens would have been in massive demand from astro guys if you could focus it in the dark.
Why would an AF fisheye need a MF scale? It doesn’t. I focused in the dark EASILY as did many others on my light painting workshop where we shot in pitch blackness. No issues or problems. In fact, AF worked on most occasions.
For the times when you don’t want to use AF? For focussing on something way in the distance?
I saw a B&H video from wedding photographer Gene Ho using two aps-c cameras (one in each hand) each with a different length fish eye on it and was amazed. Worth checking out, if only for the novelty. I love fisheye lenses, but just can’t get the hang of them.
I have to agree, the E-1 whilst it was dismissed by many for having only a 5Mp sensor, was and still is, a very capable camera; I know of people who use this to deliver images for websites, their logic being, why use a mega Mp camera, when your images are going to be scaled down? Ergonomically, I feel that in some respects, it’s layout is better than the m4/3rds version. Quite why Olly don’t fit the on/off switch in the same position it is on the E-1, baffles me; It’s brilliant for those occasions when you want to take a really fast grab-shot.
I picked up an E-1 in mint condition a couple years ago for around $100, added the 50mm macro; a fantastic combination. I especially like how quickly I can set the custom white balance, and make other changes.
I still remember the first public photo of the B2 “Spirit” published by National Geographic, a magnificent 2-page spread made with… a 2 Mp camera!