This blog gives some insight to one of my most creative lenses on full frame, the 8 mm fisheye lens. 8 mm focal length provides a circular 180 degree image on a full frame sensor. There are a few suppliers which manufacture 8 mm fisheye lenses suitable for full frame sensors. I found the best quality for the bucks can be achieved with the manual Peleng 8 mm f/3.5 lens. Made in the Ukraine, the Peleng lens is not a common lens. It was developed during the Russian space research program to provide superwide 180 degree images of the space. A while ago it was commercialized and also adapted to fit to DSLR cameras. It is a very compact, but heavy lens with one of the best built qualities compared to other lens bodies I have seen so far. Stepped down a bit it provides an excellent center sharpness which is still remarkable at the circular borders on full-frame. The characteristic feature of this lens is its rounded huge front lens without the option to use filters on top of it. A small UV filter is built into the lens body close to the adapter mount. The filter can be removed, but it is recommended to keep it since it is also used as a necessary lens element. When holding the front lens into the light, you will see differently colored reflections on the lens coating depending on the light angle.
It is surprising that I never had to change contrast or saturation of taken RAW photos with this lens - the color reproduction is superb, you might need to underexpose a bit to achieve better contrast especially at wider open apertures.
Main issue of this lens is getting lens flares opposite to the position of the light source. This is nearly unavoidable with such 180 degree field of view. Flares sometimes create additional artistic effects. Best way to remove those flares is to apply a circular crop of the taken photo in post processing. Other 8 mm prime lenses might be better in this regard and not as prone to flaring - but they cost at least more than twice the money and have no full metal lens body!
The lens allows to use apertures between f3.5 and f16 in 6 stops. Best sharpness is achieved at f8-11. Chromatic aberrations are much less than I expected after reading some reviews. In fact my Canon 17-40 mm f4 L lens shows more purple fringing at 17 mm uncorrected than this lens does.
The photo on the left is an ideal situation for making use of the circular 180 degrees - the crosswalk and the architectural design of it shines within this view. Just make sure that your shoes won't be in the photo!
Architecture is one of the best situations where this lens can be used. The photos below were taken inside a mosque which is located inside a castle garden of my hometown in Germany. Both are HDR (high dynamic range) photos to compensate for the bright light coming through the windows and the darker inside of the room leaving the bright colorful wall paintings as seen with your eye. The photo on the left is the central view, while the right photo is directly pointed towards the circular ceiling.
Looking more into creative aspects, the photo on the left shines a different light on a very common object. Can you guess what it is? The circular distortion brings out totally different elements in the perspective view.
Another example is the photo below - as you might have already guessed, it shows the inside of a hot air balloon. At the balloon festival they charged visitors an entrance fee to go inside balloons and to take photos - here I found my Peleng lens to be a useful spy lens! I just needed a brief moment outside at the entrance door to take this photo through the opening - and got at once the whole inside area.
Fisheye shots allow for unusual compositions like the photo of the inside of a wedding pavillion outside. The round roof shape was ideal for the circular field of view at 8 mm full frame. I was lucky enough to get the cloud structure into the center.
If you want a fun lens to do some more creative shots of landscapes and architecture without getting too serious about it, then this is the right lens for you. It is not my most commonly used lens, but there are situations where it is just the best to cover the situation.