Fisheye Lens

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What is Fisheye Lens?

A Fisheye lens is an ultra wide angle lens that is used to produce strong visual distortions and create a wide panoramic view. Fisheye lenses can achieve extremely wide angles of view. Instead of producing straight line images (or rectilinear images), the fisheye lenses produce a characteristic convex image (non-rectilinear image) by using a special mapping angle (equisolid angle).

An American physicist and inventor Robert Wood coined the term fish eye in 1906. Wood studied how a fish can view an ultrawide hemispherical view from underwater (a phenomenon known as Snell's window).

Fisheye lenses were first used in the 1920s for meteorological purposes to study the formation of clouds. The lenses were called "whole-sky lenses." The fisheye lens usually has an angle of view between 100 to 180 degrees. The focal length of the lens depends on the film format.

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Types of Fisheye Lens

There are mainly two types of fisheye lenses; Circular fisheye lens and Full-frame fisheye lens. They produce very different results.

1. Circular Fisheye

Circular fisheye lenses are used to capture a view angle of 180 degrees or larger, the image is projected as a circle within the frame. The image produced is highly distorted; distortion depends on the distance of the object from the lens and the structure in which it is located.

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2. Full-frame Fisheye

Full-frame fisheye lenses produce an enlarged image circle that covers the image frame entirely. That's why the picture angle generated by this lens measures 180 degrees when measured from one corner to another corner. It is the most common type of fisheye used by photographers.

What is a Fisheye Lens used for?

A fisheye lens is designed to capture very wide-angle images, usually an image of 180 degrees. They are primarily used for landscape, artistic photography, and extreme sports.

Here are some of the benefits of the Fisheye Lens:

1. Distortion

Distortion is annoying a lot of times, but not always. Distortion is an advantage for the fisheye. Find views where the fisheye effect adds beauty to the scene. When it is used rightly, the fisheye distortion effect is pleasing to the eyes and can be preferred for a wide-angle lens.

2. Point it up

If you point the fisheye lens towards the sky or just partly upwards (by keeping ground in a still frame), you can get some crazy good-looking views.

In this case, the fisheye lens is used to get a super-wide view when it is pointed upwards.

3. You can use them on Portraits

You can make an extreme wide-angle selfish by using a fisheye lens. Note that you should not keep the object close to the edge, or it will get distorted.

4. Creativity

A fisheye lens is able to create some images which are not possible by using normal lenses. You can use a fisheye lens on your camera for a more extended timespan and find engaging and creative image views by pointing it everywhere.

Fisheye Lens Projection

In a fisheye projection, the distance between the point and center of the image is proportional to the true angle of separation.

The fisheye projections are not single but occur in a group of transformation projections that are named differently by manufacturers like equisolid angle projection, equidistant fisheye projection, etc.

The traditional spherical projections like orthographic or stereographic projections over circular images are not common these days. Panorama tools are there to capture views of such projections.

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(This is a Circular Fisheye projection)

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(The image mentioned above is a Full-frame Fisheye projection)

Characteristics of Fisheye Lens

These are the characteristics of a fisheye lens:

  • Focal Length: A standard fisheye lens has a focal length of 8 mm to 10 mm, and a full-frame lens has a focal length of 15 mm to 16 mm.

  • The Angle of View: The angle of view of a commonly used fisheye lens is 180° at its widest point.

  • Image Distortion: The distortion of the image formed from the fisheye lens is called barrel distortion. In barrel distortion, the central part of the frame appears to bulge outwards, and due to this, the image produced is called a curvilinear image.

  • Depth of Field: Due to the extreme wide-angle, the depth of field of a fisheye lens is also considerable.

Applications of Fisheye Lens

Here are some of the applications of the fisheye lens.

  • The fisheye lenses are used in extreme sport, artistic photography, and landscape.

  • Fisheye Lens is used in planetariums for night sky projections. The projects are also useful for making digital contents in the interior part of the room.

  • Fisheye Lens is used by Visual combat simulators and flight simulators to monitor and control the air traffic, thereby making it easier to train military personnel.

  • Fisheye Lens is used by resource managers and scientists for hemispherical photography.

  • Fisheye Lens is used by astronomers to capture light pollution data and cloud cover.

  • Videographers and photographers use fisheye lenses to take motion shots. For example, while riding, these lenses are used to focus on the bike and the rider.

  • Fisheye Lens is used in computer graphics to create environment maps from the physical world.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. How do Fisheye Lenses Work?

Ans- Circular fisheye lenses capture a 180-degree or above wide-angle view and project it in as a circle within the image frame. The image obtained is highly distorted, and the distortion depends on the distance of an object from the lens.

Q2. What's the difference between a Fisheye and Wide-angle Lens?

Ans- The rectilinear distortion gives a clear differentiation between a fisheye and wide-angle lens. Wide-angle lenses possess little amount of barrel distortion but, whereas, the fisheye lens has a high amount of barrel distortion.

Q3. What Focal Length is a Fisheye?

Ans- For the popular 35 mm film format, the typical focal lengths of fisheye lenses lie between 8 mm and 10 mm, and for full-frame images, it is between 15–16 mm.

Q4. Do all Gopros have a Fisheye Lens?

Ans- Gopros comes with an ultra-wide-angle fisheye lens covering horizontal and landscape views of upto 122.6 degrees. It depends on the type of lens and the camera used by the professional to take images.