A week later it arrived at my doorstep and several things were immediately noticeable:
- This really is a mock-up. There were no markings on the lens of any kind. It didn’t even have the Olympus name on it.
- This is a pro-quality lens. Although compact in design it had the feel of a solidly built lens. I was certain that I could do some very serious photography with this piece of glass.
- This is going to be fun! Put this on my E-M1 or E-M5 Mark II and get ready to see the world in a totally different way.
After getting used to the fisheye view I started looking for interesting places within my own house to shoot. My first thought was the dryer (weird, I know). I mounted my E-M1 on a gorilla pod, used the OI.Share app to control the camera, threw a bed sheet in the dryer and had my daughter pretend to be unloading the laundry. It worked beautifully - great field of view and tack-sharp imagery.
- Field of view - 180 degrees
- Lens construction - 17 elements in 15 groups
- Closest focusing distance - 0.12 m
- Overall dimensions - 62mm x 80mm
The other important thing to get used to is what a fisheye lens does to your horizon line (or any other lines within the image). The farther away from center, the more pronounced the curvature gets. Generally, I am not a huge fan of this effect, but there are times when it can look very cool.
Aperture settings take some getting used to with any fisheye lens. You can see with some of my camera settings that, even at a relatively large aperture of f/4.5, you get remarkable depth of field. My greatest concern (and it was only relevant for one type of shooting situation) was the lack of a distance scale on the lens. You might ask, who needs a distance scale when larger apertures yield such great depth of field? Me, during astrophotography.
For nightscapes, I shoot wide-open (f/1.8 in this case) and use manual focus, set to infinity. That became a real challenge. Without an infinity distance marking I had to use the rather cumbersome method of focusing on my headlamp or car lights prior to the actual composition. Even with focus-peaking it was difficult. Then if you accidently bump the focusing ring in the dark (which I did several times) you have to do it all over again.
That being said, the 8mm fisheye is an excellent lens for capturing the night sky. It’s an incredibly fast lens with a great field of view - perfect for capturing a huge star field.
As stated earlier, it is a specialty lens and has its uses and limitations, but every lens does.
Personally, I can’t wait to get the production model.