Pastures and forested hills in the Costa Rican highlands. Photo by Eduardo Libby

Ultrawide Rectilinear or Fisheye lenses: to defish or not to defish

An ultrawide lens (anything below 24 mm in 35 mm equivalent format) can provide a sweeping view of an open landscape, but I also find it important for crowded forest and tree covered environments.

The widest rectilinear lens I own is an 11 mm lens by Irix and it is an excellent lens, but these pictures are made with other lenses. They are landscapes I made while testing an ultra wide 11 mm lens by Venus Optics on my Z7 alongside a 12 mm Samyang fisheye lens. I no longer own either lens but the photos I made that afternoon are good representatives of what can be done with these optics.

Pastures photo taken with a fisheye lens. Photo by Eduardo Libby
A fisheye lens allowed me to frame the pastures with he branches literally above my head. By keeping the horizon near the center of the frame, it remains straight on a fisheye lens image.

One thing I sometimes dislike about ultra wide rectilinear lenses is that elements in the corners of the image can look too stretched, like sucked into the frame. Because of this, I sometimes actually prefer using a fisheye lens: when used carefully, one can can hide the strong deformation we associate with their extreme projection. By keeping the horizon near the center of the frame, it remains straight on a fisheye lens image. In other cases, the image can be reprojected (defished as some people call it) to avoid the curved corners.

RReprojected fisheye photo of pastures. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Removing just enough of the fisheye distortion can provide a convincing ultra wide image without the light falloff that plagues rectilinear ultra wide angle lenses in the corners.
Pastures photo with an ultrawide angle lens. Photo by Eduardo Libby
A photo using the rectilinear Laowa 11 mm lens works fine and takes advantage of the stretching of the lower tree branch to give depth to the composition.

You can be the judge now and decide if this approach works as I really wanted to include nearby elements from a restricted point of view: I was literally shooting from a barbed-wire fence in all the photos I show here.

Have you tried using fisheye lenses for landscape photos?

Comparison of images made using the 11 mm rectilinear lens and a 12 mm fisheye. Photos by Eduardo Libby
Here are two images made from about the same viewpoint using the 11 mm rectilinear lens and the 12 mm fisheye. They are clearly not identical but both are very usable.
Do you like one better than the other?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s