A fisheye lens is an ultra wide-angle lens that produces strong visual distortion intended to create a wide panoramic or hemispherical image. Photographers and filmmakers often use them for shots of architecture, interior and landscapes. They can also be used for more creative shots in small spaces or for (extreme) sports like skateboarding. We can imagine you want one, but we also understand if you don’t want to spend hundreds of euros on it.
The different MFT Fisheye Lenses
If you would do a quick search on Google, the following Fisheye lenses would probably pop-up first. As you can see the differences in prices are quite large.
- Olympus M.Zuiko ED 8mm F/1.8 Fisheye PRO – € 899,00
- Panasonic Lumix H-F008E 8mm F/3.5 Fisheye – € 649,00
- Samyang 7,5mm (Rokinon) T/3.8 UMC Fisheye – € 329,00
- Samyang 8mm (Rokinon) T/3.8 UMC CS II Fisheye – € 299,00
The Olympus (PRO) lens offers a weather sealed body, great glass and with a a maximum aperture of F/1.8, this is a very fast lens.
The Samyang 8mm T/3.8 (F/3.5), the cheapest MFT fisheye lens, isn’t weather sealed, isn’t as fast and only has manual aperture control and manual focus (even though that’s not a problem at all with Fisheye lenses). However, it can easiliy be used with a follow focus unit, which is nice for you filmmakers.
Since it’s quite easy to achieve the right aperture and focus (infinity focus will mostly be fine for landscapes, or just use focus assist), it’s no problem to get a manual fisheye lens. That means we can also look at options that aren’t actually a Micro Four Thirds-lens.
We started looking at C-Mount lenses. These lenses can often be found in 16 mm movie cameras, closed-circuit television cameras, machine vision cameras and microscope phototubes. However, with a little C-mount to M43 adapter they can also work on your Micro Four Thirds camera’s! (If you don’t have a MFT camera, you can still look into these lenses, however, if you have a fullframe camera you will probably get a lot of vignetting and other problems, so please start by doing some homework).
Eventually we found this 8mm F/3.8 (C-mount) Fisheye lens on AliExpress.com. The prices vary from €60 to €85 and most of them come with a free adapter (and (fake) leather pouch – woohoee). With F/3.8 it’s not that fast, but still great for nice and wide shots during the day.
So it’s cheap… but!
Now there’s a few problems to this lens. Please read about them first before ordering one! We have been able to fix all these problems, so we hope they are useful to you.
The C-mount to M43 adapter can screw up your camera!
The adapter I got with the lens was no good. Very bad quality and it did not have a little hole in it so it would “snap” on your camera. I don’t know if I was just unlucky with this adapter, but please keep this in mind. Before even putting it on your camera, drill that little hole in there so it can easily snap on and off of your camera.
No infinity focus?
Like I said above, the adapter I got with the lens was bad. Next to it not having that little hole, I also couldn’t achieve infinity focus with it. Everything was sharp when held very close to the lens but I was unable to get other shots in focus.
After free-lensing (holding the lens in front of the camera without using the adapter), I found out it had to be closer to the sensor. Instead of modiyfing the lens I decided to buy a new (deeper) adapter. It’s the one on the image above (bottom right). Screw the lens in tight and voilá, all focus problems were solved!
The first time I used this lens, I mounted it on to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. Due to it’s huge crop factor (2,88x) I had no problems of any vignetting. However, on the Panasonic Gx7 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 (they both have a crop factor of 2x, like most other MFT/ M43 camera’s) I did see some vignetting, or at least some black parts in the corner.
(Article continues after the video).
After a while we found out it wasn’t actual vignetting, but it was the large (non-removable) lenshood on the lens itself that caused this problem. So it was time to get some sandpaper and sand it down. One millimeter or so will be enough to get rid of any black corners.
And finally, we also made a video about this proces.
Instead of buying an expensive MFT Fisheye lens, we bought a “8mm Fisheye F/3.8 C-mount lens” (with adapter and pouch) for around €60 euros. It can be found on sites like eBay and AliExpress. We’re not sharing links because the prices can vary at items, so it’s better to look for the best deal by yourself.
It’s a great lens (see sample footage in both of the videos above) that seems to bring the same quality as the Samyang 8mm (which is the cheapest MFT Fisheye lens, but at €299,00, it’s still 3 times more expensive). It does have some flaws: the lens often comes with a bad C-mount to M43 adapter (can screw up your camera + no infinity focus) and because of the fairly large lens hood, it’s possible that you will see some black parts in the corner. Keep our tips & tricks in mind when buying this camera!
So, this article turned out to be more of a tutorial rather than a review, but hey, atleast now you know there are cheap C-mount (Fisheye) lenses out there that can be used on your Micro Four Thirds camera’s and how all of the most common problems can be solved.
Good luck hunting and adjusting! It’s worth it.