A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Community > Forums > Nature > Equipment - Macro lenses > 180 degree lenses in nature...

Featured Equipment Deals

Latest Equipment Articles

Nikon D810 versus D750: Which to Choose? Read More

Nikon D810 versus D750: Which to Choose?

Both the Nikon D810 and D750 are excellent FX-format DSLRs. Shun Cheung compares the two models to help you choose which one is the right choice for you.

Latest Learning Articles

State of the ART: The Little Lens That Could Read More

State of the ART: The Little Lens That Could

Fine art photographer Pete Myers talks about his love for the Cosina Voigtländer CV ULTRON 40mm SLii, a lens he considers to be "The Little Lens That Could."


180 degree lenses in nature and macro photos? Fisheye nature shots

Carina Cisneros , Nov 30, 2002; 06:13 p.m.

I am wondering of anyone knows of photographers with books which incorporate nature or macro photos taken with fisheye lenses? I know this sounds unusual, but I was interested in the perspective and close-focus of some of these lenses, which in some cases is a few cm's. My second question in, is anyone familiar with the 180-degree accessory lens fisheyes? I just found one made by Kenko, but don't have instructions. I was just going to play around with it to learn about it, but this was not so easy. When I install in on my Ftb, I cannot see the meter. Also, I do not know which aperture to use, nor how to determine exposures. I have heard this lens gives a circluar image, but it does not at all look circular in my viewfinder with my Canon 50mm lens. Is it also true that this lens can be used on lenses other than the normal lens? I have many questions! One last one is how do you get to use a filter on such a device or is this impssible? Any information would be great. I am hoping to put the lens neartly on the ground, or, with larger and taller subjects, put the camera on the ground facing up. Thank you.

Responses

Mike Tolan , Nov 30, 2002; 07:26 p.m.

Carina, I can’t recommend any books, but do remember seeing some decent pics. I can address some of your questions, but the answers depend on which device you have. Are you sure it is a 180-degree device? There are 2 other devices it might be: (1) Aspheric full-coverage mirror lens, which is actually 210+ degrees. This, too, produces a circular image, with a blocked-out area in the center due to the presence of the mirror cone; this was sold as the “Bird’s Eye” by Spiratone, and as the “World View” by Kenko and others. It is a tube-like unit with mirror inside that attached to your prime lens, and does not have its own aperture. (2) A doubler such as the “curvatar” (Spiratone name) or “widestar” (Samigon / Kenko name) lens, which simply make any lens you attach it to, twice as wide (makes a 28mm lens, 14mm, etc.). If your Kenko lens has an aperture, and it sounds like it does, and has the following number on the barrel (0.16), then it is a true 180-degree lens.

Describing how to use it and why it is designed the way it is, would be a VERY long post; I will do this if you still want the information after reading this. If you post here that you have the 180, and don’t have other access to information, I will provide general “how-to” stuff. As for what you want to do, I would say “yes” it is possible, BUT... These lenses are great to play around with, but can be tricky to use when you want a publishable final picture. Here are some difficulties or at least obstacles: (1) 180-degree is actually TOO much coverage for most photographers. You can’t use many tripods, because the legs show up in the pics! (2) Shadows are a nightmare, and so can be the sun; often, the direction which looks best for a pic is opposite the sun, but then the shadow from your body is in the photo; if you turn to far to the left or the right, flare is obvious. Though you can incorporate flare into your pic, this is hardly something you want to do on a regular basis. (3) These lenses require a special mount. Most were sold with a 52mm or 55mm adaptor. So, if this isn’t the filter size of your lens, then your must use step rings, which can be a problem as they increase the distance between the front element of your prime lens and the fisheye, which changes the optical relationship. Finding other original adaptors for these lenses is somewhat of a challenge. (4) Filtering with your normal filters poses the same problems as the use of step rings. You cant filter the front of the fisheye for obvious reasons. Although you can filter the rear of the fisheye, these are almost surely 22.5mm filters, which are also hard to come by. (5) The slightest tilt to the cameras body results in curvature of subject; a greater tilt, results in extreme distortion. Most people doing macro work seek replication of reality. If a plant stem grows straight, they want it straight in their pics; if an insect head and body have a size ratio of 1:2, most macro photographers wouldn’t make a shot that didn’t preserve this ratio. It would be almost impossible to maintain such a standard, using the 180 and a normal lens. If you want creative pics, sure, this could be fun, but if you want to document anything, you would be far better of doing more traditional macro photography.

Carina Cisneros , Nov 30, 2002; 07:45 p.m.

Thank you very much. Yes, mine is a 180 fish eye and has the 22.5mm cap on the back and the 0.16x on the edge and on the lens cap. I apreciate the answers so fast. I would appreciate basic information on using it. I am not in the U.S. and photography can be expensive in Peru when you know the salaries here. I would not want to waste rolls of film to learn what I could here on photo.net. Even if you tell me how to make calculations and use this on my other lenses.

Mike Tolan , Nov 30, 2002; 08:34 p.m.

Yes, the Kenko will block-out the meter needle on your particular camera. With your normal lens the Kenko is producing a circular image, and part of the blocked out area is the part where your metering needle is (and, even with other prime lenses this will likely be the case as the Ftb is NOT a full-100% viewfinder).

Yes, this Kenko will work on any non-zoom lens 30mm to 200mm, as long as you have the proper adapting rings.

Although the Kenko produces a circular image (all lenses do this, you just don‘t realize it as the circle is much larger than your camera gate), it is only on shorter focal lengths that you will find a circular image on your negative.

You can determine the focal length of the lens with Kenko installed by using the number on the barrel, “0.16x”. Simply multiply this number by the focal length of the attached lens. So, a 55mm normal lens becomes a 8.8mm (55x.16=8.8), a 180mm lens becomes a 29mm, etc.

The circular image is why many people want these lenses. To determine the size of this, you need this number: “0.418”. So, if you had a normal lens of 55mm, you would take 55x.418, making it 22.9mm. Remember that your film gate (actual size of the film negative) for 35mm is 24x36mm. So, a full circle image would be around 24mm in diameter; this 55mm lens is about the longest you can use an still get a full circle on the negative. If you want to fill the whole frame and get the common rectangular negative, the circle required would have to be at least 36mm, to cover the 36mm gate length. An 85mm lens (85x.418) yields a 35.53mm circle, which is pretty close. As a general rule, any lens 100mm or longer will fill the frame. You can use lenses wider than 50mm, but the fisheye is not designed to accommodate primes less than 30mm; and, the shorter the prime, the smaller the circle, and when you get too wide of a prime, the circular image becomes only a small portion of the negative.

To meter, since you can’t see this in your Ftb viewfinder, remove the fisheye, chose your shutter speed, and take a meter reading as you would normally do. Remember this aperture. Then, set the aperture of your normal lens back to f1.4 (when using the fisheye, ALWAYS shoot the prime lens wide open - at its widest aperture) and reinstall the fisheye. Now, set the fisheye aperture to the reading you just took without the fisheye.

The fisheye should focus down to well under 1”. The lens is really not designed to be shot wide open. The maximum aperture depends entirely on the lens you attach it to (with a 30mm lens it is f3.5, with a 135mm lens, it is f16!); you will see the ratio change as you set the fisheye to the prime lens focal length. Ideally, you want would 22.5mm filters which install on the back, in the place the little lens cover you mentioned being 22.5mm These lenses are still made for some standard fisheye lenses (at least I think some 14mm and other fisheyes use them, as did some of the old half-frame Olympus Pen cameras). You could always try standard filters, by placing them on the prime lens before installing the fisheye. This lens will deliver so much distortion up close with items of different angles, sizes and distances, that you might just want to embrace this effect, and make photos as creative as possible. Those going “up” sound promising with the right plants, but you would only be able to make such images on a heavily overcast day due to flare problems. Hope this helps.

Carl Tower , Nov 30, 2002; 11:53 p.m.

This is only partly related to this post, but does anyone know the name of the adaptor, if it has one? A friend recently purchased a Samigon lens like this, off ebay. No adaptor was included, so we have no way to attach it to the camera. All we have is the little rear cap for the 22.5mm filters. Is this item unique to this lens? Did anyone ever make a 52mm to 22.5 step ring (just kidding)?

Carl Tower , Dec 01, 2002; 12:06 a.m.

After re-reading the posts I have two more questions. The lens we have appears no wider, in physical size, than say 52/55mm. So, how could this be used on lenses requiring a larger filter? Wouldn't you still get somewhat circular images regardless of longer focal lengths, due to the light blicked by the base of the auxiliary lens? Also, I wanted to know if anyone had ever used this lens on larger format cameras. I know you said it would work, but I was curious if anyone had ever done it. Wouldnt medium format cameras have MUCH larger filters sizes, and wouldn't my above question apply to all of them?

Mike Tolan , Dec 02, 2002; 11:12 p.m.

I don’t know that the adaptor has a name (it might just be “180’ fisheye adaptor”). I don’t know that I have ever seen a used one for sale, not even at a camera show. I believe Spiratone marketed these in several sizes. I have seen them as small as 46mm and as large as 67mm, though suspect the Series VII one might be the most sought-after. Although the base of this auxiliary lens is smaller than 67mm in diameter, this would not cause all photos -regardless of lens focal length used- to appear round on the negative; in other words, it is the optical design of the lens which leads to the image size, not the physical size of the fisheye base. These lenses can be used on any format lens. Since it is an auxiliary, and not a stand-alone optic, its “function” is determined by the lens to which it is attached. I know people who have used it on super 8 movie cameras, as well as on an antique 5x7 portrait camera. On one occasion, I used it on a Rolleicord. Though you are correct, that most medium format lenses use large(r) filters, many TLR cameras have small, simple lens designs, and small bayonet mounts (Spiratone made inexpensive adaptors going from Rollei-Yashica TLR to Series filters, and 49mm and 52mm sizes). It might be difficult to use the device on a rangefinder, especially if you were unfamiliar with it, but on a TLR you have the option of mounting it on the viewing lens to determine framing, then removing it and placing it on the taking lens for the shot.

Carina Cisneros , Dec 03, 2002; 12:11 a.m.

Mr. Tolan, thank you thank you thank you! I might not or might be able to use this for what I wanted but even if not I will use it for some art photos. It gets you so close I almost touched the lens to items I was trying to shoot, almost scratching the dome glass!

Eddie Gowharrizi , Dec 07, 2002; 04:42 p.m.

I don't like Kenko Aux lenses. Have a 0.5x HI one and it's quite blury on the edges.

Take a look at Russian made Zenitar 16mm lenses (copy of Nikkor lens). I have one, and I just love its picture quality and its small size. You can get a brand new one off of ebay for less than $150 with M42 mount (pentax screwmount) and spend another $20 to get a screwmount-FD adapter. Well worth the price. It also comes with rear mounted filters (for b&w photography mostly).

Will try to post some pix I took with this setup later.

Carina Cisneros , Mar 06, 2004; 12:53 p.m.

...I don't like Kenko Aux lenses. Have a 0.5x HI one and it's quite blury on the edges...

This is probably true, but the post above is regarding an OLD 180-degree lens, from the early 1970's; it is vastly different than the items sold today, in both looks (physical appearance) and performance.

Back to top

Notify me of Responses