Using Manual Fisheye Lens with Fujifilm X-E1

October 05, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I had wanted to experiment with fisheye lens with my Canon 5D DSLR but could not see the point in spending too much money on a specialized lens that would only be used occasionally.  

One real pleasant surprise with my switch to the mirrorless Fujifilm X-E1 was finding relatively affordable third party manual fisheye lenses.  These are made by the same Korean company and marketed under various names including Samyang, Rokinon, and Bower.  

I bought the Bower 8mm f/2.8 fisheye.  The lens is small (2.2", 56mm long) and gives an effective 12mm (full-frame equivalent) fisheye with 180 degree angle of view coverage.  That’s pretty wide and I had accidentally photographed my fingers, feet or tripod feet with it.  Check the edges of your focusing screen before taking the shot. 

The lens comes with a permanent lens-hood; it does a decent job overall with flare-control considering its super-wide coverage.

There are no electronic contacts, so auto-focusing and electronic info is not transferred between the lens and camera.  The EXIF info for aperture will default to f/1.  That's a bit annoying but that is the downside for a manual lens.

 

Set up

Using the lens for the first time.   Set Mount Adapter Setting in Shooting Mode in the camera to 8mm, so the focal length is properly recorded in EXIF. This needs to be done once only (unless of course you also use other manual lenses with the camera).

Other camera settings (to be repeated) whenever you change from using a Fujifilm AF lens to using the manual fisheye lens.

  • Set “Shoot without Lens” in Shooting Mode of camera menu to “ON” 
  • Set Focus Mode Selector button in front of the camera to Manual "M" mode

 

Guidelines & Examples

Below are guidelines for camera/lens settings based on my experiences with using the fisheye lens over the past year.  Using the manual fisheye is relatively straight-forward with Aperture priority.

 

Using tripod for best image quality:

  • Set ISO to 200; select appropriate aperture – f/8 is a good starting point.  The fisheye lens gives great depth of field.
  • Set manual focusing ring distance to 1m (3 ft), unless there are objects nearby.  You can check focus using Focus Peaking.
  • Compose in camera.
  • Shoot with camera release or self-timer.
  • The camera will set appropriate shutter speed.  Check histogram and adjust exposure compensation accordingly.

 

Here's an example of an interior architectural shot of the beautiful Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire, England.

 

Ely Cathedral (Fujifilm X-E1, 8mm, 3.5s, f/8, ISO 200)

Ely CathedralEly CathedralThe history of the Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire, England dates back over 1300 years. The cathedral is a remarkable example of Romanesque and Norman architecture. It is famous for its Octagon Tower.

 

Hand-held: especially in places where use of a tripod is not convenient or allowed (i.e. most museums and busy places).

  • Hand-held Indoors with low lighting:
    • Set shutter speed to say 1/30s or 1/15s.
    • Set aperture to f/5.6
    • Set ISO to “Auto 6400”
    • Compose, take image.
    • Check histogram, and adjust exposure compensation accordingly.          

 

Vatican Staircase - Looking Down (Fujifilm X-E1, 8mm, 1/30s, f/5.6, ISO 2500).  This image was featured in National Geographic Your Shot: Italy.

Vatican StaircaseVatican StaircaseI used a manual fisheye lens to capture 180 degrees view of the monumental double spiral staircases inside the Vatican Museum. These large and richly decorated staircases were designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932.

 

Vatican Staircase - Looking Up (Fujifilm X-E1, 8mm, 1/15s, f/5.6, ISO 500).  This image was featured on National Geographic Travel 365 on 24-Feb-2014.

Vatican StaircasesVatican StaircasesLooking up at the double spiral staircase at Vatican Museum.

This image was featured as Nat Geo Traveler 365 - Photo of the Day on Feb 24, 2014 and was featured in National Geographic "What's in a Frame?" assignment.

 

Air and Space Museum, Washington DC (Fujifilm X-E1, 8mm, 1/15s, f/5.6, ISO 2500).

Air & Space MuseumAir & Space MuseumEarly commercial plane exhibits inside the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, Washington DC

  • Hand-Held Outdoors with good lighting (Aperture Priority):
    • Set ISO to 200
    • Set aperture to f/8 or f/11
    • Compose, take image.
    • Check histogram, and adjust exposure compensation accordingly.           

 

Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia (Fujifilm X-E1, 8mm, 1/180s, f/11, ISO 200).

Arlington National CemeteryArlington National CemeteryThe final resting place for thousands of US military service members and veterans.

 

Be sure to reset camera settings upon changing out the fisheye lens to your Fujifilm AF lens.  Two main areas to reset:

  • Reset “Shoot without Lens” to “OFF”.
  • Reset the Focus Mode Selector button in front of the camera to Auto-Focus mode (S or C).

 

Overall, I’m happy with the value and image quality from this lens.  It opens up more creative possibilities; it is small and fun to use.  It is especially great when working indoors with circular, spiral shaped architectural elements.


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