Fisheye or not?

Can I use my regular X mm wide angle lens instead of an X mm fisheye?

I get this question quite often. People usually already have an 8 or 10mm wide-angle lens (on crop) or a 12 or 14mm wide-angle lens (on full frame) and, with all the talk about fisheye lenses, wonder if they can just use that to produce full 360×180° panoramas.

The answer is: Of course you can, but you will need to take more images to cover the entire sphere. With both fisheye lenses, you can get away with as little as 4 images to cover everything — with the non-fisheyes you need a bare minimum of 12, but more like 16 shots to have captured everything.

Without wanting to get technical, this has to do with the field of view that both lens types offer (due to the different projections): The fisheye typically shows you much more than the wide angle since, grossly simplified, the fisheye “squeezes” things the more you move away from the center, whereas the wide angle lens tends to “stretch” things. In terms of numbers, both fisheyes give you a 180° field of view around the diagonal. The wide angle lenses in turn only give you 110-120°…

fisheye_vs_wideangle1Click on the image here to see a quick visual comparison between the different lenses / images they produce. Pay particular attention to what is included and what is not included in the extreme corners.

Lenses used for the comparison above: Peleng 8mm ƒ/3.5 fisheye and Sigma 10mm ƒ/2.8 fisheye on a 1.5x crop sensor, and a Sigma 12-24mm on full frame sensor (to simulate 8mm/10mm on crop).

PS: A good comparison of what the different fisheye lenses look like on the different sensors sizes, check this page.

5 Comments on “Fisheye or not?

  1. Sir I use yashuhara 8mm fisheye lens and sony alpha 3500 camera . But when I stitch the pano with ptgui then the vertical blur line cames. What I do?

    • Sorry, not sure what you mean by “blur line cames”…

  2. Hi, thanks for all the tutorials and the information provided on your web page!

    1. I would like to use my Sony A6000 to produce full 360×180° panoramas and I am hesitating between two lens: A) SAMYANG 8mm UMC F2.8 II or B) Lensbaby 5.8mm f / 3.5 Circular Fisheye. What do you think will allow me to do the panoramic with better quality and speed?¿Maybe you know a better lens option than this for Sony E?

    2. For quick and cheap works (for small businesses on Google Maps) I’m thinking of using a Ricoh Theta camera, Sansung Gear 360 or similar … I tried the Ricoh but I was surprised by the poor quality of the image. Would you recommend a camera of this type to do quick and cheap jobs for small businesses? Of the available market options today, would you highlight any?

    Thank you very much for your time! 🙂

    • 1. Sorry, I don’t have the E-Mount myself, so I’m not so much up to speed with your options there. Not sure about the Lens Baby though, I thought they only make “fun” lenses…

      2. No, I would never to a business job with a one-shot-system. Current options all lack the quality – and also don’t really make you look like a professional.

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