Wide Angle Vs. Fisheye Lens

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A wide-angle lens captures a wide or broad area of view. A fisheye lens, one example of an ultra-wide angle lens, captures close to a 360-degree horizon.

A wide angle lens provides a broad area of view.
(metro image by Mermozine from Fotolia.com)

A wide-angle lens has a focal length of less than 50mm. According to Heather Powell, writing for ePHOTOzine, "Landscape photography is where wide-angles tend to be most commonly used." A wide-angle lens may also be selected to shoot close-up pictures, often resulting in compositions with a distorted perspective.

Wide-angle lens are often used in landscape photography.
copper mountain,colorado,rocky mountains,mountain, image by Earl Robbins from Fotolia.com

A fisheye lens may be either circular or full-frame. A photo shot with a circular fisheye lens--having a focal length between 8mm and 10mm--results in a complete picture circle surrounded by black on all sides. A photo shot with a full-frame fisheye--having a focal length between 15mm and 16mm--has a more conventional, rectangular appearance.

An example of a photo shot with a circular fisheye lens
huskisson charter image by Christopher Meder from Fotolia.com

Both general wide-angle and fisheye lenses have a short focal length. Shooting with a small f-stop (f22, for example) will result in incredible depth of field. This means that everything in the image, from foreground to background, will be in sharp focus.

Using a wide-angle lens with a small f-stop will result in great depth of field.
clear mountain stream image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com

The wider a lens' angle is, the greater the image distortion. Because a fisheye is an ultra-wide angle lens, the distortion is extreme.

Shooting with a fisheye lens causes extreme image distortion.
Torino - Fisheye image by Stefano Gruppo from Fotolia.com

If you are looking for greater flexibility and more traditional images, then a general wide-angle is your best choice. According to photographer and author Scott Kelby, a fisheye is a "special-effects lens that you will want to use sparingly, because the fisheye look can get old fast if you use it too much."

A general wide angle lens offers more flexibility than a fisheye.
sand ripples image by Kwest from Fotolia.com

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References

  • "The Digital Photography Book;" Scott Kelby; 2009
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