I just picked up the Sigma 8mm Fisheye lens for my Canon DSLR. This lens is quite amazing. It is great at capturing images due to the f3.5 focal ratio. At 8mm focal length, it produces some neat effects.
The lens is a full circular device. It captures a lot of field in the shot. Generally, it should be used on a tripod with a remote switch. That way, you stay out of the shot. I notice that in my early shots, my left fingers get in on the action. For quick images, that's not a problem.
The extreme edges of the frame are pretty distorted. That's where the lens tends to capture my finger on the image. So far I have photo edited after to take just the middle 80% of the image. I crop out the worst of the distortion, and the images of my fingers.
I use an older Canon EOS T1i for my shots. This camera has been superceded by the models up to the new T5i. From what I read, the new ones are better at image stabilization and capturing images faster. They work better in low light as well.
The T1i is well suited for the Sigma 8mm fisheye lens. My camera is not as full frame as some Canon's such as the 50D. The images produced show the edge effect where some sensor area is not used. Since this is at the edge, where the distortion is present, it doesn't matter to me. If I had thousands of dollars, I might buy one of the really expensive Canon DSLR but for now, the T1i is pretty good. It has a lot of features and 12 megapixels.
Some people have reported that the automatic focus is slow with the Sigma. I have not had a problem with it. Like others say, you generally have it focused at infinity anyway. I have not taken a video with this yet. Perhaps AF is more of a problem in that situation.
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On the images included in this article, some of the abilities of the 8mm are shown. The field of view is very wide, the entire world stretched out in front of the camera. As I have done, you can easily get your hands, or feet, into your shots. You can crop these out later, if you want.
Some people have said that metering of the image is hard for the camera to do automatically. I have my T1i set to meter on the center spot only. I find it works out better for most situations. The edge of the frame with the 8mm is black. Some camera settings may get confused by this. I find metering on the center avoids a lot of trouble. I tend to compose on the center anyway. It's a win win for me.
You cannot use a front mounted filter. Instead, there is a slot at the back for filters. They have to be small, though, about 3/4 of an inch square. A guide is included for you to size your filter correctly. Cut a small piece of very thin plastic. Exactly match the guide and it will fit in the slot.
The lens is quite light. Evidently, others are much heavier. I have not used a different one, so I don't know.
Be aware that the front has a black rim that can be removed. It just pulls off. Several people said that they didn't know for a while that it was removable. This piece is intended to fit a rubber hood. It also cuts down the image size by a far amount. If you take shots inside, you don't really need a hood anyway. Outside, light can be overpowering. This is a pretty neat effect anyway, as shown in the images here.
Be careful taking close shots. The front glass is completely unprotected. You can't place a filter on it either. It can also focus on really close items. You run the risk of scratching the glass if you aren't careful. Play it safe and back away from the item. Scratches are tough.
A great many owners have chimed in on this item. Their comments are that it is fun to use. Great at parties. Nice photographic effect. On full frame cameras, they notice that it doesn't quite fill the image. Good though. Optical performance is quite good. Compared to ones that cost 2x or 3x, this one is a little soft, but really good for the money. Most owners are extremely happy with this item.
The build of the item is good. It is a quality item. The housing is good, not a cheap plastic one. There is a lot of expensive glass to hold, which is heavy. Having a good case is nice. Some people have mentioned that the auto focus is a little noisy. I have not noticed this. It can also be slow going from tight to wide focus. I have not had this trouble either. I have only used it for landscape and interior shots. Again, I have not used it for video production. For distant subjects, I'm sure the focus would not be an issue.
The product ships in a secure box. It is housed with a close fitting foam insert. A carry bag is also included. The guide plate for filters is the only included extra. Mine was shipped directly from Japan to Canada. Purchased on Amazon. It arrived in perfect condition and very quickly. That was a nice bonus.
It really needs a panoramic head for your tripod. I have one of these on order. The new head allows the camera to pivot around the tripod center. Normal heads are set up as a concentric circle that rotates around the tripod. The panoramic head allows the various shots to be exactly matched. That way, you can stitch adjacent images together with ease. When the camera is level, and the head is used, a simple shot at 0, 90, 180 degrees, can be put together in a complete circle.
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