Since shooting on the M43 format, I’ve had my share of various bodies and especially lenses in my hands. A lot of people ask me for help when choosing their best equipment and of course we get to cover a number of different topics. For the most part, it’s a major struggle between what people want, what they really need, and what they can afford. As a result, I decided to write something for each piece of equipment I had on my m43 in the scope of short practical observations. I scored all lenses on a scale of 1-10 in terms of processing, equipment and sharpness. I must admit that the quality of each lens that I had the opportunity to test or use for a long time is at a very high level and I can easily imagine having each of them as part of my gear. The uniform reviews allow you now to read a detailed evaluation for each lens reflecting exclusively my personal opinion. Each evaluation is based on actual in-the-field use and may therefore differ from, for example, lab tests available on the Internet. The page is divided into four logical segments – numerical rating | practical observations | sample of published photos from a given lens | FAQ, where you can find my brief responses to questions I received.
OVERALL EVALUATIONUnique fisheye perspective
Once you get your hands on this fisheye, you’ll see how funny the lens is. Despite having my hands on a number of different fisheye lenses over the years, this one has a completely unconventional concept of perspective that is quite addictive. To put it bluntly, I must admit that the M.Zuiko 8mm/ 1.8 is technically probably the best fisheye lens I’ve ever had. Its built deserves a PRO mark as it’s splash, dust and freeze resistant and feels very stable in your hand. Focusing is fast and absolutely silent, the fine details are excellent even on F/1.8. This can be especially beneficial for night photography. Thanks to the angle of view, you can fit in your frame a large area of stars. This works wonders in combination with the Starry-sky function on the E-M1 III. It’s rather difficult to blame the lens for the ‘rounding’ of the horizon, as it’s the main characteristic of fisheye lenses. If you don’t like this, you can turn on ‘In-body Fisheye Correction’ on your camera and assign the function to a button of your choice. Keep in mind that correcting distortion is powerful, but only in JPG, RAW will remain intact. You should also note that by adjusting the distortion in the post-process, losing a few megapixels of resolution is likely. Nevertheless, the functionality does not seem bad to me at all and I use it often (mode 1) to get a rough idea of which parts of the image will be cropped after possible correction. This way I know how much space to leave around the photographed object. I’d perhaps welcome the opportunity to use a polarising filter to eliminate glare and reduce the dynamic range, which is often considerable due to fisheye view. This is, of course, impossible due to the construction and the convex front lens. What will surely surprise first-time owners, is the presence of certain unwanted elements in the picture – and I mean mainly legs, whether your own or your tripod’s. My only recommendation would be to initially turn off all information (histogram, horizon, exposure valuew, etc) at the LCD panel and learn to look at the image as a whole. At first, it’s really bizarre for everything to suddenly appear in the picture that shouldn’t be there. It seems unimportant initially, but I really appreciate the short length of Peak Design Travel Tripod legs. When shooting from the ground (for example, mushrooms, lizards, etc.) they get into the shot much later than with a classic tripod. Naturally, this is not the most important feature when choosing a tripod, but it comes handy in the field. Another unwelcome element might be an external attachment on a flash (e.g. diffuser), which must be taken into account when using it. The lens focuses perfectly from as little as 2.5 cm and thanks to the 1:5 magnification ratio, I like to use it to take pictures of animals within their environment. I have written a fairly extensive article on this (coming very soon), where I describe the issue exhaustively. Its extra wide focus allows you to photograph from hand even exceptionally long times in the order of seconds such as 2″ – 3″, which are not that unusual. Unique manufacturing, precise and quiet AF together with ultra-high brightness and excellent sharpness make the lens the best fisheye for the m43 format on the market.
MY Z M.ZUIKO 8MM/1.8 FISHEYE SAMPLE GALLERY
Q: So, isn’t it better to use Laowa 7.5mm/ 2 for wide shots, which doesn’t have such distortion?
A: I currently have both the Laowa and fisheye in my gear. The fisheye allows for larger magnification of the photographed object and gives even smaller species stunning perspective compared to their surroundings. I’d say it’s the closest match to the Laowa 15mm/ 4 1: 1 despite it lacking comparable specs. The main disadvantage of this fisheye is, of course, the convex-shaped image distortion. So far, I find both of these lenses as my ideal companions, which I use according to the particular type of photo I want to take, the environment and complexity of lighting conditions. Should anyone ever make an equivalent of a Laowa Macro 15mm/ 4 lens compatible with the m43, I may drop one (or both) in its favour. This is, however, nowhere near on the visible horizon, so I’m happy using both.
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