Convert your fisheye lens into a regular superwide
Updated: Aug 8
Have you ever had to make a decision on which wide angle lens gets to go on your trip? The loser is usually the fisheye lens. Fisheye lenses are just a little too specialized, so they often fall into benign neglect.
What if you could magically turn that fisheye lens into a regular rectilinear super-wide whenever you wanted? Would you find that useful? Duh!
I found that I got caught flat-footed in keeping up with lens distortion correction technology. I tried using the lens “profile correction” in Adobe Lightroom with my Rokinon 8mm fisheye, and my jaw dropped. Words can’t do it justice, but pictures can.
There are other software vendors, of course, that can do this task even a little bit better, because they can salvage more of the left and right frame edges. But I have Lightroom and I don’t have those other tools. And believe me, there’s plenty of image remaining after the lens profile corrections.
Check out my Rokinon 8mm fisheye review here. I discussed a few postprocessing operations to ‘straighten’ shots in the article, but the results left a lot to be desired. The images (at f/8 and beyond) are incredibly sharp. But the lines are curvy. Very curvy.
Boring chart in Lightroom before lens profile correction, usual fisheye effect
Boring chart in Lightroom with lens profile correction. Rectilinear super-wide!
I am thoroughly impressed at how much barrel distortion is corrected. All of those little squares are square again. Yes, you lose some frame edges, but what’s left still covers a huge angle. For all intents and purposes, your fisheye image is now looking like a typical rectilinear super-wide lens. I cannot guarantee that other brands of fisheye lenses will be so well corrected.
You can consult the Adobe web site to see if your lens profile exists. The profiles are periodically updated for new lenses. The profiles are available in Photoshop, as well.
Lightroom steps to use lens profile corrections for Rokinon
Select the "Develop" portion of Lightroom
Remove chromatic aberrations (select)
Enable Profile Corrections (select)
Model: Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 UMC Fisheye CS
Tokina 11mm. I used to think this was a pretty wide angle lens.
Rokinon 8mm with Lightroom profile correction. Now that’s wide.
I chose the above shot to drive home the point that even though you can get super close and super wide, it doesn’t mean that it’s always the best choice. The lens distortion is removed, but the extreme perspective isn’t welcome in every shot. I consider this shot to show a lack of ‘taste’. Now, imagine if a person was sitting in one of those near chairs. Scary.
Even with liberal cropping, you can now go really, really, wide.
Rokinon 8mm with no profile corrections. Now that’s a REALLY wide fisheye.
I think that these lens profile corrections are going to give my fisheye a whole new lease on life. All of those curvy lines can be made nearly dead straight. Claustrophobic spaces can be made to look immense.
As with all super-wide angle lenses, you still need to pay attention to getting perspectives that are too extreme. Shooting discipline is even more important here, such as keeping the camera level and at a ‘respectful’ distance from the subject. But imagine the world of options that this technique can open up. Science and art live happily ever after once again.