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Fisheye On The Cheap

14th March 2021

A few years ago I upgraded from a Sony NEX7 to the newer Alpha 6000.

The A6000 became my everyday walk around camera. But I didn’t want to let the NEX7 collect dust, nor did I want to spend a lot more investing in more glass.

The one drawback is that this lens is manual aperture control and manual focus but I decided that I could live with these limitations.


 

So I started looking for an inexpensive lens. My preference was to go wide so I did a little looking around and found an affordable 8mm fisheye. I’m a fan of the way the images are elegantly distorted by lens’ curvature. The lens adds lots of interest to common everyday scenery and subjects.

The lens I chose is the 8mm Rokinon fisheye for about $300.

When the 8mm lens is coupled on the camera’s APS-C sensor it is equivalent to a 12mm full frame lens.

To use the lens, I set the camera to Auto ISO and using the manual exposure mode (M) rotate the aperture ring on the lens to a specific aperture (f/stop) and dial the shutter speed until the exposure indicator is centered.


Measuring about 3″ long and weighing just a few ounces, it is miniscule compared to the two other DSLR fisheyes in my equipment stable. The Rokinon 8mm has a well-marked aperture ring, smooth focus ring, a small built-in sunshade and lens cap that total covers the outer lens surface. I am very happy that when mounted, my fisheye camera is very compact and easy to carry.

 

The important question is how does this inexpensive fisheye perform?

I’ve taken hundreds of photos with the 8mm. I’ve found that the images are tack sharp. The resolution of the NEX-7 is 24MP and with this lens I’ve made several 16″ x 20″ enlargements including three below.


roaming through the cypress groves in the Everglades

amazed at the super bloom in Death Valley

viewing part of Mammoth Hot Spring in Yellowstone

a very wide view of the front porch on our house

The compact size of this camera/lens combination makes it a great way to have a tag along camera and use it for the wide views without having to change lenses.

For many excursions, I carrythree cameras: this fisheye combo, a second with a long lens telephoto (80-400mm) for wildlife and a third with a medium zoom (24mm to 200mm) – all without breaking my back with the weight. In the case of the 8mm fisheye lens, I have a winner at a very decent price.

Having done a little looking around, I know that there are other inexpensive fisheye lenses available for all of the major brand cameras. If you too like the interesting effects that the come from the ultra curved lens surface you’ll be able to find a fisheye to add to your camera bag.

Brightening My Winter


Winter weather in Michigan consists of lots of snow, cold and blustery temperatures and dark, gloomy clouds for weeks on end. You can imagine that I’d welcome getting away for a few days to a warm and sunny place.

Luckily, it’s just a three hour plane ride from the chills of Grand Rapids to swaying palm trees of Ft Lauderdale. I’m happy to feel the warmth and see the cloudless sky after quickly changing my attire into shorts and a t-shirt. Then I’m off to Everglades National Park.

As usual I have a camera in tow. My goal is to photograph the snowless foliage that lines the paths along the Everglades. Without any fanfare, below is a group of pictures that help to shed the Michigan winter blues.





















Of course the Everglades has much more to see and explore than its amazing foliage. I’m also a lover of birds but I’ll save those photos for another article.

 

 



 

 

 

 

Taking Flight

08th February 2015

Things With Wings

 

Like many others, I’ve been fascinated with flight and things that fly.

On a recent trip to the parts of the USA where the sun is bright and warm, I had another chance to look skyward.

Here’s a short gallery of some of the sitings that caught my eye.










 
 

For those who are interested these photos are from Death Valley National Park, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, McCarran International Airport, Creech AFB, Nellis AFB and Everglades National Park.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 


 
 

Traveling Light

05th February 2011

A Vote for the Backpack Camera Case

Here in Michigan, it’s been bitterly cold with plenty of snow. A blizzard earlier this week closed virtually all of the schools and municipal services and curtailed most of the business at retail stores as well. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m looking forward to a few days away from the blustery northern winter to shoot birds in the warmth and sun of the Everglades.

Since most of my expeditions last only four or five days at a time, when flying I travel light. By carefully selecting the appropriate equipment for a given assignment, it all fits snugly into my backpack camera case. This along with my trusty rollerboard suitcase means that I rarely have to check my luggage for an airline flight, saving me the trouble of waiting at the baggage claim.

To photograph the birds, I decided on the Canon 7D. Its excellent autofocus system works well with the long 100-400 telephoto. While it doesn’t have the resolution of the 5D MkII, it’s smaller and lighter and also accepts the 10-22mm lens, one of my favorites. I’ll bring along the 2X TeleExtender in case I need the extra reach.

For a second camera, I’m taking the new Sony Alpha 55. I’ve already put it through six weeks of testing and will use this assignment to complete my review of a very innovative camera. I’m also toting the waterproof Olympus 6020. It may come in handy in Florida’s watery environment.


this is the equipment that I selected for shooting birds in the Everglades

all of the equipment fits neatly into the large, padded compartment including the notebook computer

Here’s the list of equipment that fits inside:

  • Lowepro Fastpack camera backpack
  • Canon 7D camera
  • Canon 100-400mm lens
  • Canon 2X TeleExtender
  • Canon 10-22mm lens
  • Sony Alpha 55 camera
  • Sony 18-250mm lens
  • Olympus 6020 waterproof camera
  • Canon SX210 camera
  • GisTEQ GPS
  • GorillaPod
  • notebook computer
  • several battery chargers

When fully loaded, this backpack weighs about 40 pounds. It’s heavy but this backpack has wide, padded straps that cushion the weight. The upper compartment has room for a few magazines, an iPad and a some snacks – especially important on a long flight. Conveniently, the backpack fits beneath the passenger seat so that I can get to any of its contents without having to reach into the aircraft’s overhead compartment.

When I arrive at the hotel, I’ll remove the notebook computer and other non-photographic items. The backpack will then serve as a field camera case. I can comfortably take photos while wearing the backpack. If I swing one of the straps off of my arm, I can access the zippered compartment e.g. to get another lens.

I’ve been using the Lowepro for more than two years. This represents more than 100,000 miles of air travel and at no time has any of my equipment been damaged. The ballistic nylon outer surface looks almost new. I’ve also owned the Kata and Tamrac backpacks, but the Lowepro has held up the best.

I have another day of rest before I fly out of this Arctic look-alike. I hope there are some birds left in Florida for me to shoot.

Written by Arnie Lee