Laowa 4mm FishEye - a different lens
Not the every day lens, but a little and cheap add-on that should be in the kit of every photographer
Photographers are always worried about lens distortion and converging verticals. Especially in architecture photography, those points are considered as errors or flaws, and many times the purists choose lenses specifically crafted to remove those "problems" (they are called "tilt shift" lenses, and if you are curious you can read my post here).
But there are situations in which it is possible to break the rules, forget the perfection, and look for something completely different. And in these situations, Laowa 4mm FishEye lens can be a great (and cheap!) companion.
This little boy is specifically designed for cropped sensors: you can get it with different mount: Micro 4/3, Sony E, Fuji X and EOS-M. Of course, with the incredible resolution that the cameras can exploit today, it is possible to use the lens on your full frame too (like I did on my Sony a7R III, in cropping mode)
As soon as you unbox the lens, you will immediately be impressed by the size! The 4mm FishEye is really small, compact and lightweight! When mounted on my Sony a7R, it seems very weird... but in the end, who cares about appearance??
Some techinical bits:
* Angle of View: 210°
* Minimum distance: 8cm
* Weight: 135g
How to use it
The Laowa 4mm FishEye is a great piece of gear to explore new visions, but it requires you to think outside the box: you do not have to be worried about converging lines, or about perfect focusing (step down to f/5.6 or f/8, and you can forget about focusing!). All you have to do is to imagine a new world, where everything you see will fall into a small sphere!
The 4mm is perfect for looking at the world upward (thus creating great perspectives); it gives incredible results also in architecture photography, nightscapes (remember the f/2.8, perfect for starry skyes!), but also for taking selfies (yes, you read it right!). It is only a matter of using your immagination: the incredible field of view, together with the short focus distance, enables the braves to obtain great shot, where the viewer is absolutely projected into the scene.
I really have to admit that I was quite skeptic when Laowa asked me to review such a strange lens; I am not a street photographer, so I thought that probably I was not the right person to exploit the potential of a FishEye.
I used the Laowa 4mm in different situations, and now I have to say that it is definitely a lens I would keep for me, without giving it back. :)
Speaking about dimensions, the Laowa 4mm FishEye is so damn small and light that you can keep it in your bag even if you didn't plan to use it.
My camera is a Sony full frame, and even if I had to use the lens in crop mode, I appreciated the great sharpness combined with the outstanding contrast typical of all the Laowa lenses.
Chromatic aberration is not bad at all: in the center of the frame is nearly adsent; in the tests I did, I found a strong blue/purple fringe in the very external circle, but honestly it is not a great problem to fix it.
Below you can see a zoomed image, where it is possible to see the noticeable "blue ring" but no aberration around the buildings
The 4mm FishEye has a good resistance to flares (better than the 10-18mm I tested few months ago), as you can see from the previous selfie shot.
The Laowa 4mm Circular FishEye is definitely an addictive lens: the first time you use it, you will be a bit weirded out by the strange image you will see... but it will take you only few minutes to fall in love with it, and with the the way it will challenge your photography and creativity!
Let me go straight to the point:
- incredibly small and light
- full metal construction
- razor sharp even at 2.8
- price (hey, only 199USD!!)
- it is so small that it could be a bit tricky to unmount
- if you do not pay attention, youd fingers or your camera will be in the frame (210° fov!)
You can buy the Laowa 4mm FishEye lens on Laowa website
How to stitch together 2 images from Laowa 4mm FishEye, to obtain a 360° panorama