Testing a Fisheye at Uncle Billy’s

Uncle Billy's with a Fisheye - Austin, Texas

Uncle Billy’s with a Fisheye – Austin, Texas

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I got a fun Fisheye lens. It’s the inexpensive Olympus Body Cap version. At a 18mm equivalent, as fisheyes go, it’s not very extreme. I shot the behind the scenes of my photographer friends with it and the distortions don’t look too crazy, unless you look at the building on the very left. But have no fear, there are ways to emphasize the distortion, as you’ll see in this post.

After our downtown shoot, we went to Uncle Billy’s, on Barton Springs Drive. It’s a comfortable bar and barbecue kind of place. One a lark, I shot my fisheye attached to the Olympus PEN-F. I didn’t expect much. After all, with a fixed f8 aperture, I pretty much wrote off this lens as outdoor and daylight only. Boy was I pleasantly shocked.

Defaulting to my usual, contrasty, black and white mode, out popped a gritty, distorted and totally awesome image on the rear LCD. I did a double take and couldn’t believe what magic this thing conjured up. Like a kid with a new toy, I went around Uncle Billy’s looking for perfect subjects, which will nicely bend to the fisheye’s will. The trick is to look for straight lines that most easily shows the distortion. As you can tell, I wasn’t disappointed.

But how can a f8 lens work in such marginal conditions, at night? Well, the Olympus’ in-body image stabilization (IBIS) certainly helps. I shot these at 1/4 of second, which is no problem for a 5 stop IBIS system. And even at a slow 1/4, I still needed to shoot at ISO 5000 or higher. The contrasty black and whites work well, since any added noise just adds to the character. While I shot in my black and white JPEG mode, I opted to use the RAWs and convert to monochrome. It allowed me to tweak the shadows and highlights better.

As promised, here’s more from Uncle Billy’s. I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with this.

Uncle Billy's with a Fisheye - Austin, Texas
Uncle Billy's with a Fisheye - Austin, Texas
Uncle Billy's with a Fisheye - Austin, Texas

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