Mastering Photography: Fisheye vs Wide Angle Lenses


    When you do travel photography, having a wide lens is super important. It helps you get cool pics of Tuscany’s hills, Tokyo’s busy streets with bright lights, and the old rooms in Edinburgh Castle. However, you might wonder which is best between fisheye vs wide angle.

    Telephoto and zoom lenses often steal the spotlight with their capacity to capture tight spaces and create selective focus, but skilled photographers know that wide-angle lenses are silent champions. They reliably produce stunning panoramas, vibrant landscapes, exceptional architectural shots, and fantastic street photography. Now, let’s dive into a brief purchasing guide to assist you in making a choice between wide angle lens vs fisheye, both prime and zoom options.

    Fisheye Lens

    A fisheye lens is a special type of lens known for its exceptionally short focal length and a wide field of view, often reaching or exceeding 180° in both diagonal and horizontal angles. Typically, lenses with a focal length of 16mm or shorter are classified as fisheye lenses.

    To illustrate, a fish lens for a camera is an ultra-wide-angle photographic lens with a short focal length ranging from about 6-16 mm. To achieve this extremely wide perspective, the front element of the lens bulges outward in a parabolic shape, resembling the eye of a fish, which is why it’s referred to as a “fish eye camera lens.”

    Two types of fisheye lenses exist: the full-frame fisheye and the circular fisheye. Let’s explore the distinctions between them.

    Full-Frame Fisheye

    When you use a full-frame fisheye camera lens, your picture will occupy the entire frame from edge to edge, just like with regular lenses. However, both horizontal and vertical lines will take on a circular look. This type of fisheye lens is versatile and suits a variety of subjects, including extreme sports, nature photography, distinctive portraits, and product photography.

    Circular Fisheye

    Circular fisheye lenses, although somewhat more constrained in their scope compared to full-frame fisheyes, offer a wholly distinctive visual style that can serve as a wellspring of creativity in various ways.

    Why Use a Fish Eye Camera Lens?

    The primary function of a fisheye lens is its exceptionally wide field of view, typically spanning around 220° to 230°. This wide angle capability enables close-range shooting of expansive scenes. When used up close to a subject, the fisheye lens can create a pronounced perspective effect, highlighting the contrast between the subject’s near and far sides, resulting in a visually striking image.

    Fisheye lenses also offer an extended depth of field, which is advantageous for showcasing the depth in photos. Fisheye lens imaging comes in two main varieties: one captures images like standard lenses, covering the entire frame, while the other produces circular images. Regardless of the type of imaging, fisheye lens shots are notably distorted, featuring a compelling and pronounced sense of perspective convergence.

    Wide Angle Lens

    Wide-angle lenses, often referred to as short lenses, are a specific type of photography accessory. It’s a non fisheye lens with a significantly shorter focal length compared to the diameter of the image field, which is the diagonal length of the film. They typically range from about 6 to 35 mm in focal length, offering a wide-angle view that spans from around 53° to an expansive 220°.

    These lenses first emerged in the 1860s, following the introduction of fast direct light lenses, and have evolved into a crucial category of photographic lenses. Modern wide-angle lenses predominantly feature two types of optical designs: symmetrical structures and retrofocus structures. Asymmetrical wide-angle lenses can be further categorized as positive external lenses or negative external lenses. Wide-angle lenses are prized for their short focal length and broad angle of view.

    How to Use a Wide Angle Lens

    Ready to make the most of your wide-angle lens? Here are four tips for maximizing your wide-angle photography experience.

    • First, embrace optical distortion or use it to your advantage by shooting from extreme angles.
    • Second, consider environmental portraiture, showing your subject in their surroundings to create a more engaging and unique perspective.
    • Third, take advantage of the lens’s depth of field, ensuring you have a defined foreground, middle, and background in your shots.
    • Finally, take your wide-angle lens to the streets, as it allows for more intimate shots and is ideal for street photography, letting you capture subjects from close distances and experiment with shooting from the hip.

    Differences Between Fisheye vs Wide Angle

    A standard wide-angle lens can capture a broader image without distortion when compared to the same distance. In contrast, a fisheye lens is an ultra-wide-angle lens with an expansive 180° field of view, akin to a fish’s eye. Consequently, fisheye lenses offer a wider perspective than regular wide-angle lenses, but they introduce significant distortion around the edges. Fisheye lenses also have a unique physical appearance – their front lenses protrude outward, resembling the eyes of a fish.

    The Basics of Both Lenses

    The quick version is that a fisheye lens gives a wide view, like a regular wide-angle lens with the same focal length, but it curves outwards from the center, kind of like a door peephole. Some regular wide-angle lenses may have a little bending, but it’s not as obvious.

    You might think fisheye lenses are just for fun, but here’s the deal: you can easily fix that bending in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. It takes just a click or two. Just make sure the fisheye lens you choose works with your camera for the effect you want.

    Aperture and Speed

    The super-wide lenses can be tough because they’re not very “fast” unless you spend a lot. That means they don’t let in a lot of light, so you may need a slower shutter or higher ISO for a good shot, especially without a tripod, like indoors.

    Fisheye lenses are usually prime lenses, and they often have a better maximum aperture, which makes low-light shooting easier.


    Usually, wide-angle lenses cost more than fisheye lenses, mainly because there are more options for wide-angle lenses. Fisheye lenses are more specialized, with only a few choices from each lens maker. They make lots of wide-angle lenses and zooms, so you have more choices and prices for wide-angle lenses.

    Which Suits Your Style: Wide Angle Lens vs Fisheye?

    Choosing the right lens can make all the difference. Whether you opt for the wide-angle wonder or the captivating fisheye lens, each offers its unique perspective. Dive into these tips to master the art of distortion, discover the charm of environmental portraits, make the most of your lens’s depth of field, and hit the streets for dynamic shots. Fisheye or wide-angle, the choice is yours, and with the right techniques, you’ll create unforgettable travel memories.