by Jon Jenkins Published 01/10/2008
My first choice was the Canon 15mm for use on my 5D. The only problem I found here was I didn't have a spare, full-frame camera that I could use to have the fisheye on a permanent body. To get the best use of a fisheye at weddings, and for me to get used to the niche qualities of this sort of lens, I would need it at hand all the time so I could get the full benefits. The cost of a Canon 15mm fisheye lens on its own body would set me back an extra £1,200 for a new 5D and so both Canon and Sigma 15mm lenses turned out to be outside the budget.
The Tokina 10-17mm was my next option. This could be used on both full-frame and APS-sized sensors. I could not find a local retailer who had one in stock, and I was reluctant to order one blind as I couldn't find a comparison of fisheye lenses that included the Tokina anywhere on the internet. I was wary of the 10-17mm zoom as fisheye lenses are usually a fixed focal length and therefore a third-party company having a go at a zoom fisheye might not turn out to be very good. So my thoughts moved to the Sigma 10mm fisheye for APS-sized sensors. I have a 'spare' 40D body that could be used to take the fisheye; if I wanted to then provide its own camera body, it wouldn't cost the earth. After much deliberation, I found myself edging towards the 10mm Sigma. I was also even considering buying the Nikon 10.5mm lens and a Fuji S5 body to go with it, as the Fuji is a relatively inexpensive camera. But I'm not used to Nikon (or Fuji) and there is also the extra cost of buying a new body when I have a Canon ready and waiting.
That was it. I decided to go for the Sigma 10mm, even though, at around £400, I could have bought the Canon 15mm cheaper. But I had saved the trouble of swapping lenses on my 5D and also the cost of a new body. The 40D body isn't the most compact (might think about a 450D) but without the grip and the not-so-big fisheye lens, it's not too bad for a camera that's always on the 'other shoulder' ready and waiting for when the moment arises. With this new bit of kit I was now ready to put it into action.
When I have new kit, I do find it useful to have a little play with it before going out on a wedding. This was the most fun but also the most difficult equipment to get a feel for before the wedding. Let me explain. With most new equipment, you can usually predict what it's like to use, but with the fisheye, everything in the world looks different. Sitting at my desk taking photos of the objects around me, everything looks so different in the camera and when I took it outside, the whole world looked weird. Without the use of models (my kids and wife tend to run away when I get my camera out), it's difficult to predict what a bride and groom will look like in the frame. So after a few days' play with the lens, I thought I would unleash it on my brides. With it being a quite compact set-up, I could keep it on me at all times and just have a try with it when the moment arose. I set the camera on Program and did my normal work with my usual set-up and just brought the fisheye into play when I felt the time was right. If all went wrong, I had my usual shots in the bag anyway.
So there I went, off to my first wedding with the fisheye lens on my Canon 40D ready for action. Using the fisheye on weddings did seem a little tricky - working on weddings you do need to get the job done quickly. A fisheye lens does need a bit of time to compose the images correctly. When I saw the opportunity to try the lens, I would set up the shot that I would normally take quite wide and get the 'safe' shot in the bag. Then I would try the fisheye, keeping it on Program setting so as to not get too involved in exposure while taking the shots as the composing was taking a little time. Having no zoom facility in the lens, you have to use the 'manual zoom' and get walking. I am not used to this on a wedding, I use my zoom a little more often than I really should. However, I found I was in the realms of 'real photography' and having to move around to compose.
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