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Review Olympus 8 mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO

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A Fisheye lens is for creative photography. And then you mustn’t be too demanding as a photographer. A large aperture in order to prevent blurred images indoors or playing with background blur? Professional build quality? Extra well sealed against dust and splashwater? You can forget about these kinds of requirements when purchasing a Fisheye lens. Such Fisheye lenses did not exist.

The Olympus 8 mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO does meet all these requirements. The world’s brightest Fisheye lens has the best build quality of all Fisheye lenses that we have reviewed so far. And it is not even the most expensive Fisheye in our list.

Olympus8mm290

The world’s only Fisheye with f/1.8

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Build and auto focus

Where build quality, AF speed and accuracy are concerned, the Olympus f/1.8 Fisheye scores a 9.9. We never award a 10, so it can’t get any better. Not only is the seal against dust and splashwater unique, Olympus also guarantees the operation in freezing cold. This lens feels very solid, is beautifully finished, and the focus ring for manual focusing is nicely dampened. In comparison with other Olympus PRO lenses, it is missing the clutch option for switching to manual focus. If you are accustomed to working with professional Olympus lenses, then you might use that option quite regularly and it’s unfortunate that the option is missing here. It is, however, not a disadvantage relative to other Fisheye lenses, since there is no Fisheye with such an option for switching from AF to MF. 
Specifications
Olympus 8mm f/1.8mm Fisheye PRO
Image Stabilization:-
lenses/ groups:17 / 15
length x diameter:62 / 90
filter size:-
Weight:315
Lens hood:+

Vignetting

Some Fisheye lenses produce black corners and have severe vignetting on the edges. But not the Olympus 8 mm f/1.8 Fisheye. On the outer edges and in the corners, some vignetting is sometimes a bit recognizable, but in general it’s better than expected.  

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Fisheye Distortion

Fisheye lenses not only provide a colossally big field of view, but also significant, unmistakable distortion. You will not want to make all your pictures with a Fisheye, but the specific Fisheye distortion in the hands of a creative photographer delivers much nicer pictures than just a big nose as in the example below. The photo below actually betrays the fact that my own preference is for an Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8—which has an equally colossal field of view, but offers it without distortion—to the Olympus 8 mm f/1.8. But then, “creative photographer” is one of the last labels that I would put on myself. In any case, visit the Olympus 8 mm Fisheye review by Robin Wong.

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Little flare or ghosts

All wide-angle lenses have a large, convex front lens, so that they are sensitive to flare and ghosts. Because the Olympus 8 mm Fisheye has an exceptionally complex lens design with many lens elements, the chance of flare and ghosts is even greater. We did manage to cause ghosts, as you can see in the partial enlargement below. But this only worked in a shot where the sun was shining directly in frame. And the degree of flare was surprisingly low. The Olympus 8 mm Fisheye displays very, very little flare or ghosts... for a Fisheye.  

Olympus Fisheye flare test

Sharpness

The Olympus 8 mm f/1.8 Fisheye delivers sharp, contrast-rich shots. Normally, we measure the sharpness not only in the center, but also on the edges and in the corners. With a Fisheye lens, that is not possible. The scores for resolution in all our Fisheye lens tests are thus always based on the center sharpness (and a part of the sharpness on the edges). 

Click on the illustration below for a picture at 100%—compressed for the web.

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Chromatic aberration & bokeh

You do not buy a Fisheye lens for the great bokeh. Even so, at f/1.8—if you creep up very, very close to your subject—this Olympus will reward you with the most beautiful bokeh from a Fisheye that we have ever come across.

Chromatic aberration—colored edges at sharp contrast transitions on the edges of the image—can never be fully prevented with wide-angle and Fisheye lenses. The designers of Olympus have done good work in the design of this Fisheye lens. Even so, in uncorrected RAW files, there are colored edges visible on the edges. We cannot measure it for a Fisheye, but it is actually not relevant either. If you open the jpg files from the camera or RAW files in Photoshop or Lightroom, then there is no trace of chromatic aberration visible.

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Conclusion Olympus 8 mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO review with E-M1

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Look in our list of reviewed lenses in order to compare this lens with other lenses.

ECWYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, where you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".

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16
fisheye
fisheye
9
ECPure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens if the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you make use of Photoshop or Lightroom for the conversion of RAW files, then the RAW scores are the same as the jpg scores.
8
16
9.2
9

Pros

  • Typical Fisheye effect
  • Excellent build quality
  • Dust and splashwater tight
  • Very good image quality
  • Fisheye with a very highest brightness of f/1.8

Cons

  • Typical Fisheye effect
  • Not inexpensive

Bring on the cold, dust and rain. Give creativity space with an Olympus 8 mm f/1.8 Fisheye.

 A professional photographer has higher requirements for a lens than a hobby photographer. But not for a Fisheye lens, since then there is really little choice. For an amateur photographer, the Panasonic 8mm f/3.5 is a possible option, but the brightness and the build quality are not comparable with the Olympus 8 mm f/1.8 PRO. Sealing against dust and splashwater or high brightness were properties that the creative professional photographer could only dream about when it came to the Fisheye. The new Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8 mm 1:1.8 PRO lens is in a separate class. The minimum focal distance of 2.5 cm from the front of the lens makes great macro-work possible. The outstanding build quality makes it possible to shoot under extreme conditions—freezing cold, dust, and moisture. Even professional photographers will be impressed by the terrific build quality of the Olympus 8 mm f/1.8 Fisheye. 

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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