Last Updated on 03/16/2016 by Chris Gampat
When Olympus released the 8mm f1.8 lens, it kind of had me scratching my head. Why? An 8mm lens is the equivalent of 16mm when using a Four Thirds sensor, and that’s not really considered a fisheye field of view. Then you consider that they have a 7-14mm f2.8 Pro lens with less distortion on the wide end.
Weird, huh? Yeah, I thought so…
Fisheye lenses can be fun in the right situations and for those of us who don’t mind the massive amounts of distortion that they render, they can be an excellent creative tool. They’re very popular amongst extreme sports photographers and some portrait photographers looking to embrace a wild edge of some sort, but they’re also just really cool to use sometimes.
Now don’t get me wrong: this lens is great in many ways. But in other ways, I’m just still not sure about it. But for an $899 price point, you’re getting quite a good deal.
Pros and Cons
- There is absolutely no point in stopping this lens down. So much is in focus. In that way, you almost don’t necessarily need to focus the lens; though I still would.
- Weather sealing
- Pretty great colors
- You can still get bokeh from this lens
- Small size
- Fixed lens hood
- F1.8 is an incredible aperture for a fisheye lens
- Very, very good distortion control towards the center of the lens
- Honestly wish it were wider
The Olympus 8mm f1.8 PRO lens was reviewed using the Olympus OMD EM5 Mk I and the Olympus Pen f. Some early testing was done with the Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II.
Tech specs taken from the Adorama listing of the product.
- Focal Length
- 8mm (35mm equivalent focal length 16mm)
- Compatible with
- Olympus PEN Cameras and Micro Four Third Cmmeras
- Lens Construction
- 17 Elements in 15 Groups
(1 Aspherical lens, 3 Super ED lenses, 2 ED lenses, 1 Super HR Lens, 2 HR lenses)
- Dust & Drip Proof
- Focusing System
- High-speed Imager AF (MSC)
- Angle of View
- 180 degree
- Closest Focusing Distance
- 4.7″ / 0.12m
- Maximum Image Magnification
- 0.20x (35mm equivalent Maximum Image Magnification [0.40x])
- Minimum Field Size
- 154x82mm (at Macro mode)
- Aperture Range
- F1.8 – F22
- Filter Size
- Diameter 2.44 x 3.14″ / 62 x 80mm
- 11.11 oz / 315g
Taken from the site’s first impressions of the lens.
Like the 7-14mm PRO lens, the 8mm f1.8 Fisheye has a fixed lens hood. It surely needs it with a massive front element.
Since this is a prime lens, don’t expect a lot of movement with the front element. Instead, just remember that it’s rather bulbous as you go around shooting.
The lens has a single control ring designed for focusing. Many photographers think that you don’t need to focus a fisheye lens but you indeed need to.
The Olympus 8mm f1.8 is made of metal pretty much all over. The exterior, the focusing ring, the lens hood–it’s all metal. If someone came up to me and tried to rob me I’d know that I can use this lens for self-defense.
Don’t do that please.
Then also consider the fact that this lens has weather sealing. It can endure nearly everything and if you’re the type that loves to photograph skaters and other extreme sports, then go for it with this lens. It’s literally designed for it.
So let’s consider the following: this is a super duper wide angle lens, it has an f1.8 aperture which gives an f3.6 depth of field when talking about 35mm full frame equivalency. No matter what, a heck of a lot will always be in focus. At the same time though, the lens can also focus very closely.
Ease of Use
Slap this lens onto a camera, autofocus (or manually focus) and shoot. There’s very little to this lens. It’s going to nail the focus even in low light. In fact, it’s never missed a single shot during my testing. But the challenge is creating interesting images with it.
Some folks like fisheye optics, some don’t.
There isn’t a lot to say about the Olympus 8mm f1.8 Pro Fisheye lens that these images don’t say for themselves. Olympus optics have always been known for being very sharp, rendering lots of details, focusing quickly, and quite honestly they have so many things about them that make them perfect. Of course, the newer sensors render better images with this lens, but even the old OMD EM5 Mk I can create great photos with this lens if you’re down for tinkering with the files in Lightroom.
Amazingly, this lens is capable of delivering bokeh. It’s more hazy than creamy but do keep in mind that it’s possible for sure. To that end, you may never really want to stop it down. I know that this has ben said often, but it holds true.
For what it’s worth though, you don’t really buy this lens for the bokeh; you buy it for the extreme perspective.
With the older cameras, the colors are a bit more muted even in the vivid mode. With the newer cameras, the colors are super punchy. Overall, this is one of the more punchy lenses when it comes to the color rendition.
That works really well for shooting extreme sports, events, parties, etc.
This lens exhibits very little purple fringing,and even so it’s tough to find it even in a print. As soon as you raise the clarity in Adobe Lightroom, you’ll start to see more though.
This lens’s sharpness maxes out at f5.6; but even so I barely felt a need to stop it down. This works especially well in the dark and not a single photo I shot was unsharp.
Extra Image Samples
- Fairly small size
- Solid build quality
- Great image quality
- Fast focusing
- Weather sealing
- Wish it were wider.
The Olympus 8mm f1.8 Pro lens is one that honestly sets the standard for the company’s prime lenses in many ways. A metal body, sharp glass, weather sealing, fast focusing, and incredible image quality all make this lens a winner. There isn’t really a lot that I can complain about except for the fact that I wish it were wider.
Just because I think that this is a stellar lens though doesn’t mean that you will. It’s very wide and fisheye optics are an acquired taste. But once you know what they’re capable of doing, you’ll be very hooked.
To be fair though, Olympus’s biggest strength has always been its lenses. This one is no exception.
The Olympus 8mm f1.8 receives four out of five stars. Want one? Check out the Amazon listing for the current pricing.
The Olympus OMD EM5 Mk II: This deserves to be with a powerful camera with weather sealing. The Mk II is that camera. The EM1 is also a good choice, but for what it’s worth I like the EM5 Mk II a lot more.