Get fisheye sight for cheap

What do you call a fish with no eyes? Fsh!

That little joke was probably making the rounds throughout Olympus Corporation during the development of the Olympus Lens 9mm f/8.0 Fisheye “body cap” pancake-style lens ($99.99). Released for Micro Four Thirds mount mirrorless cameras, this tiny half-inch thin lens looks just like a body cap that ships with Olympus cameras.

Figure 1. Pint-sized fisheye system featuring the Olympus 9mm body cap fisheye lens mounted on an Olympus Pen E-PL1.

Upon closer inspection, however, you’ll quickly notice a small lever located on the periphery of this lens that’s masquerading as a body cap. That’s the manual “focusing” lever. Not much of a focusing range here, though.

While it sounds impressive on the spec sheet, featuring a focus scale of 7.9 inches to infinity, in reality, there are three click stops built into the lever’s track: infinity, a catchall “deep focus” setting, and, finally, a closeup 7.9″ setting.

Armed with a fixed f/8 aperture, this fisheye lens doesn’t need much focusing control because of its dual aspherical elements baked into five elements in a four groups recipe, which makes it remarkably sharp.

That 9mm focal length roughly translates into a 35mm equivalence of an 18mm lens. This results in a lovely “fisheye-like” distortion inside a 140-degree field of view (see Figure 2 and Figure 3). While this fisheye lens, err, body cap would be a fanciful addition to any of the large Olympus OM-1 lineup, slipping it onto a Pen E-PL1 mirrorless camera becomes an exploratory adventure in surreal imagery.

Couple this combo with a digital viewfinder (VF2) and all of those hipster Fujifilm X100VI ($1,599) users will be suffering from “Pen-e envy.” Because size does matter and your super wide angle of view on life is a massive game changer (see Figure 4).

Figure 2. A view through another Olympus body cap lens. The Olympus 15mm f/8 body cap lens supplies a more “normal” view of your world.

Figure 3. Compare this fisheye view of the same subject to the one captured in Figure 2.

Figure 4. On the road to anywhere. A fisheye lens can extend your creative horizons to destinations beyond your daily view.

All told, an Olympus Pen E-PL1 and VF2 digital viewfinder in “excellent” condition should cost around $250 in today’s used gear market. Furthermore, you can buy the Olympus 9mm f/8 Fisheye Body Cap lens NEW from B&H for only $99.99. For other Olympus lenses, check our guide for the best lenses for the MFT OM system.


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