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Old Aug 5, 2010, 2:31 PM   #1
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Default Fishy Camera Request - Need Purchasing Advice

I need to purchase about 10 digital cameras that can take photos with a fisheye lens.

I prefer that the cameras be small and easy to carry.

Must have –
Durability (these will be used daily on construction sites)
Good in low light conditions
Easy to use
Long battery life

Any ideas on what model I should be looking for?
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Old Aug 5, 2010, 3:50 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLombardo View Post
I need to purchase about 10 digital cameras that can take photos with a fisheye lens. ...
Seriously? Fisheye? or wide-angle? if so, how wide? any budget?
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Old Aug 5, 2010, 3:59 PM   #3
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Seriously fisheye. The budget is about $2,000 for the camera and lens.
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Old Aug 6, 2010, 3:19 AM   #4
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Several questions and items come to mind...

Budget - is that $2,000 per camera and lens set (or $20K for the lot), or $2,000 total which would be $200 per camera and fisheye lens set? This is the principal question to your search.
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A bit of background to your overall quest.

Quote:
Good in low light conditions
Small point & shoot cameras do not have interchangeable lenses, however for some models there are add on fish eye lenses available. Most P&S cameras do not do that well in low light, and then putting an additional lens on, only makes the situation worse.

One possibility is the Panasonic LX3, which has an excellent f2 lens - which makes it excellent for low light imaging. It has one of the widest angle lenses available at 24mm. It also has the capability to add a fisheye lens on to the system. Here are some links.
LX3s start around $370 and the fisheye lens and extension tubes will probably run another $100, for a total of about $500.

There are other combinations available, however there are not that many fisheye lenses for P&S in the first place, and they are designed for certain cameras.

The other end to the alternatives is a dSLR with a fish eye lens. The best fisheye lens that is reasonable is the Tokina 10-17, and its available for both Nikon and Canon. This lens on an entry level body will produce the best results in terms of image quality and performance in low light.

The lens runs around $550+ for either Canon or Nikon. Add to that is the body, and you can probably find some older models that have just been superseded for $400 to $500.
Ronson also makes fisheye lenses for both Canon and Nikon. These run about $280
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So that is a brief overview of some of your options.....

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Old Aug 6, 2010, 8:27 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by interested_observer View Post
Several questions and items come to mind...

Budget - is that $2,000 per camera and lens set (or $20K for the lot), or $2,000 total which would be $200 per camera and fisheye lens set? This is the principal question to your search.
Sorry, let me clarify; The $2,000 budget is per single camera + lens combo. The total project budget for all 10 cameras is $20,000.

I will look closer at the LX3. Thanks for the great info, I did not realize it could handle lens adapters.

Based on the higher budget, would the Panasonic GF1 provide better durability and low light results? The smaller body would be an advantage over the Canon or Nikon DSLR options.

What do you think?
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Old Aug 6, 2010, 12:17 PM   #6
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for a compact solution this one might work for you:
http://www.dpreview.com/news/1006/10060101Pana8mmFisheye.asp

with one of the Panasonic G-series cameras, or Olympus EP2, EPL1 micro 4/3 cameras.
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Old Aug 6, 2010, 12:18 PM   #7
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Good Morning, First your budget is more than adequate, which is wonderful - usually its the other way around. However, if you bear with a couple of additional questions, that in the end will help narrow down your choices....

Rather than just say fisheye lens, it would be more helpful if you could somewhat quantify the field of view needed in degrees (it does not have to be all that precise. 90 degrees wide, 120 degrees wide, ... 180 degrees wide?

Is this going to be indoors or out of doors? What is the range of lighting available - sun up to sun down? or interior construction with what ever amount of light available? Or, both inside and out, in all weather conditions?

The next thing is - in general terms (I know you initially posted that this is for construction), what is the overall intent? General progress? or something more specific? The reason for the question, especially when coupled with the first question, is fisheye lenses bring distortion. Is your intended application / use, able to tolerate this level of distortion. Also, some fisheye lenses give you a circular picture (you may not want), as opposed to the more traditional rectangle (which you are probably assuming). Fisheye lenses give a "bend" to the images. Construction tends to deal with items that are very linear and square. Fisheye lenses tend to deal with these very harshly (hence again the question about field of view). Do you need to understand spatial relationships between various objects in the images? Also, fisheye lenses in order to pull everything into the frame generally pushes the objects in the center out or away from the camera.

Another aspect worth touching on is focus? Do you want everything to be in focus all the time? This is generally the case for wide angle lenses in general and fisheye lens in particular.

Do you want to adjust the image to the situation? For example, a fixed focus prime lens, or a zoom lens (they do make zoom fisheye lenses, and they are excellent)?

On to camera bodies. You asked about the GF1. Again bear with me here. In general sensor size here will play a role for 2 reasons. Larger sensors are better in low light situations, and larger sensors provide a larger field of view - which is critical for wide angle. Larger sensors also provide images with lower noise (thus higher image quality). There are 2 sensor sizes you are dealing with here APS-c (normally the larger one) and the 4:3 sensor (which is smaller) and used by the GF1. Also, the smaller sensor size in general allows for a smaller body package.

Another consideration is that the smaller bodies usually do not have viewfinders, and thus may be more difficult to use in sunlight.

So, I will just use 2 bodies as a comparison here for some specific reasons. The GF1 small, light, and has a fisheye lens available. A 4:3 sensor. Then a larger APS-c sensor - the Pentax KX. Selected this one because it is excellent in low light situations (high ISO speed), its one of the smallest APS-c bodies, very simple to use, provides outstanding images. Has a full line of wide angle lenses with fisheye.

So physically body size comparison...

Panasonic GF1 - 119 x 71 x 36.3 mm (4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4 in), 315 g (11.1 oz)
Pentax KX -
..... 123 x 92 x 68 mm .. (4.8 x 3.6 x 2.7 in), 580 g
(20.5 oz)

Yes, the Pentax is large in comparison to the GF1, but it really is a small dSLR overall. With the larger sensor, you get much better image quality, better low light capabilities, you get a viewfinder (GF1 does not have a viewfinder) which will work better outdoors in sunlight. Pentax has in body image stabilization where the GF1 has none (in the wide angle area - I consider this a plus, image stabilization availability, just helps - especially in low light).

Yes, photography is nothing but compromises....

Lenses - I am going to touch on two areas here. Fish eyes and ultra wide angle, so that you can see the difference - ultimately its your decision, might as well make an informed decision.

Fisheye - I had touched on the Tokina 10-17 fisheye. An excellent lens. Pentax designed it and has their own version, with superior lens coatings for better flare control (better in sunlight). Pentax is known for their optics and lens coatings. Its a really excellent lens, and its a zoom that allows you to frame your picture better. It goes from a full 180 degrees to 100 degrees wide. Drop dead simple to use. The Pentax version is made with a metal body, wonderful construction.
For the GF1 - As of last month Panasonic now has a 8mm fisheye that is 180 degrees wide. Olympus has a 8mm fisheye that will fit on the GF1 that is a fixed 180 degrees wide. There is also a Peleng Fisheye 8mm that too is 180 degrees wide fixed. They are all very good lenses.
Non fisheye lenses (or rectilinear lenses) - these are regular lenses. Forget about the focal length designations (especially since the sensor sizes differ which adds a slight complication). When compared with fisheye lenses, compare on field of view in degrees - that is an apples to apples comparison.

An excellent ultra wide angle lens is the Pentax DA 12-24. Its field of view is 100 degrees to 60 degrees wide.

Another is a new Sigma 8-16 lens. Its field of view is 114 to 75 degrees

For the GF1 - the Olympus 7-14 is 114 degrees wide.
________________________________________

So, that is another sampling of what is available - with a little bit on the why one thing as compared to another. Also, a bit more focused than before.


Last edited by interested_observer; Aug 6, 2010 at 12:31 PM.
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Old Aug 7, 2010, 10:14 PM   #8
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Excellent questions! You are doing a great job of drilling down to identify our needs.

I'm not privy to actual intended purpose of the photography. I sent sample images from fisheye cameras (pulled from websites) to the Project Manager to make sure he understands the distortion concerns.

He is looking to capture as much information as possible into a single image, in a traditional rectangular photo, with the subject filing as much of the frame as possible. I don't know what this translates to in field of view in degrees. But we are NOT looking for a full "circular" fisheye image.

Having every detail in focus throughout the frame works fine for us. This is not an issue or concern.

The use will be indoors and outdoors. We need to plan for all lighting and weather conditions.

I wasn't aware there were zoom fisheye lenses. This would be a great option to have although I expect they are much more expensive and add considerable size and weight to the camera.

Can the Pentax lens you linked to zoom?

You make great points about the GF1 and micro 4:3 in general. The image stabilization and viewfinder are excellent arguments against the GF1 and similar compact Micro Four Thirds. The Pentax seems like a good alternative. I will do some additional research on that model and present it to the Project Manager.

Once again, excellent questions! I really appreciate the time you've taken to help me out with this.
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Old Aug 8, 2010, 2:08 AM   #9
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While you are waiting for clarification, I have some additional thoughts that may be of interest. I may be going overboard here, however - I have a feeling that the PM may wish for an overview set of images with as much "view" as possible, coupled with possibly another set that has as little distortion as possible. I did a little spreadsheet with 5 minutes of web pricing work and for under $2K per setup, you can have a body, zoom fisheye and one of the best wide angle zoom lenses, using bodies from dither Pentax, Nikon or Canon - your choice.

Here are the thoughts...

Lenses -
  • Fisheye - The real only zoom fisheye available was designed by Pentax in conjunction with Tokina. Its the Pentax DA 10-17 or for the Nikon / Canon the Tokina AT-X 107. The difference between the two is Pentax applies their own lens coatings to reduce sun flare, the look of the lens, and Pentax's quick shift, that allows you to instantly switch between manual and auto focusing. Other wise they are the same, Pentax fits on Pentax bodies, and Tokina fits on Nikon and Canon bodies. The field of view is 180 degrees at 10mm to 100 degrees at 17mm. The fisheye effect is rather minimal at the 17mm end of the range.
Here are some other threads with the fisheye. You might be interested in reading them. All of the images are mine and they are all with the Pentax fisheye.
Here is probably the most extensive set of images using the Pentax/Tokina fisheye. Its from another site that specializes in Pentax. There are 40+ pages of images of all types and lighting conditions. Some would apply, as others would not. I think that you will get a good sense of how the lens applies to architecture and construction, by a wide range of folks with again a wide range of abilities.
Here is a quick video on the Tokina lens mounted on a dSLR. You can see the relative size and weight. I also came across some clips on the Pentax version
  • Ultra Wide Angle - Again this is a lens that was co designed by both Pentax and Tokina. The Tokina lens fits on Nikon and Canon bodies. It is an excellent lens, very sharp with minimal distortions around the edges. Its field of view at 12mm is 100 degrees and at 24mm, 60 degrees. The difference between the two is Pentax applies their own lens coatings to reduce sun flare, the look of the lens, and Pentax's quick shift, that allows you to instantly switch between manual and auto focusing. Now this lens is twice the size of the fisheye. Its large, since it is pulling in a lot of view as a regular lens (not a fisheye).
Here are some other threads with the 12-24. You might also be interested in reading them. All of the images are mine and they are all with the Pentax wide angle lens.
Bodies - The lenses are the most important of this system (and it is a system that is being compiled here) - and essentially the lenses are the same across the three bodies listed here. The other part is the body. The lens gathers the light and focuses it on the sensor. The body, captures the light on the sensor and records the image in memory.

You originally were concerned about durability and photography in low light. There are two items within the body that assist in low light photography - low sensor noise and high ISO speeds. High ISO speeds make the sensor very sensitive to the light (a must for low light levels), however when set up to be sensitive, they produce noise in the sensor and degrade the image. Pentax's KX has very high ISO levels, and controls noise better than any other camera in its price range. This coupled with in body image stabilization helps you capture images with very low light levels.

The Nikon D5000 and Canon T1i are also very good low level light camera, however not quite as good as the Pentax KX. They are all generally in the same price range.

Durability - Again, on this topic - they are all pretty much the same. Plastic over a metal frame.

Pricing - I did a quick web search on pricing. These are mainly from good retailers B&H etc. With quantity of 10 each, I would suspect that you should be able to ask for a quantity discount. The main price difference is in the Pentax lenses. Pentax just like Canon and Nikon puts a premium on their brand of lenses. Tokina essentially does not charge as much.
Pentax.KX.Body.Only……..$...509.00.
DA.10-17.Fisheye.zoom,.,..$...649.00.
DA.12-24.wide.angle,.,.......$...800.00.
.……………………………,..$1,958.00.

Nikon.D5000.Body.Only,…..,..$...629.00.
Tokina.10-17.fisheye.zoom,.,..$...580.00.
Tokina.12-24.wide.angle,…..,..$...400.00.
,.,………………………………...$1,609.00.

Canon.T1i.Body.Only,.,……....$...584.00.
Tokina.10-17.fisheye.zoom,.,..$...560.00.
Tokina.12-24.wide.angle,…..,..$...500.00.
…………………………………...$1,644.00.

Quick analysis of the price difference - Overall Pentax provides better low light capability.

  • Body - Pentax body offers image stabilization and better low light capability. Nikon and Canon do not offer any image stabilization and low light capability is not as good.
  • Lenses - The lenses are virtually the same optically. Both the Pentax and Tokina lenses were designed by Pentax. The difference is in the camera mount, the lens coatings and the manual focus clutch, all advantages to Pentax.
With this, you would want to add 2 SD cards (4GB each), 2 sets of batteries (specific to each of the camera bodies), and a carrying case of some type.

Now my bias is Pentax. That is what I know best. However, there are folks that I am sure will correct my suggestions here. TCav, Mtclimber, shortutle, etc., on the Nikon and Canon bodies. Also, if there is a better set of lenses for those bodies, it will come out - however only Pentax/Tokina make the zoom fisheye, and it is extremely good. I will say, that I am quite sure of the lenses. Now, you can switch from the Pentax/Tokina wide angle 12-24 to a Sigma 10-20 and the price will decrease some. You will get a bit wider angle, however the distortion will increase a bit. That said, the Sigma 10-20 is a very good lens also. It runs from $450 to $650 depending on the camera mount (Canon, Nikon or Pentax).

So, from this you can evaluate if you want to go fisheye only, or fisheye with a wide angle lens for all the kits or just a few of the kits. You also have some initial information and a set of choices of camera makes that you can use.

Another bonus here is video. All 3 bodies do video, and I happened to find this one using the 10-17
The second video is taken with a different camera (Pentax K7), but it shows the 10-17 lens zooming from 10mm (180 degrees) to 17mm (100 degrees) of view. The third one is with the KX


Last edited by interested_observer; Aug 8, 2010 at 5:25 PM.
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Old Aug 8, 2010, 2:27 AM   #10
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Here are a few additional images from the Pentax 10-17 fish eye.

This one is from the well deck of the USS Bonn Homme Richard - a Helicopter Carrier. The well deck at the stern of the ship, where they flood it and drive/fly hovercraft up inside the ship (they are called LCATs).

It was quite dark down there. I used a Pentax K100D - a 6 mega pixel camera. The K100D also has inbody image stabilization - called SR or shake reduction, and that helped out here quite a bit. Used the fisheye 10-17, at 10mm (180 degrees field of view), at 1/6 second. I also used ISO 800 which is fairly fast, however the Pentax KX can use up to ISO 6400. The KX is also a 12 mega pixel camera, so the resolution would be even greater.

I have reduced the size of the images in order to fit the posting requirements. If you would like a full size image, just let me know and I can email them.

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Last edited by interested_observer; Aug 8, 2010 at 2:32 AM.
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