An honest review of the Altura Photo Fisheye Wide Angle Lens and macro lens.
Note: We are not affiliated in any way with Altura Photo. We paid full price for this product to test it and are not being paid for this review.
So you might have seen this lens and many others like it on Amazon and wondered if the screw-on fisheye lenses were any good. Well, you came to the right place because we love testing stuff like this. There are actually a lot of these on Amazon from different companies with different brand logos on them. The screw-on fisheye lens has been around for a while as essentially a gimmick. Still, we wanted to see what this lens can offer.
The way this lens works is pretty simple it has only two pieces of glass. The outer fisheye lens increases the field of view with its bubble shape while the inner lens straightens the image enough to go through the camera lens. The simplicity of this design makes for a very cheap construction. That simplicity comes with a price. Expensive corrective elements that are made of very thick glass present in dedicated fisheye lenses are missing in this design. The result of this is serious chromatic aberration. Another problem arises in that the distances and geometry of the various lenses that the fisheye would be attached to further increases the chromatic aberration and distortion.
There is a big caveat with such a method of achieving a fisheye field of view. Only certain camera lenses will work acceptably with this lens. Anything over about 55mm will not work with this fisheye due to the way the optical train works. Lenses with a very short focal length will get a black ring around the compressed image. This sort of negates the increase in field of view. What the fisheye does do it give your image a fisheye distortion.
This can be a good thing If you ever wanted to have the look of a skateboard video or some of the very cheap plastic cameras. The distortion this lens brings can really enhance certain images where you are trying to describe scale and distance well. Everything looks further away in this. Because this lens only attaches on top of your existing lens it is also possible to shoot video. Awesome! Now for $25 you can turn your kit lens into a fisheye for filming kickass skateboard videos with your friends.
The lens construction is very good for something so cheap. The body is made of thick steel and is constructed in two parts to allow for the “macro” lense at the back to be unscrewed and used separately. The field corrector lens in a fisheye needs to magnify the distorted field from the fisheye lens itself, so it’s essentially just a magnifying glass lens. You could achieve similar results with a magnifying glass in front of your regular lens, however thanks to the screw-on design of this one, you will get the glass perfectly centered in front of your camera lens which greatly improves the results.
Separating the parts of the lens by unscrewing them gives you a macro lens attachment. This is neat because you still have control over aperture. There are screw-on attachments for lenses that allow you to reverse them on your camera body to behave like a macro lens of sorts. The problem is that you must deal with the aperture wide open. In this case you still have full control of your aperture. Thanks to being able to use a high F-stop you can get a pretty deep area of focus. You can also still use autofocus with this attachment.
The fisheye does some interesting things to your images, the fisheye distorts pretty well for the price but doesn’t allow for a wider field of view than the lens it is attached to. Zooming out with this lens attached to about 30mm will yield a black ring around your image that will increase as your view shrinks. Also not all lenses will work with this without the black ring being a thing. Because the shape of the black is a ring and photos are by their nature rectangular there is an obvious problem. You will wind up having to crop in many cases if you use lower focal length lenses. This totally defeats the purpose of the fisheye.
There are also a few issues with the sharpness of the lens. The geometry of the front element of a camera lens is not consistent between camera lenses. This means that this fisheye lens has to choose an average shape. This average shape means that not all lenses will even come close to focusing across the field of view. Focus at longer distances is impossible in every lens I tried. Shooting during a sunny day yields rainbows everywhere. Towards the edges the image becomes extremely blurry and prismatic. For me this is unacceptable. See for yourself but this is horrible.
Compared to a real fisheye lens this lens is can’t hold a candle to one. I can’t call this lens good by any stretch. If you want to shoot an extreme fisheye shot, for instance as if one were looking through a peephole, then this lens could work. If you want to shoot a really budget macro photo, for instance of models or details in toys, this lens could do that too. But in every respect you get what you pay for and this lens gives you very little.