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03-24-2009, 08:17 PM   #1
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Wide-Angle/Auxiliary Filters. Your experiences?

A while ago, I purchased a fisheye filter/auxiliary lens (.42x, they're all over ebay) and I wasn't surprised with the results. It had all sorts of distortion on the edges and it made everything softer. Nevertheless, it was fun to play around with!

There are also other wide-angle and telephoto filters made by 3rd-party manufacturers such as Kenko or Bower. Do any of you have any good experiences with those wide-angle filters? Are there any worthy of a cheap replacement of an ultra-wide-angle-zoom?


03-24-2009, 09:48 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Big I Quote
Do any of you have any good experiences with those wide-angle filters? Are there any worthy of a cheap replacement of an ultra-wide-angle-zoom?

Short answer : yes, and no.

I originally bought a 0.5x wide converter to use with my DA 18-55 AL II. All it did was vignetting. When I compared the images, the picture did not get any wider. But it was noticeably distorded. The converter went back to the store (Fry's).

I know those converters are cheap, but they are that way for a reason. Save your money and your time. Skip them until you can afford a wider lens. The Sigma 10-20 has dropped in price a bit lately due to the imminent release of the new version. It used to be $500, now closer to $430. Still not cheap, but I don't think you will find a better ultrawide for that kind of money.
03-25-2009, 04:14 AM   #3
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I've done lot of reading and some testing of a few good auxiliary wide angle lenses. I haven't found anything good enough to use with my K100D. However some do perform well on other camera systems (I'll get back to this later.)

The main difficulties are with softness, distortion, and chromatic aberration at the edges. Cropping the bad edges out isn't usually an option because the reason you use a wide angle is to get the edges & if you can crop them, you didn't need the width in the first place.

I think the primary lens these adapters are used on is very important; I've seen others say they are designed for use with particular lenses. That may be true, but I've noticed that the smaller the entrance pupil of the primary lens, the better the performance of the adapter.

In particular, I've tested Nikon WC-68E (.68x), Raynox 6600 HD (.66x), and Olympus 0.8X adapters on 24mm Tamron & Sigma lenses. None were acceptable. However, the Olympus' extreme edge performance is good on a Panasonic FZ30 (a P&S/bridge camera) at 7mm.

You might search the dpreview forums for recent discussion on this topic; some adapters have been praised, for example Darrell Preen showed good edge results using a "Canon 10D with the Tiffen 0.75X WA adapter on the Canon 28-105mm USM lens, at 28mm."


Last edited by newarts; 03-25-2009 at 04:48 AM.
03-25-2009, 03:44 PM   #4
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Nobody has as yet responded to my post here about my questionable Kenko 180 (~0.16x) adapter, but I'll share what I've experienced with that and others.

In general, ALL these wide-ultrawide-fisheye adapters suck for 'general' photography. That's to be expected. IIRC the wide and tele adapters I used on my old Yashicamat MF TLR weren't quite so bad, similar to adapters on Dad's Sony Hi8 vidcam - but that last was a much lower-resolution system.

I inherited those latter adapters (Ambico Video V-0385 Wide & Tele) and used them for years on a Sony DSC-P10 5mp PNS. With the 0.5x wide, I wasn't so bothered by the soft edges, since such often served to emphasize the central subject. And I PP everything, so a little defishing and sharpening and clarifying did wonders. Also, I have a nasty habit of posterizing and dramatizing images, using filters that falsely add sharp edges, so the softness was no problem.

I more recently let myself be talked into a CRYSTAL VISION DLSR PRO MC/AF Digital Wide Converter w/ Macro 0.5x 62mm, a 2-piece set that I've so far only put on my DA 18-250. (I'll have to try it on my Sigma 24/2.8 soon.) The same issues - CA and distortion anywhere far from the center, and defishing can't restore lost clarity. It may be useful for larger pscho-cartoonish images - I haven't done a lot of PP lately so I don't have a verdict yet. The CV's macro-lens IQ is rather less than my Raynox DCR-250, but it vignettes less when zoomed wide.

Then there's the techno-geekish Kenko Fish-Eye 180 adapter. See the above link for details and any comments, but in brief: for a full circle image on my K20D, it seems to work best at 40-43mm (and me without a FA 43/1.9 - does anyone have one with broken aperture/AF/whatever they'd like to sell cheap?). I'll try it on 135-200 teles to eliminate vignetting but I won't expect much IQ. At 43/2.8 on my Pentax-A 40-80/2.8-4, I find: The Kenko should be stopped to at least f/16. The edges are always fuzzy - maybe a thick 58mm ring will sharpen that? Sharpness near the center ain't bad. It's good to stick into round openings. It should be fun for some all-sky shots, I hope. I still have much to try and learn, and I haven't even applied any PP tricks yet. Stay tuned.

So, conclusions: If you're looking for tools to make Wide Pretty Pictures, stay away from ALL these adapters. There are good reasons that they're cheap and good WAs/FEs are expensive. Stitched panoramas have MUCH better IQ. But if you want cheap tools to make striking, jarring, distorted, garish images, they're worth trying, as long as you have some PP skills.

It's like other arts: You may want a range of brushes for painting various levels of detail work. (Southwest Indian potters paint blinding geometric patterns using a brush that's a single yucca fibre dipped in weed-juice ink.) Or you may slather-on the tempura or oil paint with a pallette knife. You can sculpt with sets of fine chisels, or with a chainsaw. These adapters are the pallette-knives and chainsaws of photography.

03-25-2009, 07:47 PM   #5
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Thank you all for your responses! Looks like I'll have to save for a Sigma 10-20mm or an older MF Sigma 14/3.5.

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