Some more herping lenses

Here is again a small addition to my last year’s list of close focusing wide-angle lenses that can be used for close-up wide-angle shots of amphibians and reptiles.

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II

I own such a lens myself and have used it for close-up shots of herps and other animals many times since I have purchased it 2 years ago. As all tilt-shift lenses, it has a mount for full-frame cameras. Of course, it can be used with an APS-C camera but in case of close-up photography it makes little sense because the already not very wide viewangle would be narrowed and thus the effect of wide-angle would be decreased. The TS-E 24mm f/3.5L make II focuses at 20 cm which is pretty close regarding this lens’s quite large physical size: At this distance the subject has to be in less than 10 cm from the front element.

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II

With version II Canon has greatly improved this lens. One of improvements was shorter focusing distance: This lens now focuses at only 20 cm. Considering the short focal length of 14 mm and resulting extremely wide angle with full-frame sensors, small subjects may appear too small. When used for shooting amphibians, reptiles, insects and other small subjects, this lens may deliver better results with cropped sensors. I have seen some images of snakes and large lizards made with EF 14 mm f/2.8L II and found them great.

Carl Zeiss Touit 2.8/12

I discovered this lens quite recently, and it is no surprise because it is a very new product. Carl Zeiss is offering two models of this lens – E and X – for Sony NEX and Fujifilm X mounts. Obviously, both are cameras with reduced sensor size, therefore this lens won’t perform like 12 mm. Since it focuses at a minimal distance of 18 cm, the frame produced with a Sony or Fujifilm camera should look similar to one made with the above mentioned 14 mm lens on a cropped Canon. Zeiss lenses are amazing, and I am a big fan of them. Therefore, if I had a Fujifilm X camera, this lens would be my first choice.

Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f3.5 Fisheye

This lens has a four-thirds standard mount and can be uses not only with Olympus but also with Panasonic and Samsung cameras. Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f3.5 Fisheye lens should be a must for a nature photographer who uses a 4/3 camera and wants to makes wide-angle shots of insects, herps and other small subjects. Although it produces images as if it were a 16mm lens, it has an amazing close focusing distance – only 2 cm from the front element.

I have tried not all these lenses myself. So please share your experience in comments. Also please let me know if you come across example images of animals made with these lenses.

About Arthur Tiutenko
Nature Photographer and Illustrator

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