Ultra-wide lenses that can cover 180 degree views of a scene--called fisheye lenses--create wildly distorted images in order to do their magic. For some images, the effect of that distortion works marvellously. But some photos look better with straighter lines, more natural relationships of objects within your pictures, and undistorted figures. To get more conventional images from photos shot with a fisheye lens, check out the Fisheye-Hemi plug-in ($30, 30-day free trial) for Photoshop-type programs.
Fisheye-Hemi works with all major DSLR cameras with fisheye lenses. When it installs onto your computer, it actually puts three separate filters into your image editing program: Hemi 1, Hemi 2, Hemi 3. Each of those applies different mathematical calculations on your image, based upon how certain types of lenses work. Vendor Image Trends maintains a chart to help you choose the correct Fisheye-Hemi filter for your lens.
We tested the software using an Olympus E-30 DSLR with matching Zuiko Digital 8mm lens, and the Fisheye-Hemi Photoshop plugin set at Hemi 2. Since Fisheye-Hemi works automatically, it has no user interface and requires no input. Nor is the effect adjustable in any way. Simply select the correct Hemi for your equipment, and it immediately displays a corrected image.
While Fisheye-Hemi makes curved lines straight and does a nice job on fixing object distortions, it is particularly good on giving people (or dogs) more natural proportions. But it won't work absolute magic. Ultra-wide vertical lines (especially those at the edges of your image) will almost always end up skewed at some angle. Of course, there are those photographers who always like the strange distortions that a fisheye lens can create. For the rest of us, Fisheye-Hemi is a useful filter that helps restore a bit more reality to your ultra-ultra-wide pictures.