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I've been tempted to get a fisheye lens (The Nikon 10.5 DX specifically), and have seen the Fisheye-Hemi plugin for "normalizing" fisheye images.

Does anyone have experience of using the plugin or know of free or better alternatives?

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You may want to define your metric. Of some people, nothing is better than free :) – Itai Mar 3 '12 at 18:45
up vote 5 down vote accepted

As far as free alternatives you can try Fred's defisheye script for ImageMagick, or Fulla, which is a command line tool that comes with Hugin.

Fisheye-Hemi is superior to these, though, as instead of using a standard remapping to a rectilinear projection that softens the edges and requires an aggressive crop it uses a custom mapping algorithm that preserves much more of the original image and sharpness and still straightens out lines.

This blog post is interesting, the guy fed an image of a grid pattern through the Fisheye-Hemi plugin and then created a warp transform in Photoshop that approximately matches the deformation on the grid. Pretty clever.

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Can you further explain the ways in which the one option is superior to the others? – mattdm Mar 3 '12 at 20:26
@mattdm: sure, I added some details to my answer. – Miguel Mar 3 '12 at 23:03

I use Gimp and the MathMap plugin, together with a few scripts of mine to convert the fisheye image into whatever projection better fits the subject: either rectilinear, stereographic, or Mercator. Mercator is my favorite: it's a kind of panoramic cylindrical projection that looks quite similar to the Fisheye-Hemi projection and is free of local distortions (mathematically speaking, it's a conformal mapping of the sphere).

More recently, I've written a script to provide the Lambert conformal conic projection. This one is useful for pictures taken with the camera pointing slightly upwards or downwards, and when you want verticals to be rendered straight, yet preserving their convergence and thus the the upward/downward perspective. This projection, like Mercator, is free of local distortions (it's conformal). Actually, the Mercator projection is just a special case of Lambert's conformal conic.

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Most fisheye lenses have lens profiles for Lightroom that can defish. I use the Samyang 7.5mm fisheye for micro four-thirds, and the lens profile not only lens corrects, but can also remap to equal area, equidistant, rectilinear, and stereographic. If you can't find one specific to your lens, using a similar fisheye profile can also work.

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