on February 17, 2012
Wow, this really is an amazingly good fisheye lens. At the price it is even more incredible.
First, the image quality: At F/5.6 it is razor sharp all the way into the extreme corners, at F/3.5 (wide open) it is razor sharp across almost the entire frame and is showing just the tiniest bit of softness (only visible at 200% really) in the extreme corners. I have to say, when I opened my test shots in Lightroom my jaw just about dropped, I really did not expect performance this good. There is a bit of red/cyan lateral chromatic aberration. This was easily handled in Lightroom with the CA slider and any modern image editor should have a similar control.
Second, the build: It is a well constructed lens. Most of the body is high quality plastic. The mount and base of lens is metal (the silver part of the black lens) as is the red ring. The rest of the lens body is plastic. The lens cap is an effective latching design that holds itself by the hood petals. This is nicer than a friction fit design, but it does require orienting the lens cap when attaching. It is a surprisingly small lens. Check online reviews to get a feel for the relative size. The focus ring is nicely damped. The aperture ring has a good feel and distinct clicks. It is a very small lens, so it does require some care to not bump one ring while adjusting the other.
Third, the price: Fisheyes twice this price and twice the size often don't perform as well as this lens. Samyang/Rokinon has been making some impressive and reasonably priced lenses recently and this one should be near the top for value and performance.
Finally, some hopefully helpful details and clarifications.
This is an equal area projection fisheye lens, like most every fisheye on the market. Samyang does make a 8mm APS-C fisheye which is unusual in that it uses a stereographic projection. There was some confusion on the web as to the projection of this new 7.5mm when it came out, but I've tested and measured it and it is a equal area projection. Check the Wikipedia article on "Fisheye lens" for details on the different kinds of fisheye projections (mappings).
This is an entirely manual lens, manual aperture and manual focus. There are a number of such lenses appearing for the micro-four-thirds cameras, but if you are not familiar with using such a lens do your homework! Essentially you will control the aperture with a ring on the lens and you will always have to manual focus. On many cameras you'll have to enable a setting somewhere like "shoot without lens" to let the camera know you are using a lens that has no electrical connection to the camera. For a fisheye this is not a big deal, you rarely focus the lens as the depth of field is so large. Manual focus is also quite easy on most micro-four-thirds cameras as you can zoom in liveview to check focus.
At the risk of stating the obvious - this is a 180 degree fisheye lens which makes it a "specialty" lens. You might find it odd to use and the novelty may wear off over time. However, there is another way to use this lens. Using software (both free and for purchase) you can "de-fish" the lens by applying a transform to the images you take with it. You can make it look like a 7.5mm recti-linear lens. As this lens is very sharp it actually works really well. You can find many examples of people doing this on the web. One issue, it becomes a bit hard to compose when doing this - a lot of what you see in the viewfinder will be clipped once you "de-fish" the image in post processing.
Bottom line, if you've ever wanted a fisheye lens and you own a micro-four-thirds camera this is the lens to get!
on December 3, 2011
If you have always wanted a fisheye lens for your m 4/3 camera but didn't want to spend the big bucks for the Panasonic 8mm, this could be the lens for you.
Don't let the lack of auto focus and automatic aperture control prevent you from buying this lens. It's pretty easy to use. You must use the lens in either manual or aperture priority mode and focus is very forgiving because of the large depth of field. Automatic and Program modes will not work with this lens. If you want to check focus, you can very easily use the zoom display function and then set the focus. To use this lens, you must set your camera to "Shoot Without Lens" before using this lens because there is no electrical connections between the camera and the lens and the camera will not know that it is attached. To set the f-stop, you use a aperture ring on the lens, just like in the days before fully automatic SLRs. I normally shoot in manual or aperture priority mode, and I really like having the aperture control on the lens instead of using a control on the camera body.
The size of this lens is perfect for the micro 4/3 system. It's not too big and it's not too small.
The lens is sharp even wide open and the build quality is excellent. Yes it produces a distorted image..its a fisheye, but distortions are corrected in Photoshop or Lightroom and it does not produce a black frame around the image like other fisheyes.
The Rokinon 7.5mm is great for video and HDR photos.
I did a side by side test with a friends Panasonic 8mm and the image quality is pretty similar. But I have to admit, the Panasonic is easier to use because of the auto focus.
This isn't the kind of lens you will use every day so the significantly lower cost than the Panasonic 8mm is much appreciated. No regrets on this purchase.
on May 10, 2012
The lens is actually made by Samyang, and like other Samyang-made lenses will probably show up under various brand names. Mine is the Rokinon brand, purchased here on Amazon. Samyang has made a number of other fairly exotic lens designs such as their highly regarded 35mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4. All are similar in that they contain no electronics and therefore must be used in a completely manual mode. In the case of this 7.5mm fisheye in Micro Four Thirds mount this presents no problems whatever and I don't even regard it as any sort of shortcoming. MFT cameras like the Panasonic G series are perfectly suited to this sort of lens -- just set the camera to "No lens" in the menu and it will take care of exposure automatically, in existing light.
My Panasonic G1 and G2 cameras even can make good use of electronic flash indoors with this fisheye lens, under certain circumstances. Obviously no accessory flash unit will actually cover 180 degrees corner to corner to match the fisheye lens, but when shooting the length of my living room with a Nissin Di466 flash unit made for Four Thirds cameras, which has a zoom head that will cover lenses as short as 12mm, enough light bounces around from the off-white walls and ceiling to provide pretty good overall exposure, just some darkening in the extreme corners.
Some have complained about the difficulty of focusing this manual-focus lens. In fact this is a non-issue, since the depth of field is so enormous, even wide open, that focusing can simply be ignored. Leave it set at infinity, or just slightly "cracked" from the infinity setting, and you will be fine in practically all ordinary circumstances. In the Micro Four Thirds format, the depth of field of a 7.5mm lens at f/3.5 set at infinity is 3.55 ft to infinity. Stopped down to f/5.6, depth of field is 2.17 ft to infinity. Does anyone need a greater range of sharpness than that?
The Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye does focus of course; it focuses down to 0.08 meters, a bit closer than 0.3 feet. That is actually closer than it probably sounds to most people, since focus distance is measured in the traditional and correct way -- from subject to focal plane, not subject to lens. At closest focusing distance the subject is about a couple of inches in front of the lens. Really, the whole notion of focusing is rather whimsical with this lens anyway, except I suppose in some unusual circumstances that I can't even imagine. For most users just leaving the focus at or very, very close to infinity will be the best thing to do in most ordinary usage. Trying to improve sharpness by fiddling with the focus ring is unlikely to improve anything and may make things less sharp. Consider -- the marked distance next to infinity on the focus ring is 0.25 ft. But at that distance setting and f/5.6 for example, calculated depth of field is only 0.23 ft to 0.28 ft. It would be nice if there were a mark for hyperfocal distance at some useful aperture, but again, such a mark would be very, very close to the infinity mark.
Everything about the Rokinon bespeaks quality. Construction feels very solid and the finish is great. Focus and aperture rings turn smoothly but with plenty of damping so they won't be accidentally moved off chosen settings. Sharpness is simply superb from edge to edge. This isn't just the opinion of myself and other users; the German lens testing site photozone.de using sophisticated modulation transfer function testing equipment gives the Rokinon very high marks.
I love fisheyes and have had one for every complete camera system I've owned since about 1975. This Rokinon is by far the least expensive one I've owned, but I have as much confidence in it as I've had for any of the others.
on August 27, 2013
I'd give this 5 stars except for the cheezy lens cap. It's about 3/4" deep with two plastic tabs to clip onto the front of the lens hood. This thing is brittle plastic and these tabs can break off. In fact, the first of two lenses that I got had a tab broken: shipped it back (free) with comment and got another one in fine shape - both lenses were used.
1. Nice sharp focus and easy to use b/c everything beyond 3' is going to be in focus. There's a bit of drop off to the sides but not that you'd notice without a lot of magnification.
2. Fun factor - there are some really weird effects that you can get (see the silver Kia photo I've published on Amazon). You can probably make some enemies by placing their face toward the edge of a photo.
3. Nice for tight spaces and the f3.5 lets you shoot in lower light.
4. Flower photos: see the pink rose I've uploaded or look at several test shots at [...]
5. Also nice for outdoors, landscapes where you don't want to take the time for a pano shot.
6. Not bad for architecture if you accept a bit of distortion. Just tried to correct this with Photoshop yet (yellow 10 story hotel), so might be even better. Will upload shortly.
1. No place for a filter so those outside shots aren't going to have a polarizing filter on them.
2. The cruddy little lens cap can break.
3. Tough to keep your feet, hands, fingers, lens strap and other objects out of the shot.
on February 10, 2012
I'm not a fisheye fan but decided to buy this lens because I've seen nothing but excellent pictures taken with it. I must say was not disappointed. The lens is small and light but yet well built. Optics are excellent. The lens is sharp and colors are great, much better than many well-known legacy lenses I own. If you decide to buy this lens, for another $30 you should get Fisheye Hemi, a Photoshop plugin that corrects the fisheye effect turning this lens into a super wide angle lens. The lens is well worth its price.
on September 23, 2013
This lens has decent sharpness. I would not, however, say that it lives up to the hype by other reviewers. Furthermore, it is not just "set it and forget it.". If you don't pay attention to focus, then you will, indeed, notice it later. And with so much packed into one photo, you will likely find yourself peeping at those pixels when you open your RAW files at home. Before I learned to use focus assist to magnify the EVF image on my OM-D EM5, I got some blurry pics, especially indoors at 10 to 15 meters range. It was operator-dependent. (e.g. my fault), but my point is that with the extreme field compression, focusing has to be deliberate, and it is not a slam dunk, even with a great EVF.
The wide field loses its novelty if you overuse it, though. So the price seems so reasonable for a lens that, frankly, you just aren't going to use as much as, say, the Oly 12mm f2 (BTW, a good example of a good lens with a poor price/quality ratio). For that reason, the price seems right...as long as this lens doesn't break. The Lensrentals blog describes the Rokinon/Samyang/Bower brand as "disposable" and my first copy shipped with a broken lens cap. This highlights an especially annoying thing: the flimsy lens cap and nowhere to get a replacement. One might be able to improvise a friction-fit cap from a plastic container, or 3D print a good one after a few tries. But with the fiddly friction tabs and dinky springs, the stock cap is bound to break at some point. Nevertheless, Rokinon is generous enough to include a lens pouch, and even a cap without springs will stay on if you put the lens into the pouch in a transverse orientation.
That said, I was extremely excited with the results. I made a time lapse of a construction site across Sotobori Dori from our hotel in Tokyo. The Rokinon captured the entire site in surprising detail, from the workers doing stretches and jumping jacks, to pipe drills sinking into the ground, to window shades going up and down a block away. This is a fun lens, and you don't have to do much to get sensational pictures. Because of this distinctive "fisheye" distortion, though, you have to shoot with the camera level if you want to minimize curvature along the horizontal axis. Also, this lens "sees" things that seem impossibly peripheral. On more than one occasion I have noticed my fingertips at the edge of my viewfinder image. You have to learn to hold the camera in such a way that you keep yourself out of the picture. Be especially careful if you like to wind up your shoulder strap around your wrist; it can jut out into the picture and you might not notice it, a mistake I made a few times.
That extreme wide field is especially useful in places like narrow streets where you cannot back up far enough to capture a whole scene with a traditional lens. I also like doing pictures with rooms full of people. The distortion draws your eye to the edges where the people closest to you are the "biggest."
The most commonly words I hear are "wow" and "ooh" when people see pics taken using the Rokinon. I have enjoyed using this lens and would buy it again.
UPDATE 3-6-15:. This lens has traveled overseas again, gone skiing and hiking and still takes sharp photos. When I'm not using it it stays in the pouch in a Lowepro backpack, or in a Crumpler adapter bag. The lens cap has not broken. If you want a fish eye lens for micro 4/3 look no further.
on August 30, 2012
Based on reviews here, I expected a terrific lens, but this little thing absolutely blows my socks off.
Sharpness wide open is amazing (in the real sense), but at f/8 you'll positively lacerate yourself it's so damn sharp, corner to corner. Almost zero CA or falloff, contrasty, well-coated and protected from flare, accurate aperture. I've got endorphins swimming round my head just looking at the images. Build quality is rock solid, way beyond its price.
Close focus is about 3 or 4 inches, which is practically touching the front element. Focus is smooth, aperture click stops positive. Possibilities are endless (until you get tired of the fisheye look, of course). I'm a commercial shooter, and own the Nikon 16mm which runs over $1000 as well as the Hasselblad 30mm, which costs about as much as a small airplane. This lens more than holds its own against both of those, certainly surpassing the Nikon in terms of edge sharpness and CA.
This is the exact same lens as the Samyang and Bower fisheyes, BTW, so get whichever one is cheapest.
on December 4, 2013
This is a very cool lens for not much money.
Ok, I know what you're thinking... MANUAL lens, and FISHEYE? The 1970s called, they want their lens back!
But no, seriously, this makes a ton of sense. First, the MANUAL part. This is a 7.5mm lens. There's a focus control, sure, but the depth of field is absurdly deep anyway... you will never want for autofocus on this lens. If you're at infinity and f3.5, you're in focus from about 3.5ft to infinity. If you move off infinity a bit to take advantage of your hyperfocal range, you get another foot or so. You can focus, but it's not needed for many shoots.
Manual aperture you say... in fact, I do. But think about it for a second... you're not using an SLR, you're using an EVF camera. When you stop down, your EVF adjusts. So unlike the case on an SLR camera, you don't really see that the lens is stopped down, at least with the range of the AGC in your viewfinder. This is the main reason manual-only lenses are pretty popular for EVF cameras. Well, that, and video.
Next up... FISHEYE? Ain't that the silly circle of distortion in the middle of the image thing? Well, you're half-correct. This is a full-frame fisheye, equivalent to a 15mm fisheye on a 35mm camera. Fisheye is in the design, not specifically the focal length. A wide-angle lens attempts to be rectilinear -- straight lines stay straight. That's expensive. A fisheye allows linear distortion, which is why everyone knows the "fisheye effect". Thing is, we actually do live in the 21rst century now... there are tools to de-fisheye a fisheye shot. Google up "de-fisheye"... there are three or four easy ways in Photoshop to change a fisheye shot into a wide angle shot, if you're not happy with the fisheye look. Meanwhile, you have 180-degree coverage... that's wider than the way more expensive 12mm non-fisheye I have on my full-frame Canon DSLR.
The build quality on this is great... it might look a little like the plasticy Olympus m43 kit lenses, but's made of higher quality plastic and metal parts. The image quality is very good at f3.5 and excellent at f5.6.
on March 3, 2012
This is a terrific little lens by Samyang/Rokinon. It's very sharp across the frame, even wide open. Solid construction, very good price, excellent image quality: what's not to like?
I'm using it primarily to create 360 degree spherical panoramas and it's far better for that purpose than distortion-corrected wide angles like the Panny 7-14mm, which I was using before.
on February 16, 2013
I've read the reviews of this lens and I just want to say that they are pretty much spot on. So here what I think about the lens from my perspective.
First and foremost my favorite focal length is a 50mm full frame equivalent. With that being said, my review will be based with that frame of mind. So what I really love about the lens is the all metal construction, built in hood, on lens aperture setting, zone focus and a decent sharpness.
This lens is super wide so be careful not to capture your extremities especially your foot. Someone once told me that "you don't need to worry about the center, just what's on the sides". So that's what I keep in mind when shooting this lens. I also love that you don't need to focus on this lens. I pretty much just set it to infinity and just snap away. This lens is definitely super wide so it's really hard to fill the frame. And in order to do that you pretty much have to invade personal space. The good thing is that it's discrete and you can be a ninja since it captures so much. so you can shoot without thinking.
I shoot and hope for the luck of the draw. Here's a video that made me get this lens because it was a cheap alternative for micro 4/3. Gene Ho - Art of the fish eye. [...]
Other than that I think this is an amazing lens. You can see some of my samples in the gallery.