Friday, January 6, 2012

Gone fishin'

Yesterday, my long awaited fisheye lens arrived so I strapped it on and went out to the yard. The family car proved that not all subjects are well suited to a fisheye – unless amusement is your aim!

But the front wheel of the kick-bike showed that some subjects can be kept in shape while the rest of the world is bending crazily.
A walk down the road to the cricket oval quickly demonstrated the wonderful new perspective that a fisheye can bring to a landscape. It also demonstrated how the sun can quickly lead to burnt out highlights – this shot would have benefited from a wider, bracketed, exposure.

OK, there’s nothing ‘artsy’ here yet, just some demo shots to show what the lens can do - the lens in question being the Korean Samyang 8mm fisheye. It’s rebadged by a number of companies and mine came dressed in “Bower” clothing, though I believe it’s often seen as a “Rokinon” or a “Vivitar” and probably a few other names as well.  In the USA these sell for well under $300 dollars so, even after importation costs, it is still a third of the cost of a ‘name’ brand fisheye lens.

Part of the low cost is the fact that it is a manual focus and f stop lens – no autofocus and no auto exposure. But with a fisheye these are less of an issue than you might think. Stopped down to f8 the depth of field is so impressive that I just set it to 3m and left it there. And exposure calculations took me back to the days before I even owned a light meter – just look at the sky and guess that today is (for example) an f11 at 1/125 sec day. Even from my first outing I had less exposure errors with this lens than I usually get with the TTL metering – all due to the huge field of view where its averages, not spot metering that count.

But is it sharp? Yes, it’s sharp even at the edges from about f5.6 onwards. At f3.5 there is some softness at the periphery, but no more than I have seen with some zoom lenses. For a fisheye the sharpness is very impressive. If you are looking at a fisheye lens then I can highly recommend this one available at:  or at:

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