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We went to Albuquerque yesterday to visit the Botanical gardens and Aquarium. This is the first time that I used my new Rokinon 8mm F3.5 Ultra Wide Fisheye Lens ($300). I am so impressed by the lens that I wanted to share my findings in this mini review.
- This is a relatively small lens, similar in size to the 18-55 mm kit lens but heavier. It feels like a solid block of glass.
- It is very well made: metal mount, smooth focus ring, and a nice hood that protects the lens in case you hit something with it.
- This is a manual focus and aperture lens, but that is not a big deal, as you will see further down.
- The angle of view on a cropped sensor Canon (1.6X) is almost 180 degrees, but I did not measure the exact number. It is amazingly wide, and makes my Canon 10-22 mm look like a normal lens. On a full frame camera, the lens projects a circular image with 180 degree view.
Image credit: Amazon.com
Manual focus (large ring):
This lens has such a large focus range (depth of field), that focusing is a breeze most of the time. If you are not familiar with the hyperfocal distances (HD), look it up. In brief, an HD is the distance set on the lens that will make everything in the photo sharp from half that distance to infinity (HD depends on aperture and focal length). For example, the hyperfocal distance for this lens is 0.4 m at f8. That means that when I set the focus to 0.4 m, everything that is 20 cm away from the lens to infinity is sharp. This works really well, as you will see in the samples below.
Manual aperture (small ring next to the camera):
- This does not change my way of operating the lens at all. I always use aperture priority mode on my camera anyway, and let the camera choose the shutter speed. With this lens, I set the aperture on the lens instead of the camera, and the camera chooses the appropriate shutter speed. Very easy.
- Metering with this lens can be challenging, since it is so wide. You almost always get light and dark areas in the photo. Therefore, you may need to bracket your exposures and blend them in Photoshop. Filters cannot be used with this lens as far as I know (I don't use them anyway, so it is not an issue for me).
Full image (Canon T2i, 18 MP), resized (ISO 400, f8, 1/350 s, focus set at 0.4 m, handheld)
100% crops of the above image (on a normal monitor, this resolution would correspond to a print of about 40x60 inches!)
Lower left corner
Lower right corner
Upper left corner
Upper right corner
Center of the photo
Bench on the right
Click HERE for samples with various aperture settings
A few more sample images (either full frame or full width 16:9 ratio, all resized to 700 pixels wide).
This was taken as RAW (of course), which was double processed for exposure and white balance, then blended in Photoshop. The lens makes it look like I was pretty far from them, but I was right next to them. Very cool.
Overall, this lens is amazing. It is small, well-built, and sharp across the entire frame. I regret not buying it a long time ago. I will be stitching very few panoramas from now on.