One of the few lenses that Fuji does not offer in their amazing line up is a fisheye lens. The fisheye is also a lens that I could never justify buying pre-Fuji, as I never considered it the type of lens that I would like to use for work, and possibly may not use as much for personal shots. Once I finally invested in the Fuji eco system, I decided that I wanted a fisheye lens. I wanted a lens that could give a fun perspective, rather than just a set of lenses that I could use for work.
After a few weeks of research, I came across this little Samyang 8mm Fisheye. Samyang also go by the name of Rokinon outside of Europe.
The Samyang 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II lens has a fast aperture of f/2.8. It has a full manual focus and aperture, with no contacts to transfer aperture information to the image exif data (you can set the focal length information within your Fuji body) . The lens is made of metal (including the fixed lens hood) with a few plastic parts, the aperture ring gives good solid clicks, and has a very well dampened focus ring (I am not going to go into technical lens detail as there is plenty on the web from stores, or places like Amazon). The Samyang 8mm lens retails for around £280 and after receiving it, I think it is worth every penny.
Manual focusing is very easy on the Fuji system, regardless of which body you are using. There are many aids which help with perfect focusing, but there is only 1 focus aid which is useful with this lens, that is Fujis focus zoom. Many photographers are fans of focus peaking, or split image but when using this lens, both of them focus modes are completely useless as almost everything is in focus, so everything is highlighted, or if using split image focusing, then no image is actually split.
Focus distances on the lens include 0.3m – 1m, followed by infinity. This for me is the best bit about using a fisheye like this. Unless you plan on close focusing (closer than 0.5m), setting the focus to between 1m and infinity, aperture to f/8, you can snap away all day long without having to touch the focus, or the aperture ring, as EVERYTHING is in focus from 0.5m-infinity.
The 1 concern that I had initially before buying this lens was metering. Would my Fuji bodies still work amazing in Aperture priority, or provide accurate metering when in manual settings? The answer is YES, the metering works perfect, nothing any different to what you would expect using a Fuji branded lens, in either of the camera metering modes available.
This lens is tiny (about the same size as a two GoPro 4’s back to back). I personally consider £280 cheap for a lens (compared to other Fuji pro XF lenses), so when this lens arrived, I was surprised that it was quite weighty and very solid, feeling far from cheap. Another surprise was how sharp and contrasty this lens was, with very minimal flare when pointed directly at the sun. You can get this lens to flare intentionally and unintentionally, if the sun is hitting it at an angle.
The 2 main reasons I wanted a fisheye lens was:
1. For that ultra ultra wide shot that is only possible with a fisheye.
2. For that fisheye distorted effect.
The fisheye distortion is something that is easily controllable. Unless you frame your subject or scene in a way to purposefully distort your image, then correcting fisheye distortion with Fisheye-Hemi Plug-In for Photoshop is very easy with 1 click. Below is an extreme example of how much distortion comes from this lens, when focusing at its closest focus of .15m. The lens states .30m, but I have found that when at f/8 or smaller, your closest focus increases.
The Samyang 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II is so wide, it gives roughly a 12mm fisheye view that you could expect on a full frame sensor. When framing your shot, you have to make sure that your feet are not showing in your frame as it is very easily done. If you decide to correct distortion using the Fisheye-Hemi Plug-In, this lens can make a small space seem huge (i.e. the car below). For correcting image distortion, or just to an acceptable amount of distortion, I use the Fisheye-Hemi Plug-In for Photoshop, as no image quality is lost as it would be if using a lens correction profile.
So, in my opinion, the pros and cons of the Samyang 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II lens.
- Cheap (compared to other Fuji XF lenses)
- Well built (metal)
- Great contrast
- Great focus and aperture rings
- Very easy to use
- No digital contacts (so no aperture exif data)
- No filter thread for filters
- 100% manual (this I did’t find a con but some may do)
Finally in short: If you’re after an ultra ultra wide lens, that is affordable, sharp, well built and fun to use, then the Samyang 8mm is fantastic. This lens is always in my bag, regardless of what job I am going to. It takes up next to no room as it is so small, and provides a unique look that you can only get from a fisheye. This is a lens that I think every photographer should have in their bag, for those days you want to have a little more fun with a lens, or just to provide a unique perspective on a wide image.
The Amazon link to this lens is below. As I haven’t gone into any technical detail about the lens, if you would like to know anything else specific, feel free to ask in the comment section, or you can message me on Twitter or Facebook via the links below.
- Using the Fuji system for Press Photography - 25.August.2015
- Using Fuji exclusively for a wedding - 12.August.2015
- Fuji XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR Review and RAW downloads - 24.July.2015
- My thoughts on the FUJI XF 14mm R - 8.July.2015
- How Fuji cured my G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) - 27.June.2015