Review: Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens

Posted by Gary Ramey on August 28th, 2011

Summary: I love this lens. I can easily see it becoming my preferred lens for HDR and panoramic shots. This is an inexpensive (under $300) lens that really delivers.

Review: I received the Rokinon FE8M-C 8mm F/3.5 Fisheye Lens for Canon a few days ago and already
love it. The lens is fully manual but don’t let that scare you. Images are sharp, it is easy to focus, and it has f/3.5 to f/22. The lens even has a built-in lens hood. The only down side is that you can’t detach the lens hood and it isn’t possible to put filters on the lens. It is a good thing that the lens is so forgiving regarding focus because I found it impossible for me to see what is in focus through the viewfinder or Live View.

The ROKINON 8mm lens is designed for digital SLR cameras with APS-C image sensors. For these types of cameras, it provides full-frame coverage – which means that pictures will cover the entire frame. It is also compatible with cameras that have a full-frame sensor. For cameras with full-frame sensors, the lens will produce pictures with a semi-circular image and close images will appear proportionately large for a dramatic effect.

I’m not so sure that I would use this lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor. The articles I have read indicate that it would be necessary to remove the lens hood or it will show up in the photo. It would be very easy to scratch the lens while cutting off the lens hood. Once the lens hood is cut off, the provided lens cover is useless because it snaps onto the lens hood.

I’m a little envious of Nikon APS-C owners because they get a wider field of view (180 degrees) than Canon APS-C owners (167 degrees) but I can still highly recommend the lens. The reason why I am envious has to do with shooting 360×180 degree panoramas. 180 degrees is better because the entire panorama would only require three shots. With my Canon T1i, I will have to take eight shots — not great but better than the 62 shots I was having to take with an 18mm lens. The extra shots is not the fault of the lens. It has to do with the difference in sensor size between Nikon and Canon APS-C sensors.

I did a few panoramic shots to test the lens and found that the resulting images stitch together perfectly in Hugin. I will have to reevaluate my opinion of Hugin. Previously, I found that Hugen required a lot of manual effort to establish control points. I was amazed when Hugen didn’t have any problems with my test shots using the Rokinon 8mm lens. All I had to do was to let Hugin know that the lens was a full-frame fisheye and Hugin automatically stitched the photos together without having to establish any manual control points. I was disappointed to find that my favorite program for stitching together 360×180 panoramas, PanoramaPlus, failed to stitch the images together properly.

Rokinon also makes this lens for Pentax, Samsung NX, Sony Alpha, and 4/3 mounts. Like Nikon APS-C cameras, Pentax, Samsung NX, and Sony Alpha cameras have 180 degree field of view but 4/3 cameras only have 139.3 degree field of view.

The Rokinon FE8M-C 8mm F/3.5 Fisheye Lens for Canon won’t disappoint.

Click this link to see many examples of photographs taken with the Rokinon 8mm lens.


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