After seeing a couple of portrait shots on Flickr taken by a contact of mine (link to his photostream within the article) I immediately asked what lens he used, he responded with ‘the Saymang 8mm Fisheye lens’. I immediately searched for this lens on Google and was amazed that it retails at about £220 in the UK!
There must be a reason for the great price, or is there?
First off I checked out the specifications of the lens;
- Specification f=8mm / F3.5 (FISH-EYE LENS)
- Aperture Rang F3.5 ~ 22
- Optical Construction 10Element in 7Groups (1 Aspherical)
- Angle of View 180˚(APS-C)
- Minimum Focusing Distance 0.3m(1.0ft)
- Filter Size NONE
- Length 74.8mm
- Maximum Diameter Φ75.0mm
- Weight 417g
- Mount Canon EOS, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, Four-thirds, Samsung NX
- Lens Coating Multi-coating
Obviously I read a few reviews on the lens and did a bit more digging on Flickr for some example photos taken with the lens which all looked great, there are even some Flickr groups set up specifically for this lens.
Some of the reviews (and links) are below;
First, the ‘pro’s’
Photozone – “Fisheye lenses are always fun and often useful but most users will usually not use them on a regular basis so investing big bucks is not an option for most here. However, the Samyang is not only a pretty good lens it is also a very affordable one and as such we can recommend it to all ultra-wide angle enthusiasts out there!”
LensTip – “We were very curious about the results of this review. Recently, we have been positively surprised by Samyang 85 mm f/1.4, which, around maximum aperture, could face even the most renowned competitors. Now, Samyang 8 mm f/3.5 finally arrived. Not only does it use difficult-to-implement stereographic projection but it also completes its basic tasks perfectly! First of all, we get very good image quality, both in the center and at the side of the frame. The lens features a great build, it has a little problem with chromatic aberration but all the other off-axis aberrations (distortion omitted) are well-controlled.”
TalkUrbex – “I really like this lens. It exceeded my expectations in most points: excellent build quality, and it is as sharp as it gets on my D90. CAs and flares seem to be well controlled, definitely not worse than other lenses I’ve used. There are very few drawbacks, the softness at f/3.5 is not really an issue if you use a tripod (you’ll want f/8 or smaller anyway because of the DoF), and manual focus is no problem if you take advantage of the huge DoF of this lens. Manual exposure is also easy once you get used to it.”
Now, the ‘con’s’
FisheyeLensReview – “There is of course some cons: The Samyang 8mm fisheye is a No Frills lens, meaning that there’s no auto focus and the aperture has to be set manually – yes, just like in the old days! If you can get past this inconvenience and stay away from shooting wide open, then you can take some great fisheye shots with this lens.”
JonathanGazeley – “When mounting or removing the lens from the camera body, it’s really hard to hold and twist the barrel of the lens without also twisting the aperture ring. I know it’s hardly a big deal, but it stands out from all my FD-mount lenses in this respect.”
Basically the general gist of the reviews is that it is a great lens, and other than a couple of small inconveniences, for the money you cant go wrong!
So, I ordered the lens from UKOptics and awaited delivery. The service was excellent and the lens arrived next day by Special Delivery (standard class for this website and order amount).
To be honest I was expecting a slightly lower quality in build of the lens but was very pleasantly surprised at how solid it was and it also had a good weight to it, not too heavy but heavy enough (if you know what I mean), it actually reminded me of the Sigma 17-70mm lens that I have with regards to build and weight.
Not that it is important but the box has a nice design and is solid, it looks like the current Lotus F1 car design) and the lens is encased in a plastic layer and comes with a nice swede bag (as with L lenses), nice touch!
I had a bit of trouble re-attaching the lens hood at first but that’s probably just me! It only attaches in a certain way, that’s all.
First off this lens boasts a 180 degree field of view (one of the reasons I purchased it) and so, being a Fisheye lens gives that spherical effect which I like for the novelty factor and also for being able to capture panorama’s without any stitching in Photoshop.
One thing I did notice, which is a tiny thing and has no bearing on my opinion of the lens, was that there is no marker on the outside of the lens to indicate the correct position prior to attaching to the camera. There is one on the inner edge of the rear of the lens however.
The rear lens cap is also VERY tight, this is both good, in the sense that it is a very secure fit, and bad in that you inadvertently twist the focusing ring on the lens.
Images are nice and sharp (even at the low light conditions that I found myself in tonight!), see below for an example;
The lens coped well with the low light conditions, the above images were 4 seconds exposure and ISO 100.
I have read that some people have found that their images where there is high contrast have experienced purple ‘fringing’, I have not seen this effect as yet but will update this article if I do.
All in all this is an excellent lens that does what it says on the tin, only cheaper than most other lenses of its kind. SHarpness, if an issue can often be sorted in Photoshop during post processing and so not really an issue. In my opinion, GO AND BUY ONE!!! ;0)
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