I wrote about the Rokinon/Samyang 12mm full frame fish-eye a while back and I loved it. I like to use the ultra-wides on my little EOS M3 but the 8mm Sigma circular fish-eye is unwieldy on the little mirrorless and it actually vignettes heavily in the corners on the APS/c body. It also needs too much Photoshop correction to straighten the lines for those shots where I want to correct the barrel distortion. So I saw that Samyang/Rokinon has another lens made for a variety of mirrorless bodies including the M. This is an 8mm “full-frame” fish-eye for the APS/c sensor. The lens covers a full 180 degrees corner to corner. And best of all if I want to correct the barrel distortion it works very well.
The lens has a fairly stiff focus ring which may be just my particular example or perhaps it is an issue with the lens design. The focus is however still smooth and the stiff ring is not an inhibitor at all. The barrel is all metal and the lens feels really stout. It is quite heavy for its size. The lens is nearly identical in physical size to the EOS-M 11-22mm but notably more massive at 296 grams versus 253 for the 11-22mm.
This lens has no electronic connection to the camera and of course is manual focus. It will focus down to a cozy and snug 10 inches and should provide a solid, reasonably sharp hyper-focal range of about 10 inches to infinity at F/8.0. The Samyang offers up a nice bright F/2.8 maximum aperture which is much faster than the 11-22mm which is stuck 1.5 stops down at F/4.5.
Using this lens has two fundamental advantages over the widest lens Canon offers for the EOS-M system, which is the 11-22mm STM IS. The first advantage is that the lens is much wider angle. When fully corrected to eliminate the fish-eye barrel distortion the image is dramatically more wide-angle. I haven’t downloaded the proper correction profile for this lens yet, but I was able to eliminate most of the barrel distortion to show how much wider this lens is than the 11-22mm. The two images at the left are taken from the exact same spot and it is a substantial difference in wide-angle coverage. Even with the heavy barrel distortion correction the Samyang is crisp out to the corners.
The Second advantage is found when leaving the fish-eye effect in place to yield the full 180 degrees of corner to corner coverage for a more abstract take. Although the sample photo bottom left doesn’t utilize this to great effect, cityscapes and forests with the camera looking up can be visually very exciting.
There is of course a few disadvantages to a lens like this. The Canon EF-M 11-22mm offers both STM step motor auto focus which is great for stills and amazing for video. The Canon also has image stabilization which can be invaluable for shots where a tripod is either not possible or simply unavailable.
The Samyang 8mm fish-eye is manual all the way. But seriously the depth of field even wide open is pretty damn impressive so focus is a breeze. Set it to 3 feet and everything 18 inches and out is sharp and any F-stop!
This lens can be found used around $200-$230 and brand new for about $280. I think it is well worth the money and will provide both a fun “toy” and a practical wide-angle with Lightroom or Photoshop profiles applied. The lens is also available for Sony APS/c bodies, Panasonic, Olympus, and perhaps others as well. Those using a micro 4/3 chip will not have a full 180 degrees to the corners like the Sony A6000 or Canon EOS M cameras.
PhotoFair is coming up this month at the Newark Pavilion, Newark, CA. February 25th be sure to come by and checkout all the great deals and we have two fabulous seminars Bill Lemon and Dave Martz. Visit PhotoFair for more info.