Samyang / Rokinon Fisheyes

Rokinon 8mm F2.8 UMC Aspherical Fisheye

Inexpensive fisheye lenses

Fisheye lenses can be fun to play with, and deliver visually-distinctive results. But let's face it: they tend to be expensive, so it's difficult for most photographers to justify buying one. The money is surely better spent on something you'll use more often.

Enter Samyang. The Korean lens maker does an interesting line in somewhat old fashioned-looking manual focus primes, which are inexpensive but have a reputation for high optical quality that belies their price. It's this combination that makes the various fisheye lenses so interesting. Note that Samyang lenses are also re-badged and sold as various other brands, such as Rokinon, Bower, and Pro Optic.

Key features

  • 'Full-frame' type fisheye lenses, 180° diagonal angle of view (on APS-C / DX or Micro Four Thirds)
  • Manual focus only
  • Manual aperture setting via on-lens ring
  • No option to accept filters
  • Three models cover most current camera types

Three options are available, which between them cover more-or-less every current camera system: the 7.5mm F3.5 UMC Fisheye MFT for Olympus and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras, the 8mm F2.8 UMC Fisheye for APS-C mirrorless (Fujifilm X, Samsung NX, and Sony E mounts), and the 8mm F3.5 Aspherical IF MC Fisheye for SLRs. The latter comes in two versions: the original has a built-in hood, while the later model has a detachable hood and adds 'DH' to its name.

On Micro Four Thirds and APS-C cameras, the lenses function as 'full frame' fisheyes, which means that they provide an image which covers the full sensor with a 180° diagonal angle of view. On full frame cameras, the image will be substantially vignetted, with dark corners to the frame. 

If you're just thinking of buying a fisheye lens out of curiosity, as much for experimentation as anything else, then Samyang has made it more accessible than ever before. The models for mirrorless are particularly appealing due to their light weight and tiny size, which means you're far more likely to carry them around on the off-chance of seeing a suitable subject.