*Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye, get wide.

IMG_3776

In the world of photography, a fisheye lens to me is kind of like a purse is to my wife.  Follow me for a second here.  You only use it on certain occasions and for certain purposes, with certain outfits if you will.  For the other times, you have a plethora of other purses to accessorize to your need.  For the times that you need that one, zany purse, the only one that goes with that crazy belt, then the fisheye is the ticket.  Since I’ve become re-enamored with photography, I have stopped asking about and wondering why my wife has as many purses as she does (and constantly wants more…sounds kinda familiar right?)  Don’t worry, I’m not turning this into a fashion blog, c’mon in and I’ll show you some shots of and from the stellar Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye lens.

rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye for micro 4/3

Rokinon is a Korean optics company that build quality, manual focus lenses and markets them under a variety of different brands.  Rokinon, Samyang, Bower, ProOptic are all manufactured by the same folks, but what was once seen as a low end, entry level optical choice has grown to offer, serious optics.  With a new line of cine lenses and now a pro level 24mm tilt shift lens, Rokinon has been wearing it’s big boy pants and that has bled into the mirrorless system camera category.   The only other Rokinon optic I own is a Canon EF mount 14mm f/2.8 rectilinear wide angle.  It is good enough comparatively, as well as offers such a price point advantage versus the native Canon EF 14mm f/2.8 lens, that I could never suggest the Canon lens over it, but, enough about it.  This article isn’t about the 14mm.

Here is a shot showing the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens, the Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens and the Lumix 14mm f/2.5 pancake lens for a size comparison.

75mm, 7.5mm, 14mm

Enter the micro 4/3 Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye lens.  It is a solidly built, nice looking lens that performs too.  A nice solid heft in the hand makes it feel well built, but so small it doesn’t add much bulk at all.  Weighing in at well under half the price of a Lumix 8mm fisheye, it is a very, very compelling option for micro 4/3 shooters, unless you want auto focus.  That to me doesn’t make one bit of difference in a fisheye and let me tell you why.  With the lens set to f/4 it has a hyperfocal distance of 3.1 feet, meaning if you manually focus on something 3.1 feet away from the camera, everything between about a foot and a half away, through infinity will be in focus.  At f/5.6, that HFD drops to 2.2 feet, meaning anything just over a foot through infinity is in focus. (if you want to read up on establishing and understanding hyperfocal distance, READ THIS)  The distance scale on the Rokinon Fisheye isn’t entirely detailed, but most of the time, you’ll probably be shooting between the .8 foot / .25m  mark and infinity unless you are shooting something close to touching the lens, which, hey, go ahead and get all weird.  I don’t care.  With the lens set to f/5.6 and the focus set just shy of infinity, I don’t have to worry about focusing at all, unless I get my subject right on top of the lens, which admittedly I have done, but for those times, the lens has the focus ring.  Easy breezy.

rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye with lens cap

Auto focus is null and void to me with a lens like this.  Of course, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to focus.  In fact, I like to check my focus between shots if my subjects are varying in distance (i.e.: if I’m shooting things within a foot or two of the camera) but otherwise, you can treat it like an easy bake oven, just set it and forget it.  Another great use for a lens like this is in video shooting.  Because it is so wide, it naturally softens handshake and camera movement.  A large reason that so many moving/action follow shots like you’ll see in skateboarding videos and the like will employ an ultra wide, or fisheye lens for video work.  Combine it with a gyro, or even IBIS and the movement in video will look even smoother with a little practice.

Fisheye for a stadium shot

The fisheye “look” can be crazy.  Keep in mind there are two different types of fisheye lenses, circular and diagonal.  A circular fisheye creates a strong vignette and actually produces a spherical, circular image while a diagonal fisheye is a distorted, edge to edge ultra wide angle lens, usually providing a 180 degree field of view (watch your feet or the legs on the tripod).  Tilting the camera up or down will certainly cause major distortion in anything remotely close to the camera, as well as horizons or really any lines of any type, so I wouldn’t consider this the best portrait or architectural documentary lens or anything, but if shooting wide, expansive (albeit not too detail heavy as it will certainly pronounce distance) landscapes, and keeping the camera level, you’ll see that mad hatter look pushed largely to the edges of the frame, allowing a unique landscape perspective, and no one says you can’t crop and adjust this for optical correction in post, so, with the right workflow, this could be an amazing ultra wide landscape lens.  It can also allow a very unique perspective allowing you to get your shot from angles and places that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

fisheye view from the dashboard

Star trails for long, evening exposures?  Nah, not until you start to hit the REALLY long exposure times which can make for crisper looking night skies without astronomical ISO settings, but for the darker hours, a fisheye can certainly provide a fun tool, and if you want to eliminate star trails, keeping the night sky crisp, a fisheye will allow you longer exposures with less movement in celestial bodies.

rokinon fisheye night shot

It can even be a fun, hold it over your head, or lay it on the ground and see what you get type lens.  Because of the unique perspective a lens with a 180 degree angle of view provides, the possibilities are only restricted by your curiosity and creativity.  One thing I will say though, it is such a wide lens, keep an eye on your fingers when focusing (seriously, they’ll start to show up in the image if they’re too close to the front of the lens barrel) or your feet, or tripod legs if you’re shooting at a downward angle.  Yeah, it’s that wide.  I like to call ultrawide angle and fisheye lenses, “story telling” lenses as you get so much of the world in frame which will certainly force you to take the environmental elements into consideration to capture an image and tell your story.

Fisheye from the hip

Otherwise, this lens is sharp, contrasty and taking into consideration that when shooting during the day, the sun has about a 50% chance of making it into frame this lens handles flare very well.  Rokinon has done it again in my mind and I am now starting to look more closely at some of their other optics.  I like to think of it as having saved about $2,200 by buying the two Rokinon lenses I now own vs the native mount options for my systems, so, that’s pretty serious money.  If you’re looking for a fisheye lens, and can live without auto focus (with a lens like this, it really isn’t a big deal) I would highly suggest this lens over the Lumix 8mm personally.  Let me know if you have any questions or want to see anything else in particular and I’ll try to get it done.  If you’re interested, the lens is available HERE on B&H, and currently, in it’s Bower designation is available for $199 HERE!.  Enjoy and keep on truckin’.

rokinon fisheye lens

 

As requested in the comments, Marcos was interested in seeing a combination of the Rokinon Fisheye, on the Panasonic GM1 both before and after running through DxO Viewpoint 2’s defishing, so here you go Marcos!

I apologize for the less than inspiring subject matter, but to get this done, I figured I’d just shoot at my desk.  My messy, messy desk.

 

Before:

before de-fishing

 

After DxO Viewpoint 2:

after de-fishing via viewpoint 2

 

Being about a foot away from the desk really makes for some serious distortion and inaccurate relative size for close objects, but I’m pretty happy with its ability to keep the wall lines straight and in my opinion does one hell of a job!  I hadn’t tried this with the Rokinon yet, so thanks for the suggestion Marcos and hope this helps.

Happy shooting,

Tyson

36 thoughts on “*Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye, get wide.

  1. The very first full frame (as in 35mm “film” or any format) fisheye ever made was the Minolta Rokinar f:2.8 in maybe 1972? And the only job I ever shot with it was also the only (friend’s) wedding I ever shot. The minister rolled up on a Harley and everyone was either in a band or related. Thank god I ignored their request to only use the new fangled fisheye. As, of course, the images they most loved were with Nikkor 85mm and 105mm. The Minolta, however, was very effectrive for both the indoor and outdoor group shots! Now I suppose I should get this little toy to relive my psychedelic past? Serious questions here.

    Like

  2. Hi Tyson, I bought this lens for my OM-D six months ago, and I can say, it was always in my bag. I really enjoy it very much: build quality is excellent,(I think all metal made) very small and light, optical quality is on par with the best M4/3 primes, and it is just so much fun to shoot. Here in Europe the lens is branded Samyang, very cheap compared to the major brands.
    But as you mentioned, you gotta be careful when shooting, not to have a finger, or your camera strap, or even your feet in your photo without noticing🙂

    Like

    • I think that it’s perfect to describe this lens as “so much fun to shoot” with. It is, it’s (any fisheye really) just a completely different way of seeing things, so foreign to the way we see that it creates a very different approach to pre-visualization and, of course, produces very unique results.

      Having had the lens for 6 months and had it banging around in your bag, have you noticed any issues with it, build quality, front element being particularly prone to scratches or smudges, etc? It is a solid little bugger, that’s for sure, but I’ve only had it for about a month myself.

      Like

      • Hey, pretty cool review. Although I’m probably more interested in the 14 mm rectilinear, this was definitely an interesting read. But did you say they make a 24 mm tilt shift lens? And since this lens review is for a 4/3 mount, I must try it on my GF1. And I LOVE the shot of you and Blaine in the car with the contrasting facial expressions. So, thanks once again for a great mini-review. By the way, this, the mention of a tilt shift lens, and the reviewing of some photos I took with a Lens Baby that I was given by a dear friend made me want to use THAT lens some more. What more could one ask of a review?

        Like

      • Hi Tyson,
        nope, no issues at all. I always take good care of my gear, especially with this type of lens, with its big hunk of front glass, so I will at all time keep the front cover on it when changing lenses and putting it in my messenger bag.

        Kris

        Like

      • Haha true, also in regards to youre comment below, good to see youre still keeping the G3 tyson. I shot a wedding with mine the other day for a friend exclusively using the the 20mm, the best people photos i think i have ever taken. It was a wedding on a budget and just a simple little one but went great. The clarity of the lens blew my mind. The ceremony was lowish light with no flash allowed. The shots came out great though. I’ll put some on Flickr (once ok’d by my friend) this weekend if you’re curious to see results.

        Chris

        Like

  3. I was JUST looking at the M43 super wide angles for my Pana G5 (working well, btw) here in Utah/Arizona. Other more capable photogs were using theirs on landscapes and such to (I imagine) good effect, at least the shots I saw.

    Might be an alternative to shooting the 4-6 shot panoramas, huh? Much different look, I expect.

    After the sticker shock of the Pana/Leica WA zoom ($950+ on Amazon) I started paying more attention to the Rokinon you blog on here. User reviews very favorable and $250 or so. I’d think strongly about it but might wait until the bank accounts are recovered from this trip and – no, I don’t think I could put down close to $1k for the zoom WA – maybe think and rethink about the zoom. Sigh…

    Good timely column, though, Tyson!

    Like

    • Hey Terry!

      I would love the Lumix 7-14 f/4, but really I don’t think I could justify it unless it was able to replace something on the full frame side, and was used for work to justify its cost. With what I’ve been shooting, the full framers are still superior so it’s one of those lenses I feel will have to wait for me. The fisheye though, for south of $300, it is such a relative bargin, and has already proven to be such a fun and unique lens that I think I’m going to start really looking at de-fishing optical correction software. If I can get it to work and start doing some good stitched interior panos, I think it could satisfy my ultra wide angle need head to toe… Time will tell.

      Glad to hear the G5 is rocking and rolling for you. I just went and picked up my G3 that I had tried to commission. With the current new rates, it makes more sense for me to just hold onto it. Shooting it today made me realize how much I do enjoy it.

      Like

  4. Pingback: A new user experience review of Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye lens - Blog for micro four third and competing cameras

  5. The Samyang/Rokinon fisheye plus an Olympus 9-18 provide a good alternative to the Panasonic 7-14 – and allow the use of filters over most of the range. The defishing presets or plugins can be used effectively for removing the distortion, if necessary

    Like

    • I’ve not had any real need to fill the gaps between the fish and my 14mm pancake yet, but I also have that focal range covered for my other system so I can fall back on that if needed. Do you use any of the de-fishing software/plugins, and if so are you happy with the results? I’ve not found the right combo in PS CS6 yet, but haven’t done much in the way of research. Thanks!

      Like

  6. I have a question to my fellow OM-D shooters:
    I have my focusing set to single point AF with manual override. Which means that when I half press the shutter, the camera will auto-focus, but when I turn the focus ring manually, I instantly get an enlarged view of the zone in focus. I find this a really neat and handy feature, it works very well for fine tuning the focus on the desired spot.
    But, this only works on my Olympus and/or Panasonic lenses.
    When I put my Samyang/Rokinon or Pentax lenses (with adapter) , they are obviously manual focus lenses, but when I turn the focus ring, I don’t get the instant enlargement. . For the Rokinon fish eye it is not really a problem, but for my 135 and 200 mm Pentax lenses it is. (that is 270 and 400 mm equivalent)
    Has anyone some advise to give ?
    Thanks very much!

    Kris

    Like

    • Hey Kris,

      Not sure if my way is the best way, but what I do is I have my Fn2 button (next to shutter) set up to Focus Assist which originally caused a ton of frustration (and confusion) for me, but with a light press/tap, it initiates the green box and you can adjust the size via the slider on screen and location of the box by either touch screen if enabled, or via the directional buttons, then with another light press/tap of the Fn2 button, it zooms in for MF assist. A half shutter press disables the zoom bringing you back to full screen view. If you have your directional buttons set up as custom functions (as I do) you’ll have to disable the green box by holding the Fn2 button (or whichever button you may have Foc. Assist set to) and then you can use your directional functions. If you don’t disable the green box, you’ll just move it around the screen if you’re trying to get to your assigned custom functions via the directional buttons. Kinda maddening until you get used to it, and certainly a large distance away from being well implemented, but it works as well as I’ve got the EM5 to function for manual focus assist. Way more involved and clunky than the Pana approach where you just depress the thumb wheel to enlarge focus area, but it is available. Hope it helps.

      t

      Like

  7. Pingback: *Super deal on fisheye and Topaz Re-Style on sale for 4 more days! | Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

  8. Hey, Tyson, excellent review of a very cool lens….so cool in fact that I’ve just gone ahead and purchased one – from a fellow photographer who is sending it to me, even as I write these words. But I wanted to ask you a follow-up question to your review – have you used and/or played around with different techniques for ‘defishing’ the digital negatives which this lens produces? And if so – what/which do you prefer – and why? Thanks for the additional feedback – and for the great initial review!

    Like

    • I’ve not ‘de-fished’ anything yet other than doing some slight adjustment in PS via the Lens correction filter, so I’m not able to comment on that. I do use DXO viewpoint for distortion correction, but it doesn’t have a fisheye correction (the more expensive DXO program does, but I believe it is tied to specific lens and camera combo’s). Thanks for the comment and enjoy the lens! Defished or not, it is A LOT of fun!

      Cheers,
      tyson

      Like

    • Thanks Pol!

      It is a great value, and right now via B&H, it’s $50 off ($199) that is, if you’re in the states and can order directly from B&H…

      Thanks for the heads up on Hugin. I’ve actually just started using the defish abilities of DxO Viewpoint 2 which has done really well from the limited amount I’ve actually tried. I also use Viewpoint as my optical correction plugin for other stuff, so it’s nice to have already built in🙂

      cheers,
      t

      Like

      • I don’t think you’ll regret it. Samyang, Rokinon, Bower and they even have a couple other’s (Wallimex or something in Britain I believe, and I think Phoenix or something else here in the states maybe?) that are all built the same, just branded under different names for different markets. I love mine, and while it’s not an everyday, all the time type of lens, when it gets used, it performs well and is a lot of fun. Rokinon, which I believe is the parent company in Korea, have been building quality optics for a variety of systems over the last few years and while generally not built like tanks, they certainly punch above their weight optically. This little fisheye on the other hand though, is pretty damn solid🙂 Enjoy!

        Like

  9. Pingback: *Another set of this guy’s opinions, or Mirrorless Lens buying guide! | Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

  10. Hi, Could you please post a few photos with before and after defishing with DxO Viewpoint? I am considering an almost exact same combo: Rokinon + Pana GM1 + DxO Viewpoint…

    Also, “camerasize” site does not have the Rokinon among their lenses, do you believe the camera + Rokinon will be pretty much the same size in therms of depth as the “camera+Olympus Zuiko 12mm”? Or you don’t know about the Zuiko lens?

    Anywa, appreciate any help on this. Where I live I don’t have access to all these cameras and lenses, so I have to do a thorough research before buying things abroad on quick trips.

    Thanks so much.

    Like

    • Hi Marcos,

      Just added a quick before and after above. I’m impressed, myself. As far as the size comparison to the Zuiko 12mm, I’d say they’re close to each other in the distance from the camera, but the fish is wider while the 12mm tapers to a narrower barrel diameter, otherwise, I’d say they’re comparable more or less.

      Cheers,
      t

      Like

      • That was fast!!! Thanks so much for both the photos and the size comments. Defishing seems pretty good and pocketability for me is important, now I have a good reference. Cheers!

        Like

  11. Pingback: Sesiones de casteo en el río Limay Medio - Mariano Srur / Fotógrafo patagónico

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s