I recently purchased a new affordable lens for my Canon T3i camera, the Rokinon FE8M-C 8mm F3.5 Fisheye Lens (manufacturer site). After using the lens for almost 2 months in a variety of situations I wanted to give you a review of the lens and my impressions of how this affordable fisheye lens can help you become more creative with your photography. Here's a video review of the lens, followed by some sample images and more of my thoughts on this unique, and affordable, fisheye lens:
As a follow up to the video review I wanted to share some images I made with the Rokinon lens.
This 1st one is pretty much the first image I made with the lens right after I opened up the box and attached it to the T3i. I was about 6 inches away from the beer bottle when I took this:
As you can see, the lens has a super-wide field of view (just under 180 degrees)! The horizontal deck railing took on a very curved appearance. This is a neat effect, if you are wanting it, but you need to be aware of any horizontal or vertical lines when composing the shot because they will be distorted to some degree.
One of the things I'm hoping to do is use this fisheye lens to take shots of expansive landscapes, like the ones we see every time we visit places like Colorado or New Mexico. We haven't made it out there in the last few months but we were in North Carolina in August so I tested out the lens in more traditional landscape-type shot:
I took this shot just after sunrise. The clouds were very interesting and the abandoned farm equipment caught my eye. The sky was very bright but the field was still fairly dark so I bracketed 3 shots and combined them in Nik's HDR Efex Pro to create the image you see above. I definitely captured a wide swath of landscape in this shot. My feet are just out of view on the bottom of the image (once again due to the nearly 180 degree field of view).
As many of you know, I really enjoy shooting old/classic/exotic cars. I figured the Rokinon lens would be a neat addition to my car show arsenal. Here's an image of a sweet Lamborghini with a great license plate.
The Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens was perfect for this car. I was about 2 feet away from the vehicle and the effect from the lens made the bright Orange Lamborghini look as over-the-top in the image as it was in person.
One thing to be aware of when using this lens, especially in a bright scene, is the chromatic aberration. If you look carefully at the bright section of sky in the image below, you can see some light purple fringing around the leaves. This is a fairly common occurrence with the lens but can usually be corrected in post processing applications like Lightroom.
I'll finish up the sample images with a couple more from a car-show. I think both of these are great examples of how you can use a fisheye lens like the Rokinon to make some very creative images.
Here's an old Mercury custom that I got up close and personal with using the lens. I processed it to give a bit of an over saturated, detailed appearance:
This 1950's Ford Country Sedan's driver's door made a perfect subject for the creative distortion that the fisheye lens can impart on an image:
The Final Word
Let's be honest, a fisheye lens is definitely something that is a bit limited in its use and falls, at least partly, in the "novelty lens" category. In the end, the Rokinon FE8M-C 8mm F3.5 Fisheye Lens (Amazon Link) is a pretty darn good lens at a very affordable price. You should be able to find one of these new for between $225-$275 depending on the store/time of year. The quality of the images it produces is very good and the creative options it adds to your "bag of tricks" is well worth the price of entry, in my opinion. Remember, this is an all manual lens (no autofocus here) that is made specifically for crop sensor cameras. The only blemish that I found was the lens' propensity to add a good amount of purple fringing in the bright sections of the image (think trees against a bright sky). I was aware of this before purchasing the lens, and while it is a bit of a hassle to correct, it is not a deal breaker for me.
I'm very glad I purchased this lens and I definitely look forward to using it in my photography. If you've never tried a fisheye lens before and want to explore the options without taking out a second mortgage, the Rokinon 8mm F3.5 fisheye lens is well worth trying.
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