in photography, photosets, Uncategorized

Vegas Through a Rokinon 8mm Fisheye

I recently traded in my Canon 5D Mark II (*sniff*) for a Canon 60D and a 5D Mark III (I wanted the 60D to do some cheap DSLR video on-the-go). One of the ancillary benefits of the 60D purchase was being able to finally use that 8mm Rokinon fisheye lens I had sitting in my closet. I had bought the Rokinon many months ago, not realizing that it was essentially useless on a full-frame camera. Stupid move, but one easily negated with the purchase of another camera!

I decided to take the Rokinon with me on a recent vacation to Vegas. How’d it fare in real-world use? In general, pretty well! Here are a few stray observations on this lens:

  • One of the big annoyances about this lens is the lack of aperture control from the camera itself. Instead, there’s an aperture ring you must physically turn. I’m used to this from using my finicky-but-awesome Fuji X100, but it was still a chore. Compounding this is that you get an aperture preview that is “always on” as you look through the lens.
  • Outdoors and in good lighting, the fisheye was amazing. Just setting the focus to somewhere between 3ft and infinity yields razor sharp pics. And of course, the look is quite unique.
  • In low light and using the 60D video function, I found the lens to produce images that were kind of a soupy mess. You can get a taste of that in one of the videos I made using the fisheye at night. Really not ideal, although the lack of sharpness here is probably a combination of a bunch of factors.
  • Because of the way the lens’s glass element is shaped, it’s a bit challenging to get the lens cap on and off. It will only fit in one orientation.
  • As is probably obvious, conventional photographic guidelines don’t really apply. It’s hard to adhere to the rule of thirds when your horizon is bending dramatically. After much experimentation, I found that photos I took that were mostly symmetrical ended up being the most striking and impressive. And of course, be as close to the subject as possible.
So would I recommend the fisheye lens? Depends. The fisheye produces a very specific type of image and you really have to get in close to create something visually striking (or alternatively, be really far away, as in a nature/landscape shot). I was definitely glad to have it in certain situations, but it is a lot harder to craft eye-catching images from it, since I believe the settings and situations you need to create those images occur more rarely when using this lens. Thus, if you are making one of your first, relatively-low-cost lens purchases, I’d definitely pick up the 50mm f/1.4 lens before you pick up anything else, as its versatility and sharpness are beyond compare. For the 8mm Rokinon, only niche hobbyists need apply.