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Full review of the Rokinon 8mm F/2.8 fisheye NEX lens

2012summer/rok8mmbox.JPG
Box and contents

 
 
The Sony NEX-C3 was used for this review.  For a better understanding of terms and methods used in this review, go here.
 
 
The usual center, mid-section and corner crops are located at the very bottom of the page.
 
 
 
Introduction.
 
The diminutive Rokinon 8mm F/2.8 fisheye (for NEX) is a special purpose lens, and is made for having fun, so go to the Sony 16mm fisheye review to learn more about how to use this lens, so I don't have to rehash the same material here.
 
On the outside of the lens is an aperture ring, manual focus ring and built-in hood.  It has a bulbous front element, and as a consequence, will not accept filters, nor is there a gel slot in back.  Build quality is actually very good, with a nice fit and finish, although there is a little paint over-spray on the hood tips.  It comes in either silver or black to match your camera, however, the silver is not quite the same as the Sony silver used on NEX camera bodies.  Rokinon claims the use of one aspherical element and two 'ED' elements in the design of the lens.  Lens hood is stenciled with 'made in Korea'. 
 
Use.  Make sure you select "enable" for "release W/O lens" on your camera, otherwise, the camera thinks no lens has been mounted, and won't release the shutter.  This is a manual lens only, meaning there is no communication with the camera, you must use manual focus, and choose an aperture.  Don't worry though, it meters pretty well in most situations, although I've noticed the white balance is more likely to be off than exposure, so check that often and set as necessary.  The best method for daylight use would be to set the lens aperture to F/8-11, and simply set the correct exposure with exposure compensation, or use program auto mode.  At night, set to F/2.8 with a shutter speed of around 1/15sec and use ISO's to get the appropriate exposure.  Check and review for best results. 
 
The aperture settings are marked in one stop increments from F/2.8-22.  There are half stop clicks between apertures except from F/16 to F/22.  EXIF data reads 0mm for focal length, and F/1 for aperture.  The LCD will read F-- with no aperture.
 
In the box is the lens, front and rear caps, a black vinyl carrying bag and owner's manual.
 
Focusing.  Manual focusing only, and it's damped quite well, almost too much for my taste, but that way it won't turn accidentally.   Focus ring travel is a little over a 1/4 turn form close-up to infinity.  At F/8-11 and beyond three feet or one meter you won't have to focus this lens at all, just crank it over to infinity, and forget it. 
 

 


Requisite product shots.

2012summer/rok8mmft.JPG
Bulbous front element with built in hood
2012summer/rok8mmbk.JPG
Back side, no contacts
2012summer/rok8mmbdy.JPG
Mounted on Sony NEX-C3
2012summer/8mmf28mtf.jpg
Rokinon X-ray view

 
 
General information and specifications.

Lens

Box contents

Front cover, rear cover, vinyl carrying case and users manual.

Cost

Approximately $299

Build quality

Good

Additional information

Introduced in 2012.

Specifications below

 

Optical configuration

10 elements in 8 groups.

Angle of view

180°. 

Aperture

6 blades, semi circular.

Full frame and APS-C

For NEX only. 

Depth of field and focus scales?

Focus distance in feet and meters.

Minimum focus, image plane to subject

About 11" (280mm)

Minimum focus, end of lens barrel to subject

About 8"  (203mm) distance is from longest hood protrusion.

Hard stop at infinity focus?

No

Length changes when focusing?

N/A

Focus ring turns in AF?

Manual focusing only.

Filter size

Will not accept filters.

Filter ring rotates?

No

Distance encoder?

No
 

Max magnification

N/A

Min. F/stop

F/22 

Sony teleconverter compatible?

No

Length changes when zooming?

N/A

Dimensions WxL  (my measurements)

2.4" x 2.2"   60mm x 56mm.  Widest at end of hood.

Maximum  extended length (my measurements)

N/A                                                 

Weight bare (my scale)

7.6oz  (217g)  

 
 
Optical qualities summary.
 
 
Lens flare/ghosting.  Fair control.  I see some small multi-colored ghosts and dots when the sun is near or inside the image, and sun flare extending well into the frame, but it depends on aperture and light intensity.
 
Vignetting or light fall-off is not an issue.  Due to the massive coverage of this lens, you'll experience natural light fall-off when the sun is in the sky. 

Color fringing (CA).  Lateral color fringing control is excellent.  I notice a tiny amount of axial type, which goes away as you stop down.
 
Bokeh.  Awful if you can get it.  Don't worry about background blur with this lens, unless you focus on something very close with a large aperture.
 
Color.  Similar to Sony lenses.
 
Close up filter.  N/A    
 
Coma.  Very small amount in the extreme corners.
 
Regular filters cannot be used, and there is no rear gel slot.  
 
Filter size.  N/A
 
Distortion, color fringing and ghosting/flare image below.
 

2012summer/rok8mmcffull.jpg
Full resized image, F/5.6

 
Along with the obvious fisheye distortion, I see some sun flare and a few tiny ghosts, although it's not too noticeable at F/5.6 with a tree covering the sky.

 

Color fringing.

 

2012summer/rok8mmcfcr.jpg

 
This 100% crop comes from the red outlined area from the whole image. There isn't really any color fringing to see, and that's great.
 

 
 
Conclusion
 
The Rokinon 8mm F/2.8 fisheye lens performs superbly; there's nothing negative to say about it other than sun flare is strong at times, but that may enhance your image depending on the feeling you want to present to the viewer.  This fisheye is very small, lightweight, has almost no color fringing, and is very sharp from F/2.8-8.  It would make a nice low light lens too as it performs great at F/2.8! 
 
If you're outdoors in daylight, set the aperture around F/8 and focusing to infinity and shoot!  At night, keep it at F/2.8 with a shutter speed of around 1/15sec and use ISO's to adjust exposures.  If you're really close to your subject, say within a yard or meter, you may want to stop down the aperture and focus using the distance scale to make sure you have everything in focus; (focus peaking is not all that effective with this lens due to the massive coverage and depth of field, but that's really a plus in this case).  As I explained in the introduction, you may want to check and adjust your white balance and exposures by reviewing your shots; that's no big deal, don't be scared by the all manual operation.
 
Fisheye lenses are fun to use, just remember when shooting with this type of lens; good results are predicated on good composition, with lighting a distant second.  Check out my boring Sony 16/2.8 fisheye review for ideas, or Flickr for interesting fisheye compositions, some good, some bad.  A fisheye lens is not for 'getting it all in' in a general sense, it's for unique perspectives.

 

Optically, this fisheye lens is the best I've ever tested, and is stunningly sharp at F/2.8!  I'd highly recommend it for NEX people.  

 

 

Sample crops from the centers, mid-sections and corners.

 

 

          Center

          Mid-section

             Corner

F/2.8

2012summer/rok8mmctr28.jpg
2012summer/rok8mmmid28.jpg
2012summer/rok8mmcorn28.jpg

F/4

2012summer/rok8mmctr40.jpg
2012summer/rok8mmmid40.jpg
2012summer/rok8mmcorn40.jpg

F/5.6

2012summer/rok8mmctr56.jpg
2012summer/rok8mmmid56.jpg
2012summer/rok8mmcorn56.jpg

F/8

2012summer/rok8mmctr80.jpg
2012summer/rok8mmmid80.jpg
2012summer/rok8mmcorn80.jpg

F/11

2012summer/rok8mmctr11.jpg
2012summer/rok8mmmid11.jpg
2012summer/rok8mmcorn11.jpg

 

There isn't much to complain about here; I see a sharp image at almost all apertures, with nice contrast in the corners.  Diffraction softens the image up slightly at F/11, but in real life I didn't notice that, even when shooting at F/22.

 

That's it; please check out the Rokinon 8mm F/2.8 fisheye lens at B&H Photo and help support the site!