Samyang 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye (Canon EOS) - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews -
Canon EOS (APS-C)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published June 2010
Samyang Optics (Korea) is offering SLR lenses for many years but recently they've gained some higher visibility & popularity due to some quite exiting new products like the recently reviewed Samyang 85mm f/1.4 and the Samyang 8mm f/3.5 CS Fisheye which we'll cover in this test report. Samyang lenses are also marketed by several other companies like Vivitar (7mm f/3.5), Bower (8mm f/3.5), Opteka (6.5mm f/3.5), Walimex (8mm f/3.5) and probably a couple more.
To date Samyang lenses don't feature any electronics so while you will be able to mount these lenses without an adapter you'll have to live without AF and a camera-controlled aperture. The Samyang 8mm f/3.5 is a dedicated full frame fisheye lens for APS-C DSLRs. You can also mount it to a full format (35mm) DSLR but the build-in lens hood will be visible in the image field in this case. Typical for fisheye lenses the field-of-view is immense - 180 degrees or to be precise: 167 degrees on Canon EOS APS-C DSLRs (1.6x crop rather than 1.5x) - so one of the obstacles of using such a lens is to avoid that your feet will be part of your scene.
Fisheye lenses are not unusual per se so you may ask why we bother to review to a lens from a fairly "exotic" manufacturer. Well, fisheye lenses are usually not cheap. Even Sigma is asking no less than 900US$/800EUR and Tokina's Fisheye zoom lens sells at around 500EUR/600US$. The Samyang goes for less than 280EUR/360US$!
If you think that such an affordable lens has a sloppy build quality ... well, be prepared for a surprise - it's actually very good. The main body is made of metal and the rubberized focus ring operates smooth and it's even damped just like in the old days. The (plastic-)aperture rings feels a bit less sturdy but it works reliably with distinctive "clicks". The bulb-like front elements makes it impossible to mount filters but that's just normal for such a kind of lens. It's somewhat "fiddly" to attach the front cap but it's certainly a good idea to take advantage of it to protect the lens during transportation. The physical length of the lens remains almost constant - it just moves a tiny bit (0.5-1mm) during focusing.
The lack of AF may be a little tricky on the Samyang 85mm f/1.4 but this is basically a non-issue on the 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye due to the immense depth-of-field provided by such a lens - for most scenes just set the focus distance to 2m and then be happy ever after. If in doubt (e.g. in very close focus situations) you can, of course, use Live-View to fine-tune the focus manually. Setting the (working) aperture directly on the lens may also be something to get used to but it's really an acceptable compromise here.
|Optical construction||10 elements in 7 groups inc. 1x aspherical element|
|Number of aperture blades||6|
|min. focus distance||0.3m (max. magnification ratio 1:7.4)|
|Filter size||77mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||petal-shaped, snap-on, supplied|