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Samyang 8mm T3.8 Asph IF MC Fisheye CS VDSLR Review

Samyang 8mm T3.8 Asph IF MC Fisheye CS VDSLR Review - Gary Wolstenholm reviews the Samyang 8mm T3.8 Asph IF MC fisheye, a lens tailored for video recording.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Samyang 8mm T3.8 Diagonal Fisheye
Price : £270
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Samyang 8mm T3.8 Diagonal Fisheye

This 8mm fisheye lens provides a diagonal field of view of 180 degrees on a 1.5x crop APS-C DSLR, sports a fast f/3.5 maximum aperture and is available for around £260 for Canon or Nikon cameras with an APS-C size sensor. The design is specifically tailored for recording video, sporting geared focus and aperture rings for use with professional follow focus equipment.

As there is no electronic coupling between this lens and the camera, metering is performed by stopping down the aperture and focusing is performed manually. As fisheye lenses provide extensive depth of field, this shouldn't put you off, especially if the low price is taken into consideration.

Samyang 8mm T3.8 Diagonal Fisheye

Samyang 8mm T3.8 Asph IF MC Fisheye CS VDSLR Handling and features

The build quality of this 8mm fisheye lens from Samyang is very good indeed. High quality plastics have been used for much of the lens barrel and the lens mount is metal. It balances well on the Nikon D300 used for testing, although due to the unique design, stills photographers may want to consider the standard non-video optimised design of this lens. The stepless aperture is easily adjusted accidentally, which may result in wayward exposures.

Focusing and control over the aperture are both manual, as the lens has no electronic contact with the camera. Strangely the aperture ring has no click stops to provide fluid control over exposure if recording video in changing light conditions. Also it is marked in T-stops denoting the light transmission of the lens, rather than F-stops, which denote the physical size of the aperture in relation to the focal length of the lens. Although the maximum aperture is f/3.5, this translates to T/3.8, as some light is lost through the lens. If using a Nikon DSLR that supports metering with manual lenses, it is possible to input f/3.5 as the maximum aperture into the camera and any aperture adjustments will read out on the camera's display, as a Nikon AI coupling ridge is provided on the aperture ring.

Focus distances and light transmission values are marked on the left hand side of the lens, rather than the top, which should make it easier to read when mounted on a tripod or brace for recording video. The geared texture of the focus and aperture rings can be a little rough on your fingers, but they still provide a secure grip and the focusing and aperture rings are adequately damped.

Taking images of anything over two to three metres away is simple, as the lens can simply be left set on close to infinity. For closer distances it is recommended to use the electronic focus confirmation feature of your DSLR, or a dedicated focusing screen for manual focus lenses if taking still using the viewfinder. If recording video, viewing a magnified section of the frame will ensure accurate focusing.
Samyang 8mm T3.8 Diagonal Fisheye

Samyang 8mm T3.8 Asph IF MC Fisheye CS VDSLR Performance

Although the lens is marked in T-stops, for the purposes of testing F-stops have been used here. At maximum aperture, sharpness is good in the centre, but only fair towards the edges of the frame. This characteristic is typical for fisheye lenses and stopping down improves sharpness across the frame. Peak quality is achieved between f/5.6 and f/11, where sharpness in the centre approaches outstanding levels and clarity towards the edges of the frame is good.

Resolution at 8mm  

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D300 using Imatest.

Levels of chromatic aberrations are acceptable, just exceeding one pixel width between f/3.5 and f/4 and dropping as the lens is stopped down to f/8. Diffraction causes fringing to become more prevalent at smaller apertures, exceeding 1.5 pixel widths at f/22.

Chromatic aberration at 8mm  

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D300 using Imatest.

Straight lines placed towards the edges of the frame curve wildly, as is typical of fisheye lenses due to the extreme field of view. However, this lens produces images with stereographic projection, which means that images are more natural looking than typically found with fisheye lenses that produce images with equal-area projection. Objects placed near the edges of the frame appear less squashed than those taken with a lens that produces equal-area or orthographic projection.

Formal testing of illumination falloff towards the corners isn't possible, due to the extreme angle of view. In use, at f/3.5 and f/4 a noticeable, but gradual falloff in brightness can be seen appearing towards the corners, but this appears visually even by f/8.

Flare and loss of contrast when shooting with bright light sources in the frame are both controlled pretty well. A little flare and loss of contrast may be seen with a bright source of light in the frame when shooting at wide apertures, but this is reduced as the lens is stopped down.

Samyang 8mm T3.8 Diagonal Fisheye Sample Photos

Value for Money

Being priced at around £270, this lens represents excellent value for money, especially if you are serious about recording video with your DSLR. Those who will primarily use this lens for still images may find the handling of the standard Samyang 8mm fisheye lens more to their taste. Optically this lens is the same as the one reviewed here, but it has click-stop aperture control and is a little cheaper, available for around £250.

Canon only offer an 8-15mm fisheye zoom for covering the APS-C format with a 180 degree diagonal field of view. This lens isn't cheap either, retailing for around £1150.

Nikon's venerable 10.5mm DX fisheye has an enviable reputation for optical quality, plus it sports a faster f/2.8 maximum aperture and autofocus. However, these features come at a price, with this lens retailing for around £550.

Sigma also offer a fisheye lens for APS-C sensor DSLRs. Their 10mm f/2.8 fisheye has a fast f/2.8 maximum aperture and silent autofocus, but costs around £490.

Finally, Tokina's 10-17mm DX zoom fisheye is another alternative. As this lens offers zoom, it should afford greater compositional flexibility. This lens is available for around £520.

Samyang 8mm T3.8 Asph IF MC Fisheye CS VDSLR Verdict

The unique design of this lens should certainly appeal to those who record video with their DSLR. Although the lens is perfectly capable of shooting stills as well, those who primarily take images, rather than videos may want to look towards the slightly cheaper standard version of this lens.

Optically, this lens delivers good results, especially considering the extremely low price. Those looking for a fisheye should certainly pop this, or the standard version of this lens on their list of lenses to consider.

The Samyang 8mm T3.8 Asph IF MC Fisheye delivers good results at an inexpensive price.

Samyang 8mm T3.8 Asph IF MC Fisheye CS VDSLR Pros

Excellent sharpness in the centre when stopped down
Good build quality
Stepless aperture is an excellent feature for those recording video
Inexpensive
Stereographic projection

Samyang 8mm T3.8 Asph IF MC Fisheye CS VDSLR Cons

If shooting stills, the unique design may be more a curse than a blessing
Geared focusing and aperture rings can be a little uncomfortable

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

Samyang 8mm T3.8 Diagonal Fisheye Specifications

ManufacturerSamyang
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF
  • Canon EF
  • Canon EOS
Lens
Focal Length8mm
Angle of View180
Max Aperturef/3.5
Min Aperturef/22
Filter SizeNo Data
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus30cm
StabilisedNo
Construction
BladesNo Data
Elements10
Groups7
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight417g
Height74.8mm

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