Since March is my birthday month, I decided to give myself an advance gift – a Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye Lens!
I’ve been meaning to have this lens for sometime but ordering one has been a hassle (need to deposit advance payment first) but finally when I decide to purchase one this week, there is one already available without having to make advance payment.
A closeup of the front of the lens (mounted on OMD EM5).
I was surprised at how small this lens is. It is tiny! It is only a little bigger than the tiny Olympus 45mm f1.8. This is what I love about m4/3 – very good (prime) lenses in tiny packages. Even if the camera bodies aren’t much smaller than APS-C mirrorless, the tiny lenses make a lot of difference in reducing the total size (volume) of the camera package.
Tiny but sharp m4/3 lenses – Panasonic 14mm f2.5, Samyang 7.5mm f3.5 fisheye and Olympus 45mm f1.8.
Compared to the 8mm fisheye for DSLRs (which I also have), this lens is absolutely tiny! It is easily three times smaller and lighter than that lens. However, build quality is also very good. The lens is made of metal, aperture ring has a reassuring click and focus ring also turns smoothly (albeit a little too stiff). I can’t be sure however that this build quality is really an indication of the toughness of the lens. My 8mm fisheye for DSLR got broken when it fell, it was repaired but now the aperture stays at f22 (even after repeated turns of the aperture ring).
The Samyang fisheye on OMD EM5 with Oly 45mm f1.8 on the side for size comparison.
Mounted on Olympus EM5, the lens looks wonderful (I opted for the black version as I’m not sure how the silver version will look on my black-silver OMD). My only concern is that because of short lens length, I am finding it hard to move the focus ring. For some reason, I can reach and move the aperture ring without much difficulty but when it comes to turning the focus ring, I most often than not touch and try to rotate the built in petal hood. Focus throw (degree needed to turn from minimum focus distance or MFD to infinity) is also very short.
For some reason, I feel that the lens has some mount error. I feel that the lens cannot reach infinity focus on my EM5. I made some search on the web and my problem doesn’t seem to be an isolated case. Those that have problem are usually using EM5 also (I don’t know if this problem is specific to EM5 or just that majority of users who pixel peep are using EM5). In any case, due to the large depth of field afforded by a fisheye lens and the 4/3 sensor, this is not really a big problem, unless printing very large and shooting at f3.5
A sample shot of the fisheye lens, showing sharpness, flare, chromatic aberration (blue-purple fringing at the edges), extremely short minimum focus distance and quality of bokeh.
Despite being a fisheye lens with an inherently large DOF, the lens is capable of delivering bokeh. This is due to the extremely short MFD. In the shot above taken at f3.5, my finger is only about 2 inches from the front of the lens. it delivered some bokeh which looks alright. Nonbusy backgrounds remain nondistracting but specular highlights are noticeable.
Another thing noticeable with the lens is chromatic aberration (blue-purple fringing) at the edges (and even some in the middle in high contrast situations). This is really not a problem (easy to fix in Lightroom) and is hard to avoid in a fisheye lens.
There is also evidence of flare (the photo above is taken with the sun included in the frame). The flare appears as tiny rays of pale multicolored light radiating from the intense source of light. In the DSLR 8mm fisheye, flare usually appears as a pale purple hexagon opposite from the sun (or other intense source of light) – see sample here.
A crop from the shot above.
Sharpness is sufficient (see crop above). This is still subject to further evaluation as the sample picture shows sharpness at minimum focus distance (where the lens is rarely used). I’m taking this lens to Calaguas for further use.
In summary, I really like this lens. It is inexpensive (as far as lenses go, cheaper than 8mm fisheye), small, sharp and seems to be built well. On the other hand, I have a little difficulty operating focus ring (I may still get used to it), exhibits fringing (almost inevitable) and flare (when sun is in the frame). All in all, my conclusion (as many others have concluded) is this is a great value for m4/3 users. Can’t wait to use this lens to take more photos.