Fisheye in UP
September 1, 2012
A return to my beloved alma mater, University of the Philippines – Diliman. This was supposed to be a photowalk but because we scheduled it late (and we arrived later) and since the sky decided to dump some water, it turned out more to be a food trip with some photos shot. Only four of us went there – Tiny, Elaine, Oyet and myself.
For this supposed photowalk, I brought three lenses – the Canon 15-85mm, Canon 50mm 1.4 and the Samyang 8mm fisheye. However because of the rain, we weren’t able to shoot when the sun is still up so we just went and eat in Rodic’s.
We decided to take some shots of the UP Chapel but there was a mass being held (second time to try and take some pics in the chapel but was foiled by an ongoing mass). We then just went to Quezon Hall.
Quezon Hall is the perfect place to try my fisheye lens as it was built in a Neoclassical design with columns and lots of straight elements – more things to bend and curve.
It was already dark when we reached it. Luckily, I brought my tripod so I can take long exposures (and thus use the base ISO).
From the pictures, the Samyang 8mm is a wonderful lens, very sharp even at the corners. However, the circumstances make it rather difficult to use.
It was dark and focusing through the viewfinder is not easy. Focusing through the LCD is also difficult as the LCD will basically show a very dark picture. Opening the lens to f3.5 makes it more bearable but still difficult.
Aperture is changed in the lens and focusing is done manually on the fisheye. This would have been ok in well-lighted places but in the dark, I can barely see the numbers on the aperture ring (which is exacerbated by the fact that the aperture ring is very close to the camera body (and is partially hidden from above by the prism hump and popup flash).
For easier focusing, I just set the aperture to f/11 (or what I think is f/11, can’t really see due to the dark) and set focus to what I think is appropriate (about 1.5 to 3 meters).
Tiny has just bought a Nikon D3200 and I had her shoot the fisheye (I bought a Nikon AE version and use an adapter to use it on my Canon 7D). It’s much easier to use it on the Nikon since focusing is done wide open and aperture is controlled through the camera (which is easier to see on the camera’s LCD screen rather than fumble in the dark on the aperture ring).
I get to try for a few shots the Nikon D3200 and I was amazed by the pictures. The outcome looks great on the camera’s LCD. I don’t know if this is because of higher screen resolution (compared to my 7D) or if the picture is really much better.
The picture also seems much much brighter than the pictures coming from my 7D. Again, I’m not sure if this is due to a better LCD screen or a better sensor.
I don’t like the quick menu of the D3200, however, requires additional button press to change settings and a lot of space is wasted for a representation of the aperture changes. I also can’t seem to find how to use auto ISO in PASM.
But all in all, it seems like a good camera and I’ll try it again in the future (and probably buy one if I have the money).
Another difficulty I experienced is not due to the lens but to my camera. Setting up for a low or high angle shot is difficult using a fixed screen or the viewfinder. I miss my 60D’s vari-angle tilting LCD for composition. (If the D3200 had a tilting screen, I’d probably grab one now).
So what do I think of the Samyang lens? I love it! For the price, a wonderful lens. Very sharp (if properly focused). Not so good, there always seem to be minor flare. Not so good, non-circular six-bladed aperture (but then, the Canon 10-22mm also has this). I look forward to taking more pictures with this lens.