The fisheye lens is a staple of anyone photographing skateboarding and BMX. Rokinon's latest lens — the 8mm T3.8 Cine Lens — should please DSLR videographers looking to get in on the action footage.
What Is It?
A $US400 DSLR prime lens with a short focal length that produces an ultra-wide, exaggerated perspective. It suits specialised cinematic shots, like subjects in action on wheels.
A number of features are specifically designed for videography — rigid teeth on the focus ring work well with a follow-focus, and a smooth manual aperture adjustment can shift exposure naturally in the middle of a shot.
Who's It For?
Photographers and videographers on a budget who plan to shoot a lot of close-up action. Rokinon makes a version for Nikon and Canon mounts. Both work with any DSLR for those brands, but they are made for APS-C crop sensors. Pop one on a full-frame camera like a 5D Mark III, and you will see some vignetting around the edges.
The lens looks plenty nice. The red ring would make people think you are a pro who only uses Canon "L" glass. The exterior is plastic, but it feels solid and sturdy.
Fisheye lenses are just plain fun. The Rokinon's 180-degree field-of-view is a joy just to point at various things — it is almost impossible to miss the action in front you. The focus-depth is looong, and when you are shooting stopped all the way down, there is virtually no difference from one end of the focus ring to the other. The sharpness of the lens is perfectly acceptable. Face it: You aren't buying this lens for magazine spreads or feature films. It is a budget lens, and within that context, the image quality is just fine.
The Best Part
The manual aperture ring has a great feel — its smooth adjustments while shooting video make a difference compared to the abrupt clicks of most apertures.
The lens doesn't communicate at all with your camera. Precise focusing is difficult with this lens, so access to auto-focus would really come in handy, especially when shooting photos. But sadly, you are limited to full manual.
This Is Weird...
Occasionally, a Canon 7D didn't recognise the lens. The LCD said to make sure a lens is attached. It doesn't hinder shooting, but it is an alarming message.
• The Rokinon Fisheye was tested on a Canon 7D. • The lens cap is a bit finicky. It has to be positioned vertically or it won't stay on. You might think you're losing your mind for about 10 minutes before figuring this out. • You cannot mount threaded filters to this lens due to the protruding front element. • If you are only shooting photos, and you don't care about the smooth aperture adjustment feature, or the focus ring teeth, Rokinon makes a similar lens for over $US100 cheaper.
Should You Buy It?
Yeah, if you shoot this kind of distorted footage on a regular basis. It is a great option for the price. Think about it, a comparable fisheye made by Canon is over $US1300, while Sigma's 8mm fisheye is $US900. It's not available in Australia yet though, so be prepared to jump through a few hoops if you want to import it.
Rokinon 8mm t/3.8 Fisheye Cine Lens
• Price: $US399 • Max Aperture T/3.8 • Mount: Canon or Nikon versions available • Field of View: 180 degrees