When I used to shoot with my Canon DSLR, I never used “off brand” lenses. No Tamron, no Sigma — only Canon. That irrationality didn’t seem to carry over when I switched to Olympus and micro four thirds, where I’ve been having a lot of fun playing with a unique lens, the Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye.
The Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye lens provides a 180 degree field of view with a maximum aperture of f/3.5. It’s a completely manual lens — focusing and aperture changes are done on the lens barrel, there’s no electronic connection to the camera. Like most fisheye lenses, it has a bubbled front lens element and a built in flower petal hood, which means that you can’t attach any screw on filters. It’s a little heavier than the Olympus 45mm and Olympus 25mm prime lenses, but it’s similar in size, and feels well balanced attached to the Olympus OM-D E-M5.
A fisheye is an ultra wide angle lens that, depending on the angle of view, produces a distorted image. I want to emphasize “depending on the field of view”, because this is something that I learned about the fisheye as I started to use it. The first time I took the lens out I got really close to things and let them fill the entire frame, something I think a lot of photographers do when they first play around with a fisheye lens.
It’s a classic look for a fisheye, and one that gives great results when used properly. What I didn’t realize though is that you could use the fisheye for ultra wide landscapes, with little distortion. As long as your scene was significantly wide enough, and you don’t have a large object in the foreground, you can move the camera up and down until the horizon line is straight across your frame (rather than bowed up or down).
Awesome? Yes. 🙂 Perfect? No. Here are some pros and cons.
- Size and construction – The Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye compares in size to two other Olympus primes that I love, the 25mm f/1.8 and the 45mm f/1.8. It’s heavier and more dense, all in all a very solid feeling piece of glass. The focus and aperture rings move solidly and smoothly.
- Cost – You can often find this lens for $249. Its competitors from Olympus and Panasonic sell for well more than double that. Granted, it’s not an apples to apples comparison, since the Olympus and Panasonic have autofocus and larger apertures, but it’s a tradeoff. For me I’m usually using the lens around f/4 focused at infinity.
- Solid focusing ring with distance scale – On a fully manual lens this is actually kind of a must have, but in general it’s nice to see a well marked distance scale coupled with a fairly tight focusing ring.
- Image quality – When you hit the sweet spot for focus, this lens is very sharp and produces great colors. With such a cheap lens, you can’t ask for much more.
- No autofocus – I mentioned how this lens has no electronic connection to the camera. It’s completely manual. With such an ultra wide angle lens, you’re often focusing at infinity so auto focus isn’t much of an issue. Unfortunately, I’ve had a number of shots that come out soft because my subject may have been within 10 feet of me and I didn’t refocus properly (or fast enough).
- Aperture and focus rings get bumped – When I’m out shooting, lenses are constantly being attached to my camera and then tossed back into the bag. If I’m shooting a landscape I try to keep my aperture around the f/4-5.6 range and the focus ring at infinity. These two rings, while tight, often get bumped and moved. Since I’m used to lenses that have auto focus and that have aperture set in camera, I sometimes forget to re-check if my aperture is in a range that I want, and the auto focus ring hasn’t moved too much away from infinity.
- Incomplete metadata – I shoot in aperture priority with the Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye. With no electronic connection to the camera and the aperture being set manual on the lens barrel, aperture data isn’t recorded with the metadata. This isn’t a huge deal, but something I usually like to know (and share with others) when I post photos.
- Maximum aperture of f/3.5 – Again, for landscapes this poses no problem since I’m usually shooting at f/4 or above. But, I would love an f/2 or larger aperture for shooting in darker places (a band at a bar for instance).
- Inability to attach screw on filters – This lens, like most fisheye lenses, doesn’t allow you to attach screw on filters on the front.
Here are some more shots from the past 6 months of using the Rokinon 7.5mm, with some shots being more “fisheye” than others.
One interesting thing that you can do with the Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye is “defish” a shot in Lightroom through the use of lens profiles. This will essentially turn your fisheye shot into an ultra wide shot. I’ve had good luck using the “SIGMA 8mm F3.5 EX DG CIRCULAR FISHEYE” profile that’s already built into Lightroom for a quick defishing. You can also try out these profiles that someone built specifically for the Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye. Depending on what OS you use, here’s some info on where to place custom profiles for use within Lightroom.
Here are a few more shots that I “defished” in Lightroom.
Is this lens perfect? No. But for someone who never had a fisheye before, it’s sure a lot of fun and helps you to see things a little differently.
Do you own this lens and love it? Have you thought about getting one? Let me know in the comments! If you want to grab one from Amazon, you can help support Less Gear || More Photos by using my link for the Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye. Thanks!