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What a View

27th August 2014

Wide Angle to the Extreme

It’s eye-catching when I see a photo that “bends” the horizon.

This bend comes from the camera’s lens. Use a very wide angle lens and you’ll see the curved “barrel” distortion on the images. One well-known type of wide angle lenses is the fisheye. These lenses typically have a field of view approaching 180 degrees – allowing you to capture the entire scene in front of the camera.

Until recently, fisheye lenses were expensive. I have one that cost well over $1500. But when I was looking for an ultra-wide angle for my Sony equipment, I found an inexpensive lens made by Rokinon. With its $300 price tag, I was a little skeptical of the quality of images from such a low cost lens but decided to try it regardless.

Here’s a short gallery of some of the scenes that I captured during my first outing with the lens a few weeks ago.

This is an 8mm f/2.8 fisheye. I wanted an ultra-wide angle for an extra Sony Nex7 mirrorless camera.

The Nex7 is very compact and lightweight. The Rokinon 8mm fisheye is also surprisingly compact.

The Sony Nex7/Rokinon 8mm setup is only about 1/3 the size of my Canon 6D with a Canon 8-15mm fisheye – a true space and weight saver.

One of the first images that I recorded with the new lens was in the Tetons. I especially like the curved horizon.

Here in Yellowstone you can see that the bridge rail curves upwards. The lens does not support the camera’s autofocus feature.

However an 8mm lens has a very wide depth of field which makes focusing less critical as you can see in this image taken at Mono Lake.

At Grand Canyon, the bend in the horizon is amazingly scenic. The lens does not support autoexposure so I set the camera shooting mode to manual, set the lens aperture to f/8 and adjusted to the proper shutter speed.

In both of these photos, you can see that the exposure for both a shaded and sunny scene were correct. Neither the manual focus nor the manual exposure requirements of this lens is a concern.

At Monument Valley I took advantage of the lens’ extreme wide view. Here I was able to take in a 180-degree view to photograph this huge monument within a single image.

The fisheye excels for those of you who like shooting portraits that include the vast surroundings.

At Mesa Verde, we encountered another “tight squeeze”. However, we were able to capture this with the lens’ wide view.

In Rocky Mountain National Park, the lens took in not only the winter’s left over snow but the billowing overhead July clouds.

What about the sharpness?

Here I’ve enlarged a small section of one of the above images. You can clearly see the detail in the face, the lettering of the cap and the tufa formations in the background.

I found the sharpness of this inexpensive lens to be very acceptable.

After my short time with this lens, I am no longer skeptical of it’s quality. The images are tack sharp with very good color reproduction. If you’re on the lookout for an ultra-wide, include this lens in your search.

The Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 fisheye is also available for other camera models as well: Fuji, Samsung and Canon M mount. Other similar versions with a maximum f/3.5 aperture are available for Canon, Nikon, Sony A mount, Pentax and Olympus 4/3.
Written by: Arnie Lee


Delivering Higher Performance

16th September 2012

to those users who prefer going lightweight

Not long ago, I acquired a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC) – the Sony NEX5. I’ve found its small size to be very convenient and its light weight easy on my shoulder. But more importantly its picture-taking capabilities and quality of the photos rival those of the other cameras in my equipment inventory.

Having interchangeable lenses is a necessity for most serious photographers. So for many years SLRs and more recently DSLRs fit this bill. On the other hand, a MILC is designed as a compact alternative to a DSLR camera. Their small size is what attracted me to the Sony NEX series.

While on vacation for two weeks I used the NEX5. It proved to be a solid performer producing good exposures under a very wide variety of lighting conditions. This model has a 14mp APS-C size sensor, the same size used in many DSLRs and I found it gave me excellent quality images.

MILCs are quiet since they lack moving mirrors. The camera’s controls were straight-forward and easy to use. I took advantage of several unique features not found in others such as sweep panorama (in-camera stitching of photos to make a wide panoramic view) and anti-blur (burst of several shots to increase likelihood of non-blurred image) modes and am more than satisifed with the results.

The Sony NEX5

Overall, I am pleased with the addition of the NEX5 to my arsenal of photo equipment. However it lacks two features that one would normally require for professional use:

  • Viewfinder – the NEX5 lacks a viewfinder. Relying the LCD for composing is not only slower, but is often difficult in bright sun.
  • Flash – the NEX5 has a small, built-in flash. However it lacks a flash shoe, making it difficult to use a standard strobe.


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