Review: Rokinon 8mm f2.8 Fisheye II (Fujifilm X)

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Ever wondered what the world would look like through the eyes of a fish? If you have, and even if you haven’t, the Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 II fisheye lens is here to satisfy that curiosity. With 180-degree field of view and a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 12mm, Rokinon’s lens is here to satisfy special purposes and give Go-Pro users an alternative. Like all of Rokinon’s offerings, it has an aperture ring and large focusing ring, giving you considerable control of the glass. And like all of the company’s offerings, the lens is a fully manual focus offering.

Pros and Cons

Pros

– Fast aperture makes it viable in low light

– Solid color rendition

– Sturdy build

– Affordable

Cons

– Convex front element makes it prone to dings and scratches. Be sure to have the lens cap when you’re not using it.

– Given the nature of the lens, it can’t take any filters

Gear Used

We used the Rokinon 8mm f2.8 Fisheye with the Fujifilm X-Pro 1.

Tech Specs

Courtesy of B&H Photo Video’s listing

  • Fujifilm X Mount Lens
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
  • 12mm (35mm Equivalent)
  • Designed for APS-C Sized Sensors
  • Fisheye Design, 180° Angle of View
  • Three ED and Two Aspherical Elements
  • UMC Coating

Ergonomics

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The first thing you’ll notice about this lens is its built-in petal hood and large front element. Given its 180-degree coverage, it’s no surprise that it looks like this, and the petal hood is designed in such a way to reduce lens flare (it works).

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The lens comes with a lens cap that clips onto the two larger petals of the hood, which ensures that it stays on, and you should keep it on when you’re not shooting with it. If you leave it off, you run the risk of damaging the front end because of how much it sticks out.

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Here you’ll find the aperture ring (f2.8-22) and a focusing ring with a distance scale. There is no depth of field scale because of just how wide the angle is. The aperture ring clicks as you turn it, and because the lens doesn’t communicate with the camera, the EXIF data won’t have the aperture saved. The focusing ring rotates slowly, which can be difficult in a pinch, though it’s safe to say that most of what you shoot will be in focus.

Build Quality

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The Rokinon 8mm f2.8 is a sturdy piece of glass with a metal body. The aperture and focusing rings are textured, which makes gripping them easy, though, as stated previously, the focusing ring moves a bit too slowly and is too smooth. The lens won’t add too much heft to your camera, nor will it add too much length. It’s a bit longer than the Fujifilm 35mm f1.4, though they’re roughly the same length if you keep the hood on the latter.

Focusing

Focusing is completely manual, as is the case with all of Rokinon’s lenses. The lens has a large textured focusing ring that moves too slowly for my taste. Given how wide it is, there’s a good chance most of your shots will be in focus seeing as the distance scale jumps from 3.5 feet to infinity and considering that the field of view will be around 12mm due to the 1.5x crop factor of the APS-C sensor in the camera.

Ease of Use

The lens is fairly straightforward, though you’ll have to make sure you keep your fingers towards the back of the focusing ring. Otherwise, they’ll be in the shot. It really is that wide. Other than that, it’s a matter of adjusting your aperture, and adjusting the focusing if your subject’s closer than 3.5 feet.

Image Quality

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The Rokinon 8mm f2.8 produces good images with proper and accurate colors. Of course, it matters if you want the fisheye effect. Its hyper-wide nature means it can only fill a variety of purposes. You could probably make creative portraits with this, but you wouldn’t use it for corporate headshots. If you’re a fan of GoPro cameras, then this lens’ll be an obvious choice, and it gives you more latitude than a GoPro does.

Bokeh

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You don’t buy a fisheye lens for its bokeh because it doesn’t really have any. The bokeh that does exist is only very slight, and doesn’t necessarily fit with any of the terms normally ascribed to it.

Sharpness

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This lens does indeed produce very sharp images, though it isn’t the same kind of sharpness you’d recognize with 50mm lenses and beyond. It’s sharp in the sense that nearly everything is in focus, and unless you’re shooting closer than 3.5 feet, you can keep the lens set to infinity.

Color Fringing

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In the course of working with this lens, I didn’t notice any color fringing. The 8mm is designed in such a way to minimize that entirely. That’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about when editing.

Color Rendition

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The Rokinon 8mm f2.8 is an ace when it comes to color rendition. Of course, the RAW files are a bit more muted than JPEGs, but a tweak or two in Lightroom will bring them right back to what you saw through the lens.

Extra Image Samples

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Conclusions

Likes

– It captures colors accurately and manages to keep everything sharp without distortion.

– Fairly affordable.

Dislikes

– This isn’t a general purpose lens, so it can be a major drag if you come across a photograph on the street that you’d normally shoot with a different lens.

– The focusing ring is too slow.

four-star-Phoblographer-Star-rating

Any fisheye you come across is a niche lens. With a creative approach, this lens can really sing. This isn’t a lens to take a chance, in the sense that you have to know what you’re getting into when you buy it. Every lens has its purpose, and a fisheye has a particular set of purposes that makes it a special purchase.

Rokinon’s offering manages to do the fisheye thing well in a small package with excellent build quality. The aperture ring provides satisfying clicks, though you’ll have to commit the aperture to memory if you want to reference it later since the lens doesn’t communicate with the camera. Unfortunately, you can’t focus quickly with this lens because of how slow the lens is, but we imagine that won’t be a problem.

All things considered, we give the Rokinon 8mm f2.8 II four out of five stars.

Pick yours up at B&H, Adorama or Amazon.