Review of the Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS Fish-Eye
South Korean manufacturer Samyang (also badged as Rokinon) makes several autofocus lenses for Sony E-mount cameras, as well as a few for Canon and Nikon DSLRs. However, it is best known for its extensive collection of manual focus lenses, available in a wide range of mounting options. This 12mm diagonal fisheye lens is full frame compatible but is available in a range of full frame mount and crop sensor options including Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sony A, Canon M, Fujifilm X, Samsung NX, Sony E and Micro Four Thirds.
To go up: Canon EF, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sony A, Canon M, Fujifilm X, Samsung NX, Sony E, MFT
Full frame: Yes
Lens Construction: 12 elements in 8 groups
Angle of view: 180 degrees (full frame)
Diaphragm blades: seven
Minimum opening: f/22
Minimum focusing distance: 0.2m
Maximum magnification ratio: Unspecified
Filter size: None
Dimensions: 77×70-99mm (depending on mount)
Lester: 500-565g (depending on frame)
As with most other Samyang manual focus lenses, only the Nikon mount edition has built-in electronics to allow camera-driven aperture control and assist lamp illumination /focus confirmation. Program AE and shutter-priority shooting modes are therefore only possible with Nikon cameras. With other camera brands, you not only have to focus manually, but also set the aperture manually via the rear-mounted aperture control ring. A disadvantage of DSLRs is that the viewfinder image becomes relatively dark when using narrow apertures.
The 12 optical elements include two aspherical elements and three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements. Nanostructure coatings are applied to minimize ghosting and flare. Given the huge depth of field when shooting with a fisheye lens, the lack of autofocus is not a major drawback. An advantage is that the focus ring has a relatively long rotational travel, as well as depth of field markers for f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 and f/8. This enables “area focus”, so you can set the “focus” range using the focus distance scale and DOF markers.
Sharpness is impressive across the entire image frame and the lens does a good job of keeping color fringing to very low levels. The application of Samyang’s NCS (Nano Coating System) is effective in reducing ghosting and flare, with the lens far better than its 8mm f/3.5 UMC Fish-Eye CS II sibling in this regard.
We typically perform a series of lab tests under controlled conditions, using the Imatest Master test suite. Pattern shots are taken over the full range of apertures and zooms (where applicable), then analyzed for sharpness, distortion, and chromatic aberrations.
However, due to the relatively small size of the test cards and the huge 180 degree viewing angle of the fisheye lenses, it is impossible for us to generate meaningful lab test data for them.
Available in a wide variety of mounting options, the Samyang offers very good image quality with impressive sharpness, minimal color fringing and impressive resistance to ghosting and flare. This is a fully manual lens in most cases, only the Nikon F-mount version allowing aperture control from the camera body, and therefore the full range of shooting modes PASM. The lack of autofocus isn’t a big deal, due to the typically huge depth of field of fisheye lenses.
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