Back in September 2014 Samyang announced a new lens – a 12 mm f2.8 fish-eye for full-frame cameras. A prototype was shown at Photokina in Cologne (see picture below) but the lens was not available until now.
I already own the Samyang 8 mm f3.5 fish-eye and it is a fun lens. You can see some sample images in my “urban” photo gallery on this website. But it is the version for APS-C sized sensors (Nikon DX cameras). I owned the Samyang back in the days of my D70s/D300s, and as I switched to full format the lens stayed as a full-frame fish-eye was not on the market (at least not a reasonably priced one).
The lens Samyang announced is not broadly available yet (Status: January 2015). It seems to be in the phase of introduction and getting it required some searching. I could have ordered it via eBay directly from Korea, but decided against it due to warranty reasons (although it was considerably cheaper). Finally I found the lens branded as “Walimex Pro”, sold and shipped from Germany for 549 €. WalimexPro is the house-brand of Foto Walser, a large online retailer for photographic equipment. They seem to partner with Samyang, selling their lenses under another branding.
Clicked, ordered, waited impatiently drumming my fingers, doorbell, postman, parcel, woot woot !
The lens is surprisingly similiar in size to the APS-C version, although it is for full format and has a larger aperture. The distortion is quite the same compared to the 8 mm at APS-C, but this is logical. An 8 mm at a crop camera equals 12 mm (x 1.5, which is the crop factor) at a full-frame camera.
In contrast to the 8 mm fish-eye the lens hood is detachable. Due to the bulbous front lens filters can not be attached.
When I mounted the lens there was a little more friction between lens and the camera’s bayonet than expected. Let’s say it is a tight fit, but I do not deem it to be a problem. The fish-eye is manual focus only, but the aperture and exposure information are transmitted. As you can see in the sample images below the lens is quite sharp (well, that’s what a lens is supposed to be). It covers nearly 180 degrees (well, it’s a fish-eye, but never fails to amaze again…). Please excuse the abundance of b/w photos. The weather is quite s#!tty these days and b/w seemed to be the better option.
As I already own a fish-eye lens (the Samyang 8 mm f3.5 for DX cameras, see sample images here, here, and here) I know what it can do. But I found it interesting to compare the three wide-angles I currently own: WalimexPro 12 mm f2.8 / Nikkor 14-24 mm f2.8 / Samyang 8 mm f3.5.
The focal lengths perform as expected. 12 mm gives you a distorted fish-eye look. The 14 mm show less distortion and a slightly smaller area of view (the Nikkor 14-24 is famous for its low distortion considering the 14 mm wide angle by the way). The Samyang 8 mm, being a DX lens, show a black frame around the border since the lightcircle which is projected onto the sensor is designed for a smaller area. After cropping the image to the middle section the field of view is nearly identical to the 12 mm WalimexPro.
That, by the way, is a nice visual proof that any focal length on a crop camera has to be multiplied with the crop factor to receive the same field of view on a full frame sensor (8 x 1.5 = 12).
Bottom line: A sharp and astonishingly wide lens. Image quality is great. A nice deal for all full frame owners out there. Price might drop over the next months. Absolutely recommended.