Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II Review

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II

My thoughts on using the new Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II lens, particularly for landscape astrophotography.

Introduction

The Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II is a dedicated mirrorless camera lens design, meaning it won’t fit on your standard DSLR and is instead made for the new compact system lens cameras that manufacturers have started offering in the last few years like the Sony a6000 and the Fujifilm X-T1. You can find the same lenses under other brand names too: the original manufacturer is Samyang and their lenses are available under the names Rokinon, Bower, Walimex and a few others.

When I first dove into the world of mirrorless cameras, one of the first lenses I used was the original Mark I version of this fisheye lens: the Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye. I had only limited experience with the older lens and didn’t really own it long enough to make a complete review. Now Rokinon/Samyang have released a new Mark II version of the lens. I really enjoyed the short time I had with the original version so I grabbed the new Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II version as soon as it was released. It’s available for a wide variety of camera mounts including Canon EF-M, Fujifilm X, Sony E, and Samsung NX.

Good Copy?

The first lens that I received was a bad copy. It showed a distinct decentering effect which caused the whole left side of the frame to be noticeably blurry compared to the rest of the image, particularly when used wide open at f/2.8. Unfortunately, I had departed on a road trip only a day after receiving the lens and didn’t notice the problem beforehand so many of the photos that I was able to take for this review were made with the bad copy. Upon returning from the trip, I promptly exchanged the lens for a new copy that does not seem to exhibit this behavior.

So, just keep in mind that some of the nightscape photos in this review were taken with the bad copy but I still loved the images enough to post them here. If you plan on buying this (or any) lens, definitely do a quick test  by shooting some photos with it at each f/number and evaluate its sharpness to make sure it’s up to par. Rokinon lenses are great lenses at low prices but also probably have some less stringent quality control standards than the bigger manufacturers so a few duds might slip by. Amazon.com and B&H Photo both have excellent return policies if you get sent a bad lens so be sure to use their return policy if you need to. Any time I have needed to make a return, they have always promptly issued a replacement and provided a shipping label for the return, free of charge.

Initial Impressions

The Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II looks almost identical to the original Mark I version of the lens. It’s the same exact diameter but is a little bit longer. Its focus ring is now much broader and is ribbed all the way around the circumference, with no breaks like in the Mark I version of the lens. Both the focus ring and the aperture ring rotate nicely. The aperture ring has affirmative clicks at every half-stop from f/2.8 to f/22. The Fujifilm mount version of the lens pictured here has a silver ring around the lens mount. From what I understand, this broad silver ring is only on the Fujifilm X mount version of the lens. I’m not a fan of the silver ring so I’ll probably cover it with some black electrical tape.

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II

While it’s definitely larger than the Mark I version, it’s still a very small lens. It’s the smallest lens currently in my Fujifilm camera bag. Despite its diminutive size, it’s still rather weighty and feels very dense and solid. It mounts firmly and feels very high quality. Here’s a photo comparing it to the Fujifilm 14mm and 23mm lenses just so you can see how small the little Rokinon actually is. Neither of the Fujifilm lenses are particularly large lenses but they make the Rokinon look tiny.

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II Review

Size Comparison: Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II vs. Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R vs. Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R

With the extremely wide field of view of this lens (180 degrees from corner to corner), Rokinon opted for a built in petal style lens hood. As a result, the lens requires the use of a cylindrical lens cap, not unlike the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 (my review). It’s less of a pain than the really huge lens cap of the 14mm though because it’s still small enough to fit in your pocket, just not quite as comfortable as a standard flat lens cap.

The Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II has a built in petal hood and a cylindrical lens cap.

The Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II has a built in petal hood and a cylindrical lens cap.

Focusing

The Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II is a completely manual lens. It has no autofocus motor and the aperture diaphragm must be operated manually with the aperture ring. It also does not have any electrical contacts on the lens mount so it cannot communicate exposure or lens information to the camera. Manual focusing with a lens of this short a focal length is pretty easy though: just leave it at infinity for 99% of your photographs. The depth of field is large enough, even at f/2.8 that everything from about 3.5 feet all the way out to infinity will be in focus. I found that my good copy had a nice accurate focus ring, making it easy to focus at infinity for photographing the milky way.

Image Quality at f/2.8

I shoot with this lens primarily at f/2.8 for night photography. Even wide open at this setting, the photographs are tack sharp in the center with only mild sharpness decrease in the very corners of the image. Here’s an image taken at sunset with 100% crops to show you the sharpness. For reference, these were processed with Iridient Developer set to R-L Deconvolution with a radius of 0.4 and 6 iterations. This photo was pushed a couple stops to bring out shadow details for this test so the results might have a tad of extra luminosity noise from a typical ISO 200 shot.

rokinon-8mm-f2.8-fisheye-ii-sharpness-full-frame

Sharpness Test: Here is the full frame of the test scene. Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II @ f/2.8, 1/4000th, ISO 200 on Fujifilm X-T1

Looking at the center crop, the lens picks up some very fine detail in the branches of the trees.

rokinon-8mm-f2.8-fisheye-ii-sharpness-center

Center Sharpness: Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II @ f/2.8, 1/4000th, ISO 200 on Fujifilm X-T1

At the far right center edge of the frame, you can see the details start to soften just a bit but still remain very sharp. In the image below you can see signs of red and green chromatic aberration on the edges of some of the trees.

rokinon-8mm-f2.8-fisheye-ii-sharpness-edge

Edge Sharpness: Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II @ f/2.8, 1/4000th, ISO 200 on Fujifilm X-T1

And finally, in the extreme bottom right corner of the image, you can see the road details start to lose resolution but some of this might be due to focus depth of field. Overall I’m very impressed with the sharpness of this lens, provided you have a good copy.

rokinon-8mm-f2.8-fisheye-ii-sharpness-corner

Corner Sharpness Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II @ f/2.8, 1/4000th, ISO 200 on Fujifilm X-T1

Flare Characteristics

In harsh lighting conditions, particularly with the sun on the sides of the frame, the Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II definitely exhibits some elaborate looking flare, particularly when stopped down. Bright highlights make 6-pointed stars when stopped down due to the 6-bladed aperture design.Flare becomes less noticeable at low f/numbers but is still present. Here are a couple sample images where I intentionally tried to get the lens to flare. Pardon the motion blur, I was shooting from a moving open-air bus.

Flare at f/16 - Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II

Flare at f/16 – Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II

Flare at f/2.8 - Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II

Flare at f/2.8 – Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II

Coma Performance

Coma performance of the Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II is excellent. There are very few signs of coma at the edges of the frame, even wide open at f/2.8. This characteristic makes the lens particularly nice for astrophotography because it keeps the stars looking like nice pinpoints. Check out the below image and 100% corner crop.

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Fujifilm X-T1, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Fujifilm X-T1, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II Coma

The Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II shows very little coma.

 

 

Sample Images

Below are some image samples for your viewing pleasure. Most of these have had contrast and curves adjustments applied in Adobe Lightroom, particularly the Zion Canyon shots which required a bit of work from the harsh light.

Rokinon-8mm-f2.8-fisheye-ii-sample-1

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Fujifilm X-T1, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Rokinon-8mm-f2.8-fisheye-ii-sample-6

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Fujifilm X-T1, Grand Staircase Escalante, Utah

Rokinon-8mm-f2.8-fisheye-ii-sample-5

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Fujifilm X-T1, Grand Staircase Escalante, Utah

Rokinon-8mm-f2.8-fisheye-ii-sample-4

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Fujifilm X-T1, Zion Canyon National Park, Utah

Rokinon-8mm-f2.8-fisheye-ii-sample-3

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Fujifilm X-T1, Zion Canyon National Park, Utah

Rokinon-8mm-f2.8-fisheye-ii-sample-2

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Fujifilm X-T1, Zion Canyon National Park, Utah

Defished and Astrophotography Samples

Where I think the Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II becomes something special is when it’s defished. I recently posted a guide on how I defish and correct for the distortion of fisheye lenses in my “Best Method of Defishing a Fisheye Photo” article. The samples below have been defished with the method outlined in that article. With this method, the photos retain almost all of their original field of view, making for an extremely wide angle photo that you can’t get with a normal rectilinear lens.

For astrophotography, this lens shines. It has a ridiculously wide field of view which makes it possible to use shutter speeds of up to 60 seconds without significant star trailing when your camera is set to Bulb mode. This makes it great at gathering light for astrophotography and makes it possible to capture nearly the entire arch of the Milky Way, even when it’s high in the sky.

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Fujifilm X-T1 - Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

*Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Defished, Fujifilm X-T1 – Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Fujifilm X-T1 - Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Defished, Fujifilm X-T1 – Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Fujifilm X-T1 - Red Canyon, Utah

*Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Defished, Fujifilm X-T1, Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Fujifilm X-T1, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

*Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Defished, Fujifilm X-T1, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada

Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Fujifilm X-T1, Arches National Park, UT

*Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Defished, Fujifilm X-T1, Arches National Park, Utah

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*Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye II, Defished, Fujifilm X-T1, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

Conclusions

In terms of image quality, the new Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II is an excellent lens, provided that you get a good copy. It’s relatively fast f/2.8 aperture makes it great for astrophotography. Along with the Rokinon 12mm f/2.0 (my review here), there are now two really excellent landscape astrophotography lens options for mirrorless camera shooters from Rokinon. Hopefully this is a sign that Rokinon/Samyang will continue to develop small, compact lenses for mirrorless cameras in the future.

The wide field of view allows for exposures up to 60 seconds without significant star trailing. It’s a real challenge to learn how to compose a photograph with such a huge field of view (I often found my fingers in the photographs) but some practice and patience can result in some excellent shots that could not otherwise be created with a rectilinear lens. I personally think that the fisheye distortion can be rather silly looking but shooting with the lens with defishing in mind leads to some excellent “more serious” photographs that can hold their own against similar shots made with rectilinear lenses. For astrophotography, if you’re looking for the easiest way to capture as much of the Milky Way as possible, look no further than a fisheye.

Overall, the lens is great and I honestly have nothing to complain about except that my first copy was bad.

The Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II is available for Canon EF-M, Sony E, Fujifilm X, and Samsung NX mounts at the links below:

If you’re planning on buying the Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 UMC Fisheye II, consider using any of the links on this page to help support the development of Lonely Speck. It won’t cost you anything extra but we will receive a small commission to help run the site free of banner ads. Thanks for your support!

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Ian Norman

Creator at Lonely Speck
Ian Norman, co-founder and creator of The Photon Collective and Lonely Speck. Ian is a full time traveler, photographer and entrepreneur. In February 2013, he called it quits on his 9-to-5 to pursue a lifestyle of photography. Follow Ian's photography adventures on Instagram.

35 Responses

  1. Joe Gee Photography July 19, 2016 / 4:57 pm

    I really really want to try out the M3 and this lens. I have a 6D with a 16-35L among others. I have a ton of money into my equipment but I’m tired of hauling around 20 pounds of crap whenever I go on vacation. I just ordered the M3 from Amazon to test it out. I’m hoping Canon will release a full frame mirrorless at Photokina in September.

  2. Mike May 1, 2016 / 8:42 pm

    Why does it cost a bit more than the Samyang 8mm F2.8 Fisheye II since both are essentially the same lens being from the same manufacturer?

    • Ian Norman May 5, 2016 / 3:11 pm

      Prices on lenses can fluctuate weekly. Sometimes the Samyang is cheaper, sometimes the Bower is cheaper, sometimes the Rokinon is cheaper. Depends on the lens and depends on the market.

  3. Amy January 30, 2016 / 6:56 am

    Hi Ian,

    This article is super helpful, thank you. I’m a beginner and am wondering – did you overlap images to create one single panoramic image for any of your photos you posted here? Or are they all just a result of the wide angle-ness of this lens? The two at Bryce Canyon National Park, for example, seem extra long to me. Any insight is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much!

  4. L Joyce Croker November 19, 2015 / 8:43 am

    Wonderful article. I have the Canon 8-15mm Fisheye f/L, which I love but is rather large on my new Canon EOS M3. Thinking of this lens for astrophotography.
    Loved your shots of night skies, btw!

    Thx!

  5. Corey Davis October 1, 2015 / 9:13 am

    Ian, I would like to extend a huge “THANKS” to you for this amazing article. It answered every single question I had regarding the lens, plus supplied me with more knowledge that I would’ve never thought to ask. I’m rather new at this photography thing and have the Sony A6000 w/ kit lens and 55-210mm zoom lens. I wanted a new lens for a trip that I’ll be taking to Pikes Peak next month, and couldn’t decide on which lens would suit me best. Initially, I was looking at a simple wide angle lens (Sigma 19mm or Sigma 30mm, neither dedicated wide angle). Then, I read another excellent article by Consumer Reports for rookie DSLR/mirrorless camera user. Anyway, long story short, the fisheye lens seems to be a better fit for what I’m needing at this time. Definitely planning on adding to the lens arsenal, at later times.

    Anyway, thank you again for the knowledge. Will be subscribing, for sure!

    Corey

  6. David September 2, 2015 / 8:59 am

    Ian – Since you owned both, what is your opinion of Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 version 1 compared with version 2? You mentioned you only had v1 for a short time, but I am just curious on how you think the two versions compare.

    • Ian Norman September 2, 2015 / 10:41 am

      They are very similar. Mark I version is even smaller but also has a little less sharp corners than the Mark II. Other than that, both great lenses!

  7. William Yao August 15, 2015 / 8:17 am

    Hi Ian!
    I just received my 8mm f2.8 II today and looked extremely careful on potential existence of lens decentering, however i found out the left and right edge both look slightly out of focus when the center is in focus with the focus ring aimed at the infinity area, when i turn the focus ring at somewhere in between 1~infinity, the left and right side looks in focus but the center is soften, this problem gets less obvious when i close down the aperture.
    Is this the sign of a bad copy? or is it just the field of focus of the fisheye works? I will decide whether if i return the lens or keep it, thanks in advance!

    • Ian Norman September 2, 2015 / 10:44 am

      Might be a problem but it’s hard to tell without samples.

    • Peter November 17, 2015 / 1:00 pm

      Hi,
      I have the same phenomen.

      My first copy was really bad – the left 1/2 of the field could never even reach infinity focus no matter what focus setting, and was severely blurred at f2.8. The right half was quite sharp at infinity setting. Some heavy decentering I suppose. I returned that copy.

      My second seemed first quite sharp, but similar to William, Best focus setting @2.8 for infinity is
      – for the far left side = 1.5 m.
      – middle = infinity mark + (hard stop)
      – for the far right side = infinity mark

      While the lens itself really is supersharp in focus, I am doubtful if it gets better with another copy… Wondering if I am splitting hairs. Is there anyone that really has perfect focus both in the center & extreme sides at the same time @ 2.8?

      I have the lens version II with Canon EF-M mount, with the M and M3 and having fun times with it. Now if only the clouds would go away!

  8. Alexander C. June 22, 2015 / 12:48 pm

    Thanks for the review, I used your link to order the lens, wish me luck. I plan on studying your de-fisheye instructions!

  9. josh June 18, 2015 / 8:25 pm

    Will this lens work for the gh3

  10. Kacper June 5, 2015 / 7:51 am

    There is visable difference between mark i and mark ii?

  11. C Wray March 31, 2015 / 11:46 am

    Excellent review and most helpful in my quest for the optimal astro lens for my Sony A6000. Thanks for including comparative photos showing barrel distortion and “defished” post-processing correction.

  12. Julian Day March 27, 2015 / 3:46 pm

    Great review Ian, it persuaded me to get this lens

    I can’t recommend this lens highly enough, it is one very sharp lens on my XT-1. I was fortunate in that my copy was perfect.

    For astrophotography it is perfect, set the lens to infinity and eveything is pin sharp fom front to back. Then using your defishing technique with fisheye hemi, and no one is any wiser that it was taken with a fisheye

  13. john March 26, 2015 / 3:59 am

    Had to return mine too for a good copy. It was worth the hassle though.

  14. Danial December 8, 2014 / 12:33 pm

    Great review! Hopefully getting one for Christmas. Would it be possible to see one of the milky way photos when it’s not cropped or defished?

  15. »maoli November 14, 2014 / 11:46 am

    Hi Ian,

    I definitely need your advice. I own a Sony Nex7 and I would like to buy this fisheye lens. But my concern is there is no remote for this model, so I can’t use bulb mode unless I hold myself the button the camera… Not nice move from Sony. :)

    Finally I’m limited to 30s exposures, for iso 3200 of 6400 maximum. Do you think it would be still OK to do astrophotography with this body, or should I choose the 12mm f2 ? (It seems longer focal require less light right?)

    Best regards,
    Matthieu

    • Ian Norman November 14, 2014 / 1:46 pm

      Mattieu, You’re in luck. You can use any Sony NEX 7 compatible wireless remote for bulb exposures. On my a6000 and a7S I use this remote which is also compatible with the NEX 7. Just one press of the remote button to start the bulb exposure and one press to end it.

      As far as lenses, both the fisheye and the 12mm/2.0 are great!

      Ian

    • »maoli November 14, 2014 / 3:02 pm

      Great, this command looks interesting. How do you work?

      Basically, you aim at the infrared receiver on the front of the camera, keep a timer in hand and stop it when it reachs the time you wanted?

    • Ian Norman November 14, 2014 / 4:09 pm

      Yes, you press the remote once at the receiver on the camera to start the exposure, time it with a watch and then press the remote button again to stop it as desired.

    • maoli November 15, 2014 / 11:37 am

      Thank you for your tips. I will order a remote then, and probably the 8mm.

  16. armzgzAntonio August 6, 2014 / 2:34 am

    What’s the difference between mark I and II?

    • J mac (@Jimmymac16) September 27, 2014 / 4:42 pm

      It looks like the main difference is the lack of red corners in daylight.

    • Kenny Sun September 29, 2014 / 2:59 pm

      And the body is slighted re-designed as well. The focus rim is wider on mark II and has better feel.

  17. carloslzfCarlos July 19, 2014 / 8:28 pm

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for the very informative review. I’m trying to choose one between the Rokinon 8mm fisheye and 12m Ultra wide lens for my upcoming trip. Which one do you suggest? The widest lens on my X-E2 is 18-55 kit right now.

    • Ian Norman July 20, 2014 / 2:05 pm

      That depends on how specialized you want to go. The 12mm gives 99 degrees of field of view while the 8mm is a full 180 degrees so they’re very different beasts. Successful composition with the 8mm is HARD because it’s so wide and the distortion is so crazy straight out of the camera. The 12mm is the safer bet and probably what I would recommend first.

      If you’re looking for a real challenge, try the 8mm.

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