Out of all camera gear, fisheye is definitely what defines our band. Right from the beginning we were looking for a camera with a fisheye, since all of our idols are using it. For example every great skate movie is shot with a fisheye and Travis Barker uses it a lot on his Instagram photos. Greatest examples are the ones he takes of his car’s front grill.
Fisheye makes any situation look cooler, and it’s best when shot from a low angle and close to the target. The main goal is to achieve as much distortion on the subject as possible. That’s why I often tend to rotate the camera a bit. All of our drum cover videos are shot with a Samyang fisheye lens, since it just makes every move seem larger than life. Of course it also shows the whole drum kit, which could be considered as a plus.
Samyang 8 mm is a relatively cheap fisheye lens for crop sensor cameras, such as our Canon 60D or 600D. I paid something like 260€ for mine, which makes it my cheapest lens. It has no autofocus but that doesn’t matter since I never use autofocus anyway. Fisheye lenses focus on quite wide area which makes them perfect for vloging. You can just set the focus once and forget about it.
The aperture on the Samyang 8mm is also selected manually. It has to be selected straight from the lens and you can’t adjust it from the camera. My 60D doesn’t really even recognize the lens, but it doesn’t affect the picture quality.
Usually when people talk about the features of a wide angle lens, they focus on the barrel distortion. They want it to be harmless and easily removable. The main difference with us and the rest is that we want all the barrel distortion we can get. Personally I hate the effect that appears when people are trying to straighten their wide angle photos. It makes the picture look even more unnatural than it was in the first place. The barrel distortion on Samyang 8 mm is awesome, on a crop sensor it’s just fish enough not to cause any vignetting. I hate it when some lenses leave black corners to the sides.
The biggest con is that Samyang 8 mm is a slow lens. Its widest aperture is only 3.5 which is not really enough in low light conditions. It’s also quite soft on the widest aperture and therefore it should be used on an aperture of 8. For us the suitable lightning conditions can be reached in daylight or on drum covers, but normal stage lights are not enough to achieve a sharp picture. Samyang also lacks an image stabilizer, which leaves annoying shakiness to the video footage. This can be reduced a bit in post production, but I would really like to have it stabilized already on the lens.
However, there really isn’t a better fisheye on the market for the price, so this is what we choose to use.
Finally, here are some Pros and Cons if you’re considering the Samyang 8mm Fisheye Lens.
+ Cheap price, it’s actually one of the cheapest lenses out there
+ Distrotion, great fisheye look
+ No need for focusing
– Slow, maximum aperture 3.5
– Really soft image on widest aperture
– Aperture can’t be accessed from the camera
– No image stabilization
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