Lens review

Samyang 8 mm f/3.5 Aspherical IF MC Fish-eye

12 May 2009
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

Samyang 3.5/8 mm is not a particularly big lens. However, compared to its peers, it doesn’t seem small either. Just look at the photo below, where it’s pictured next to Zenitar 2.8/16 – a diagonal fisheye designed for full frame.

Samyang 8 mm f/3.5 Aspherical IF MC Fish-eye - Build quality

Despite being slightly slower, Samyang is bigger, wider and has a noticeably larger and more convex front lens. It may be the very price we pay for stereographic projection. It may also be connected with Samyang’s design for small sensors. It is commonly thought that lenses meant for small matrices can be smaller and lighter than their full frame equivalents. It is generally true when it comes to telephoto lenses but doesn’t always concern wide angles.

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Samyang 8 mm f/3.5 Aspherical IF MC Fish-eye - Build quality

Samyang’s low price doesn’t seem to be caused by low build quality. The lens has a metal mount, next to which we find the aperture ring. It is not particularly wide but its operation is comfortable. Generally speaking, there are two things to give us reasons for reservations. Firstly, the ring is a bit too loose so after several years of exploitation, as it’s further weakened, it may become a problem. Secondly, we can’t stop down by 1/3 or 0.5 EV, the step is no less than 1 EV! Moreover, right after f/3.5 comes f/5.6. The f/4.0 value is omitted so there’s no possibility of closing the aperture just a little bit, forcing a visible decrease in many optical aberrations. It may be a problem in some situations.

Further along the barrel is a large and comfortable manual focus ring. Its operation is beyond reproach. The lens ends with a big, convex front lens surrounded with a built-in, petal-shaped hood. The solution requires the use of a special front cap of impressive size, which comes with the lens.

Samyang 8 mm f/3.5 Aspherical IF MC Fish-eye - Build quality

The lens has no electronic contacts at all. In bodies like D200 and better, we can, however, enter its characteristics using the ‘Non-Cpu Lens Data’ tab. Thanks to that and the AI ring, the camera will save the focal length and aperture data in EXIF.

Samyang 8 mm f/3.5 Aspherical IF MC Fish-eye - Build quality

The optical structure of the lens contains 10 elements set in 7 groups. One lens is aspheric. Inside, we find a six-bladed diaphragm that can be stopped down to f/22. Unfortunately, in contrary to Sigma 2.8/10 or Zenitar 2.8/16, Samyang does not allow the use filters at all. It’s a pity…