Tale of Two Fish – Samyang 8mm f/2.8 II and Samsung 10mm f/3.5 on NX1
With Samyang releasing a new version of its 8mm f/2.8 fisheye, how does it compare to the tiny Samsung?
Wide angle lenses can be made very small for mirrorless cameras, but in order to keep the performance in the corners good the rear element either needs to be very large (image space telecentric lens) or far away from the sensor. Samyang’s first attempt at a compact fish worked great for the older Sony 16 MP and Samsung 14.6 MP sensors, but was terrible on the later higher resolution sensors with very dramatic purple cast to the corners.
They quickly redesigned the lens, making the rear element much larger in the process. The new lens eliminates any color casting to the corners. The only thing to be cautious of, is the rear element is now exposed on the Samsung model of the lens, so could be damaged easily. Unfortunately the lens did grow in size, but is still fairly compact when considering DSLR offerings.
Another thing of note is the Samyang uses a stereographic/equiangular projection, where the Samsung and most other fisheye lenses use an equidistant projection. Equidistant projection means you have no perspective/wide angle distortion where objects stretch near the edges of the frame, but you end up with heavy curvature and pretty pronounced center bulge and stereographic you end up with a little less center bulge, but your object scales change a little towards the edge of the frame, so stereographic looks a little less “fishy”.
So even though both the 8 mm equiangular and 10 mm equidistant projections have the same 180 degree diagonal angle of view, the 8 mm equiangular lens has a greater horizontal and vertical angle of view. It doesn’t curve quite as much, but still pretty dramatic.
A fun shooting style with wide angle lenses is getting very close to your subject and including a wide blurred background. The Samsung has the definite advantage in this case, being able to focus almost touching your subject, where the Samyang requires being relatively far back, so don’t expect much magnification from it.
So how do these two fisheye lenses perform? Decide for yourself below. My opinion from me is the Samyang is much better at f/2.8 in the center, but they are pretty close across the frame at f/7.1 or so, with the edge going to the Samyang (less color fringing and slightly sharper), with the Samsung being much better for close focus and much smaller. Autofocus or manual focus can be better depending on needs. For example shooting night sky pictures I would get the manual focus Samyang since it will stay set at infinity, where the AF lens will be harder to set for infinity.
The Samsung on Amazon: Black or it can be had in white as well (click the sub link on that page)
The Samyang on Amazon: Black or also silver available. Be sure you are on Samsung NX before purchasing it, link has available Fuji, Sony, etc.
Which do I like better? Both, though I will probably use the Samyang/Rokinon more since I can just leave it set to infinity, the Samsung is better for close focus and is less than half the size (just don’t include your fingers in the shot, notice a few body parts in the shots below). The NX30 is really tough to not include your fingers since the grip is closer to the lens then on the NX1, for this reason the NX30 with 10mm is a bit tricky. Also, it would appear that the Samsung lens has a black upper corner on the NX1, not sure if this is a software bug or just seeing the edge of the image circle for whatever reason, it is just a few pixels.