The Samyang 7.5 mm f/3 .5 rectangular fisheye – great wide angle macro potential for micro 4/3

I particularly like working with rectangular fisheye lenses for my wide-angle macro work because they exhibit better good close-focusing capability than normal ultra-wide lenses. I have extolled the virtues of  the Sigma 15 mm f/2.8  rectangular fisheye on many occasions when I was using it on APS-C format (with Nikon bodies and with a Sony NEX 7). Using a lens like this, designed for full frame, with formats smaller than that, permits the utilisation of the centre part of the image circle. The images then show remarkably little distortion – just a bit of curvature towards the edges:  sharpness is excellent as is contrast and the close focusing capability is remarkable. In fact,  this was the main lens that both Clay Bolt and I used when gathering images for our e-book: Wide-Angle Macro | The Essential Guide.

Of course, I can use also this lens with the micro 4/3 (MFT) format and a suitable adapter (Nikon to micro 4/3) but then it behaves as a 30 mm wide-angle compared with  22.5 mm forAPS-C, that is, unless you use the Metabones SpeedBooster. Then with the model I use it behaves as a 19.2mm lens with a maximum aperture 1 1/3 times wider than f/2.8…around f/1.8 – but more about that in the next post.

With a change of format to MFT, I wanted to go that bit wider…

Samyang 7.5 mm f/3 .5 rectangular fisheye

Over 6 years ago, at the same time as I was first trying out the Sigma 15 mm f/2.8 rectangular fisheye, I also borrowed a Sigma 10mm f/2.8 rectangular fisheye and really liked it. The equipment budget would only run to one of them then and so now, with a change of format, I thought that, this time, I would go for a wider rectangular fisheye…

Short-leaved gentian (Gentiana brachyphylla ). A clump-forming gentian with time leaves. This is the form 'favratii' that favours limestone rocks- Nr Refugio Lagazuoi 2762m - above Passo di Falzarego, nr Cortina, Dolomites. July 2016,

I had to wait patiently and observe carefully the corners of the ultra wide frame because of walkers on the path above. It is so easy to let things creep unnoticed into the frame when working so wide. This is taken with the Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 rectangular fishey and edge distortion is obvious…at the centre there is only very slight subject distortion and it is very sharply rendered. This is the  Triglav gentian (Gentiana terglouensis) above Passo di Falzarego, nr Cortina, Dolomites. July 2016,

 

The Sigma 10mm f/2 .8 rectangular fisheye behaved as an equivalent 15 mm lens on APS-C format with its  x1.5 sensor factor. Conveniently, the S. Korean manufacturer Samyang offers a 7.5 mm f/3.5 rectangular fisheye on its list specifically designed for the MFT format…the equivalent of a 15mm wide angle on full frame.

I had never previously used a lens from this manufacturer but had heard its praises from people whose views I respect and now, having used it, am extremely impressed with it. A couple of years ago I started using Laowa (Venus) lenses from the relatively new Chinese manufacturer – these are also manual lenses and optically exceptional. In all these manual lenses theuild quality is excellent with an all-metal construction and focusing via a helical thread that has just the right amount of resistance to enable you to focus very precisely.

Mt Terminillo, Lazio, Italy, July 2016

Skies always intrude with very wide angled views…which is, of course a good thing when they are clear or, even better, have interesting cloud shapes. Grey skies are always problematic and the only thing to do is to include just a hint by angling the lens slightly downwards. This is what I tried with these Apennine globularia (Globularia meridionalis) flowers. The perspective distortion is slightly greater but the result effective.

The Samyang 7.5mm lens is exceptionally sharp and has excellent colour balance. It is tiny, perhaps too small for some hands when it comes to manually adjusting the aperture and focus, however, although my paws  are large I manage most of the time. At close quarters, this sort of diagonal fisheye lens offers considerable edge distortion especially if the lens is angled up or down on the camera body. At one stage I would have found it unacceptable but my perception has changed and now I like it and make use of it.

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When working with ultra wide angle lens at close quarters the slightest change in camera-subject distance (here less than 1cm) and in angle at which the lens is pointed makes a huge difference to the final image scale and view with these Rhaetian poppies (Papaver rhaetica)

When working at closest focus, I first focus wide open, using the viewfinder focus aid on the Panasonic GH4 where the central rectangle is magnified. If you try to do this when the lens is stopped down it is difficult to tell exactly where the point of sharpest focus is, even when using focus peaking. When subjects are a meter or so away you can be quite cavalier with this lens since the depth of field is incredibly large and focus hardly seems to change as you rotate the focusing ring.

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One of the very first images I took with the Samyang 3.5mm rectangular fisheye. There is a definite foreshortening of perspective and a slight curvature of the edge of the field…both of which I have come to like.

Reproduction ratio at minimum focus

Nowhere, could I find a figure for the reproduction ratio of the Samyang 7.5mm lens at its closest distance of approach (as measured from the sensor) but an estimate, using the lens to photograph a tape measure and comparing the view with the width of the sensor (18mm), gave me a figure of about  x 0.15 – 0.16. This makes it very effective for viewing plants in close up set in the landscape: fortunately, I have plenty of other lenses that can cope with close-ups of insects in the landscape and that will  allow me to be slightly further away from the subject… the Laowa 15 mm f/4 wide angle macro lens, for example.

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Long-headed poppies (Papaver dubium) provided the subject for the first images I took with the Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 rectangular fisheye on the day it arrived by courier. I was delighted with the close focus and the definition shown in the flowers…there is excellent contrast and resolution with this tiny lens.

The images that I have appended show the capability of this very neat optic. I found one for £239.00 new at ukdigital – a  price that represents superb value for a lens of this quality and far less than equivalents (if you could find them…) for full frame and APS-C.

©  Paul Harcourt Davies – neither images(s) nor text may be used in whole (or in part) without the express permission of the author.

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