I just got my first manual focus lens for the Canon EF mount, made by Samyang (Rokinon brand) from Korea. This is a 12mm f/2.8 with 180 degrees angle of view (on a full frame dSLR). I was thinking about the 14mm, but I have a 16-35mm Canon lens, and opted to go with something more extreme.
With the photo above, I used -1 EV exposure compensation to avoid blowing out the sunset part of the sky. I reason that I’m not going for an obvious HDR look, and it really was getting dark, so allowing the dark areas of the photo stay fairly dark is realistic and adds to the mood of the picture.
Both the above photos had some manual correction done in Lightroom to straighten the curving lines, but this second photo with the lens tilted up at the tall building creates more distortion and bowing of straight lines, which is typical of a fisheye lens. When you do this correction you lose some of the edges of your photo, if you want to keep them straight.
Here it’s even more obvious that while the Capitol building in the center looks okay, the framing buildings are bowing and tilting dramatically. If I did any more correction, I would nearly lose those buildings entirely. Wouldn’t be a bad thing to lose the photo bomber hand on the right.
As for operation, the lens is manual focus and has an aperture ring. No auto focus, no camera control of aperture setting. But anything beyond 6 feet away, focusing at infinity seems to get the best results. Setting the camera to aperture priority mode (Tv on a Canon) and turning the lens ring to set lens opening is easy enough. It does darken the viewfinder, though not enough that you couldn’t see to compose. I had my camera on a tripod and used Live View mode to compose using the back screen.
This is a few minutes later, after the sun had set. I’m impressed with how sharp this lens is. I got mine for around $350, so I wasn’t expecting a lot. It’s amazing how much of a scene you can squeeze into a standard photo like this. But you have to be careful. Too much detail spoils a photo so choosing the right shots to use this lens is important. I took some shots in my back yard that were downright boring.
Finally, here’s one photo with no distortion correction. Odd how straight the Capitol roof is, yet the flag poles seem to be bending to kiss each other. And the flat drive in front of the steps is curved.
So the Samyang 12mm 2.8 for full frame cameras seems great to me and I’m not sorry I spent the money. It should provide lots of unique perspectives in the future!