As part of Rokinon's collection of high-quality,
affordable lenses; they also feature some very unique lenses. One of
these lenses is their full-frame 12mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens. The only lens you will
find with these specific specifications, it is has the ability to add some
diversity and creativity to your camera bag. It is available in several mounts (Canon, Nikon, Pentax K, and Sony A and E), and was designed primarily for use on full-frame bodies. Like all of the other Rokinon
lenses, it is a full manual lens offering no electronics built in. This means
there is not a focusing motor, image stabilization system, or automatic aperture control; and the lens information will not show up in your EXIF data.
The 12mm fisheye lens is made up of 12 elements arranged in 8 groups, including 3 low-dispersion ED glass and 2 aspherical elements. Its maximum f/2.8 aperture allows you to shoot in lower-light situations. While some wide lenses try to counter all distortions, the fisheye effect is present and embraced here. A detachable lens hood comes with the camera, and it is recommended that you leave it on in order to protect the protruding lens when shooting as well as in storage. This is the only way to put the lens cap on as well. When attached to a camera with an APS-C sensor, the lens has a 19.2mm equivalent focal length.
The 12mm Fisheye lens is a good size, which made it very comfortable to use with our Sony A7. It offers you great control with a large, rubber focus ring that is comfortable and easy to find. The ring gives a very smooth, approx. 1/3 rotation turn around the lens offering easy manual focus adjustments. A well-marked aperture ring turns easily, but at the same time locks into each setting firmly, stopping you from accidentally making changes. Just like we saw with the 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens, this E-mount lens is a bit longer than the DSLR mount as Rokinon has adjusted the lens to fit the mirrorless sensor correctly. This small extension looks like an adapter has been built right onto the lens.
Looking at the sample images from the Rokinon 12mm Fisheye and our Sony A7, we can see that the lens performed great in most situations. Shooting with the aperture wide open, f/2.8, it was a bit tricky to narrow down the focus and get it exactly where you want to. This was much easier on a tripod than shooting handheld, but in either case it's possible if you take your time. The only problem we found was some chromatic aberrations in high contrast areas of the image around the edges as seen in our tree image. This was the only example that we found in all of our samples, so it seems to be a very situational effect. The lens produces a very fun fisheye effect, which can take some planning when shooting. It is also not very flattering for capturing portraits, but then again that's not what this lens is intended for, and it can be a lot of fun to shoot with in certain situations.
Bottom Line - Rokinon's 12mm f/2.8 Full Frame Fisheye is a fun lens to shoot with. Built for full-frame DSLR's and mirrorless cameras, like the Sony A7 we tested it with, this lens provides you with a very unique perspective, one that's not possible with most lenses on the market today. I found that it was very easy to use and control, with precise focus at f/2.8 being the only difficult task for me during my tests. With just one instance of aberrations in our sample photos, the lens produces excellent image quality and is capable of nice bokeh at its wide open aperture settings. Available for Canon, Nikon, Pentax K, and Sony A and E mounts, the lens offers a very appealing price tag of $499 US, giving full-frame shooters a high-quality, one-of-a-kind lens at an affordable price point.
All of our samples were taken Program shooting mode with the aperture set manually. Since we are used to EXIF info and not recording our shooting settings manually, not all images have a recorded aperture value.