A fisheye lens for a system camera: you don’t see that often! Samsung has one for the bodies with an NX mount, and for a reasonable price. What do you do with a fisheye? What can you get out of it? And how is the optical performance of this model? CameraStuffReview looked into it and came up with surprising results...
A Fisheye lens—a spectacular toy to have “as well”
A fisheye lens has a gigantic field of view, in this case (10 mm in APS-C, so 15 mm in 35-mm equivalent) 180 degrees on the diagonal. It gives you the ability to get a great deal in frame at once. The lens makes no attempt to correct for distortion. Only the lines through the center of the image are straight; the other lines are strongly curved. If, for example, you place the horizon exactly in the middle, then it will remain flat, but everything around it is convex. In landscape shots, something like that is often not noticeable. The distortion is sometimes even a plus: it gives you surprisingly creative options. Sometimes it’s also called the “frog’s view”. You mustn’t apply the trick too often, because then it becomes boring. That’s why this 10 mm is not suitable as a “regular” wide-angle lens, but is a fun toy to have “as well”. And it comes at a reasonable price (store price ca. € 450).
Build and auto focus Samsung NX 10 mm f/3.5 Fisheye
Fisheye lenses are often on the big side, but this 10 mm is really quite flat (26 mm) and light (72 grams)—like so many lenses for the Samsung NX system, by the way. For a second or third lens, that compact construction is naturally a big advantage: it will always fit somewhere in the bag or a jacket pocket. The design is sleek: the front lens is protected by two tulip-shaped extensions, so that you can set it down with the front lens pointed downward. Filters even fit on it; that is quite unusual for a fisheye. The lens has no image stabilization. It has a small focus ring, which works according to the “focus-by-wire” principle. That means it’s electronic, which feels a bit rubbery.
In contrast to competitor Samyang, more or less the specialist in the area of fisheye, Samsung has given this lens auto focus. There is no AF/MF switch; you have to set that via the body. There is an i-function button, with which you can use the focus ring for other functions. The idea behind that is that you will rarely use the ring for setting the distance, and that is even more so the case for a lens like this one with gigantic focal depth. At aperture f/8 and set to 65 cm, you have everything from 32 cm to infinity in focus!
Shot in auto focus with the central AF field, and thus focused around five meters. With a bit more work, we could have gotten the railings at the front in focus as well, but you often don’t see something like that until afterwards. The unique thing about the enormous field of view of this fisheye is that you can get a wide shot, while the camera just fits between the moving handrails.
When the key is trying to get as much as possible into one picture, a fisheye, with its 120 degree field of view (on the long side), of course can’t be beaten, but people are not flattered by it. Our editor-in-chief is completely flattened on the edge of the picture. When you are not looking for the “frog’s perspective”, but you do want a super-wide view, you’re better off with a camera with a panoramic mode—or take multiple shots and stitch them together.
We were rather curious about the sharpness of this super-wide angle, and in particular about the edge sharpness. Just as with all other fisheye lenses, it was not possible to measure the sharpness, chromatic aberration in the corners, and distortion accurately. As you can see in the bar graph below, all of those are better than expected. At full aperture, it is reasonable, but stopping down a bit does wonders, and starting at f/5.6, both the center and the edges are good to very good.
Vignetting and chromatic aberration
The lens also scored very well on these points for a fisheye. On the practice shot below, you see no trace of darkening in the corners, where “regular” wide-angles sometimes drop the ball. Chromatic aberration is minimal. Great!
Bokeh Samsung NX 10 mm f/3.5 Fisheye
We cannot imagine that users of a fisheye will be very interested in the bokeh. This is of course not a lens for studio use, and the focal depth is so large that you really have to deliberately create any blur. As expected, the bokeh is rather noisy, with all kinds of colored rings. Not very pretty, but also not very relevant.
Conclusion Samsung NX 10 mm f/3.5 Fisheye review with Samsung NX1
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WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, where you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens if the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera.
Unique creative options
Compact and light
Good price-to-quality ratio
A fisheye is a lens to have “as well”. It is a fantastic toy for creative applications. The Samsung 10 mm Fisheye has the advantage of a very compact design and limited weight. The optical performance gives nothing up to “regular” wide-angles and fisheye lenses. That is an outstanding performance from the smallest and lightest fisheye that we have reviewed to date.
Author: Jop Steenhof de Jong
Photography has been a hobby of mine for many years. For me, it's about the joy of creating. I like to find and share knowledge in depth topics again. After years of having fun with contributions made to the Dutch magazine "Camera Magazine", I test now with at least as much pleasure for CameraStuffReview.