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Shootout Real-Life Ultimate Fisheye Comparison (Rokinon 7.5mm vs. Olympus 9mm BCL)

Discussion in 'Reviews, Tests, & Shootouts' started by yehuda, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013

    Just received the Olympus 9mm BCL fisheye yesterday.

    Took it out to a short test against the Rokinon 7.5mm.

    Both shot with the same camera (G5),
    the exact same settings (ISO 160, F8, focused at infinity, same object at the center of the frame),
    the same RAW processing in LR5.

    The same sharpening was applied to all images, I also created an upsized version of the Rokinon files in order to better compare with the 9mm in terms of FOV (as the 7.5mm is a true 180 degree, vs. the 140 degree of the 9mm BCL). The zoomed-in image was sharpened with the same PS action *after* enlarging it by 130% (and cropping to the same file size).

    All images were downsized to width of 3000px due to size limitations in uploading to mu-43.

    The results? the Rokinon was MUCH better than I expected (even thought F8 is very far from its sweet spot at F4). In the center the difference is quite noticeable, at the edges - embarrassingly so (the BLC looks VERY bad at the edges).

    The images (I hope they remain in order) show:

    1. Oly 9mm
    2. Rokinon 7.5mm
    3. Rokinon 7.5mm enlarged and cropped

    The side by side crops are 100% pixel size (no resizing) with the Oly 9mm on the left, the zoomed-in-and-cropped Rokinon on the right.

    I hope this comparison is beneficial to you. I googled the lens quite a bit before buying it and have not seen such a comparison done before.
    Had I seen such results I would probably not have bought the BCL as it looks very bad.
    Trust me - we're talking bad in any measure. This is not pixel-peeping here. The soft corners are evident even when viewing on your regular 1080p monitor.
    This is something your average non-photog Joe will notice when viewing the image on a good quality good sized smartphone.

    IMO Robin Wong gave an extremely wrong impression of the lens in his mini review of the 9mm BCL.

    Do I regret buying the 9mm BCL? I'm not sure. Yes - it's very very poor when comparing with the Rokinon (which is one of the best, if not best fisheye for any camera format) but the BLC is something you'll never give a second thought about taking with you (extremely small and light). But this comes in the cost of extremely bad optics.

    Only time will tell what actual use it'll get by me.

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  2. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    Download the files for a more accurate comparison (but the crops show an extreme difference in any way you look at it).
  3. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    One shouldn't get too nerdy about lenses. Just enjoy the eye of the fish and what it delivers:

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    Forgot to mention, this was taken with the Olympus 8mm eye of fish.
    • Like Like x 6
  4. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    Nothing nerdy here (and not time consuming either, I have created a function to create all the crops side by side a while ago).
    Just thought this will help people decide given their subjective view on what's acceptable for them.

    Sent from my W200 using Mu-43 mobile app
    • Like Like x 4
  5. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    Thanks for the comparo. I can never tell much from a 1500 pixel image, but the crops tell the tale.

    I pre-ordered the 15 mm BCL and was bummed out by it so had no interest in the fisheye BCL, especially since I already had the Samsung fisheye. I think the 9 mm BCL is still going to be a fun lens for most users, but its price should be a lot lower, maybe $69, since it's not intended as a serious lens.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. ex machina

    ex machina Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 3, 2014
    Baltimore, MD
    Awesome comparison, especially the crops -- thanks much for doing this. I really like the idea of a lens I can pocket for those light-weight excursions, and as OzRay and others have shown, there's a lot of fun to be had with it. I'll probably wait for a sale or a reconditioned, though, both because I'm a cheap bastard and already have the wonderful Rokinon.
  7. kwalsh

    kwalsh Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 3, 2012
    Baltimore, MD
    Thanks for posting your comparison! I own both lenses but haven't taken the time to do so myself.

    One thing to consider, the BCL suffers from quite a bit of lateral CA and turning on CA correction in LR will improve the edges quite a bit. They look even worse in your comparison because of no CA correction. Of course a comparison with no CA correction is completely valid on its own - its what someone shooting JPEGs is going to get. But I did notice things were markedly better with the BCL edges when applying automated CA correction in Lightroom.

    Personally I'm quite happy with the BCL. It goes places with me and the Rok doesn't most of the time. For me the BCL is a targeted output of 5x7 at the largest in a book or 1024 on the long dimension on the web. It is plenty sharp for those targets, especially since in almost all my compositions with this lens the edges and corners aren't the focus of the image to begin with. In those cases in which I would be concerned with such things I'm on a dedicated photo outing and would have the Rok or the 7-14 with me instead.

    Definitely a niche product...

    Again, thanks for the nice comparison photos - should be very helpful in setting people's expectations appropriately.
  8. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    Thanks, I've been waiting for someone to do this!

    I have both the Rokinon and the 15mm BCL - $235 for the pair. But I still think it'd be nice to have the 9mm BCL fish eye thrown in my bag to be used as a body cap and a quick, portable switch to wide angle in a pitch, crappy quality or not. So, if anyone has one they want to unload cheap, PM me!
  9. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Not really surprising, but interesting. The Rokinon is a surprisingly good lens that I enjoy immensely. The BCL simply cannot compete, but the it's not intended to. It's simply a fun lens. Good to see the side to side comparison, though. :cool: 
  10. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Those samples pretty much say it all. I guess Pentax has their Toy lenses and we have our Body Cap Lenses.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. SojiOkita

    SojiOkita Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2014
    This week end I tried to get the BCL 9 mm... quite hard to find in Europe.
    I want this lens from the beginning, since I read this test from Robin Wong:
    It's small, it's not too expensive (a little overpriced maybe at 100€), and as it is only a 9 mm fisheye, the fisheye effect is quite limiteed.

    As it is unaivalable in my country... I only find expensive ways to buy it (from Japan or from Italy at 120€...)
    Too much for me...

    So I think more and more buying the Samyang/Rockinon instead. Not as small...
    Your comparison gives the rockinon more arguments... I'm not sure I will be pleased by the body cap results.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2013
    Thank you Yaruda for the comparisons, so I've decided to pre-order this little toy lens. I've played with Robert Wong's files already and know how to correct most of those issues with my workflow. It doesn't add much time and since I don't shoot with a fisheye all day long, it's hard for me to justify a $300 lens (yes $200 if you can get it on sale), so this little lens will do me just fine! And no, I am also very critical of lens performance myself since I own good lenses, but sometimes the only person that make me happy is myself and not my paid clients, this lens is going to make me really happy!! Fun times ahead!!
  13. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks for taking the time to do the comparo. However, I think the BCL's are not meant to be "real" lenses.... Just some novelty toys. The Rokinon 7.5 is actually a real usable lens... I'll do a comparo of the Olympus ED 9-18 zoom one day to see how it compares with the Rokinon.... That might be a more fair comparison.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    While I was never interested in the BCL (I absolutely love my Samyang FE, and I think the BCL FE is way overpriced), I just stopped by to say thanks for taking the time and effort to do a proper comparison between these two lenses!

    All the best!
    • Like Like x 1
  15. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    The Rokinon is considered one of the best lenses in the format (at least optically).
    I think a better comparison would be with the Panasonic 7-14 as the Olympus 9-18 is considered to be a lower performer.

    But what I would like to test is attaching a cheap 10$ 0.45x fisheye add on lens used with a decent lens like the Pana 12-32 or with a good prime like the Pana 20mm or Olympus 17mm f1.8 and see if the result is better than the 9mm bcl fisheye. Maybe I'll try that just for fun.

    Sent from my W200 using Mu-43 mobile app
    • Like Like x 4
  16. janneman

    janneman Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 6, 2012
    Jan (John) Kusters
    Thank you for doing this, very good.

    It confirms what I expected; the body-cap lens is nice if you don't have the Samyang, and its centre is actually not that bad at all. Good enough for those who just like a fish eye for goofing off every once and a while. In many cases for that type of pictures, the centre is most important, the rest less important. And they hardly ever end up as large prints on a wall...

    If you really want to see what a fish eye can do, things are different, and the Samyang is a remarkably cheap way to get a surprisingly good fish eye.

    Had this body-cap lens been around when I bought my Samyang, I might have very well decided to get it instead of the Samyang. I expected to have little 'serious' use for it, and bought it more because I could afford it, and because I expected to have some fun with it. I was wrong and I use it a lot more than expected now. With the body-cap lens I might never have developed my present taste for fish eye pictures...
    • Like Like x 2
  17. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 4, 2014
    Thanks for the comparison. Would have been disappointing for Rokinon owners if the results were different, I imagine :) 

    Looking forward to a 9-18 comparison, as that is what I own :) 
  18. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    I just did that over the weekend. Found an Ambico .5X converter lens with a 46mm thread. I used it on my Sony 8mm camcorder for years. I put it on my Panasonic 14mm.

    I didn't get a 7mm result. More like 10 mm. And it was ugly. Vignetting. Edges were blurred.Center was OK.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. yehuda

    yehuda Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 14, 2013
    I guess doing this is a waste of time then... Thanks!

    Sent from my W200 using Mu-43 mobile app
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