Fisheye lenses, just like the traditional types, can have rather high price points. All those fancy optics take time to produce, so when the Opteka 6.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens is on the table, we wondered, where’s the catch?
Opteka is known for producing cost-effective optics, which means that while you may not get cutting-edge resolution, you get good value in exchange. With a 6.5mm fisheye at this price point, there are not many expectations. This is a distinct advantage as all the good points are a bonus.
Opteka’s 6.5mm fisheye lens is budget-friendly enough to try out the fun world of fisheye photography without many regrets. But even at this price, the lens still has to deliver reasonable quality. Is this lens worth its asking price or is it too low value to be any good?
This particular version of the Opteka 6.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens is built for the Nikon DX camera mount. It provides a 9.75mm equivalent focal length on the APS-C sensor, which is still extremely wide for fisheye use.
The lens body and mount are made mostly of aluminum-alloy which feels more robust than the price point would suggest. The lens is also reasonably well-weighted at just 414g.
Internally, the optics comprise of 10 elements arranged in seven groups, with one aspherical element and super multicoated optics to reduce the likes of lens flare. The maximum aperture comes in at f/3.5, with a minimum focusing distance of 30cm and a huge viewing angle of 180 degrees. The lens also has a removable petal-shaped lens hood, which goes a long way with reducing flares.
The lens is full manual focus and a wide and very tactile focus ring. The lens also features a manual aperture ring which goes up in one-stop values.
As this is a fully manual working lens it means you won’t have any type of light metering available, which in many cases leans towards lots of trial-and-error shooting. But this goes with the territory for any fully manual lens.
The Opteka 6.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye Lens in Use
First off, a lens hood on a fisheye lens is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, a lens hood is needed to stop lens flares, which can be a common sight on a fisheye lens.
On the other hand, as experienced with the Opteka 6.5mm f/3.5, the hood needs to be positioned just right on the lens to not be in every shot. Therefore, we had to draw a little line on the hood and lens to make sure everything was lined up before each shot.
On an APS-C sensor camera body, the viewpoint fills the entire frame, while on a full-frame camera, a more circular viewpoint is achieved. As this is a manual focusing lens without any light metering, it was a case of diving into the histogram each time to adjust the exposure. This was not so much a problem where a scene can be deliberated over, but for quick action shots, it was more hit and miss.
Fisheye lenses generally have a ridiculously deep depth of field, unless you’re very close to a subject. This means that after tinkering with the aperture and leaving the focus on infinity for the majority of the time, images are generally sharp(ish).
The lens has an ultimate aperture of f/3.5, but the sharpest images come in at f/8. The f/3.5 aperture is really being useful in the very lowest of light conditions where the images will be soft, but you have to get the shot.
General wide-angle shots seem to be the forte of this lens. If the subject is too close, the ultimate image softness starts to stand out. Detail in close-up subjects isn’t completely blurry, is just lacks the crispness you would expect from a higher-priced lens. This isn’t a huge deal, you just have to work within the working boundaries of this lens.
Colors and saturation are handled very well by the Opteka, with this area being one of its better features. Lens anomalies such as chromatic aberration can be seen at the widest aperture settings, but stopping down to f/8 reduces this effect.
How Does It Compare?
When we are dealing with such a low price point for a fisheye lens, it only takes a little hike up in price to buy into much better features. Generally, a quality fisheye lens needs at least a good few hundred dollars thrown at it in exchange for some decent optics, but the Meike MK-8mm f/3.5 is in the same price range and offers similar features.
The Meike is a slightly wider angle at 8mm, with a 12mm equivalent focal length on DX models. It too has a maximum aperture of f/3.5, with a multi-layer nano coating and a fully manual focusing design.
As for ultimate sharpness, it has a touch more clarity than the Opteka for close-up subjects. In all other respects, it’s a very similar lens, which needs to be stopped down to f/8 for the best results.
|Opteka 6.5mm f/3.5||Meike MK-8mm f/3.5|
|Angle of View||180 degrees||180 degrees|
Everything about the Opteka 6.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens leads back to its ultimate asking price. With any other type of lens, we would be minutely nitpicking and critiquing every aspect. But with the Opteka, if it was reasonably okay in any one area, it was definitely worth the asking price.
The Opteka 6.5mm f/3.5 is a good solution if this is your first step into fisheye photography or you simply want the most cost-effective solution to dabble in this area without using your smartphone. It’s a bit like buying into the most budget-friendly vehicle around. It won’t win any races or have any flash features, but it will get you from point A to point B.