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Accura 12mm F8

Sharpness 
 6.5
Aberrations 
 6.5
Bokeh 
 8.0
Handling 
 9.0
Value 
 10.0
Reviews Views Date of last review
3 17,842 Wed January 28, 2015
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $67.50 7.67
Accura 12mm F8
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Description:
This lens was sold under various brands, at least Accura and Spiratone. It is a fixed-focus "fish-eye" lens with an unusual focal length that gives about 150 degree corner-to-corner view on an APS-C sensor. The aperture is settable to f/8, f/11, or f/16, all implemented using internal circular Waterhouse stops. As is common for fisheye lenses, the front element bulges out significantly; a distinctive shaped metal lenscap that screws onto threads around the front element protects it.
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Pentaxian

Registered: September, 2010
Location: MD
Posts: 855
Lens Review Date: January 28, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $70.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Cheap fisheye! Fun lens to use
Cons: softness; only f8, 11, 16
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-30   

I came upon one of these rather inexpensively and took a chance. I wasn't expecting much for a 12mm fisheye, but this lens does deliver the best one could hope for in this price range.

Mine is an Accura version, but it also was sold as a Sigma, Spiratone, Topcon, and quite a few other brands, all with a T-mount. (Another reviewer here says it has a M42 mount, but I'm pretty sure it only was sold with a T-mount.)

It's slow with the fastest stop at f8, and it uses a 'waterhouse' which means that moving the aperture ring changes between 3 circular openings at f8, 11, or 16. There is no focus ring, but it really isn't necessary when you consider that depth of field is infinity at f8 and 3; f11 and 2; f16 and 1.5. Close focus is about 1', but you can do a bit closer by loosening the lens.

As you might expect with a lens whose front glass sticks out as it does, flare is an issue. Even at 90 degrees to the light source, you will still get some flare. There is no way to put a lens hood on it, so you either must be careful or else get creative with the use of flare.

In my testing, f8 is quite soft everywhere, f11 is acceptable in the center, and f16 gives best results, but this lens simply is not going to yield sharp results. (It can't come close to results I can get with a Sigma 10-20mm.) There is some CA, but it really isn't bad. Still, with a bit of tweaking of contrast and sharpness, you can get a presentable result with the lens.

UPDATE: As I discuss in this thread, it turns out that I can get much better results by putting in a 'washer' between the lens and the adapter. (The same effect as if you loosened the lens a few turns.) I am now getting very acceptable results at f11 or f16, and I've bumped up the sharpness a notch.

The main use for this lens really is to get the fisheye effect. Though it is a bit soft and suffers flare, it still is really is a fun lens to use and experiment with a different perspective.

For considerably more info on this lens, including links to the original manual, check HERE.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: January, 2011
Posts: 440
Lens Review Date: August 18, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: compact, solid- well made, very flare-resistant, good center sharpness
Cons: some vignetting, edges always soft

I had this lens for several years, really liked using it! It produces images of better quality than with screw-on fish-eye adapters, and with a lower-contrast "retro film" look to them, as best I can describe it. I found it worked best at f/11, and with some careful PP and sharpening, it could produce some decent images with a different feel to them!

When I got the Samyang 8mm, and compared the two, there was no contest.. the Sammy is much, much sharper! I was able to favorably re-sell this lens, just about paid for the Sammy.. Still, this is a unique lens. and a good one if you can get it cheap.
   
Junior Member

Registered: August, 2009
Location: Lexington, KY
Posts: 29
Lens Review Date: February 10, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $65.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Unusual perspective, lens size, fixed focus, cheap
Cons: Only f/8, not super sharp, CA
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

This is for an Accura-branded M42 mount copy in "minty" condition, although there is a dent in the lenscap that makes it difficult to thread on/off.

The reason to have this lens is the unique perspective. I own multiple fisheyes, and a rectilinear Sigma 10-20mm, but there aren't many rectangular fisheyes for APS-C. Fisheyes for 135 film cameras usually were around 8mm for a circular image or 16mm for a rectangular "full frame fisheye," so the 12mm focal length of this lens was an odd compromise... it actually is a much better match for the 1.5x APS-C crop. Here's a simple example:



As an update, here's another image (from my trip to Turkey in July 2011), but post-processed to clean things up:



I did not want to be carrying too much equipment, so I only brought the few lenses that would fit inside my little bag, and this lens easily made the cut because it is by far the smallest fisheye I own.

Fixed focus actually helps this lens: everything is in focus from about a foot to infinity, so you can spend your time worrying about more important things (like keeping your shoes out of the image). The view angle and fixed focus, combined with the small size of this lens, makes this a great lens for grabbing shots in crowded and/or tight settings.

Ah, but there's bad news too.

The fact that f/8 is "wide open" means the finder image is dark. Despite that, f/8 still works for indoor shots, etc., mostly because you can use quite slow shutter speeds without blur problems.

Sharpness would probably look great on a 6MP DSLR, but isn't impressive on higher pixel density cameras. Actually, in cleaning the lens some time after taking the second photo above, I noticed that the rear element was not quite seated right -- the edge sharpness is consistently slightly better after unscrewing the retaining ring and re-seating the element, but it's still bad near the edges. Stopping down to f/11 or f/16 hits the diffraction limit fast enough to keep sharpness from getting much better. CA also is bad near the edges (look at the streetlight in the photo), but that's an issue for most fisheyes. In the second photo, I corrected about a 4-pixel shift in opposite directions for red and blue.

Contrast is a little low... although that's not such a bad thing for an ultrawide. Actually, the low contrast is easy to tweak in post-processing, as I did for the second photo above. Flare is surprisingly rare, but shows up as really bright circular discs when it shows.

Overall, image quality of this lens is not better than that of my $350 Raynox fisheye attachment on a good host lens, but that's a much bigger and pricier arrangement, and I always worry about wrecking the autofocus due to the extra weight on the lens. In comparison, this lens is a pleasure to use -- and small enough to bring even when you're not expecting to use it all that much.

As a side note, despite not having a focus mechanism, it still is possible to focus closer -- by partially unscrewing the M42 mount.

Rating? IQ is 7/10 overall, but 8/10 compared to other fisheyes. However, it is a cheap, well-built, and fun lens to use, easily 9/10 in these respects. Thus, an 8 overall.
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