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Zenitar 16mm f2.8 Fisheye Review RSS Feed

Zenitar 16mm f2.8 Fisheye

Sharpness 
 8.8
Aberrations 
 8.0
Bokeh 
 5.9
Handling 
 9.1
Value 
 9.8
Reviews Views Date of last review
21 76,268 Fri December 7, 2018
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $143.76 8.57
Zenitar 16mm f2.8 Fisheye
supersize


Description:
Fisheye lens f2.8 - f22
Field of View (angular) 180 degrees
Minimum focal distance 0.3m
63 mm diameter (no front threads supplied with rear mounted color filters)
56 mm long
Weight 33 grams
11/7 elements/groups
Available in M42 and Pentax K mounts
Mount Type:
Price History:



Add Review of Zenitar 16mm f2.8 Fisheye
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Junior Member

Registered: June, 2018
Location: Lyon / Rennes
Posts: 39
Lens Review Date: December 7, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $90.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Fish-eye, solid.
Cons: Reliability, CA control.
Sharpness: 5    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 5    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: K30   

So, this lens is quite hard for me to review, since I had a lot of problems with it, but let's start with the good points.

1 : It's solid, with the only pieces of plastic being the focusing ring, diaphragm ring and lens cap.

2 : It's gorgeous. Isn't it ? To me it looks really nice ; sadly, cyrillic K-mount version and cyrillic M42 mount versions are quite tough to find.

3 : It's a fish-eye. Yeah. That's cool no ?

4 : It's for full frame. That's why it is so hard for me to review it. (let's get to the cons) On APS-C there's quite a lot of chromatical aberrations, because of the smaller sensor (see why it matters here : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_sensor_format ), with the crop it gives a 24mm not fish eye with a lot of distortion, so it blows away all the advantages of a fish eye lens.
Then, I find it to be nearly unuseable at f/2.8, being very unsharp, with quite low contrasts and huge chromatic aberrations. You need to stop down to f/5.6 to have okay results.
My copy was badly assembled, so it was unable to focus to infinity, I did a little bit of modifications and now I can, but still. Quite decieved of this lens.

Note : Older version seem to perform better, so if you want one, go for one built before 1991 (you can know the manufacturing date with the two first numbers of the serial number, mine was built on 2001, so the serial number starts with 01. A copy built in 1989 for instance will have a serial number beginning with 89.)

So I highly recommend this lens, but if you want one, buy one built before 1991 Or after 2016 (only the new, entirely black design) , and use it on full frame or with a focal reducer. Please.
   
New Member

Registered: December, 2016
Location: The Hague
Posts: 2

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 27, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Built like a tank, tack sharp, easy handling
Cons: Too glassy cold image
Sharpness: 10    Bokeh: 1    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Fuji X-T1 + Zhongyi Turbo II   

(EDITED Mrt 2019: new pic)

First of all, yes, this is a manual lens, just like all lenses from the analog era. So the new digital generation that may balk at manual operation, reverting to AUTO settings better stay with their modern stuff.

I am from the analog rollfilm era and so I keep on doing everything manual and nothing with computer.

This Zenitar with Pentax mount is for me a very easy and nice fun lens for short range landscapes especially in the woods. It is very easy to focus, just by rotating the focus ring, and we all have eyes, no? it is not an extreme fisheye, so the distortions are moderate at FF and even less at APS-C.

I use this lens on a mirrorless APS-C with a Zhongyi Turbo II to emulate FF capability. So I do enjoy the full fisheye range of this lens. SOmetimes I use this lens on a Fotodiox Shift Adapter on APS-C (without focal reducer turbo), which is a lovely and extremely cheap surrogate for the more expensive 24mm shit lenses!

Usually I shoot from ground or hip level, so it is easy to get the horizon straight with this lens while the distortions are really not so fishy so to speak.

I mainly have the aperture at the notch between f/8 and f/11 and for me bokeh is not important for the kind of subject I use to shoot. The image comes out tack sharp, for me a bit too "cold" like glass. It lacks a certain warmth or softness, so I do need optical filters and some in-camera WB/k-temp tweaking and in-camera picture styling.

The image character is to me more like a scientific type rather than an artistic type. Color rendition is a bit bland, lacking saturation. So yeah, I do use rear and front filters plus camera adjustments in order to get some more warmth, or special color effects. I don't shoot RAW, just JPG for lack of time to edit/pp, so that's why I use optical means.

Sharpness is amazing even when using crappy filters up front. It is almost impossible to screw up a shot with this lens. Even wide open it's sharp in and around the center, and slightly blurry at the edges FF. On APS-C (without focal reducer turbo) sharp wide open.

There is no bokeh! Perhaps a slight unsharpness wide open, but that is not bokeh.

Well, I did not perform any nitty gritty scientific tests on this lens, just summarizing my own experience in short range landscape shooting.

I would definitely recommend this lens to anyone who loves friendly fisheyes.

MINUS: The focuser breaks down after a couple of years frequent usage. Then again time to buy another one. This now is my third sweet baby, I just bought for 95 Euro from a German ebay seller.

Here a screenshot from my NatGeo gallery. I am sorry I don't have the original anymore for upload. My disk ended functioning.



This photo I shot JPEG (no pp/edit) with a Zenitar Pentax lens adapted onto a Fujifilm X-T1 APS-C, hence the FOV 1.5x of that of a FF. I used the rear Yellow filter and adjusted the WB color temp, the blues and reds to compensate in order to get warmer highlights.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2014
Location: Paris
Posts: 1,892

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: November 7, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build, size, price
Cons: MF (not really a problem), IQ at wide open
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

This lens is small for the focal length, build like a tank (as expected from a Russian lens ) and easy to handle, the angle of view is great : 180°
Wide open is not this lens' biggest advantage but improve a lot at f5.6 and f8 (understandable as portraiture is not the main target of this kinda lens anyway).
MF is considered an inconvenience but for this kind of focal length, it's not really a deal breaker either. Put the lens at hyperfocal and close the aperture to f8 and everything is in focus
Great great great value compare to other modern lens ! Another good news is Zenit is producing this lens new so their QA is better now (no more stuck at infinity focus issue or lens hood problem ). And did I say it's in native K mount ? there, I said it, no more adapter
I'll add picture later and maybe more details review (pros/cons)

Here is a 100% of my test shot at f5.6 (focus at the eye)


Update : after testing for a while, I think the Zenitar 16mm is tack sharp at f5.6-f11 and can compete with the DA 15mm f4 limited (without the AF) in this sweet aperture range ! Again, super wide angle is mostly used for landscape and usually shot at f5.6-f11 so this is a great value lens, IQ/price = huge The fisheye effect is easy to fix with Photoshop or Lightroom and if you like the fisheye effect, even better, another reason to choose this little gem
   
New Member

Registered: March, 2014
Posts: 9

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 13, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $130.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Huge field of view, Nice bokeh, Simple to use
Cons:
Sharpness: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K-r, Pentax MZ-7   

The main reason I bought this lens is its focal length and that it can be used both on my digital and film camera.

The focus feedback works perfectly on my K-r camera.

I have uploaded some test shots for comparison with the stock lens and a Raynox teleconverter.

I have noticed that the F3.5 setting on this lens produces brighter images than the stock lens with the same settings. Notice the shutter speed differences and the photo brightness.

Sorry for the slanted pictures ;-) https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/members/68003-thunderflash/albums/9528-field-view-test/
   
New Member

Registered: January, 2014
Location: Europe
Posts: 4

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 26, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $180.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp,sturdy,angle
Cons: a bit weird construction
Sharpness: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax *Ist DS,Lumix GF2   

I love this lens ... sharp , perfect for video shooting , very comfortable to use ... although it has its quirks , i definitely don't mind it , it is very good quality lens overall,Nice not too fishy on my *Ist DS and perfect ultra wide on my Lumix gf 2(2x crop).Bought it mainly for video recording , so far handles perfect
   
New Member

Registered: January, 2014
Posts: 1

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 8, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: simple a utilisé
Cons: un peu lourd
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 5    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

Un bon grand angulaire et simple a pratiqué en plus il est solide
   
New Member

Registered: June, 2013
Posts: 2
Lens Review Date: July 2, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $140.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp stopped down, good color rendering, coolness factor
Cons: Heavy, focus ring very stiff, soft wide open, not very fishy on DSLR
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 9   

I got this lens on the cheap when I looked for an affordable wide lens (it can be de-fished quite easily). But it isn't that fishy on a DSLR (K-30 in my case) anyway and the effect sometimes looks cool.

It is quite soft at f/2.8 and difficult to focus, even with a split screen, but that may be my lack of skill and my lens's super stiff focusing ring. It is very sharp from f/8 and when you shoot at f/11 or above, you don't have to worry that much about focusing anyway

Build quality is generally good, by with my lens, the aperture ring is set wrongly, so when I change the aperture it will click in place between two aperture values, which is inconvenient for a beginner. Other than that, it is excellent, and looks cool.

Bokeh is much better than I expected reading the reviews here, but nothing to write home about either. See below for an example.

Overall, I would really recommend this lens. It is fun to use, produces very nice pictures and is an affordable wide angle lens when de-fished.

The examples below were shot in RAW, I did no PP except convert them to Jpeg:

1. Close focus at f/2.8. I focused (or tried) on the leftmost spigot. Note the not-so-shabby bokeh:


2. Shot at f/8. Quite sharp, and I like the colors:
   
Senior Member

Registered: July, 2010
Location: NV/CA
Posts: 264

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 13, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $199.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Build quality (excellent functinality in all aspects). Sharp, good contrast and price.
Cons: None that can't be worked around, like modifity a short hood or cap.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 5    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

Excellent lens overall, superbly build like most if not all Soviet/Russian lenses. Excellent optical performance and very easy to use. Would use this lens over any other 16mm.

This is modification of lens cap/hood. Very easy and inexpensive.


Few defished JPG's



Can be a great lens for RE purpose.





   
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2009
Location: Berlin, DE
Posts: 30

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 13, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: SHARP; contrasty, great colors, very low cost
Cons: Iffy construction, sample variation, build quality
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 6    Value: 10   

I have two samples of this lens, and found their quality control sub-standard. The first sample (M42 mount, made in 2005) was new-in-box; it was unsharp on the right. I had to unscrew the rear mount and add two 0.3mm washers between the mount and lens body to make it even. The second sample (native K mount and made in 2002) was used, and it was perfect from the beginning. That said, after I fixed the first lens, it became just as sharp as the second sample. However, I've heard multiple reports on users having to adjust one thing or another (most mention the built-in hood shading one of the corners, and mis-adjustment of infinity mark), which makes me conclude the problematic QC.

This lens (when problem-free) delivers great sharpness even in far corners. I think it's simply easier to make a sharp fisheye lens than a sharp rectilinear ultra-wide. CA are not a problem; they are not particularly low, but don't exceed the level of the 12-24 lens. I didn't notice any purple fringing.

Contrast is pretty high in this lens, with good color saturation. I didn't get the flare problem mentioned by other reviewers even when including the sun in the picture. Yes, the flare is there, but nothing more than you would naturally expect from a quality multi-coated wide.

On crop cameras, this lens makes limited sense, being a fun, distorted wide. On film (and full-frame bodies) it truly shines, but then it's already too wide to my taste. For this reason I prefer it on my crop digital bodies, as effective 24mm produce a very comfortable angle of view (at least for me).
   
Inactive Account

Registered: January, 2011
Posts: 440

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 18, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: compact, sharp and cheap
Cons: flare could be better controlled, build quality needs improvement

This is really an awesome lens, esp. for aps-c. It's reasonably sharp, even wide open, very compact and easy to use. You get a view similar to a 24mm on FF, but with some distortion on aps-c, which is easy to slightly de-fish in PP.
On FF with film, it's a sharp full-frame fish-eye,with excellent contrast and color.
It takes a special front cap, which is easy to loose (I was VERY lucky to find a replacement recently). Also make sure you get the rear filters, or at least the "clear" one installed in the back of it.. it's part of the optical path!

Downside is the build quality means it's got some "give" to it, and the focus is a bit too "easy" for my taste, still, although none of this seems to affect the IQ, so quite reliable! A great travel wide-angle, I just got through using it for 4 months!
   
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2011
Location: Tallinn
Posts: 162

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 4, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: sharp from 2,8 to 22 good color, ideal for video
Cons: quality is not first class, special lens cap, CA at f22

Actually it is a happy lens. Very useful. Medium fisheye distortion. But most of all it is pixel sharp at f2,8. It get bit too sharp on higher apertures and produces color aberration on high contrast edges. This is easily corrected in RAW editor though.
I got it for video shooting with my K-5. Since it is manual lens with deep focus range it works great using *sweet spot*. No need to worry about your subject being in focus. At f11 you have everything from 80cm to infinity in focus. Distortion is not too extreme.
I rate it 8 because of the quality of the lens body. It is shaky here and there, but looks like made for military use. However the glass is really good.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: August, 2009
Posts: 1,235

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: February 9, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Cost-effective wide angle fisheye
Cons: Flare and artifacts in bright light

What I like about the lens:
- The lens is nicely constructed, especially for the price I paid years ago. Now, it looks like the lens goes around $220, which is still a pretty good bargain.
- As I mentioned before, the manual focus ring is smooth and effective.
- Rendering can be pleasing to the eye with vibrant colors. This isn’t always the case though.
- The colored filters are a fun little addition to the lens.

What I’m not too fond of:
- Prone to flare and visual artifacts in bright light. Although it’s easy to clone out any small artifacts, so I don’t consider that a big issue.
- Completely manual focus and aperture with no data connection to the camera body, so EXIF data saved is limited.
- Easy to get a finger into the frame on accident, especially with gloves on.
- Lens cap is cheap and broke on me.
- The aperture ring action is a bit cheap feeling as well as loud.

Overall I think it's a good purchase for the price. It's relatively sharp, but prone to flare. So It's up to you if you can lives with the flaws to get a cheap fisheye lens to play around with.

More information and pictures on my blog entry about this lens.
   
Forum Member

Registered: August, 2009
Location: Courbevoie
Posts: 72

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 24, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $130.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Light, price, overall quality
Cons: low contrast, poor coating, proprietary lens cap

Bought it used from Ebay, this was my cheap wide angle solution until I could move to the DA15Ltd.

I had a second-hand K-mount version, with only 1 filter. I did not experience any of the QC issues mentioned above.

I agree with most comments above.
- For the price you pay, you get a good wide angle lens with a slight fish-eye effect that you can either correct or play with.
- It's quite good when stopped down at f5.6, better at f8, and usable at f4. I would really avoid using it at f2.8
- The coating is mostly useless: the lens is very much prone to flare, and you can easily leave prints on the coating... Avoid shooting with any light source in front of you
- Don't lose the lens cap: it's unique... and tends to fall off easily
- I don't think the contrast is that good (if unfairly compared to my Ltd), but you can push it in post-prod
- Solid build
- All manual + green button, but exposure was ok on both my k200d and then my k-7

Obviously it does not replace a real fish-eye (DA10-17 or a samyang 8mm) or a linear WA (DA15 or 14)... but for the price, I believe there isn't anything better. Well worth trying - I have just sold mine, I hope I won't regret it in a few months
   
Senior Member

Registered: April, 2010
Location: California
Posts: 125

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 11, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Inexpensive, compact, sharp centers, fisheye effect, a little wider than 16mm
Cons: Huge exposed front element, inconsistent build quality

Overview - Overall, a great inexpensive wide angle prime lens, I'd especially recommend it for people looking for a wide angle on a budget or interested in playing around with the fisheye effect before committing on a high dollar lens.

Build quality - If you get a good sample, the lens is pretty well built, with a metal lens barrel, nice heft (without being heavy) and smooth focusing. It is suprisingly compact, shorter than my FA 35/2 with hood. If you have soft images at infinity, the infinity stop can be adjusted in one way or another by peeling back the focus ring, loosening (but not removing!) the screws and resetting the focusing ring a little left or right. I adjusted mine to give about 1 mm more towards infinity focus, and I got marginally sharper images. I doubt every lens needs this adjustment.

Sometimes the lens hood will also need adjusting if it is crooked or bumping up against the focusing ring at infinity.

Image quality - Properly focused, the images are impressively sharp for such an inexpensive lens. Reports vary online as to what the sharpest apertures are, but I usually use mine around f5.6 and get very nice results. The extreme corners can get a little soft, but I never put anything important in the corners anyways. The fish-eye effect is a little more subtle on APS-C, and you can manipulate it in camera with subject and angle placement, or you can clean it up in post-processing with lens correction. Effective focal length seems to be a little wider than the 16mm spec, which is nice. There is a bit of a warm cast, which is fixable in post-processing.

Usage tips - Focusing can be hard with this lens, both because of the wide angle of view and the short focus throw. I will usually either start and/or end focusing by checking the distance scale on the lens to make sure I'm in the right ballpark. Also, there is virtually no shading of the front element, which can lead to flare and poor contrast in sunlight. I'll often try to shade it with my hand to get more contrast out of the lens. One of these days I will try to rig a homemade hood for this guy.

Value - They aren't quite the value they were a few years ago, now it seems like they are floating around $200, however that's still a couple-few hundred dollars less than brand name primes, with comparable image quality.


Fisheye effect sample:


De-fished sample:

   
Veteran Member

Registered: January, 2008
Location: Niagara Region, Ontario Canada
Posts: 417
Lens Review Date: February 26, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $225.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sharp, Wide, Fun to Use, Light Weight
Cons: Flare, Green Button, Had to be Adjusted

This is a great little lens to use, I bought it about 2 months after my K10D and when it arrived I was very dissapointed, it was very soft all over. After a little research here and a trip to buy a tiny screwdriver I adjusted it so it could focus to infinity (before the infinity distance was about 28 inches). Don't be afrait of it, it is a VERY simple operation to fix the focus so it is smack on.

The lens it very sharp, at f8 and for some reason it is better at close distances than infinity. I have a Vivitar S1 105mm and it is comparable in the centre at ranges of 3 to 8 feet. But I have shot some things at f2.8 and it is certainly no worse than my FA50mm 1.4 wide open.

I often set it at the hyperfocal distance and just fire away without focusing, the DOF is so large that you catch almost everything with it at f8-f11.

The contrast isn't typical Pentax lens quality, but it punches up will in PS, there is enough edge detail that it responds very well.

The one major downside is it tendancy to catch flare, with such a huge front element thats not unexpected. But when it does it produces quite a nice lens flair, there aren't too many elements so it is very simple. Quite like what you see in alot of old movies. I have a very nice 24" x 36" print of a forested creek with sun streaming though the trees a very artistic lens flair accross it on my wall.

The distortion is very natural, in most images, I don't try to correct, only if there is a very obvious strait line will I run it though a batch process in PS.

However, in the end I got a very unexpected X-mas bonus and purchased a Pentax 12-24mm which is more flexable, but cost me close to 4 times the price. And since my wife truly hated the Zenitar, she couldn't remeber to push the green button first, she blessed my purchase.

I definetly recommend this little lens, it's sharp, small and fun to use, and the distortion isn't noticable on most images.
Add Review of Zenitar 16mm f2.8 Fisheye



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