Zenit 16mm F2.8 “Fish Eye” Lens


Recently I started posting cheap affordable lenses that worked well with the SLR Jacket on our facebook page. I’ve included the latest 50mm f2 offering of the Russian brand Zenit. Decade or two ago, Zenit lenses would’ve been dirt cheap. Zenit lenses were made of metal back then and they went for an unbelievably low price compared to now.

The most recent Zenit lenses cost a lot more and are made of plastic. They look and feel cheap. I mean, if you think Canon and Nikon 50mm f1.8 prime lenses look cheap then you maybe surprised at how cheap these Zenit lenses feel when you hold it. These russian lenses goes through a different QC standard compared to the Japanese lenses. There’s going to be cosmetic imperfection and some dust in the lens but usually nothing too serious that it would affect the picture quality. At any rate, the Zenit lenses are still affordable compared to other lenses (50mm f2 goes for around 100USD and the 16mm f2.8 goes for around 210USD). These are manual lenses and do not support AF and AE. For the 50mm lens, I would say go for the Canon or the Nikon lens as I feel you get a much better lens than the Zenit and it only costs a few dollar more (not to mention these lenses support AF/AE if you use them with the same brand camera body). The 16mm is a totally different story compared to the 50mm lens and in this post I would like to talk about how the Zenit 16mm f2.8 may interest you. The one great thing about it is that these lenses come in Canon EF and Nikon F mount.  Normally a lens in this configuration (AF/AE) costs around 600-800USD, so it is a good deal if you like don’t mind not having AF/AE. The SLR Jacket doesn’t support AF/AE anyway, so I figured I’m not losing anything here. The lens with the cap weighs around 340g. It felt a bit heavier compared to the Canon 50mm that I usually use which weighs around 130~140g. To get a feel for this lens, first I tried it on my Sony NEX-3 mirror-less camera. There is a little filter on the mount side of the lens which could be screwed off. Once I took off the filter, I was able to get a shorter focal length, however I wasn’t able to focus at infinity. There are 3 other color filters that came with the lens. I guess you could switch the filter that is already on there with the color ones for effects. When using this lens with the SLR Jacket, I found out that I needed to take the filter off. With the filter on, it felt like the focus was set to infinity at the focus ring set to the closest focal point. It also felt like the focus was soft. Once the filter is off I was able to get infinity at the focus ring set in between 0.4 and 0.6 (closer to 0.6).

Some photos I took around the office. No editing was done on the photos besides resizing using photoshop. All shot with the aperture set to f2.8.

The center of the image is in focus but the corners came out quite washed away. The washed away area of the image makes it look like a miniature photo from using tilt-shift. This is also when I realize the weather wasn’t so great for taking pictures.

Had a hard time timing my shutter to the on-coming car. I’m so accustomed to using the 50mm lens, it was nice to get more into the frame! This is around the time the weather worsened. You can get a feel of how gloomy it is. Last shot before I had to run to avoid getting wet from the rain.

In the end, I felt like i might have gotten photos with more clarity using a conversion lens instead. However, I can’t deny that the SLR Jacket really brings out the mood of the shot. While there are fresnel patterns and moire in the pictures, something about the capability of the SLR Jacket to capture the feeling of that moment, has always brought new excitement.

Good thing about this lens is that I get to use it with my mirror-less camera via mount adapter or  use it with a Canon DSLR camera that I hope to buy someday soon.

Stay Creative Tombo