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Home G-Zone Digital Photography Review: Sony VCL-ECF1 Fisheye Conversion for the 16mm f/2.8 Lens (Sony NEX)

Review: Sony VCL-ECF1 Fisheye Conversion for the 16mm f/2.8 Lens (Sony NEX)

For every camera I’ve ever owned, I’ve always wanted to get a fisheye attachment for it. I just never did. Whether it be the cost of the lens or just sheer laziness on my part, I just never got around to getting a fisheye converter for any of my cameras. That changed after I the Sony NEX-5N. I figured if I was getting back into photography, now would be the perfect time to get something that I’ve always wanted but never had. I looked into many options and in the end, I ended up getting the Sony VCL-ECF1 Fisheye Conversion Lens for my NEX-5N, but I also had to purchase the 16mm f/2.4 prime lens in order to use it. Why would I do that instead of going with a simpler solution? Read on for my reasons.

First off, there are tons of fisheye screw on lenses you can buy that fit the 49mm thread on the Sony NEX-5N 18-55mm kit lens. These are okay if you just want to have a bit of fun, but I do not like the way that these generic screw on attachments have a huge circular black border around all the photos you take. It makes the images you take look a bit cheapish and you’d have to majorly crop them to get rid of the black borders. I did not want that.

My second option was to go with a dedicated fisheye lens such as the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 fisheye lens for the Sony NEX. This is a dedicated super wide angle fisheye lens that is made for the e-mount. I’ve read that it is a really nice lens with great optics. The only downside is that it is a full manual lens and I’d  have to make a few setting adjustments in order to use it properly. Aside from that, it is one of the better options out there but it is a huge lens. Plus, I knew in the near future, Rokinon wwill be releasing a much smaller 8mm f/2.8 lens for the NEX cameras so I ended up not going with this either.

Instead, I went with Sony’s own VCL-ECF1 Fisheye Conversion Lens which must be paired up with the 16mm f/2.8 prime lens. Why did I do this? With this combination, I am essentially getting 2 lens setups. I am getting a fast, wide angle 16mm lens that I can use for landscapes and outdoor scenes and with the VCL-ECF1 Fisheye Conversion Lens attached, I am getting a super wide fisheye lens that was made to seamlessly integrate with the 16mm f/2.8 lens. As you can see from the images, the fisheye attachment blends in perfectly with the 16mm lens and doesn’t even look like an attachment. The fisheye lens attaches on like a lens hood and fits pretty snugly. There is a bit of wiggle to it, but only if you’re really trying to wiggle it.

Size wise when combines, it’s not bigger than the 18-55mm kit lens. What I really love about this combination is that if I don’t want to use the fisheye lens attachment, I can just remove it and I’m left with a very compact 16mm prime lens that makes the NEX-5N very portable. In terms of price, it was a bit more than buying a dedicated fisheye lens like the Rokinon, but in the end, I think the ability to separate the combination into 2 pieces is a big plus.

In terms of image quality, I couldn’t be happier. The images are crisp and clear although there is a bit of softness at the edges, but this isn’t that big of a deal. The lens features a 180º diagonal viewing area and unlike those cheap fisheye attachments, this combination yields a full frame fisheye image with no border. That too is a huge plus in my opinion. If you want to check out some sample images I took with this combo, you can check them out here at my Tamron My Photo Exhibits page: http://tamron.myphotoexhibits.com/exhibits/6154-fisheye-conversion-lens-test

Specs

Optics/Lens

  • Focal Length (35mm equivalent) : 15mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Lens Groups-Elements : 4 groups, 4 elements
  • Magnification : 0.62

Weights and Measurements

  • Dimensions (Approx.) : 1 3/4in (44mm); diameter 2 5/8in (66mm)
  • Weight (Approx.) : 5.3oz (150g)

The VCL-ECF1 Fisheye Conversion Lens retails for $149.99 although you can pick one up for much less than that. The 16mm f/2.8 lens retails for $249.99 and again, I’ve seen it for cheaper than that if you shop around. In fact, I purchased my combo for $300. If you want to go with this setup, you may find the 16mm lens a bit hard to find as it seems to be sold out at a lot of online stores. I was lucky enough to find one on Ebay but even then, you’ll have to look around.

Samuel Huanghttp://www.gstylemag.com
Samuel Huang is an avid gamer and all around tech geek. When not glued to his computer or iPhone, he can be seen pwning n00bs on PSN nightly. On occasion, he has the crazy dream of owning a vintage JDM Nissan Skyline Hakosuka GT-R or a Datsun 240Z.

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