Zenit Zenitar 16mm F2.8 MC Fisheye A-mount lens review by RD

reviewer#4257 date: Oct-19-2008
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
price paid:140 USD (new)
positive:-Very sharp at F8 and above
-Cheap Fun!
negative:- May need to make minor adjustment to focus to infinity (see below)
-Soft wide open
-Need to add 1-2 EV to avoid a dark image
-Takes several weeks to order via manufacturer
comment:Fun lens! Not so fishy on the Alpha 700, but very much so on my Alpha 900 with the full frame image sensor. Before you judge this lens, you need to read this and make sure you sample will focus to infinity. Mine would not focus on infinity probably due to the additional distance created by the M42 adapter to Sony Alpha mount. I made a small adjustment that I learned about here and now it is perfect at infinity:


Like others have said, it is soft but usable at F2.8 and really sharp at F8+. If you want to take it a step further and turn your images into a super wide angle and remove the fishy effect, try the Image Trends Inc. Fisheye Hemi-3 on Alpha 700 images and Fisheye Hemi-2 on Alpha 900 images. This program is $29, works perfectly in Photoshop and can be downloaded here from Image Trends:


I will post an Alpha 900 image before and after using the Fisheye Hemi-2 filter in Photoshop.

There is some CA evident around the edges where there are high contrast objects, but not too bad considering this lens is under $200 and the Sony 16mm is $799.

You may need to add 1-2 stops to get a well exposed image and focus can be a challenge with a fully manual lens if your subject is closer than 2m. I just ordered the adapter that will provide focus confirmation and will update when I try it:


It might be interesting to compare the Sigma 12-24mm EX DG Aspherical Ultra Wide that arrives next week to the Zenitar with the Fisheye Hemi-2 filter in Photoshop.

Don’t forget to put your camera in Manual mode to avoid shutter lockup and “No Lens” warning.

This is my first sub 24mm lens and so far I am having a lot of fun with it!

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 21
  • sharpness: 4.12
  • color: 4.29
  • build: 4.14
  • distortion: 4.29
  • flare control: 3.76
  • overall: 4.12
Dyxum.com - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania