Panorama setup with Sony ILCE-QX1 and Samyang 7.5/3.5 fisheye lens

In search of a small and lightweight spherical panorama setup I’ve seen a Walimex Pro 7.5/3.5 fisheye lens for micro 4/3 mounted via an adapter to a Sony camera with E-mount and APS-C sized sensor. The lens is originally manufactured under the name of Samyang 7.5mm F3.5 Fish-eye Lens and was also available under the name of Bower or Rokinon.

The problem however is, that it is not so easy to find an adapter to mount the lens to the Sony E-mount. I found one at Photokina at a Chinese booth and bought it. It did not fit perfectly, but reasonable enough to make it work after some tinkering around with some sandpaper. To be able to focus to infinity on my E-mount camera a distance ring in the lens had to be removed.

To get the most out of such an setup you also have to shave the lenshood. The effect is shown in another article.

A short while ago the Sony ILCE camera lineup was expanded with the Sony ILCE-QX1. Currently this is the smallest camera of the Sony ILCE camera lineup. As it has no viewfinder or monitor by itself, the settings and the heading are usually controlled with an app on a smartphone.

Before I purchased the camera as a base for a new panorama setup I checked that the camera meets the following requirements:

  1. Trigger via Sonys Multi-USB connector (works)
  2. Accept manual lenses without electrical contacts (works)
  3. Remember the last settings after the camera is turned on again (works)
  4. Capture in RAW (works, but you can’t disable the accompanying JPEG)
  5. Capture images local if no smartphone is connected via WLAN (works)
  6. Manual mode (can be simulated with shutter priority on the camera and a manual lens, because then the aperture can be set with the lens)

With these requirements fullfilled I purchased the camera and use it as a base for the following panorama setup:

Sony ILCE-QX1 with shaved Walimex Pro 7.5/3.5 fisheye lens
The image shows the shaved lens, the Sony ILCE-QX1 itself, a modified radio remote control and a L-bracket to mount the whole setup on a pole.

The current shooting sequence looks like this

  1. Check the distance scale on the lens and adjust if required (usually I only adjust if there are important objects closer than one meter from the sensor)
  2. Turn the camera on
  3. Activate WLAN and the app on the smartphone (it then connects automatically to the camera)
  4. Check the exposure by turning the lens in every direction
  5. Adjust the exposure with the app (change the shutter speed if required)
  6. Deactivate the app and WLAN on the smartphone (just to save battery)
  7. Take the images of the panorama with the radio remote control
  8. Put the lens cap on the lens and take an additional image (seperator image between panorama series)
  9. Turn the camera off

While importing the images I ignore the JPEG versions of the panorama sets and the RAW version of the seperator images.

You may find finished panoramas shot with this camera marked with the tag Sony ILCE-QX1.

Author: PanoTwin Jürgen

PanoTwin Jürgen → My Portfolio

14 thoughts on “Panorama setup with Sony ILCE-QX1 and Samyang 7.5/3.5 fisheye lens”

      1. Hi Markus,
        I hope you remember me talking to you about you setup and end up purchasing Sony ILCE-QX1 and Samyang 7.5mm lens while we were on our return trip to Vienna from a day trip to Melk.
        Anyway I have received my gear and started playing around with it. I find it very difficult to focus. I saw your post here where you suggest to remove the focusing ring. How difficult it is to do so and could you possibly share this knowledge as I really would love to start using it more.
        Hope to hear from you soon.

        1. Hi Zina,
          sure I do remember talking to you. Sorry that it took me so long to reply.

          You said “I saw your post here where you suggest to remove the focusing ring. How difficult it is to do so and could you possibly share this knowledge as I really would love to start using it more.”

          Do you refer to the passage in the post reading: “To be able to focus to infinity on my E-mount camera a distance ring in the lens had to be removed.”

          This can be crucial to get any given combination of lens and adapter to focus to infinity! However the fix can easily be done. On the back of the lens you should see three liitle screws. Removing these screws allows for accessing the aforementioned distance rings in the lens. For most of the Panotwin’s four combinations of lenses and adapters this was necessary.

          Also the number of distance rings may vary. In our case there were two or three of them with varying thicknesses.

          With the setup I usually shoot at f7.1 and the focus set to infinity (however I had to remove a distance ring in each case of lens/adapter combination) to really get sharp images at this setting. Only when it gets really dark or I want to avoid higher ISO settings I go for smaller aperture values. I usually only change the focus to a different setting for very near objects like when shooting table top panoramas.

          I hope this helps,
          PanoTwin Markus

  1. Hi Jürgen,
    the 7.5mm was my favorite in my MFT days and I converted it with the Nodal Ninja Conversion tool kit into a very compact lens for E Mount.
    Originally i also thought the QX1 as a tempting alternative to a conventional camera body. But I’d think of the smart phone as the weakest part in the overall operations chain:
    You’d need a reasonably charged Smart Phone, and I imagine the connection (+ the eventual focussing) step to take a little time.
    Apart from the price, personally I’d think the A5100 would be a better and more versatile alternative (weight wise you’d only have to add 60g of weight in comparison to the QX1) at some more costs (and it would have the 24MP sensor of the A6000), but that’s a question of personal style, I guess!
    Happy shooting, I’ll be curious at the results!

  2. Well done. Thanks for the detailed write up.
    Question, do you know if it’s possible to disable the wifi
    and use the QX1 just as a camera?
    I’m trying to figure out if the camera is dependent on
    wifi to keep it awake, or if continually using it can keep it
    from going to sleep mid use.

  3. Excellent compact setup. When I tried A6000 with Rokinon 8mm/3.5 m43 lens and nodalninja shaved hood setup, border of images get soft because of light flare not protected by hood. Do you get the same image quality? If you do not mind, I would like to see one of the original image on the scene where it is facing light?

  4. Just correction, I am saying A6000 with Rokinon 7.5mm/3.5 m43 lens and I got flare at the borders.

  5. Hi Jürgen, Just curious – and I’m just an amature – but why not use one of the many Sony E mount compatible 8mm lens for your lightweight pano setup rather than having to find a special adapter for the Walimex? Thanks and really appreciate all the technical info on your blog.

    1. Hi Dan,
      Markus has compared the image circles of the Samyang 7.5mm fisheye and the Samyang 8mm fisheye in the following article:
      Other 8mm fisheye lenses actually produce a image circle more like the Samyang 7.5mm lens, but they are also much larger and also heavier (i.e. the Sigma 8mm/4.0 version for the A-mount). And the usually also require an adapter.

  6. Hi Markus!
    The team you have put together is very good, I have managed to put together the same 100%.
    I ask you what is the sweet spot you use to shoot? What mode do you put your Sony QX1 and what aperture do you use and do you get the best quality?

    Greetings and thanks

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