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Nikon 8-15mm Fisheye Review
TrueToad / Wednesday, July 19, 2017 / Categories: Reviews

Nikon 8-15mm Fisheye Review

Go Wide and Circular

The long-awaited Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye lens is here and in my hands, after many years using my 16mm I must now say goodbye to my favorite fisheye companion who served me well over the 15 years of using it.  I am finally getting a much-needed fisheye upgrade, and Nikon once again knocked it out of the park.

Three big differences between the older 16mm and this newer lens is size, speed and zooms to a circular effect, the older lens was a f/2.8 while the new 8-15 has a variable f range of 3.5 - 4.5 so it is not a speed demon but I really don't care too much since at these extreme wide angles you are able to shoot lower shutter speeds anyway without blur + the newer lens has the ability to serve up both diagonal and circular fisheye effects on FX bodies.  However, my old 16mm could easily be tucked into almost any pocket making it very easy to carry along, the newer 8-15 is about twice the size but, I am still happy with the size and weight of the newer lens.

Performance on a DX Camera Body:  Due to the 1.5 crop factor you are limited to a diagonal fisheye effect, and while I zoomed all the way out to 8mm there was corner vignetting, but with a slight zoom in to say 10mm that is all gone and you have a very nice wide angle fisheye for your DX body.  

Performance on an FX Camera Body: This is where the lens shines and was made for the FX, at 8mm you get the circular fisheye effect - of course, you need to remove the lens shade, and zooming in will gradually get you to a full diagonal fisheye effect.  FX camera bodies give you more bang for the buck with this lens.

Optically speaking this new 8-15 is untouchable as a Fisheye compared to the older 16mm, The new Nikkor 8-15 is far superior in almost every regard, starting with better optics, coatings, E diaphragm, weather.  Maybe the older was a bit better with its metal build - I can certainly say the older fisheye was a rugged lens, as long as you protected the front glass.

I took a few test shots with the new 8-15 using my D5 and I was simply amazed at the clarity and sharpness of this new lens - I can not wait to get it out in the field on my new D850.

New Nikkor 8-15 Quick Images  
Full Frame Zoom @ 8mm   Full Frame Zoom @ 
15mm 
   
 
 
 

I currently own two other Fisheye lens, one I have had for many years, the Nikkor 16mm, and the other is a circular fisheye the Sigma 8mm which I owned now for a year. Both lenses I enjoy using and being creative the effects, with because ultimately that is what fisheye lens do best, but also have a very piratical use for extreme wide angle work.   Late last year I made a statement that if Nikon could make a zoom fisheye to update their current offerings that would be awesome because it would solve the problem with needing two lenses. Guess what - They did it, and it has been a long time coming!

Nikon engineers have done this lens right!. Below are some images using my D500 showing well-controlled flare and the 8mm to 15 mm zoom range. This new super wide is a welcome addition to the "newer" glass technology from Nikon. 

This is the Fisheye that answers the need for both a diagonal and circular in one lens + Nikon nailed it with the compatibility for DX bodies, wow.  I have been using the fisheye lens for a long time and now with this lens, my experiences will be updated with newer lens technology and better performance. Fisheye lens has a very distinct look which offers some interesting images to be captured, but on the downside, the look can be repetitive if overused. Because the lens uses the newer "electromagnetic diaphragm" the lens will be able to keep up with the fastest of shutter speeds but reduces the compatibility with older camera bodies, I personally don't care.

Best if you can move in close to your main subject or with a close foreground object to give scale to distance.  My old Nikkor 16mm can close focus inches from the front element, bringing good detail to light.  

Nikon claims edge to edge sharpness with very good chromatic aberration correction with minimal loss of fidelity across the frame.  Considering this lens has all the newest Nikon technologies added like Nano & fluorite coatings, a silent wave motor, ED elements, + the ability to do both diagonal and circular effects, it is amazing.

Image taken with a circular fisheye lens

Image taken with a circular fisheye lens

Shot with a Sigma 8mm Circular fisheye.
What I really loved about my old 16mm is the fact it was so small I could tuck it away in my bag and carry it almost all the time and never notice the minuscule weight, making it perfect accessory for my landscape shots when I require a little extra punch.  This newer fisheye is near twice the size and weight as the old 16mm, but with the added performance is worth it, you will just have to make a tad bit more room in your bag.

Most people believe a Fisheye lens is a specialty lens which may not appeal to everyone, for the most part, that is true but fisheye lens do have a place in one's camera bag.  There are examples of photographers using them for wedding shots with excellent results. One example shows a camera and lens is setup then remotely fired as the couple walks up-close to the lens/camera, and because the depth of field and focus are almost always perfect for these lenses, you can use the lens pretty much without worry of out of focus shots. 

Now considering other mfgs offer much cheaper alternatives and with Nikon's $1,200 price tag some may consider it a lens not worth the investment, I never ever thought my old 16mm that I bought over 14 + years ago was a bad investment, that lens has been a wonderful departure from the norm, and in fact I also bought a Sigma 8mm circular fisheye last year.  Now, I have this new Nikkor zoom fisheye which solves my diagonal and circular desires in one lens.

  • Supports both FX and *DX *some models
  • Weathered sealed
  • Dirt and dust repelled by fluorine coating
 Size Matters

 
 
     


Lens Hood: A non-traditional approach for a lens hood, it locks onto the lens shade with attaches to the lens so you need the lens shade on the lens to attach the hood.  Like all circular fisheyes, the front element is out there and you really need to be aware and careful when using this lens.

Extreme Wide: Extreme wide angle lens can be a challenge to use, such as not having your feet in the shot, or any if a little mist is falling, any raindrops on the front glass will show up in the image and will result in some extra post-processing steps. Daytime outdoor shooting the sun is always trying to get the shot - and of course your own shadow - so composing a shot may be dictated to the angle of the sun, if you are lucky you can use it to your advantage.  The other challenges you will encounter is correct exposure, I found my shots were either well underexposed or overexposed - after a few shots, you get the feel for the lens and how it behaves on your camera and can in most cases compensate exposures.- If you worry about getting the correct exposure in camera carry your sekonic 858 light meter with you, my review of the 858 is also on this site.  Joe Brady offers many useful videos on using a Sekonic light meter, link below.

How does the Nikon 8-15mm Peform: In the real world the new Nikon 8-15 works very well with some slight color fringe at the outer edge when zoomed to the circular image format, this is easily removed in post. The Sigma 8mm has far worse color fringe and both of these lenses suffer from that effect to varying degrees, but as I say it is not too difficult to remove. In the cat image you can see a blue cast at the very top of the image while in the image of the trees shot with the Sigma you don't - this is because I remove the cast from the sigma photo and left it in for the cat photo to illustrate in "bright" images you will get some blue color cast at the outer edges - but is removable in post. Ghost and flaring is very well controlled even with the sun in the shot. Contrast and sharpness is the best of all the Fisheye lens I have owned to date.  I am VERY happy Nikon released a zoom version to give me two lenses in one, although the f/stop is a bit slow as a result.  I was carrying two fisheyes to cover both circular and diagonal shots and now can just carry one Nikon 8-15mm - way to go Nikon!  

Nikkor 8-15 - Yes a Fisheye! People who are not informed, fisheyes can close focus very close..
Close Up: With fisheyes they normally are used close to the subject - and with this lens you can get real close - 6 inches. With that close focusing and wide angle I suggest you give some flower photos a shot, the results are almost like a macro fisheye effect - very unique.

The Zoom: So what happens when you zoom from 8 to 15? You basically transition from circular image to a diagonal image with varying degrees of a diminishing black border.  Keep in mind you can crop in the post your images at any of the stages in-between 8-15 zoom range to suit your needs during post-processing.  Adobe/lightroom has just released new camera filters to assist in processing images taken with the newer Nikon fisheye to help achieve the maximum results and creativity. On a Nikon crop body, you don't get the full circular fisheye but you do get a very wide angle lens.

Factors to Consider: This is not the fastest fisheye, but I really don't care! I love to carry my tripod anyway on my outings, I have three tripods which support heavy to light duty work. So, if the light is too low, I simply pop out the trusty three-legged friend - problem solved. Be advised watch your feet to avoid them in your picture :). I own three lenses that do not support front filters or the front element is exposed which can present some challenges as I wrote in my other reviews. My 19mm PCE lens, my 8mm Sigma and to some extent my 14-24mm, and of course my 16mm fisheye. The biggest issue I find with this lens is a higher risk of contact damage with the front glass and with the fisheye even more so. Shooting in less than perfect weather such as misty conditions will pose challenges as Fisheye or extreme wide angle lens will show any droplets on the front element in your final image, which makes your photos difficult to clean up in processing. At least with this newer lens, the fluorine coating will help repel the water/dust/dirt.

The Fisheye:  For many many years owning a fisheye was your way of expressing your creative side and still today that holds true because of the unique and extreme angles this type of lens renders. For many photographers, this lens will never find a place in the bag, and will not be a lens considered as a necessary expense and I don't fault you, but you are missing out. As any lens, it has a purpose and uses and when used wisely and carefully the results can be stunning and unique. 

Recommendations: Owning the older Nikon 16mm, Sigma 8mm and an earlier 3rd party fisheye what can I recommend? The new Nikon 8-15 fisheye lens is not the cheapest in this genre but does have the ability to zoom from diagonal to circular in one lens on FX bodies if that matters to you - this is the one thing that makes the lens better than other 3rd party fish-eyes, the zoom.  The image quality is also a factor, and I find this lens of a higher image quality over any other fisheye to date.  Keep in mind fisheye serves the VERY wide angle to a unique circular look in an all in one lens that few photographers will invest in, images you produced with the lens have a "branded look" and too many shots seem to become boring, so use it wisely.  For any serious photographer, I would consider this new Nikon 8-15 fisheye if you wish to add to your accomplished list of the lens - icing on the cake lens, not a lens choice when starting out, People who own these are folks who been around the photographic block at least once. Nikon has done a great job with this lens update by giving the lens all the professional tech updates Nikon has to offer, This new lens marks an era for the fisheye genre and will be around as long as their other fish-eye predecessors have and follows in the footsteps of excellence - thank you Nikon for doing an upgrade for this lens. 

If you decide to buy your copy the new Nikkor  8-15 should serve you well over your years of use; my original 16mm has been with me for the better part of 15 years and I never once regretted making that purchase - and this is the first time in 15 years I am replacing it. WoW, what a return on value.

The lens is best suited to the FX camera bodies that provide both circular and diagonal fisheye results, with a DX body you are basically limited to the diagonal fisheye, but does a very nice job in the process.

If you are not feeling the price tag, yes other fisheyes are available.

Note on the images: These images are of course are jpg and downsized for the web. The RAW files are extreme sharpness, this lens is sharp! Also noted was a bit of exposure issue which most of my images was a bit underexposed, but as with any lens, you quickly get accustomed to the way it handles light.


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Photographer's Notes
Buy this Awesome Lens
Lens
  • Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye
  • Sigma 8mm F3.5 EX DG Circular Fisheye
  • Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D
Camera Body
  • Nikon D500
  • Nikon D810
Original Date5/31/2017 12:01:00 AM

TrueToadTrueToad

I live at the edge of the forest in semi-moist locations, I enjoy larva, and other delights. Although I am toothless and mostly warty, I am a sight to see.

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1 comments on article "Nikon 8-15mm Fisheye Review"

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TrueToad

Wow. Wonderful images that are full of sunshine.

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