The AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED is a fisheye lens from Nikon for full-frame FX cameras and Nikon’s DX cameras with a crop sensor. The lens is versatile and offers outstanding image quality.
Frame Filling: Nikon AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED
Nikon has always had a wide range of fisheye lenses. In the analog 35mm era, there were three, ranging from a frame-filling 16mm to a 6mm with field of view of no less than 220 degrees. In the digital age, this has been reduced to two lenses: a frame-filling 16mm f/2.8D for FX and a frame-filling 10.5mm f/2.8G ED for DX. The latter lens has always been the only fisheye option from Nikon for DX users. Despite the G designation, this lens does not have a built-in AF motor. As a result, the lens could only be used with autofocus on cameras with direct AF drive from the body. The new AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm replaces all existing fisheyes. On FX, it can be both a circular and a frame-filling fisheye. On DX, you’ll see just the round sides of the image at 8mm, but the top and bottom of the circle are cut off. With a 1.5mm zoom, the lens becomes frame-filling. And thanks to the built-in motor, the AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm can automatically focus on all DX bodies.
BUILD AND autofocus
The AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm is of course bigger and heavier than the 10.5mm Fisheye Nikkor. But in absolute terms, the dimensions and the weight are a pleasant surprise. The diameter is 77.5mm, and the length is 83mm. The weight is limited to 485 grams. The lens comes with a detachable lens hood and a lens cap that snaps onto the lens hood. On DX, you can leave the lens hood on. It makes the lens a bit bigger, but it also provides fairly good protection for the convex front lens. The lens cap clicks very firmly onto the lens hood. That makes losing the lens cap less likely. The lens is solidly built. The glass surfaces have Nano Crystal coatings, and the front lens has an extra fluorine coating. This means dust and dirt will stick less easily, and it keeps the lens surface clean. On the back, the lens has a rubber gasket to make the connection to the camera dust- and moisture-proof. Of course, the AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm is not a macro-lens, but you can get pretty close, and the maximum magnification is 0.34x. That’s better than what you can get with the 10.5mm Fisheye Nikkor. That provides extra creative possibilities. Of course, you cannot screw any filters onto this lens, but the AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm does have a filter holder on the back for (custom-cut) gelatin filters. The lens does not have image stabilization. There is a switch for autofocus and for manual focus on the lens.
The AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm scores excellent on FX all the way into the corners. It is therefore no surprise that the optical performance on DX is also very good. The image is beautifully sharp, from center to corners, and annoying lens errors like chromatic aberrations are minimal. With this lens, you do not need to stop down for a good result. The 10.5mm Fisheye Nikkor is a bit brighter than this zoom, but at 10.5mm you have to stop down at least 1 stop to get the corners right. The difference in brightness between the two lenses is therefore actually negligible. What the objective is of course sensitive to, with its convex front lens, is incidental sunlight. The coatings are so good that the AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm has no trouble with a sun that is full in frame. You get virtually no veiling glare, flare or glare. The only time a problem arises is if you have the sun just inside or just outside the frame, so if the sun is right at the edge of the image. Then you can sometimes see some purple spots or some flare. A small change in framing, turning the camera slightly to the left or right, may be enough to solve the problem.
The AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm is a fisheye. This means that straight lines come across as curved in the image. If that were not the case, then it would be an ordinary super-wide angle. If you want to fill the entire frame on FX, you need to zoom out to 15mm. On DX, you have completely filled the frame already when zoomed in to 9.5mm. On DX, you thus have a reasonable zoom range to play with. At 15mm, you do not have a field of view of 180 degrees, but the fisheye effect is also quite modest. With some post-editing, in Photoshop for example, you could easily even remove it completely. Of course, this is at the expense of a bit of quality because you lose a piece of the image, but in case of emergency, you could also use the AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm to make normal wide-angle shots. If you want to keep the effect as small as possible without any post-editing, make sure at least that your horizon runs straight through the middle. But the spherical distortion of fisheyes also has an advantage. Super-wide angles that neatly show everything straight namely have a great deal of trouble with perspective distortion. Everything at the edges of the image is shown to be enormously stretched-out. Heads on the side of the shot are enlarged and stretched out and look very unnatural. With a fisheye, that does not happen. Shapes retain their normal dimensions. That makes fisheyes a favorite with videographers capturing action sports from close up. Fisheyes are also very useful for underwater photography. The distortion actually does not occur underwater, and the shape and dimensions of photographed animals and plants is very natural.
ConclusiON: REVIEW Nikon AF-S FISHEYE 8-15mm @ DX
- Good image quality
- Outstanding corner sharpness
- Professional build
- Good sealing
- Good shortest distance setting
- Fluorine coating on front element
- High price
- Relatively big and heavy
- Unprotected front element
- Variable aperture
The Nikon AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED is an excellent fisheye zoom. The lens is optically superior to the 10.5mm f/2.8G and offers autofocus on all Nikon DX bodies. That alone is probably enough reason to choose the 8-15mm Fisheye Nikkor. In addition, there is of course also the ability to use it on an FX body in the future without problems. For photographers with upgrade plans, that is a reassuring thought. The AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm is a bit bigger, heavier and more expensive than the 10.5mm Fisheye-Nikkor, but due to its versatility and higher image quality, the AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm is still the better choice.