Although previously reported in our forums as an entry in Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds future roadmap, the company today has formally announced its extremely compact 8mm fisheye lens. Weighing in at only 165 grams, Panasonic has proclaimed the lens to be the ” world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable digital fisheye lens.” With a minimum focus distance of only 10cm, this lens has instantly given new relevance to using the emerging Micro Four Thirds standard for underwater applications, and will undoubtedly be of great interest to housing manufacturers. It will also be compatible with the forthcoming Panasonic Micro Four Thirds camcorder.
Sony’s NEX camera system is poised to offer a fisheye adapter right from launch, and it will be interesting to see a comparison of optical quality once both lenses are out in the wild. Panasonic’s 8mm fisheye will become available in July. DPreview found the fisheye an odd choice for Panasonic to launch right now since there are other holes in the Micro Four Thirds lineup that need to be filled, but for underwater photographers, the timing couldn’t be better. Read their whole preview here.