Review: Nikon 8-15 mm f/3.5-4.5 Fisheye lens

The Nikon AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED: Working Conclusions

There is still more testing that needs to be done on this lens, but it is appropriate to draw some preliminary conclusions about it.

The lens seems extremely well made and robust. Certainly it is a step up in build quality over the venerable Tokina 10-17 mm and marginally better than the Sigma 15 mm. Although it is early days, this is a lens that looks like it will endure a lot of serious use.

On FX, it is really two distinct lenses. Firstly, a full circle fisheye at 8 mm and secondly, a 175° fisheye lens at 15 mm. The focal lengths in between are of little use. Whilst full circle fisheye is an acquired taste, it is definitely convenient to have the option of shooting them when conditions, circumstances or subjects dictate. This is somewhat negated by the need to remove the port’s dome shade, meaning that it is not possible to be spontaneous in deciding to shoot full circle.

In terms of image quality, the lens is a suitable partner for high resolution cameras. There is a small quality improvement over the Sigma 15 mm, and an even smaller one over the Nikon 16 mm.

This lens focuses very close. There is no problem getting it to focus directly in front of a 6 in. dome port. Corner sharpness is quite acceptable and is perhaps slightly better than that of the Nikon 16 mm.

On DX, it is in effect a 10-15 mm zoom. This mirrors the zoom range of the popular Tokina 10-17 mm. It remains to be seem whether the loss of 2 mm of focal range at the narrower end of the zoom range is a significant issue. I am a fan of shooting big animals at 17 mm as I do not like the forced perspective that radical fisheye gives. It remains to be seen whether this lens at 15 mm will provide a similar look to the Tokina at 17 mm.

There is no doubt that this lens will produce better quality images than the 10-17 mm. This is somewhat offset by the undeniable fact that the lower resolution of DX cameras means that this quality difference is less critical. Most people shooting the 10-17 mm are happy with its image quality!

I would estimate that the two DX lenses have similar close focusing abilities.

Lastly, this lens is not inexpensive. It is possible to buy almost 3 Tokens for the price of it!

For people shooting both FX and DX formats, this lens will become a standard workhorse. It is capable of producing better quality fisheye images than any other fisheye lens currently available and this is particularly relevant in the light of the rumored pixel specifications of the forthcoming D820/850. It is a solid robust product that should outlast many camera bodies.

As always, this review will now evolve as the lens sees more and more varied use. There is a vibrant thread on the Wetpixel forum about the lens, so please add your thoughts there too.

Page 1: Introduction.
Page 2: Nikon 8-15mm Red Sea Portfolio by Alex Mustard.
Page 3: The Nikon AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED on FX cameras.
Page 4: The Nikon AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED on DX cameras.
Page 5: The Nikon AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED: Working Conclusions.