15. Oct, 2017

The new Nikon 8-15 fish-eye

According to recent expert reviews (see: review1review2,review3) the new Nikon 8-15  fish eye lens seems to be a must for full frame UW photographers. The lens produces exceptional sharp images, great colors and offers a fully circular 180 deg image at  8mm (floating in a black background)  as well as a rectangular 180 deg diagonal view at 15 mm. A drawback might be that zooming in between  8mm and 15 mm will show a cut off circle with black corners.  Furthermore, a circular UW image may not be not everyone’s favorite, but it does promise spectacular creative images,  for example when taking over under shots of a sunset above a coral reef.

Left:  Tokina 10-17 and Nikon 8-15 fish eye's 

Interestingly, the new lens is  a 'hybrid'  that  can also  be used on DX cameras. On the zoom ring there is white marker placed at 11 mm, indicating the recommended zoom range for  cropped sensors: at 11 mm it will produce a 180 diagonal view and at 15 mm a 110 deg diagonal view (which is about the same range as the Tokina 10-17). At values lower than 11mm the image will show a cut off circle with black corners. That's  because the DX sensor is 1.5 factor smaller than that of a full frame FX camera.  So 10mm and 15 mm on a  DX camera would be equivalent to  15 mm and  22 mm on a full frame camera respectively.  

The question that remains if this new lens is worth  the big investment of around 1000 Euro.  DX users might say:  mmm.... maybe, but only if it will yield superior pictures on my DX than the Tokina  10-17. The ‘Tok’ is a much cheaper fish eye that  for many years has been the workhorse for many  cropped camera fish-eye adepts. Being one of those adepts, I am really looking forward to some comparative tests of both lenses on the D7200.

Another point to consider is  the minimal focusing distance. On the D7200/Tokina combo I use a 5inch Precision dome (virtual image about 18 cm) that  focuses on small objects at 10-15 centimeters in front of the dome. Which is a must for those that like to take CFWA or WAM shots. On my back-up 4/3 Olympus camera with a 4 inch dome (virtual image 15 cm) the  8mm fish eye lens (and small dome)  even allows me to get as close as  2 -5 cm to an object. While still preserving  a nice view of the background scenery. I am not sure if a full sensor camera equipped with the new Nikkon fish-eye lense and a larger dome can match such close focusing  distances.

A more general  question of course is if the advantages of more expensive new generation UW systems with high resolution cameras, advanced expensive  lenses, and a full frame sensor will outweigh those offered by older systems with low(er) resolution cameras, cheaper lenses and  a cropped sensor. The quality of future UW pictures will give  us the answer.