AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED lens Sample Photos & First Look

Today Nikon announced the release of the brand new AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED lens. I’m excited to say that I had the honor and privilege of once again working with Nikon to create images for the launch of this lens.

Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills under a full moon, Nikon D810. ISO100, f/8, 8mm, 125 seconds.

This was an incredible shoot to be a part of as it took place in one of the most beautiful areas of the world: southern Patagonia. Thanks to the dramatic landscapes and topsy-turvy weather I experienced during the shoot I was able to create quite a few interesting images with this lens. However I also have to give a massive amount of credit for the success of the shoot to the creative director, Soichi Hayashi. It’s amazing to work with someone who has such respect for and faith in your work, to give you the freedom to create the photos you want while also providing excellent technical and creative feedback and ideas. Thank you very very much, Soichi.

Torres del Paine NP, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Los Cuernos and Paine Grande at sunrise. Nikon D500. ISO100, f/4, 11mm, 1/200 sec.

The shoot was very loose, and the goal was simple: push the lens to its limits and discover its potential for landscape photography.

Skottsberg Blue, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Laguna Skottsberg, Nikon D810. ISO64, f/11, 15mm, 2.5 sec.

First, let me talk a little about the technical qualities of the lens. Pixel peepers will be happy to know that the lens itself is incredibly sharp, with excellent depth of field, even wide-open. It handles chromatic aberration well and has great color and contrast rendition. And with the new nano-crystal coat, flares and ghosts are virtually eliminated.

Lago Huemul, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Glacier Huemul, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina. Nikon D500. ISO100, f/4, 11mm, 1/2500 sec.

But as technically sound as the lens is, I was personally more interested in the artistic applications. Because a fisheye lens is not typically thought of as landscape lens I wanted to take the opportunity to dig into the versatility and unique perspectives of this new tool. If you’ve never used a fisheye lens before the first thing that will strike you is of course the fisheye perspective. Straight lines become wildly curved, objects close to the lens are exaggerated, and objects in the background are diminished.

Las Torres, Torres Del Paine NP, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Las Torres. Torres del Paine NP. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/8, 8mm, 1/250 sec.

Valley Frances, Torres del Paine NP, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Valley Frances, Torres del Paine NP. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/3.5, 8mm, 1/800 sec.

 

And while the new Nikkor lens demonstrates all these classical fisheye attributes, it’s not a gimmick or a novelty. I quickly discovered that the neck-stretching perspective and fisheye distortion could be used creatively to create compelling, and otherwise-impossible, landscape imagery.

For example, on a full-frame body, the lens has a field of view of 180°. At 8mm, that gives you a fully circular image. At 15mm, the image fills the frame, but you still have almost 180° from corner to corner. This translates to roughly 150° across the frame. 150 degrees!! That’s huge! That means you can shoot panoramic images in a single frame. No stitching required.

Perito Mereno Glacier, Argentina. Nikon D810 + Nikkor. ISO64, f/4.5, 15mm, 1/5000 sec., Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Perito Mereno Glacier, Argentina. Nikon D810 + AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED. ISO64, f/4.5, 15mm, 1/5000 sec.

Here’s a shot of the exact same scene using my AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens at 18mm for comparison.

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

The exact same scene shot at 18mm on the AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED. Notice the massive increase in scale in the fisheye shot.

 

Single shot panorama of the Salto Grande waterfall in Torres del Paine NP. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/5.6, 15mm, 1/400 sec., Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Single shot panorama of the Salto Grande waterfall in Torres del Paine NP. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/5.6, 15mm, 1/400 sec., Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

In addition to the single-shot panoramics, the massive perspective of the lens gives you an opportunity to shoot foreground elements from extremely close and still get them entirely within the frame. For this photo I estimate that I was approximately 18″ away from the base of the tree, and that the tree is 7-8 feet tall.

Twisted tree, Torres del Paine National Park, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D810. ISO100, f/11, 15mm, 1/30 sec.

The following photo was taken inside an ice tunnel in the Perito Moreno glacier. Even though the tunnel isn’t large the fisheye lens gives an immersive, wrap-around look.

Ice cave, Perito Moreno Glacier, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D810. ISO64, f/11, 15mm, 1/320 sec.

And speaking of close, the minimum focus distance for this fisheye lens is 16 cm. Which means it can function as an incredibly unique macro lens as well.

Bumblebee and flower macro, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D810. ISO64, f/4.5, 15mm, 1/800 sec.

One other cool thing about this fisheye lens is because of the way it renders real-world geometry, circular objects in the real world look like circles through the lens. Unlikely rectilinear ultra-wide lenses which turn circles into oblong ovals near the corners, this lens does a much better job of reproducing circles as circles. Here you can see a halo from the setting sun is almost perfectly circular despite being close to the edge of the frame.

Solar halo, Torres del Paine NP, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D810. ISO64, f/8, 15mm, 1/125 sec.

Finally, let’s look at the heart of the fisheye distortion for this lens: straight lines in real life bend away from the center of the image frame. Because of that I found it very easy to create natural frames within a photo as shown below. In this case the trees in the upper right and lower left are actually parallel to each other, growing straight up out of the ground. But by laying down on the ground and shooting up I could easily wrap both of them around the interesting tree and clouds in the center of the frame.

Forest, Torres del Paine, NP, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D500. ISO100, f/8, 11mm, 1/160 sec.

Even within the confines of a dense forest I found this distortion to create a very pleasing effect, almost like the lines are wrapping around the central subject and giving it a visual hug. For example with this striking tree. The subtle curving of the branches and rocks around it do a great job of framing the main subject:

Forest, Torres del Paine National Park, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D500. ISO100, f/4, 11mm, 1/80 sec.

I also spent a few days creating lots of timelapse video using the lens.

And to cap things off here are a few more of my favorite images shot using the new AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED. It’s a really fun lens to use, and surprisingly cool and versatile for landscape photography. And I personally can’t wait to buy a copy for myself. Hope you enjoyed seeing some of these first shots. If you have any questions about the lens let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Mt Fitz Roy, Argentina. Nikon D500 . ISO100, f/4.5, 13mm, 1/3200 sec, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Mt Fitz Roy, Argentina. Nikon D500. ISO100, f/4.5, 13mm, 1/3200 sec.

Lago Grey, Torres del Paine NP, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Lago Grey, Torres del Paine NP. D500. ISO100, f/4.5, 11mm, 1/2000 sec.

Sunburst, Torres del Paine National Park, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Sunburst, Torres del Paine National Park. Nikon D500. ISO100, f/8, 15mm, 1/4000 sec.

Crevasses, Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina. Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Crevasses, Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina. Nikon D500. ISO11, f/4, 11mm, 1/1600 sec.

Misty morning at Laguna Torre, Los Glaciares National Park, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Misty morning at Laguna Torre, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina. Nikon D500. ISO100, f/4.5, 14mm, 1/8 sec.

Grey Glacier, Torres del Paine NP, Chile, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Grey Glacier, Torres del Paine NP, Chile. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/8, 15mm, 1/2000 sec.

Trees, Torres del Paine NP, Chile. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/11, 8mm, 1/100 sec, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Trees, Torres del Paine NP, Chile. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/11, 8mm, 1/100 sec.

Forest sunburst, Torres del Paine NP, Chile, Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Nikon D810. ISO125, f/11, 15mm, 1/80 sec.

Lago de Los Tres, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/4.5, 15mm, 1/1250 sec. Nikon Nikkor 8-15mm Fisheye Sample Photos

Lago de Los Tres, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/4.5, 15mm, 1/1250 sec.

17 replies
  1. Lefteris
    Lefteris says:

    These are difficult lenses, since the line between artistic and “plain weird” is thin sometimes. Considering that the result is unnatural anyway, these lenses are a subject of study themselves. Every time I picked a strange lens, it was because I had the idea first (and got the lens afterwards, to implement the idea). But every time I bought a strange lens hoping that an idea would come, it ended up collecting dust.

    Reply
  2. Theo
    Theo says:

    For years, the dream was to be a member of the Nikon family, but for technical reasons, did fall in Pentax’s lap.
    The dream is still active, and the images included here suggested the feeling of a kitten licking its whiskers after drinking extremely tasty milk.

    Reply
    • Josh Cripps
      Josh Cripps says:

      Haha! If that’s the case then I felt like a cat dropped in a bathtub of milk. A little overwhelmed at first, but surrounded by good stuff after I got used to it.

      Reply
  3. Jose Ernesto
    Jose Ernesto says:

    Great Pictures!!! They show the way to use a fish-eye!
    The other side of the coin, Torres del Payne looks like a paradise for a photographer, it is close to torture to choose from the pictures taken!

    Reply
  4. Steinar Knai
    Steinar Knai says:

    I apologize for my ignorance, but how do you make the lens show a normal image? Is it done in post or what? I have never used one in 50 years of photography, but this lens looks very attractive and would fit some of the things I do. Thank you for the nice review.

    Reply
    • Josh Cripps
      Josh Cripps says:

      Hi Steinar,

      There are two ways to approach it: one is simply to apply a lens correction in post. Alternatively in the field you can point the center of the lens at the horizon and it will be straight. Or if you are shooting subjects without a clear horizon line then it can also be difficult to detect the fisheye effect. Hope that helps!

      Josh

      Reply
  5. Harris
    Harris says:

    These are fabulous images from a fabulous lens. I had been considering purchasing the Sony A7riii whenever it comes out and building a collection of GM lenses, but after looking at what you have achieved with this lens I am seriously considering staying in the Nikon family and picking up whatever replaces the D810.

    Thanks for the wonderful images.

    Reply
  6. Elfi
    Elfi says:

    Hi Josh,
    thanks for showing us your very stunning experimental results- the lens seems to be a good investment.
    Is there a special incremental filter for pics like “Trees, Torres del Paine NP, Chile. Nikon D810. ISO64, f/11, 8mm, 1/100 sec.” within the lens or how did you shoot this one? Thank for an explanation

    Reply
    • Josh Cripps
      Josh Cripps says:

      Hi Elfi,

      The lens was a nice surprise indeed in terms of what it’s capable of in the landscape realm. No filters used in that shot. I simply got down low, stuck the camera into that clump of trees and pointed it straight up.

      Reply
  7. Rob
    Rob says:

    Lovely!!
    I think I’m getting pulled into this lens, but I really don’t need the 8mm end. I love the 10.5DX and mastered Fisheyes with it, it never came off my D200! But now I need an FX fisheye.
    I don’t think Nikon will be in a hurry to try and better this 8 to 15 with a prime!
    Josh… Try RectFish for straightening, it’s the best de-fishing software available and it’s free from http://www.acapixus.dk/software/rectfish/ It looses the bare minimum of an image and with the centre of the frame on the horizon for landscapes anyone would be hard pushed to tell the shot was taken with a fisheye. (I’m not associated with it in any way b.t.w!)

    Reply
  8. Saad Sarfraz
    Saad Sarfraz says:

    I’m a bit confused about this lens…
    it renders a fisheye image in fx until which focal length?
    I see fisheye renders at 8mm obviously, but from 11mm, it’s a nice and wideangle image. how are 9 and 10mm like?

    Reply
    • Josh Cripps
      Josh Cripps says:

      Hi Saad,

      Technically it’s always a fisheye render, but depending on how you use it you can make it appear less fishy. On an FX camera you at 8mm you have a fully circular image. As you zoom in the top and bottom of the circle get cropped more and more until you reach 15mm, when the images fills the entire frame. On a DX camera you never get a full circle, but starting at 11mm the image fills the frame as well. So the photos you see in this post that are full rectangular images at 11mm were shot on the DX D500. Hope that helps!

      Josh

      Reply

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