Best Fisheye Lenses For Nikon Cameras – 2020 Top Picks

Fisheye lenses were originally designed to provide an enormous viewing angle that could capture the entire sky. Developed to allow meteorologists to keep a close watch on the weather, the model soon became popular among creative photographers. Now, fisheye lenses are used for extreme sports, astrophotography, underwater shooting, and even designing virtual environments.

So, if you’re a beginner hoping to capture exceptional one-of-a-kind pictures or a professional photographer looking to expand and explore your horizons, then a fisheye lens can truly open up a world of infinite possibilities.

​To help you choose a fisheye that best suits your creative needs, the following guide includes reviews of some of the best fisheye lenses available today, what they can be used for, and tips on how to capture truly stunning images with the lens. Read on to find the right lens for you!

Comparison Chart of the Best Fisheye Lenses For Nikon Cameras

PRODUCT
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Rokinon FE8M-N 8mm F3.5

  • 10 elements arranged in 7 groups, including a complex aspherical lens
  • Minimum focusing distance measuring 12 inches and a petal-type hood
  • 180-degree angle of view makes the Rokinon FE8M-N the best overall unit on our list
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Nikon AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E

  • Zoom capability makes the Nikon FISHEYE NIKKOR the runner-up on our list
  • Protective fluorine coating and weather-sealed design allows use in harsh weather conditions
  • Close focusing distance of 0.5 inches enables photographers to capture macro-style fisheye photos
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Sigma 8mm f/3.5 EX DG

  • The rear is designed with a gelatin filter holder
  • Digitally-optimized, circular auto-focus Sigma is the best for the money
  • Maximum magnification of 4.6x and a minimum focusing distance measuring 5.5 inches
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Nikon AF DX NIKKOR 10.5mm f/2.8G ED

  • Designed with a flower-type lens hood and Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor
  • 7 diaphragm blades and a close-range focusing distance of up to 5.5 inches
  • With a 180-degree diagonal field of view, the NIKKOR 10.5mm is the best Nikon D3200 fisheye lens
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Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG

  • Includes a gelatin filter holder
  • Digitally-optimized diagonal autofocus Sigma is the best fisheye lens for Nikon D3300
  • Minimum shooting distance of almost 5.9 inches, maximum magnification of 0.26x, and a 180-degree angle of view
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Nikon AF FX Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D

  • Includes a rear lens cap, a lens cover, and four filters
  • Close-Range Correction system delivers exceptional performance at both far and near focusing
  • The minimum focus distance of 0.85 ft. makes the NIKKOR 16mm the best Nikon D5100 fisheye lens
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What is a Fisheye Lens?

A photographer can do truly amazing things with a quality fisheye lens. While standard wide-angle lenses feature a rectilinear design that keeps distortion at a minimum, fisheye lenses have a curvilinear nature that creates extreme barrel distortion, resulting in images with a truly unique and bold look.

Fisheye lenses are of two types – circular fisheyes and full-field diagonal fisheyes. Diagonal fisheyes create an image circle that covers the image sensor completely, resulting in an image that has a full-sized, regular, rectangular shape.

On the other hand, circular fisheyes create a smaller image circle that easily fits within the image sensor’s boundaries. Thus, it captures a circular, smaller image that has an even wider viewing angle, measuring a full 180 degrees in both horizontal and vertical planes.

What Does a Fisheye Lens Do?

A fisheye lens is an extreme wide-angle lens that makes the world appear in fun and creative ways. Also known as a super-wide lens, the model captures an incredibly wide image, usually around 180 degrees. The resulting images are highly distorted and have a more abstract, dynamic look.

The short focal lengths of fisheyes produce hemispherical or panoramic photos. Although this unit was originally designed for meteorological purposes, it is now used for several different types of photography. Some of these uses include:

Shots in Confined Spaces

It can be extremely difficult to capture small interiors or shoot in tight spaces at the best of times. However, fisheyes enable photographers to shoot in confined areas while making the images look natural at the same time.

Shoot Directly up or Down

By pointing the lens straight up in a street filled with skyscrapers, you can capture a dramatic view of incredibly high buildings. Pointing down from an elevated platform, on the other hand, enables you to capture the miniature city life bustling below.

Creative and Surreal Shots

Along with having practical uses, many photographers adopted the fisheye because of the distorted, unique images it captured. They used it to capture intriguing photographs of numerous subjects, ranging from portraits to still life.

While fisheyes are typically novelty lenses used for special effects, they can also be used for action sports, including snowboarding, surfing, and skateboarding. 

How to Choose a Fisheye Lens

Fisheye lenses are usually expensive, making them a pretty big investment. To ensure you don’t end up wasting your money, here are some things you should consider before finalizing your purchase:

Diagonal vs. Circular Fisheye Effects

As mentioned above, fisheye lenses are of two types. The model you choose depends on personal preference and the type of photography you’re planning to do. The circular fisheye effect has a barrel-like distortion and provides an angle of view of 180 degrees across the entire periphery. Vignetting is present in the corners of the frame, resulting in a tunnel vision effect that makes the scene appear to be confined inside a round circle.

Meanwhile, the diagonal fisheye effect creates an extremely distorted view and offers a diagonal angle of view of approximately 180 degrees. Also called a full-frame fisheye effect, the captured image covers the frame completely.

Lens Flare

The extremely wide field of view and large front element makes controlling the light and lens flare extremely difficult. Thus, it’s advisable to choose a unit that better controls lens flare.

Optical Quality

A model with excellent optical quality is essential in panoramic photography. Since you’re going to be working with a closed diaphragm to achieve maximum depth of field, you’ll experience diffraction effects and a slight loss in sharpness. Hence, make sure that the model you choose has excellent center sharpness.

Quick Take - Best Fisheye Lenses For Nikon Cameras

Before we dive into our review, here are the best fisheye lenses for Nikon cameras:

  1. Rokinon FE8M-N 8mm F3.5
  2. ​Nikon AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E
  3. ​Sigma 8mm f/3.5 EX DG

Review of the Best Fisheye Lenses For Nikon

To help you capture truly unique and creative photos, here are detailed reviews of some of the best fisheye lenses for Nikon cameras. Along with helping you capture incredibly cool diagonal and circular distortion effects, these units will also allow you to experiment and have more fun with your Nikon camera!

Rokinon FE8M-N 8mm F3.5 Fisheye Fixed Lens for Nikon (Black)

PROS

  • Backed by a 1-year warranty
  • Multi-layer coating reduces flare and ghosting
  • Metal mount ensures durability, longevity, and reliability
  • Hybrid aspherical lenses ensure stunning, sharply defined photos
  • Removable lens hood makes it easy to switch between a full-frame body and a crop sensor

CONS

  • Does not have image stabilization
  • Full frame bodies have less dramatic circular distortion
  • Exposure meter might not be true to lighting every time

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers found the Rokinon to be excellent for the price and loved its contrast, sharpness, and color saturation. Users were impressed with its build quality and stated that it had a great edge to edge and center sharpness. They also found that it controlled flaring very well and had little color fringing and chromatic aberration. However, customers reported that it took some time to get used to the focus, while some found that images in bright light were a bit overexposed.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Rokinon boasts truly exceptional image quality. The unit distorts lines in such a way that makes the captured scene look very intriguing and interesting. Since it distorts the plane of the image completely, it enables photographers to be incredibly creative. In fact, the best results are achieved in manual mode when images are underexposed a bit.

Who Will Use This Most

If you’re searching for a high-quality fisheye lens at an extremely affordable price, then the Rokinon is the perfect option. It’s an ideal starter lens for photographers who want to start experimenting with fisheye photography. Since it renders blues beautifully, it’s perfect for outdoor use and landscape photography. It delivers excellent performance with flashes, making it ideal for sports as well.

Bottom Line 

A quality lens by Rokinon, the FE8M-N certainly deserves the top position on our list of top picks. Featuring the widest field of view in any 8mm fisheye lens, the model has exceptional optical construction and superb build quality. However, it is a bit difficult to use.

Nikon AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED F/4.5-29 Fixed Zoom Camera Lens, Black

PROS

  • Robust, intuitive, and simple design ensures ease of use
  • Nanocrystal coat reduces flare and ghosting for consistent, brilliant photos
  • Moisture and dust resistant barrel enables shooting in harsh, challenging conditions
  • Zoom range provides diagonal and circular fisheye option for fascinating 180° images
  • 2 aspherical lens elements and 3 ED glass elements reduce color fringing and chromatic aberration, delivering stunning contrast and sharpness

CONS

  • Expensive compared to other models
  • Electromagnetic diaphragm does not work on some older SLR models

What Recent Buyers Report

Almost all buyers were impressed with the image quality and zoom capabilities offered by Nikon. Users loved the brilliant hood design and the nano-coating. They also liked the compact and lightweight design and stated that it was extremely fun to use. While they praised the sharpness and fast auto-focus, they found the unit to be a bit expensive. Some customers also reported receiving defective models.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The first fisheye zoom developed by Nikon, the NIKKOR 8-15mm offers the versatility of full-frame fisheyes and the feel and look of circular fisheyes – all in one model. Along with enabling photographers to shoot classic full-frame fisheye photos, it also allows users to zoom out to capture stunning 180° circular images. It further offers a 0.34x reproduction ratio for beautiful close-up fisheye images.

Who Will Use This Most

Ideal for video work and still photography, the NIKKOR 8-15mm is designed for advanced creators and photographers. Compatible with DX-format cameras, the unit offers a unique point-of-view, making it perfect for extreme wide-angle uses. It further enables photographers to develop a dramatic emphasis on their subject, making it ideal for interior shots of temples and cathedrals, and for capturing wide-open spaces.

Bottom ​Line

If you’re a videographer or photographer who thinks outside the box, then the NIKKOR 8-15mm will open a new world of endless possibilities. Bringing a whole new level of sharpness and versatility to extreme wide-angle models, the unit gives you the freedom to select the right fisheye perspective for your shot. However, it is a bit expensive.

Best for the Money:
Sigma 8mm f/3.5 EX DG

Sigma 8mm f/3.5 EX DG Circular Fisheye Fixed Lens for Nikon SLR Cameras

PROS

  • New power layout significantly reduces color aberrations
  • 180° angle of view creates beautiful, exaggerated close-ups
  • Innovative fisheye design ensures maximum creative expression
  • Includes a carrying case, a front adapter ring, and rear and front caps
  • EX-finished exterior enhances appearance, ensures durability, and provides superior optical quality

CONS

  • Difficult to use if you are not used to a 180° angle of view
  • Does not have auto-focus with Nikon D5xxx and D3xxx cameras
  • Is not designed with the USB docking option that comes with Sigma’s newer models

What Recent Buyers Report

Most of the people who invested in the Sigma absolutely loved its optical quality. They were impressed with its consistent output, incredibly sharp images, and found it very fun to use. One user even stated that it had almost no loss of contrast or flares, and they could easily shoot with the sun in the frame. However, some customers found the auto-focus to be slow, while some were disappointed with its heavy weight.

Why it Stands Out to Us

While there are several reasons why we love the Sigma, its auto-focus motor is what really makes it stand out from the crowd. Perfect for beginners who find it difficult to focus manually, the unit focuses quickly and accurately. It’s further able to acquire a sharp focus in low light conditions, ensuring truly stunning images.

Who Will Use This Most

For photographers searching for an incredibly creative venue, the Sigma is the perfect option. Because of the quantifiable area/angle relationship the unit creates, it has numerous scientific applications, including measurements of vegetation distribution of a rain forest or cloud distribution in the sky. Lastly, the unit is also ideal for capturing crowded city streets and interiors of buildings.

Bottom Line

Producing a circular fisheye effect on both APS-C and full-frame sensors, the Sigma 8mm is surely worth the investment. Designed with a multi-layer lens coating, the unit significantly reduces ghosting and flare, making it perfect for capturing creative images with exceptional clarity. However, it can be a bit difficult to use.

Best Nikon D3200 Fisheye Lens:
Nikon AF DX NIKKOR 10.5mm f/2.8G ED

Nikon AF DX NIKKOR 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Fixed Zoom Fisheye Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Rounded diaphragm gives a more natural look to out-of-focus elements
  • Lightweight and compact design covers the DX camera’s image sensor completely
  • ED (EXTRA-low Dispersion) glass element significantly reduces chromatic aberration
  • Innovative CRC (Close Range Correction) technology ensures consistently sharp, crisp images
  • D-type design delivers accurate distance information for ambient light exposure processes and flash

CONS

  • Does not have an internal auto-focus motor
  • A bit expensive compared to other APS-C format fisheyes

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers were extremely happy with the NIKKOR 10.5mm and loved the incredibly wide-angle and extremely close focusing distance it offered. Users were impressed with its build and optical quality and stated that it allowed them to take stunning, clear images. However, customers found that the auto-focus did not work with all digital modes, while some were disappointed with the lenses inability to attach a filter.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Being one of the best fisheyes available today, the NIKKOR 10.5MM stands out to us for several different reasons. Firstly, the ED glass element reduces chromatic aberration, ensuring natural, clear colors, while the rounded 7-blade diaphragm makes out-of-focus elements appear more natural. Secondly, the unit is extremely easy and comfortable to use. Lastly, the Close-Range Correction system delivers exceptional performance when capturing up-close shots.

Who Will Use This Most

If you own an APC-sensor and want a Nikon NIKKOR lens, then this unit is the best option. Aimed at those who want to develop unique visual effects, it can be used for close-ups, landscape photography, and for shooting within tight interiors. With a minimum focusing distance of 1.2 inches, it’s capable of giving an entirely new perspective on almost every subject.

Bottom Line

Innovatively built to be lightweight and compact, the NIKKOR 10.5mm certainly deserves a place on our list of top picks. Image quality is impressive, and sharpness is excellent, even around the extreme corners of the frame. However, color fringing can become noticeable if not corrected.

Best Fisheye Lens for Nikon D3300:
Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG

Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye Lens for Nikon SLR Cameras

PROS

  • Includes a front adapter ring, a carrying case, and rear and front caps
  • Large f/2.8 aperture ensures sharp, clear images in every lighting condition
  • 7 diaphragm blades and a maximum f/2.8 aperture ensures luscious bokeh
  • Built-in hood protects the protruding, bulbous element, ensuring longevity and durability
  • Slip-in holder allows the use of neutral density filters and color gels for customization of exposure and white balance

CONS

  • Does not have auto-focus with Nikon D5xxx and D3xxx models
  • Is not designed with the USB docking feature that comes with Sigma’s newer lenses

What Recent Buyers Report

The majority of buyers were impressed with the sharpness and image quality the Sigma 15mm offered. They loved its high-quality build and the colors it captured. Customers found it to be quiet and fast and stated that they had a lot of fun shooting with this lens. However, users were disappointed with the fact that the lens cover did not fasten to the unit.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Digitally optimized, the Sigma 15mm primarily stands out to us because of the exaggerated perspective it offers. The distortion aberration and minimum shooting distance of 5.9 inches enable photographers to capture truly creative images, while the innovative multi-layer coating technology reduces ghosting and flare. The 180-degree angle of view further creates stunning image expressions that can only be seen through a camera lens.

Who Will Use This Most

If you need an affordable diagonal fisheye lens, then the Sigma is a perfect choice. Designed with a gel filter holder, the unit is ideal for filmmakers who experience difficulty with high native ISOs. It can also be used for wedding photography to give a more artistic look, scenic photography, and underwater photography.

Bottom Line

A reasonably priced model, the Sigma 15mm is a beautiful combination of value and quality for both adventurous and aspiring photographers. Image quality is excellent, and there’s little vignetting, even with the fast aperture rating. However, the auto-focus does not work with all Nikon models.

Best Nikon D5100 Fisheye Lens:
Nikon AF FX Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D

Nikon AF FX Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8D Fixed Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Auto-focus is accurate and fast
  • Built-in metal lens hood protects the front element
  • Chromatic aberration is incredibly light and can be easily fixed using Light room
  • Super Integrated Coating minimizes ghosting and flare, ensuring good color balance
  • Compact and lightweight design makes it extremely comfortable to use and carry around

CONS

  • Lens cap might not have a snug fit
  • Not suitable for other types of photography

What Recent Buyers Report

Almost all buyers loved the NIKKOR 16mm and had a lot of fun using it. They found it to be extremely fast and were impressed with its image quality, with one user even stating that it added great artistic opportunities. While customers liked its lightweight design, they were disappointed with the poor quality of the lens cover.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Although the Nikon is incredibly sharp across the entire frame, its performance in low-light conditions is what truly sets it apart from its competitors. The extremely wide angle of view combined with the large f/2.8 aperture enables users to capture sharp photos in incredibly low lighting. This further makes the unit ideal for dimly lit interiors, where using a longer lens would be extremely difficult.

Who Will Use This Most

Providing a 180º field of view, the NIKKOR 16mm is the perfect option for photographing interior subjects, broad outdoor subjects, and portraiture with purposely distorted features. The f/2.8 maximum aperture further makes it ideal for low-light photography.

Bottom Line

To put it simply, the NIKKOR 16mm packs a dramatic punch into a compact, lightweight package. Designed with Super Integrated Coating and a Close-Range Correction system, the unit captures stunning, sharp images, even in low-light conditions. However, the quality of the lens cap could be improved.

Pros and Cons of Fisheye Lenses

An ultra-wide-angle lens that creates an extremely wide panoramic view, fisheyes have plenty of visual distortion. To put this unit to good use, it’s essential that you fully understand its strengths and weaknesses.

Pros

Along with creating surreal images and capturing stunning landscapes, some other advantages of this model include:

Clear Images

Fisheyes enable photographers to creatively bend their subject, creating a beautiful snow globe effect while using close-up. The clarity also remains constant throughout the focal range.

Greater Depth of Field

Fisheye lenses provide photographers with a greater depth of field, enabling them to capture sweeping landscapes. The sharpness and image quality also remains incredibly consistent, while including interesting foreground elements at the same time.

Creative and Unique Images

When used with artistic hands, a fisheye lens can create truly mystical results. This unit forces photographers to be experimental and imaginative, encouraging them to bring their best creative game in front of the camera.

Cons

The aforementioned advantages of a fisheye lens can quickly turn into disadvantages if you don’t want to curve or bend your subject. Some other cons include:

Distortion

Since these units provide an extremely wide angle of view, they have a lot of distortion. Images will usually have a slight curve around the edges, while the unique look might become overused after a couple of shots. Photographers will have to be extremely selective, as the fisheye is not ideal for everything.

How to Use a Fisheye Lens

The best way to use a fisheye lens is just to experiment, explore, and have fun with a unique perspective. Nevertheless, here are some additional tips that can help you make the most out of your model:

Use Distortion Effectively

Fisheye lenses create distortion, but if you look closely at the scenes you want to capture, you can easily use this distortion to your advantage. In fact, some of the most stunning fisheye images have been captured by putting distortion to the right use.

Get Close to the Ground

Due to its incredibly wide field of view, you can get down and up close to your subject to exaggerate the perspective. This results in a low angle that cannot be achieved with a normal lens, creating something truly bold and unique.

Avoid Distortion With a Sharp Central Composition

Although a fisheye lens distorts the edges, it keeps the distortion in the center of the lens at a minimum. So, it’s better to keep your subjects in the middle, so they look normal, while the lens distorts and exaggerates the edges.

To better understand how to use a fisheye lens, watch the following video:

Conclusion

With so many creative uses, the fisheye lens certainly deserves to be in the photographer’s bag. However, it’s essential that you understand its technicalities and numerous uses before purchasing it. Hopefully, the aforementioned guide will help you in this regard and will narrow down your choices, enabling you to get truly spectacular and creative results.

People Also Ask

Although fisheyes can be used in fun and creative ways, choosing the right model can be a technical and daunting task. To help clear any confusion you might have regarding fisheye lenses, here are some of the most frequently asked questions:

What is a Fisheye Lens Used For?

While fisheye lenses were originally designed for meteorological purposes, they are now used for several different types of photography. Perfect for capturing extremely wide panoramas of the sky and landscapes, they are also used by photographers to capture close-up subjects, like interiors, architecture, and crowds. Fisheyes are also commonly used for action sports, including snowboarding, surfing, and skateboarding.

What is a Diagonal Fisheye Lens?

Diagonal fisheye lenses boast an approximately 180-degree diagonal field of view, along with an extremely distorted view across the entire image periphery. They usually have a focal length of approximately 15mm on full-frame cameras, and 10mm on APS-C cameras. Since the resulting image covers the frame completely, it’s also called a full-frame fisheye effect.

What is the Difference Between Wide Angle and Fisheye?

Generally, distortion around the edges increases as focal length decreases. Thus, wide-angle lenses feature special corrective lens elements, like an aspherical lens element, to reduce distortion.

On the other hand, fisheye lenses don’t reduce distortion that occurs at the image periphery. Instead, they enable photographers to use distortion to their advantage to create exaggerated and truly creative images.

Why Does NASA Use Fisheye Lenses?

Since fisheye lenses offer an extremely wide angle of view, they’re often used by NASA for scientific photography. NASA uses the unit to record meteors and auroras, to calculate and measure near-ground solar radiation, and to study the geometry of plant canopy.