Fisheye photography may seem like a hobby that’s only for serious enthusiasts, but there are some amazing things a photographer of any skill level can do with a good fisheye lens. There are two types of fisheye lenses: circular and diagonal. A diagonal fisheye lens fills the whole frame with the image you’re putting the effect on. A circular fisheye lens will make the image look rounded, as if you’re seeing the image through a goldfish bowl. Neither is better—it just depends on the type of image you’re looking to create and your personal preference. Here’s our list of the best fisheye lenses compatible with Nikon DSLR bodies.
Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G ED AF DX
This diagonal lens is generally seen as the crème de la crème of fisheyes compatible with Nikon cameras—and it’s reflected in the price point. If you’re serious about harnessing all the creative potential of fisheye photography, this is your best bet.
• Covers full 180 degrees view
• Minimum focus distance is only 3cm, so you can treat it like a macro lens as well
• Dispersion glass elements reduce lens flare and purple fringing
• Silent Wave Motor allows for silent autofocusing
• Autofocus doesn’t work with all Nikon models
• Fisheye 180 degrees effect is very dramatic; doesn’t work as regular lens
• Non-metal body isn’t as durable as other Nikkor lenses (though it’s lighter)
Sigma 10mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM
This diagonal fisheye gives a full 180-degree view on a Nikon body, whereas it only gives a 167-degree view on a Canon body.
• Built-in lens hood for easy viewing even in super bright light
• Reproduction ratio of 1:3:3
• Fast and quiet autofocus (but autofocus only compatible with some Nikon models)
• Comes with fitted, padded case
• No image stabilization option
• Autofocus doesn’t always hit the mark—not good for large-scale prints
• Not weather sealed
• Color aberration
Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D AF
If you’re working with a FX digital mount, this 16mm diagonal fisheye lens is preferable to the 10.5mm. On an FX camera, this lens provides the traditional distorted 180-degree fisheye effect; on a DX camera it’s less dramatic.
• Uses Nikkor-specific Close Range Correction (CRC)
• Stops down to f/22
• Infrared focus index for low light situations
• Super coating for minimal lens flare or dust
• Lens cap not fitted correctly
• A truly dedicated fisheye lens—not great for other types of photography
Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 HD8M-N
The newest addition to Rokinon’s fisheye lens line has a removable lens hood for easy switching between a crop sensor and full frame camera body. It’s on the cheaper end of the diagonal fisheye spectrum, so a good starter lens if you’re just beginning fisheye photography.
• Focusing ring is smooth and well built
• No autofocus option
• Sturdy lens hood
• Durable metal mount
• Image circular distortion is less dramatic on full frame bodies—built primarily for crop-sensor camera
• Exposure meter not always true to lighting
• Heavier than competing models
Nikkor 14mm f/2.8D ED
This is one of the best fisheye / wide-angle lens options available for Nikon camera bodies. Introduced in 1999, this lens has stood the test of time as one of Nikkor’s premiere fisheye models.
• Lens length stays constant because of rear-focus option
• Independent ring for manual and auto focusing options
• Built-in hood
• Ultra-wide angle lens
• Lightweight and small
• No silent autofocus option
• Lens cover is loose
• No Nano Glass coating—can be difficult to use in bright situations