Nikon AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Unboxing

June 27, 2017

John Warkentin from michaels gets right to it and opens the box showing you want comes with this new Nikon Fisheye Zoom Lens.

John then follows this up with a discussion on the usage of Fisheye Lenses and dives into one of the major applications which is the capture of full spherical images using a fisheye stitching techniques.

A 4 frame spherical capture using a Nikon D750 and the fisheye zoom at 12mm is then demonstrated.

Lastly, a selection of panoramic images in little planet projection that were all captured with a Fisheye Zoom are presented.

This video was a Live Broadcast on Facebook.

Order the Nikon 8-15mm Fisheye Lens:



Nikon AF-S FISHEYE NIKKOR 8-15mm f/35-45e ED Unboxing.


The Contents Of The Box

[opening box]

 It looks like we’ve got the serial number and the proof of ownership, worldwide warranty service.

This is good. So, if you buy this 8-15 mm fisheye lens, you have a worldwide warranty. That’s very important.

What else do we have in the box here? Got the Nikon Australia warranty card and we’ve got the instruction manuals. Now, this is a big fold out here, so it’s not a book it’s more of a massive sheet of paper here.

So, we will leave that be for the time being. Let’s fold that up.

Ok, so, that’s that.

Now, let’s open up the little flap. We’ve got a bag in here.

So, that looks like that is the pouch for the lens. So it’s kind of like a little, sort of a velvety sort of thing here, looks nice. So it’s got a different fabric on the inside, a little drawstring. So, it’s a standard lens pouch. So, that’s good, let’s put that over to the side.

Now we’ve got some foam; fitted foam here to keep the lens, and everything safe when it’s in transit, and here is the lens.

Ok, let me put the box over to the side and let’s pull this puppy out.

Ok, now, so there’s a two-part hood here, and there’s a piece of plastic in between the petals of the lens hood, and the actual lens cap.

Now, put that away. So, here we have it in our hand.

The Lens

So, what we’ve got: There’s a lens hood on here which is removable. So let’s remove that, and then you can see the front element of the lens, and I’ll just hold it here so you can see what the controls are.

So, we have the zoom ring and the focus ring. So, when we do the zoom, which is the outermost ring, you see that the front element extends and contracts ever so slightly. I would say the overall extension, from maximum to minimum, is maybe 3 or 4 mm. Now, that comes into play when you’re using this thing on a panoramic head because you need to align the no parallax point with the front of the lens element in general. So, when you’re using it at 15 mm you might need to change your pano head’s offset a little wee bit, versus its minimum point, which looks like if it’s at about the 10- to 11-mm range, right around there is the minimum, and then it comes back out a little bit at 8 mm.

Okay, so that’s the zoom ring.

Obviously, below that is the focus ring. There is the manual/automatic focus switch, and there is nothing else on it. There is no zoom limiter, there’s no zoom lock. So, it’s a very simple lens.

And, we’ll put the lens hood back on here, so we’ll line that up with the top, so that goes this way [working with the lens and hood] so we’ve got the Nikon label. There that’s all lined up.

Now, my gut tells me that the lens hood is most likely in the frame at 8 mm, and maybe all the way up to probably that tick mark here, which is at 11 mm. There is usually a reason why they put this tick mark on here.

So I’m going to move my hand there. [showing the lens]

So, if you’re going to be using this lens at the tele end, which is beyond 11 mm upwards to 15, the lens hood could help you reduce lens flare a little wee bit; otherwise, it’s going to get in your picture, because at 8 mm a circular fisheye lens is 180-degree field of view.

So now, the next part of the puzzle is the lens cap which fits on top of the lens hood; and does it snap into place? Let me just sort of see here. [working with lens cap and lens]

I’m just loosely fitting on here… Oh yes, press the buttons and it snaps into place.

So, if you want to remove the two of them at the same time, you press on the button on the lens hood, and the two come off.

So, that’s important.

Very, very similar in operation, with the lens hood and the lens cap, to the Canon 8-15 mm fisheye, and, of course, a lot of comparisons are going to be drawn between these two lenses.

 I’ve got shot with this yet, we’ve just opened the box. It looks to me like it might be, physically, a little wee bit smaller than the Canon. I do own the Canon personally. I’ve been using it for the last five years to shoot panoramas. The other big change between the Nikon 8-15 and the Canon is the Canon is a fixed f/4 aperture, whereas this lens at 8 mm is a little bit faster; it’s f/3.5, so it’s third of stop faster. Whereas that the long end, 15 mm, this lens is f/4.5, so it is not a constant aperture lens.

From what I can see about pricing is, they’re both about between $100 apart in price, so basically the same price.

Uses Of A Fisheye Lens & Panoramic Photography

So, let’s talk a little bit about what you want to use a fisheye lens for. I sort of hinted at this a little bit earlier. I tend to use fisheye lenses for panoramas, and when we’re talking about panoramas that can mean any type of mosaic of multiple images used to produce a bigger image; but there’s a specific type of panorama, the spherical panorama, where the fisheye lens is the perfect tool for the job. The spherical panorama is the style of panorama where you want to see the whole environment, all the way around, 360 degrees, and all the way up 180 degrees. So, floor to ceiling, and all the way around. I’ll just quickly bring one up here. [working on his computer] I’ll bring it up and we want to get to, as I type this in, a client of mine who has some panoramas, Port Melbourne Cycles. Great fun watching a guy typing something in a web browser online here. There we go, Port Melbourne Cycles. Let’s get to their website, and we’ll just bring up a virtual tour. A virtual tour is another one of the names that people often use to call panoramas or spherical panoramas.

Let’s take a look at the virtual tour here; and this one animates as it comes in, but as you see we’re inside a bicycle store here, and this was shot with an 8-15 mm, albeit the Canon fisheye zoom, because I am a Canon shooter, but this Nikon lens will do the exact same thing. Now, let’s just stop this. [working on computer]

So, I hit stop… oh, I’m sorry, hang on a second here, stop. There we go.

So, there we are seeing a full 360-degree, immersive image from the ceiling all the way down to the floor, albeit it’s got some graphics laid in on the floor. So, it’s a panoramic image shot with a full-frame digital SLR, with an 8-15 mm fisheye zoom lens, and the focal length was set, in this case, to approximately 13 mm, and I’ll explain that.

So, that is sort of the magic focal length you want to use a fisheye lens, like this, on a full-frame camera, so that the lens will see from floor to ceiling, and give you the perfect amount of coverage so that you can take four shots at 90-degree intervals. So, one shot this way, one shot that way, one shot behind, and one shot this way; and that will give you enough material to cover the complete sphere of the environment.

People want to use full-frame cameras because they’re optically and quality-wise, the best cameras. They’ve got the best low noise, they’re high resolution. The problem is, to use a fisheye lens on a full-frame camera, you need a fisheye lens of this magical approximately 13-mm focal length, and nobody makes a 13 mm fixed fisheye. They make 8 mm and they make 15 mm.

So, 15 mm is not wide enough to get the panoramic capture done in 4 frames. If you use a 15 mm lens you usually need to use 6 frames around, and you need to shoot an up frame, and a down frame, which gets much, much more complex when it comes to shooting a panorama. If you use an 8 mm lens on a full-frame camera, you’re getting a circular field of view, and I’ll show you exactly what this thing looks like with a circular field of view. Here we have an 8 mm fisheye lens on a full-frame camera; this is just taking a picture on the sidewalk in Port Melbourne, and as you can see, if we zoom in here, the image is capturing all the way down the street on the one side, and all the way up the street. It is a full 180-degree field of coverage. As a matter of fact, if you take a picture back-to-back you almost have enough material to build the sphere, but it doesn’t quite overlap because the lens doesn’t really see behind itself.

So, that’s what a circular fisheye 8 mm image looks like on a full-frame camera.

So, needless to say, all that black space around the camera, around the ball, is an area of no content. So, you’ve basically thrown away half of the pixels of your camera if you want to make a panorama.

Now, if you’re looking to create circular artistic images you can’t beat it. It’s perfect. You need a full-frame camera and an 8 mm fisheye lens, and, of course, being a fisheye zoom it gives you all the options. So, if you want the circular look you can get it; but if you want to get a panoramic image set done in the least amount of images, with the highest amount of quality, you want to be working at the 13 mm range.

So, what has happened historically, panoramic shooters have used cropped cameras, like the, you know, any of the consumer Canon cameras or Nikon cameras, so anything with an APS-C format sensor, with an 8 mm fisheye; and that truncates the sides of the fisheye frame, kind of like about like this here, as I do this, and you just get a little bit of dark corners in the frame, and that is perfect for a 4-frame 90-degree interval - [gesturing directions] this, this, this, that – capture, and I’m going to demonstrate that at the end of this talk as well.

So, that’s why people like 8 mm on cropped, but if they want the higher quality image capture from a full-frame, they need 8 mm, times the crop factor; which in the case of the Nikon cameras is 1.5. So, that takes up to 12 mm.

In the case of Canon cameras, it’s a 1.6 crop factor, which takes you up to 12.8 mm. So, that’s why we’re in this 12-13 mm range where we want to shoot with a fisheye on a full-frame camera.

Well, now the Nikon shooters are ready for that because there is a fisheye zoom for their mount.

This was exclusively the reign of the Canon shooters for a long time because Canon had the fisheye zoom.

So, that’s where it gets quite exciting.

Traditional Uses For Fisheye Lenses

Now, let’s just go back a little bit. Forget about panoramas, and let’s just talk about historically what fisheye lenses were used for. They are ultra-wide. They see everything in the environment. So, when you’ve got really interesting pictures with, say, skyscrapers, or you just want to get funky stuff close into the face of a dog or something, you know the fisheye is really cool. It’ll focus literally just a couple inches away from the front of it, and it’ll just give you this crazy perspective.

Straight lines are going to curve with the fisheye lens, so you’ve got to be aware of that; but, when you use them in a natural environment, you place your horizon on the centre of the image, it’s not a problem. Anything on the vertical, and on the horizon, right in the centre your image will not be bent; but, everything else will have this fisheye curvature. If you’re shooting pictures of flowers, you want to get really, really close, and still get the environment, along with the petals of the flowers; the fisheye lens is your game.

Now, let’s take a look at some samples from history. Where were these things used?

Well, they were very popular in the 1960s for psychedelic album covers. So, some of you might remember the Jimi Hendrix Experience. “Are you experienced?” album; and of course that’s a famous shot with a fisheye; and, of course, The Birds did it as well, the Rolling Stones did it. The rock-and-roll photographers of the 60s loved the fisheye lens, and most of those guys shot on Nikon. So, Nikon had these lenses going way back. So, they know how to make a fisheye lens and let’s hope that they’ve done a brilliant job, and I fully expect that they’ve done a brilliant job with this new lens.

Purple Fringing - Chromatic Aberation 

One of the problems that I have with my Canon lens is purple fringing, or what’s known technically as “chromatic aberrations.” Fisheye lenses aren’t easy to engineer, and the purple fringing that I get in my Canon lens has always been a problem for me. Yes, I can sort of correct it in software, but that has some certain side effects. So, I’m very excited to get out in the field and do some work with this new lens, on a high-resolution Nikon body like the D810, and see how it performs.

Shooting A Panorama Naked - A Spherical Panorama

Now, I’m not going to be able to do that right here today, with you, but I am going to show you how to shoot a panorama without any, you know, fancy gear.

I’m going to show you how to use a plumb bob method.

So, we’re going to mount this camera up, and, let’s see if we’ve got any comments on Facebook yet. [checking computer]

No comments. We are live. That’s good news.

So, I’m going to mount the fisheye lens to a Nikon… oh, the label is off it, but it is a D750 here. [attaching lens to camera body]

So, let’s pop the body cap off that. Let’s get this mounted up here.

Get our alignment dot [working with camera and lens] and go.

Okay, that’s mounted.

 Now, what I’m going to do, I’ll move some of these things out of the way, I’m going to get this camera talking on Wi-Fi over to this iPad.

So, let’s get into the settings here. [working on camera menu panel]

So, I’m going to go over to settings, and let’s get to Wi-Fi. Let’s turn it on, and let’s get into menu here. Sorry. Where’s my menu button? Menu. Okay, we need to get over here.

So, bear with me while I do this. I know a lot of people struggle with this as well, so this is always a good exercise to show everyone.

 Let’s get over to Wi-Fi here. So I’m in the Tools menu on the camera, and we’ve got to get into Wi-Fi. There we go.

“Network connection.” Let’s turn that on. There we go. That’s enabled.

Now, we should see the camera settings show up over here on my iPad, and there it is, a Nikon WU2. That is the right one I wanted. Okay, so we’re going to connect to that.

I’m not sure if we’re showing this in the broadcast or not, it’s not that exciting anyway, but it’s there.

So, we are connected to the Nikon camera on Wi-Fi.

Let’s get over here and run the Nikon app. [working on iPad and camera] I better make sure that this thing here…

Okay, that’s good, it’s connected. We’ve got the symbol in the upper left-hand corner.

Let’s go live. There we go! It is talking!

Now, we should have a live feed here.

Focal Lengths

So, now we get to explain a little bit about focal length.

So, let me zoom in here, you see my cameraman Harry over there, you see us in the lecture theatre at Michael’s Camera. Way over on the right-hand side of the image is Daffyd on the switcher, who’s handling our live broadcast today.

So, I’m going to zoom out to 8 mm. Now you can see that the lens is getting dramatic corner shading. There we go.

Now, that’s the full circle, and that is at 8 mm on a full-frame Nikon at D750.

So, you can see that it’s actually even in a little bit from the edges on the top and bottom, so if I zoom out a little bit, you see there’s the circle I can get a little bit more before it starts to truncate. So that’s, you know, 8.1 or something.

So, that’s our full circle.

If you go all the way out to 15 mm, you can see that the corner shading is completely gone, and now we are, well we’re almost double the focal length.

So, that is what 15mm is like. So, if you want to fill the frame, they call that a rectangular fisheye view; and then this being the circular.

So, the magic focal length we like to use for panoramas in 4 frames is, we take the fisheye edges on the left and right to the corners, or sorry to the edge on the horizon. So, you can sort of see that, it’s getting almost there, and then go just a little bit further, and we just leave dark corners - about that.

So that, probably, is the perfect focal length. Now if I look at the lens here, you can see that I am at 12 mm.

So, 8 times 1.5 on the crop factor takes us to, basically, 12 mm, and so that’s where we’re at.

So, now, what I’m going to do is, I’ve got a little plumb-bob I made up earlier today, and I’m going to go stand in front of the table here, so, bear with me.

Harry’s going to have to move around on camera, we’re going to change a little bit of focal length here, but I’ve got an elastic band and a bit of fishing line here, and I’ve got a double-A battery as a weight.

So, I’m going to put this over the front of the lens element here, and this is going to give me a little reference point for shooting the spherical panorama.

So, I’ll just carefully place that on the front of the lens element here. Let’s get that right on the front there. It’s not going to be in the picture.

I’m going to hold the camera vertically when I shoot this, so it’ll be about like that. [indicates with camera]

If we change the iPad’s orientation, that might even work better when we’re doing this. So let me do that, so then you’ll be able to see it. Is that upside down, or right side up? Maybe that doesn’t make any sense.

That probably was a bad idea.

I’ll just keep the iPad horizontal while we do this; but, anyway, okay.

So, now I’m going to go over here. I’m going to put a little marker on the floor where I’m going to stand, which I’m just going to use this little Exacto knife. I’m happy with my exposure. Unfortunately, while I am in the live view mode with the iPad app, I don’t have any control over camera exposure, but I should be able to take a shot.

So, what I’m going to do is, I’m going to put this little marker on the floor here, and I’m going to use the camera. Okay, so you can see my plumb-bob. So, there we go, I should have the wide view. [display screen turns off] Oh, we’ve just turned off here. Hang on a second. Let’s get this back.

You must have done something. [fiddling with camera]

Hang on a second here, see if we can get this back working.

What’s that thing say? “The battery in the smart device is low, and live view is unavailable.” What?!

I don’t understand why it’s saying that. It’s at 25%.

Well, maybe we can’t show a live view while we do it. At least we already covered the earlier parts of that.

So, let’s not worry about that too much.

 I’ll bring up the live view on the back of the camera here; and what I’m going to do is, I’m going to get my focus point. Hang on a sec, I’ll do that first. I’ve got it at a twentieth of a second, ISO 1250, and f5.6; so it’s pretty well in from the depth of field. I’m just going to focus on the ground here in front of me. I know that that’s a perfect spot to lock the focus. So, I’ll just get it over to manual, and manual, and we should be set.

So, now what I want to do is, basically, I’m just going to let this string with the battery here. So, as long as that string is just hovering above where I’ve put the little white knife on the floor, we should be good.

So, I’m going to shoot my first picture, angling out. I’m going to angle the camera up just a wee bit while I do this, and I’ll take a shot.

There we go.

Now I rotate 90 degrees, and again, keeping the little weight, I just have to wait for it to stop vibrating around. It would be about here. There we go, that’s pretty good.

Now, I’m going to go to the camera down a little bit, make sure that it’s just at the right spot, just angle it down just a little bit more here. You don’t have to worry too much about the accuracy of this.

Now, unfortunately, I’ve got my back to the camera for this frame here; and I’ll just get the battery lined up here, and then we’re going angle up a little bit; just waiting for the weight to stop vibrating, and angle up a little bit; and I’ll do the last one.

It’s very easy to approximate 90-degree rotations when you’re doing this. This will work very well outside.

You might have some stitching problems when you’ve got objects close to the camera when you do this.

I’m just going to angle this one down a little bit here, and there we go.

So, now I captured those four frames. After this video is done, what I’ll do is, I’ll assemble them; and, because Facebook natively supports panoramas, I will put this up into the Facebook feed and we’ll share the panorama.

Now, odds are it’ll have a few little niggly stitch areas, because we’re in a room and there are all sorts of vertical lines and whatever, and needless to say, the accuracy of me holding the camera with the little double-A battery as a weight, over top  of that knife I put on the floor, is plus or minus a couple of centimeters or so, so there will be some small alignment errors in the panorama; but, in general, it should do the trick; and if you’re outdoors and you assemble these, and you know you stitch these, you will probably never notice the errors. The errors in stitching usually show up in the near field area, so anything that’s close to the camera, so if you’re in an outdoor environment that’s not going to be a problem.

That’s a very, very simple method for you to use a fisheye lens to shoot a spherical panorama.

So hopefully that will assemble well, and we’ll be able to show you that.

In general, the fisheye lens, it’s just the widest you can go.

Distortion Correction

You also have the option when you’re using these lenses, to correct the distortion in Lightroom or Photoshop, because they have profiles for fisheye lenses, and so that you can then take what is a fisheye view, and make it into a standard rectilinear view. Where all lines are straight, you know, horizons are, you know, all the curvature is removed, and you’ll still get a very wide-angle picture.

So, you’ve got an awful lot of options with a fisheye lens.

There’s no way to go to anything wider, and they’re just perfect for some really creative use.

I find that natural pictures with trees and just sweeping landscapes when they’re carefully composed with the fisheye lens, they can be very, very interesting.

Examples Of Fisheye Images

So, I’ll dive into my archives and find some good examples that I’ve shot with the fisheye lens and give you a little bit of a rundown of that.

I’ll just quickly go over to my camera roll here and I’ll just show you a few. I should have a lot of panoramas that I’ve shot. So, every one of these panoramas was shot with a fisheye lens.

We’ll just bring up a couple of interesting ones here that are, kind of, here’s a bunch of stuff I shot in New York City.

[moving through a selection of images on the iPad]

That’s the Guggenheim Museum. I know, I guess this is on Fifth Avenue, high up around 85th Street, or 86th Street in New York City.

So, these are all panoramas that are shot with a fisheye lens with multiple images stitched together and then reprojected into these ultra-wide, beyond normal, wide views called little planets.

So, I’ve been shooting these things for years.

This is in the forecourt of the Australian capital parliament buildings in Canberra.

This is just a park in Perth with some tents.

This is one of the looking pools in Canberra, at Parliament.

I’m always looking for weird sort of shapes that can work with panoramas, and, as I said, a fisheye lens is really critical.

Again, trying to compose this Ferris wheel with the ground in front of it. This is Little Creatures brewery in Perth.

This is Parliament in Canberra.

This is again the parliament buildings, with the way to the forecourt.

This kind of looked a little bit like a skull for some reason when I put it all together, so that was quite an interesting picture.

Again, some of the artwork on the forecourt in Canberra.

The Guggenheim in New York City.

Fremantle fishing port harbour.

Just some deck chairs at my father’s cottage up in Canada.

Again, Little Creatures brewery. Parliament. More parliament.

 Anyway, it’s just the fisheye lens when coupled with panoramas, just gives you so many really creative options to just show the whole world, and, of course, you still have the option of doing the panoramic virtual tours; which I’ll just get right back to.

Let’s bring that one up for the Cycle Shop. So, we’ll get back into here.

So, again, we’ve got the whole view here, but we can also reproject that into little planet mode, which is what those circular pictures are called. So, there’s a little planet view inside the store.

We can take a look at an aerial panorama that was shot.  Now, keep in mind aerial panoramas are shot with a drone, so they’re not with a fisheye lens, but again I can show them in little planet mode.

This, basically, is a view of Port Melbourne from the air in panoramic mode, so we can view all the way around it, and we just flip that into little planet as well, and there we go, we get that really interesting sphere look. We can put the sun anywhere in the picture.

So, the full spherical panorama which, in general, is captured with the circular fisheye lens, or the fisheye zoom lens that we have here; when the panos are assembled you can just create really interesting things with the little  planet projection;  and so without a fisheye lens I’d never be able to create all the work that I’ve been doing for years.

The exception, of course, is with the drone: you need a lot of frames to shoot a pano from a drone because you don’t have a fisheye lens. The fisheye lens enables you to shoot the complete world around your camera in as few as four frames, or actually as few as three frames. If you use the lens at 8 mm, you can shoot the whole sphere, albeit at a little lower res, in three frames, with 120 degrees between your shots.

I tend to go for the four-frame capture because I get more resolution, and the extra frame is not much harder.

If you want to go all the way out to 15 mm, you’ll get even more resolution in your finished panoramas, but you will need to shoot more frames,

So, you’ve got the flexibility of doing almost anything with an 8-15 mm Nikon fisheye lens, because you can use it 8 mm on a cropped camera, or you can use it at 12 mm on the full-frame for easy four-frame panoramic capture; and, of course, artistically on any of these cameras, you can use it just to get ultra-wide views

So, it’s a very, very flexible lens, and it’s a great addition to Nikon’s line, and  I am looking forward to getting out in the field, putting it on a high-res D810, and seeing what the quality’s like.

I’ve got very high expectations, so it should be quite exciting.

Anyway, thank you very much for joining us, and we hope you enjoyed our little unboxing and our little live demonstration.

Unfortunately, the iPad ran out of power didn’t want to do that live view when I was doing it; but, anyway, we always make do, and when I’ve got this panorama assembled I will put the finished panorama in the Facebook link, and we’ll get this video up on YouTube as well, and in the comments I will link you to the version of the panorama on Facebook.

So, thanks a lot for joining us.

Like us on Facebook.

Follow us, all those usual things that you do, and send us through any requests for anything you’d like us to cover.

There’s no shortage of things to talk about in this camera store.

Anything you want us to talk about, we’re happy to test it, talk about it, interview people, anything.

We enjoy making videos and we hope you really enjoy watching them.

Take care. We’ll see you next time!

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