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Michael Ng | profile | all galleries >> Photo Gear & Reviews >> Nikon 16mm f/2.8D Fisheye tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Nikon 16mm f/2.8D Fisheye

The Nikon 16mm f/2.8D AF was released by Nikon Japan in 1993. This true fisheye lens was made to replace the older manual focus Nikkor 16mm f/2.8 AIS. To account for the loss in the Field-of-View (FOV) from Nikon D-SLRs, Nikon launched the Nikkor 10.5mm f/2.8G DX in 2004. The 15mm equivalent newcomer gave a true 180 degree view and is only compatible with Nikon D-SLRs.

Lens Construction: 8 elements in 5 groups
Picture Angle: 180 degrees (35mm format), 107 degrees (Nikon DX format)
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.85 feet
Attachment/Filter Size: Rear bayonet
Dimensions (diameter x length - in.): 2.5 x 2.2 inches
Weight (oz.): 10.1 oz
Nikon Lens Hood: Built-in flower type
Case(s): Hard Case CL-31S
Included Accessories: Bayonet filters: L37C, A2, B2, O56, front and rear caps

New Price: USD$754.95
Used Price: USD$400-450 (mint)

The whole package: Lens, caps, filters and filter wallet

What’s in the Box:
This lens comes in a nice cubed box. Inside the box, apart from the standard paperwork, you will be greeted with the nice and cute little fisheye lens. Also included is a nice little wallet: the filter case (CL-31s), which contains the included rear-mounted filters.

The filters included are:
- Amber warming filter (A2)
- Blue cooling filter (B2)
- Orange filter (056)
- Clear UV filter (L37)

The lens comes with a slip on cap instead of the regular pinch style ones. This design is to compensate for the built-in bayonet style hood and the slightly protruding front element. Some have complained about it being very loose. I don’t see this problem with my unit. Not just yet. The rear lens cap is just a white translucent cap (to my disappointment).

I was pleasantly surprised at how tiny this lens was. It’s about the same size of a standard 50mm lens. This makes it a handy addition to anyone’s camera bag just in case some creative inspiration strikes.

The exterior of the lens comes with Nikon’s trademark crinkle finish, found on higher end lenses. This texture makes handholding this lens a pleasure and gives the added assurance that the lens won’t just slip out of your grip.

Focusing window with markings to help with hyperfocal focusing

Front element bulges from the lens but thanks to the hood, it’s protected.


Hyperfocal Markings:
There is a focus distance window with markings that help with hyperfocal focusing. This is a really handy feature to get everything in the image to be sharp; a great technique for landscape photography (if you want the distortion effect).

The hood is petal-shaped and built in to the lens. It cannot be removed. This is not a problem at all, and in fact, is a good feature to help protect the front element that slightly protrudes from the body of the lens.

Close focusing:
According to Nikon Specifications this lens has a minimum focusing distance of 0.85 feet. I tested this and found it to be true when a filter (L37C) was mounted. However, when the filter was removed, I could focus even closer at about 0.71 feet. In other words:
10 inches (0.85 ft) with filter
8.5 inches (0.71 ft) without filter

Either way, this is real cose! Close enough for me to worry about the welfare of my front element if I’m shooting certain subjects. Coupled with the generous amount of distortion this lens produces, this feature makes for a wide variety of creative possibilities.

Field Test:
I took this lens on assignment to shoot a weather experiment conducted at the University of Michigan Stadium a.k.a The Big House. I knew that the only way I could squeeze in the whole gargantuan stadium was if I had this lens with me. True enough, I was able to get a staggering view of one of the largest university sports venues in America. I could have gotten a lot more in if it were not for the crop factor of my DSLR.

After the stadium, I headed to an apple orchard about 20 minutes away. The close focusing capability of the 16mm Nikkor, as mentioned earlier is great for dramatic close-ups. I stress however that it should be used, but not limited to, subjects where straight lines aren’t critical. For images where there are no straight lines for reference, a highly distorted image may seem like a shot from a rectilinear lens. (See apple picture).

Being an ultra wide angle lens, the Nikkor is no exception to features inherent of lenses from this range. Fast and sure auto-focusing and generous depth of field even at small apertures are among wide-angle lens goodies.

I am really pleased with the sharpness and the colors produced by this lens. Coming from a Sigma 15mm f/2.8EX which was far too soft for my liking, the 16mm Nikkor is definitely a step in the right direction. But in the used market, for a <$100 difference, the choice is a no-brainer. Go for the Nikkor.

Correcting Distortion:
In some cases where fisheye distortion is unwanted, all is not lost. There are a few programs in the market that you can use to rectify distortion. The best free tool that I’ve used so far…actually the only one that I’ve used so far and don’t have any complaints about….is PTLens from

PTLens works as a plugin in Adobe Photoshop. It contains the profiles of several cameras and lenses in the market, which you have to select in order to correctly rectify the distortion. This plugin is easy to use and works great.

You can download it for free HERE.

For an example for corrected images by this program, scroll below where you see thumbnails of images and click on the “Uncorrected” and “Corrected” images to see the difference.

©Michael Ng 2005
Darn that crop factor!

Where no straight lines are present, distortion appears nonexistent.

Generous depth of field for dramatic pumpkin shots!

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The Kit
The Kit
Distance Scale
Distance Scale
Filter Attached
Filter Attached
Front Element
Front Element
The Lens
The Lens
Attached to a F100 +MB15
Attached to a F100 +MB15
The Big House
The Big House
Pumpkin Field
Pumpkin Field