Additional Information on 16mm Fisheye-Nikkor Lenses


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Fisheye-Nikkor 16mm f/2.8s

If you new to this very special optical territory, probably you will need to understand some facts and optical behavior relating to fisheye lenses. Basically there are two types of fisheye lenses in the Nikkor lens family - one will project a circular image in the center of the picture frame while another version project a frame-filling across the 24 x 36mm picture frame. The 16mm fisheye lens featured here, is known as the full-frame fisheye lense due to its ability to fill up the 24 x 36mm format. While lenses of circular fisheye has a 220-180° angle of view in all directions within the circular image it projects, the 16mm fisheye has a limiting 180° angle of view in comparison on the diagonal of the 35mm frame's image area of 24mm x 36mm.

16mmAIS Fisheye.jpg
The 1962's 8mm f/5.6 -Auto Nikkor-Fisheye lens was Nikon's first Fisheye with a circular image projection. The first full frame format Fisheye lens at 16mm focal length was only being introduced late in March, 1973 - that was even after introduction of the second generation of professional Nikon F2 SLR cameras. In fact, the lens was brought along with another exciting lens, a true ultra-wideangle of 15mm QD.C Auto f/5.6 Nikkor which, incidentally was Nikon first ultra-wideangle lens beyond the physical limit at 20mm focal length most people would think viable at the time. So, there were actually two lenses at the 15-16mm focal length in the Nikkor family, each with a differing optical characteristic and visual interpretation.

The original 16mm Fisheye Nikkor introduced has a moderate maximum aperture at f/3.5. But Nikon revised & replaced that version with a faster Fisheye Nikkor f/2.8 lens speed which occurred sometime around July, 1979. Strangely, other than steaming along with the transitional change to Ai Nikkor lens updating program happened in 1977 (but the faster f/2.8 lens only started marketed late in 1979), the lens has literally remained unchanged in its optical construction of 8 elements in 5 groups. It stayed that way and it was not until another major update was introduced along with another Nikkor lens updating program saw the lens eventually being upddated with an Ai-S lens coupling system in December, 1981. (However, that is not entirely true to what has happened though, as a pre-AI f/3.5 version of this lens did updated with slight cosmetic change to its focusing ring which in 1976 while similarly, an early Ai Fisheye Nikkor f/3.5 version has also adopted the similar exterior appearance and design).

Since then, while cruiseing with the development of AF, the MF Fisheye Nikkor lens was actually the only offering Nikon can provide in the Fisheye lens group. Eventually in 1993, Nikon finally introduced the current version of the AF-D 16mm f/2.8 Nikkor-Fisheye lens which has further enhancement incorporated inside the lens to enable it to be used with modern AF Nikon SLRs as well. The AF Fisheye Nikkor comes with a floating lens elements system (CRC) and a distance chip was embedded within for relaying distance information to any workable Nikon AF SLR camera for 3D matrix metering. So, you can actually separate the Nikkor 16mm fisheye lens into a few stages in its lens developement: The early model (auto-Nikkor f/3.5 Non-Ai), Pre-Ai f/3.5 (change of focusing ring), Ai version f/3.5, Ai version f/2.8, Ai-S version with f/2.8 and the current version in the AF-D Nikkor Fisheye-Nikkor f/2.8s.

16mmFishAISAdorama1.JPG 16mmFishAISAdorama3.JPG
Credit: Images courtesy of Adorama® Inc. "Ebay - Mathew Duren" <ebay@adorama> Webisite URL:, who also operates a popular Ebay Store. All images appeared herein are Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

While weare still confined to discuss the Manual Focus version of this lens, in actual handling, if using the lens creatively, this MF Nikkor Fisheye lens can produce images with unusual perpective and powerful fisheye visual across the entire full-frame film format. Some of the significant advantages over circular type fisheye lenses are: the relatively fast speed of f/2.8 makes it ideal for color photography under poor lighting conditions. Second, this lens is made extremely compact and light weight and it has an absolute advantage over the circular counterpart which generally are bulkier both in size, weight and handling. Thirdly, it has close focusing ability and focuses down to 0.3m (1ft) and it is useful for creative photography if use wisely with the right photographic subjects.

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Fisheye lenses have the tendency to bend straight lines, causing distortion deliberately. However, as with nature of other fisheye lenses, this distortion will be least evident at the center of the image area. Thus, looking for the correct image and how you aim or position the lens to record the scene is the key to mastering this lens.lthough photography involves subjective judgment, just how you approach the use of the 16mm full frame fisheye depends on your own personal view - but just use it with caution, if not negative results may arise. Anyway, things to note is to understand the properties and the optical characteristic of the lens first before you attempt to use it for important assignments. On applications, a fisheye lens differs from an ordinary super wide-angle lens in at least one respect. While both lens types take in an enormous image area, super wide-angle lenses have been optically corrected to render straight lines as straight lines. As with ultra-windeangle lenses, it yields deep depth of field which allows virtually even sharpness over the entire image area, its distortion characteristics can produce special effects. The key is to think more before you trip the shutter release button.

Perhaps a slight drawback you can picked on this lens is: it does not have the built-in type filter which can be easily switched by rotating the filter ring on the lens barrel like those found on the older version. There are four filters being designed for this lens, Sky, Y3, 01 and R1 would require to be attached at the back manually. Further, both Ai and Ai-S version of this lens has not incorporated with Nikon exclusive CRC (Close range optical correction system) to maintain high optical performance at their closest focusng distances (But it has in the autofocus AF Nikkor 16mm f2.8 D lens version which was introduced almost a 15 years later, hey... ??? ). Another interesting aspect was, the new AF lens shares similar 8 elements in 5 group design withthe MF version (in fact, ALL fisheyes Nikkor lenses of f/3.5; f/2.8 and the AF counterpart employs similar optical arrangement but with different optical formula and varying performance). So, looks like it was possible but Nikon has saved the best under their sleeve for the last... huh ?

User Tips: Unless use it intentionally, always keep the subject and film plane perpendicular and parallel ! If the position of straight lines is at the center of the frame, they'll record without distortion. Raise or lower the camera-to-subject angle to shift the location of straight lines toward the edge of the frame and you'll add a barrel effect. Controlling angle and using your sense of composition results in making the most out of the fisheye lens. The lens also allows photographing subjects in the immediate foreground due to its close minimum focusing. Combining its distortion effect with extreme depth of field helps create unique images. Try combining it with flash photography which may also present some unusual potential for great images.

Credit: Images courtesy of Adorama® Inc. "Ebay - Mathew Duren" <ebay@adorama> Webisite URL:, who also operates a popular Ebay Store. All images appeared herein are Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

viewinfof2asign.jpg viewinfof2afish.jpg
Two differing usages of picture angle and perspective shots of current world's tallest man-made structure, the Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia

free images collection © 2001 

Technical Highlights: Full-frame fisheye images with an angle of view of 180° across the diagonal of the 24mm x 36mm picture format. Startling pictorial effects are possible because of extreme barrel distortion, virtually unlimited depth of field, and exaggerated perspective rendition.

* Fast f/2.8 maximum aperture produces bright images in the viewfinder, making it easy to focus accurately even in dim light. * As small as a normal lens and weighs only 330 grams. *Convenient through-the-lens viewing and metering at full aperture via an automatic diaphragm and meter-coupling ridge. High-contrast images even at full aperture are assured because this lens is extremely well corrected for chromatic aberration. * Standard equipment includes a built-in scalloped lens hood to minimize flare when shooting against the light and a set of 4 filters (skylight, orange light amber, and light blue) which bayonet onto the back of the lens. * For use in science and industry, advertising and commercial work, photojournalism, and "art" photography.

Specifications of 16mm f/2.8s

Focal length/Aperture: 16mm f/2.8
Lens construction: 8 elements in 5 groups
Picture angle: 180°
Diaphragm: Automatic

Aperture scale: f/2.8-f/22 on both standard and aperture-direct-readout scales
Exposure measurement: Via full aperture method, meter coupling ridge provided for Al cameras and meter coupling shoe for non-AI cameras
Distance scale : Graduated in meters and feet from 0.3m (1 ft.) to infinity (
OO ), Weight 330g
Filters: Rear-attachment bayonet type: skylight (L1BC), orange (056), light amber (A2) and light blue (B2)
Dimensions: 63mm dia. x 66mm long (overall); 55.5mm extension from lens flange
Front lens cap: Slip-on
Lens hood: Built-in scalloped type
Lens case: CL-30S hard leatherette, No. 61 soft pouch, or CP-8 plastic
Usable teleconverter(s):
TC-200, TC-201 Warning: Certain AE modes (Programmed AE and Shutter Priority AE) on selective Nikon SLRs will not work efficiently with older TC devices. Use an Ai-S version for better compatibility, read the respective Tele-Extender(s) sections.

NOTE: Serial Number was believed to have been started from 185001 for this Ai-S spec lens.

Nikkor Circular Fisheye Lenses: 6mm - f/2.8 | f/5.6 | 7.5mm f/5.6 | 8mm - f/2.8 | f/8.0 | 10mm OP f/5.6
16mm Full Frame Fisheye Nikkor: | Nikkor Fisheye 16mm f/3.5 Auto | Nikkor Fisheye 16mm f/3.5 Ai | Nikkor Fisheye 16mm f/2.8 Ai | Nikkor Fisheye 16mm f/2.8 Ai-S | Relative: AF-Nikkor Fisheye 16mm f/2.8 D |

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