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I've loved photography since I was given a cheap point and shoot camera when I was around 10 and my interest grew from there as I moved onto film SLR cameras and now digital SLRs
One of the things I always wanted for my SLR cameras was a fisheye lens but due to the price I had never been able to get one. A few months ago I was finally able to buy one thanks to an Ebay seller in America badly listing the Nikon version as damaged along with a basic Sigma 70-300mm lens, some filters and lens caps for $400 which at the time was around £255. The only downside was having to get it sent to a friend in America for them to forward to me. The retail price of this lens is around £530 if you shop around and around £280 - £350 2nd hand and was therefore pretty much out of my league.
I did take a chance on this as I was buying it as damaged but it turned out the seller was very honest and as described the lens turned out to have a slight chunk out of the casing and thankfully nothing that affected the optics.
The lens itself gives the effect of looking through a fishbowl or one of those peepholes you get for seeing who's at the door before you open it. With this you can take in a 180 degree angle in your shot although obviously with a curved effect as only the centre lines stay straight as the rest curves away from the centre of the image. With this lens the picture fills the entire frame unlike some fisheyes which only give you a circular image in the centre of a black rectangular picture.
The lens is designed especially for Nikon DX format cameras which have a crop factor of 1.5 so the 10.5mm is the equivalent of 16mm on a 35mm film camera or FX full frame camera. If you have a 35mm or FX format camera you should buy the standard 16mm lens but if you have a DX this is the perfect fisheye. At F2.8 the lens is fast and it stops down to F22 so there's plenty of scope for all situations. While the lens is great for landscapes and 180 degree view of your surroundings it also has a minimum focus of 1.2" from the front of the lens for crazy close ups giving you endless possibilities for creative shots.
This lens hardly left my camera for weeks after I got it the situations you can play with this in are
endless so it has been used for the obvious uses such as the skateboarding and snowboarding shots I originally wanted it for but also used for kids and pets portraits,warped cityscapes,landscapes and interior shots along with countless other ideas some which worked others that didn't. The great thing about this lens is even the most boring subjects can suddenly be looked at in a whole new light which had me shooting things I might not have considered before and my neighbours are probably still trying to work out what I could possibly find interesting enough to photograph in our street.
It does have it's limits though and although for the first few weeks I really went into overkill with this and in every set of photographs I took there were at least a couple of fisheye shots the novelty has finally started to wear off a bit now and I now only use it occasionally rather than using it every time to shoot everything in sight.
As with most Nikons the build quality is excellent the lens comes with a built in petal hood,a slip on 61mm front cap, rear cap and a soft case.The lens has 10 elements in 7 groups with CRC (close range correction) ED (extra low dispersion) which minimizes chromatic abberation which results in coloured fringing often found in areas of high contrast in pictures such as a dark subject against a bright sky. Manual focus is smooth and on the only time I've tried it autofocus was pretty fast although the lens has no internal focus motor so for anyone with a D40, D60 or any other Nikon which has no internal focus motor the lens will only work in manual mode. Because of the wide focus angle you can't use front filters on the fisheye but according to Nikon you can use rear gel filters although I've yet to try this.
The biggest downside of this is the price Nikon lenses are great quality but the price tag also puts them out of many peoples budget. The shots from this lens on my D40 and D300 are sharp but there is still some chromatic abberation with a slight purple fringing on some of the shots but this seems to be a problem on most fisheyes and can be corrected with a bit of time and effort in photoshop if needed. There are fisheye lenses available from the third party manufacturers but there isn't a huge drop in price with the Sigma and the Tokina fisheyes costing around £480. If you can find one at a reasonable price I would advise buying fisheye lens 2nd hand popularity and demand means they hold their price well so you'll probably get your money back if you get bored of fisheye shots!
I really like this lens it's opened up lots of photo possibilities I might not have considered shooting before I owned it. The lens is pretty small as it's only a little bigger than my 50mm lens which means it's good to have in my bag all the time without taking up much room just incase that perfect fisheye shot turns up unexpectedly.