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Best fisheye lenses in 2021: get a new perspective on the world

Best fisheye lenses
Circular fisheye (Image credit: Getty Images)

You need one of the best fisheye lenses if you want an enormous viewing angle. Much wider than even the widest of wide-angle lenses,  fisheye lenses were invented to enable meteorologists to keep a watch on the weather, but soon found favor with creative photographers. 

Whereas regular wide-angle lenses have a rectilinear design that aims to keep distortion to a minimum, the curvilinear nature of fisheye lenses produces extreme barrel distortion, giving a bold and unique look to images. 

Nowadays, fisheye lenses have grown popular for underwater shooting, extreme sports, astrophotography and even creating virtual environments.

But what are the best fisheye lenses? The first thing you need to realize, is that there are two main types of fisheye lens… full-field diagonal fisheyes, and circular fisheyes.

Diagonal fisheyes (also sometimes confusingly called ‘full-frame’ fisheyes) produce an image circle that’s large enough to cover the entire image sensor. Whether designed for a full-frame or crop sensor camera, the resulting image has a regular, full-sized rectangular shape. However. It only gives a 180-degree viewing angle when measured on the horizontal of the frame.

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Fisheye

Diagonal fisheye lens example (Image credit: Getty Images)
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Fisheye

Circular fisheye lens example (Image credit: Getty Images)

Circular fisheyes produce a smaller image circle that fits within the boundary of the image sensor. In this case, you end up with a smaller, circular image but with an even wider viewing angle, equating to a full 180-degrees in both vertical and horizontal planes. 

The vast majority of fisheyes are prime lenses but, as you’ll see from our guide, Canon and Nikon make notable exceptions in the shape of zoom lenses that deliver circular or diagonal fisheye effects at either end of the zoom range.

The next most important thing, of course, is getting a mount that is compatible with your DSLR or mirrorless camera. But also (for Canon and Nikon shooters) choosing a lens that works best with the camera's sensor size.

The best fisheye lenses in 2021

Fisheye zooms

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

1. Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM

Why choose a circular or diagonal fisheye when you can have both?

Specifications
Mount: Canon EF
Full frame: Yes
Type: Circular & diagonal
Elements/groups: 14/11
Diaphragm blades: 7
Focus: Autofocus (ultrasonic ring)
Minimum focus distance: 0.15m
Maximum magnification: 0.34x
Hood: Bayonet-fit
Dimensions (WxL): 79x83mm
Weight: 540g
Reasons to buy
+Best fisheye for Canon DSLRs+Great image quality +Solid all-round performance
Reasons to avoid
-Versatility lost on APS-C sensors

On a full-frame Canon SLR, this lens works as a circular fisheye at its shortest 8mm focal length. Zoom to the 15mm end of the range and it becomes a diagonal fisheye that still gives an extremely wide viewing angle, complete with the pronounced barrel distortion associated with curvilinear lenses. It's an easy lens to live with, especially as it's like having two fisheye lenses in one. Because the bulbous front element protrudes from the lens, a two-stage lens cap is supplied, the barrel section of which also acts as a lens hood when used at 15mm. However, you need to remove it when shooting at shorter focal lengths.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

2. Nikon AF-S 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Fisheye

With circular and full-field options, this is the best fisheye lens for Nikon DSLRs

Specifications
Mount: Nikon F
Full frame: Yes
Type: Circular/diagonal
Elements/groups: 15/13
Diaphragm blades: 7
Focus: Autofocus (ultrasonic ring)
Minimum focus distance: 0.16m
Maximum magnification: 0.34x
Hood: Bayonet-fit
Dimensions (WxL): 78x83mm
Weight: 485g
Reasons to buy
+Circular and diagonal fisheye options+Excellent all-round image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively expensive for a fisheye lens-Not compatible with some older DSLRs

Something of a ‘me too’ lens from Nikon, this is a copy of the genre-busting Canon fisheye zoom lens, launched seven years earlier. The zoom range is identical, enabling the lens to act as a circular fisheye at the short end, and as a diagonal fisheye at the long end. Both lenses have electromagnetic aperture control and, while this is the case in all Canon EF lenses, it’s a newer development for Nikon F-mount lenses, raising incompatibility issues with some older bodies. Unlike the Canon’s constant-aperture design, the Nikon has a variable aperture rating that shrinks from f/3.5 to f/4.5 as you extend through the zoom range. Nano Crystal Coat helps to keep ghosting and flare to a minimum and the supplied lens hood can be used at the longest zoom setting. Image quality is excellent throughout.

(Image credit: Tokina)

3. Tokina AT-X 107 DX Fisheye 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 AF

Best fisheye zoom lens for APS-C DSLRs

Specifications
Mount: Canon EF, Nikon F
Full frame: No
Type: Diagonal
Elements/groups: 10/8
Diaphragm blades: 6
Focus: Autofocus (motor/camera-driven)
Minimum focus distance: 0.14m
Maximum magnification: 0.39x
Hood: Fixed or no hood options
Dimensions (WxL): 70x71mm
Weight: 350g
Reasons to buy
+A unique diagonal fisheye zoom+Good image quality and a sturdy build
Reasons to avoid
-No AF motor in the Nikon-fit version -Muted effect at longer zoom settings

Unlike the Canon and Nikon 8-15mm fisheye lenses that zoom from a circular to diagonal fisheye effect on full-frame bodies, this Tokina delivers sensor-filling diagonal coverage at all zoom settings. It’s designed for APS-C rather than full-frame SLRs, where it gives a 180-degree viewing angle at its 10mm focal length, shrinking to 100-degrees at 17mm. The viewing angles are much wider than when using the 10-17mm range of a rectilinear wide-angle zoom, and images shot with the Tokina have the trademark extreme barrel distortion of curvilinear lenses. Even so, the fisheye effect is lessened at the long end of the zoom range. Exposure control is fully automatic in both Canon and Nikon mount editions, but the Nikon-fit version lacks an internal autofocus motor, so only manual focus is available on bodies from the D3xxx and D5xxx series and older entry-level SLRs.

Diagonal fisheye primes

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

4. Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye

Best diagonal fisheye for full frame DSLRs

Specifications
Mount: Canon EF, Nikon, Pentax K, Sony A, Sigma
Full frame: Yes
Type: Diagonal
Diaphragm blades: 7
Focus: Autofocus (motor/camera-driven)
Minimum focus distance: 0.15m
Maximum magnification: 0.26x
Hood: Built-in
Dimensions (WxL): 74x69mm
Weight: : 370g
Reasons to buy
+Best for Pentax and Sony DSLRs+Fast f/2.8 aperture rating
Reasons to avoid
-No AF with some Nikon DSLRs-Lacks USB docking of Sigma’s newer lenses

Exactly the same size and 30g lighter than Sigma’s 8mm circular fisheye for full-frame cameras, this 15mm lens is a diagonal fisheye, effectively filling the image sensor of full-frame Canon and Nikon cameras, while adding Pentax and Sony A-mount options to the list. The built-in hood gives protection to the bulbous, protruding front element and a two-part lens hood enables the fitment of screw-in filters if you don't mind losing some of the image to vignetting. Alternatively, there’s a slot in the lens mount for using gelatin filters. Image quality is very good overall and there’s surprisingly little vignetting, given the fast aperture rating

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

5. Nikon AF DX 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Fisheye

A smart option for APS-C format DX Nikon SLRs

Specifications
Mount: Nikon F
Full frame: No
Type: Diagonal
Elements/groups: 10/7
Diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum focus distance: 0.14m
Maximum magnification: 0.2x
Hood: Built-in
Dimensions (WxL): 63x63mm
Weight: 305g
Reasons to buy
+Wide viewing angle +Fast maximum aperture
Reasons to avoid
-No internal autofocus motor -Expensive for an APS-C fisheye

Although designed exclusively for DX camera bodies with APS-C sized image sensors, the Nikon 10.5mm lacks an internal autofocus motor. Instead, it relies on a screw-drive from the host camera, making autofocus unavailable with bodies like D3xxx, D5xxx series and older entry-level SLRs. It’s not as much of a problem as you might think, as the depth of field delivered by a fisheye lens is enormous, so manual focusing is relatively painless. The lens is very compact and lightweight yet well built. Image quality is similarly impressive, with good sharpness even towards the extreme corners of the frame, although color fringing can be noticeable if uncorrected.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

6. Samyang 12mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS Fish-eye

Best full-frame fisheye for Sony cameras and more besides

Specifications
Mount: Canon EF, Canon M, Fujifilm X, Micro Four Thirds, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sony A, Sony E
Full frame: Yes
Type: Diagonal
Elements/groups: 12/8
Diaphragm blades: 7
Focus: Manual focus
Minimum focus distance: 0.2m
Maximum magnification: Mount-dependent
Hood: Bayonet-fit
Dimensions (WxL): 77x70-99mm (varies with mount)
Weight: 500-565g (varies with mount)
Reasons to buy
+Huge range of mount options+Good build and image quality
Reasons to avoid
-No autofocus-Front element is unprotected 

Despite being a diagonal rather than circular fisheye lens, this Samyang has a very bulbous and protruding front element. Thankfully, it’s reasonably well protected if you fit the supplied bayonet-fit hood. The lens has a tough aluminum alloy barrel, while optical highlights include three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements and nano-structure coatings. 

Although designed for full-frame cameras in mount options that include, Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony, Samyang also market the lens in Canon M, Fujifilm X, Micro Four Thirds and Samsung NX editions. Image quality is similarly impressive in all options although, naturally, the diagonal viewing angle of 180-degrees on a full-frame body is reduced to around 124 degrees on APS-C format bodies, and just 97 degrees on Micro Four Thirds. As well as being a manual-focus lens, aperture control is also manual, apart from in the Nikon version which includes electronics to enable a full range of camera-driven PASM shooting modes. The lens can also be found sold under the Rokinon brand.

best fisheye lens

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

7. Samyang 8mm f/3.5 UMC Fish-Eye CS II

Best diagonal fisheye for crop sensor cameras, with or without hood

Specifications
Mount: Canon EF-S, Canon M, Fujifilm X, Micro Four Thirds, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sony A, Sony E, Samsung NX
Full frame: No
Type: Diagonal
Elements/groups: 10/7
Diaphragm blades: Unspecified
Focus: Manual focus
Minimum focus distance: 0.3m
Maximum magnification: Mount-dependent
Hood: Bayonet-fit or fixed
Dimensions (WxL): 78x73-101mm (varies with mount)
Weight: 410-515g (varies with mount)
Reasons to buy
+Detachable hood version available +Wide range of mount options
Reasons to avoid
-No autofocus -Only Nikon version has camera-based aperture control

This is essentially a crop-sensor version of the Samyang 12mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS diagonal fisheye for full-frame cameras. As such, it has a shorter focal length to enable a similar 180-degree viewing angle, measured on the diagonal of the frame. Mount options are many and varied, including Canon EF-S and EF-M, Fujifilm X, MFT, Nikon DX, Pentax K, Sony A, Sony E and Samsung NX. Conversely, while the Samyang 12mm full-frame compatible lens is marketed in a selection of mount options that only feature crop-sensor cameras, this crop-format lens can also be used on full-frame bodies, where available in the camera range. With this in mind, a ‘DH’ (detachable hood) option has recently been added. Both versions are optically identical but the DH edition avoids vignetting when shooting with a full-frame camera. This lens is sold under the Rokinon brand in North America.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

8. Panasonic 8mm f/3.5 Lumix G Fisheye Micro

Best fisheye for Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras

Specifications
Mount: MFT
Full frame: No
Type: Diagonal
Elements/groups: 10/9
Diaphragm blades: 7
Focus: Autofocus (stepping motor)
Minimum focus distance: 0.1m
Maximum magnification: 0.2x
Hood: Fixed
Dimensions (WxL): 61x52mm
Weight: 165g
Reasons to buy
+Remarkably compact and lightweight +Nicely built+Delivers very good image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Not weather-sealed 

Whereas lenses like the Lensbaby circular fisheye and Samyang 8mm diagonal fisheye are available in a Micro Four Thirds mount option, this Panasonic diagonal fisheye is designed exclusively for MFT cameras - making it suitable for use on Olympus OM-D and PEN cameras, the Blackmagic PCC 4K, and Panasonic G-range cameras. It’s amazingly small and lightweight, measuring just 52mm in length and weighing a mere 165g. Even so, it feels solid and well-built. The fixed hood gives some protection to the protruding front element although the lens isn’t weather-sealed. Autofocus is fast and the short minimum focus distance of 10cm enables extreme close-ups. Whereas many MFT format lenses are distortion-free, thanks partly to in-camera corrections, the exaggerated barrel distortion of this fisheye lens is thankfully clear to see.

7artisans 7.5mm F2.8 II fishey

(Image credit: 7artisans)

9. 7artisans 7.5mm F2.8 Mark II

A terrific value APS-C and MFT fisheye lens

Specifications
Mount: Canon M, Fujifilm X, Micro Four Thirds, Nikon Z, Sony E
Full frame: No
Type: Diagonal
Elements/groups: 11/9
Diaphragm blades: 7
Focus: Manual
Minimum focus distance: 0.15m
Hood: Fixed
Dimensions (WxL): 63x63mm
Weight: 265g
Reasons to buy
+Accessible price+Loads of mount options+Designed for APS-C cameras
Reasons to avoid
-Not weather-sealed-Manual focus-No electronic contacts

Who says a new lens has to break the bank? This diagonal fisheye can be had for a bargain price, yet you'll still get the same bulging fisheye wow-factor as you'd get from a much pricier optic. So what's the catch? Well, predictably this is a fully manual lens, meaning you'll need to focus manually and set your exposure manually, as there are no electronic contacts to transmit exposure metering information. However, this needn't be a deal breaker, as depth of field is large enough at such short focal lengths to make manual focusing fairly easy. Its diagonal fisheye field of view has been tailored to APS-C and Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras, offering a similar effective field of view to a 10mm full-frame fish-eye lens.

Circular fisheye primes

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

10. Sigma 8mm f/3.5 EX DG Circular Fisheye

Autofocus option for Canon and Nikon full-frame DSLRs

Specifications
Mount: Canon EF, Nikon F, Sigma
Full frame: Yes
Type: Circular
Diaphragm blades: 6
Focus: Autofocus (motor/camera-driven)
Minimum focus distance: 0.14m
Maximum magnification: 0.22x
Hood: None
Dimensions (WxL): 74x69mm
Weight: 400g
Reasons to buy
+Full 180-degree viewing angle +Camera-based aperture control
Reasons to avoid
-No autofocus with some Nikon DSLRs-Lacks the USB docking option of Sigma’s newer lenses

As one of Sigma’s ‘DG’ lenses, this one is designed for full-frame bodies but can also be used on cameras with smaller APS-C format sensors. Unlike the Samyang 12mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS, the Sigma is a circular rather than diagonal fisheye with a wider viewing angle. It also features automatic aperture control and autofocus in both Canon and Nikon mount options. However, the Nikon-fit version lacks a built-in autofocus motor, instead relying on a screw-drive mechanism from an in-body motor. That shouldn’t be an issue, as all Nikon full-frame SLRs feature an AF drive motor. Sharpness is pretty good across the whole frame and colour fringing remains low even towards the periphery of the image circle.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

11. Lensbaby Circular Fisheye 5.8mm f/3.5

Best circular fisheye for APS-C cameras

Specifications
Mount: Canon EF-S, Fujifilm X, Micro Four Thirds, Nikon F, Sony E
Full frame: No
Type: Circular
Elements/groups: 8/5
Diaphragm blades: 6
Focus: Manual focus
Minimum focus distance: 0.08m
Maximum magnification: Unspecified
Dimensions (WxL): 70x76mm
Weight: 298g
Reasons to buy
+Impressive image quality +Very short minimum focus distance
Reasons to avoid
-No autofocus -Limited functionality 

Circular fisheye lenses for APS-C format cameras are pretty thin on the ground but this 5.8mm f/3.5 Lensbaby is available in a variety of mount options including Canon EF-S, Fujifilm X, Nikon DX and Sony E. It’s also available in Micro Four Thirds fit, catering to an even smaller image sensor. Highlights include an oversized 185-degree viewing angle and ultra-short minimum focus distance, at which the front of the lens comes to a distance of just 6mm from the subject. However, autofocus is unavailable in any of the mount options and you can typically only use the lens in aperture-priority and manual shooting modes. You might also need to enable the ‘shoot without lens attached’ option in the camera’s menu system, as there are no electronic connections.

More lens buying guides:

The best lenses for astrophotography
The best standard zoom lenses
The best 50mm lenses 
The best 70-200mm lenses 
The best budget telephoto lenses 
The best 150-600mm lenses

Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 


His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 


In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.