Nikon 16mm f/3.5

Fisheye-NIKKOR (1973-1979)

Sample Images   Intro   Format   Compatibility

Specifications   Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

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Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Fisheye

Nikon 16mm f/3.5, AI-updated (covers FX, DX and 35mm, internal lever-selected filters, 11.3 oz./321g, 1'/0.3m close focus, about $350 used if you know How to Win at eBay. You may have to wait a while, but they always turn up). bigger. I got mine at this direct link to them at eBay.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

 

July 2017   Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses   Nikon Flash   All Reviews

How to Use Ultrawide Lenses

Why Fixed Lenses Take Better Pictures

16mm f/2.8 AI-s (1979-1998)

16mm f/2.8 AF-D (1993-)

8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E (2017-)

 

Sample Images

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format

Compatibility   Specifications

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

Desert Palms at Night

Desert Palms at Night, 20 July 2017. Nikon D810 with Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/8 at 32 seconds at ISO 100, Perfectly Clear. bigger or full-resolution file or camera-original © JPG file.

Of course with a 32-second exposure, the palm fronds blew around in the wind.

 

P40 Flying Tiger

P40 Flying Tiger at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 24 July 2017. Nikon D810 with Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/3.5 hand-held at 1/4 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG file.

 

Red Tail P51

Red-Tail P51 at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 24 July 2017. Nikon D810 with Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/3.5 hand-held at 1/4 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG file. That's a blurred Ryan moving in the lower left corner.

 

ERCO Ercoupe

ERCO Ercoupe at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 24 July 2017. Nikon D810 with Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/3.5 hand-held at 1/4 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG file.

 

Ryan at the Palm Springs Air Museum

Ryan in the Flying Boxcar at the Palm Springs Air Museum, 24 July 2017. Nikon D810 with Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/3.5 hand-held at 1/4 at ISO 400, Perfectly Clear. bigger.

 

Introduction

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format

Compatibility   Specifications

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

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This Nikon 16mm f/3.5 is Nikon's first 16mm fisheye, and has also been Nikon's sharpest fisheye until the introduction of the 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E in 2017.

It's the world's first fisheye designed to fill the entire rectangular 24 × 36mm frame. Earlier fisheyes produced just a small circular image that sat in the middle of a dark frame while this lens fills the entire frame.

This 16/3.5 also happens to be Nikon's sharpest 16mm lens. For whatever reason, the newer manual focus 16mm f/2.8 AI-s (1979-1998) and 16mm f/2.8 AF-D (1993-) have never been as sharp on the sides at large apertures. As you can see in the sample images, so long as it's in focus, this lens is sharp out to the corners even wide-open at f/3.5.

Like all Nikon classic manual-focus lenses, this has extraordinary mechanical quality that will outlast its owner.

 

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Fisheye

Nikon 16mm f/3.5. bigger.

 

Format

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format

Compatibility   Specifications

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

This is a full frame FX lens, and I'm reviewing it as such.

The fisheye effect is much less pronounced on DX cameras. For best results on DX, use the 10.5mm DX or ideally the new 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E.

 

Compatibility

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format

Compatibility   Specifications

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

This manual-focus Nikon 16mm f/3.5 works great with most full-frame Nikon cameras, 35mm and digital, so long as this lens is either an AI or AI-updated version. If it's an original F-mount lens, it's not particularly compatible with much of anything other than the cheapest DX DSLRs and Nikon's pre-1977 cameras. Follow those links to see which version is your lens.

See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details on your camera. Read down the "Pre-AI,: "AI, AI-s" or "AI Converted" column depending on your lens.

 

Specifications

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format

Compatibility   Specifications

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

Name

Nikon calls this the Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5.

NIKKOR is Nikon's brand name for all their lenses.

 

Optics

8 elements in 5 groups.

Unit focus.

My F-mount and later AI updated sample with a diamond-pattern on the focus ring is only single-coated mostly in blue.

Newer ones with straight ribs on the focus ring are multicoated.

 

Diaphragm

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Fisheye

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 at f/5.6. bigger.

7 blades.

Stops down to f/22.

 

Angle of View

170º diagonal on FX and 35mm.

101º diagonal on DX.

 

Focus Scale

Yes.

Focus ring rotates 160.º

 

Infinity Focus Stop

Yes.

 

Depth of Field Scale

Yes.

 

Infrared Focus Index

Yes.

 

Close Focus

1 foot (0.3 meters).

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio

1:13.4 (0.075 ×).

 

Filters

Three internal filters selected with a lever.

 

Hood

None, just the protective ridges seen above.

 

Caps

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Fisheye 64K cap

64K cap for Nikon 16mm f/3.5. bigger.

Special model number 64K felt-lined metal front cap, which is unique to this f/3.5 fisheye. The f/2.8s take a model 62K cap.

The 64K is what a cap should be: precise metal, made of several different pieces, and lined with felt for a perfect dust-tight fit that doesn't scratch the lens and doesn't fall off, either.

Standard Nikon rear cap.

 

Case

Optional CL-31, No.54 or CP-1.

 

Size

2.68" maximum diameter × 2.01" extension from flange.

68 mm maximum diameter × 51 mm extension from flange.

 

Weight

Lens alone

11.322 oz. (321.0 g), actual measured.

Rated 11.6 oz. (330 g).

 

64K cap

0.807 oz. (22.9 g), actual measured.

 

Quality

Made in Japan.

 

Announced

1973.

 

Discontinued

1979, replaced by the 16mm f/2.8 AI.

 

Price, USA

July 2017: About $350 used if you know How to Win at eBay. You may have to wait a while, but they always turn up.

$400 used in August 2013.

 

Performance

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format

Compatibility   Specifications

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

Overall   Manual Focus   Breathing   Bokeh

Distortion   Ergonomics   Exposure

Falloff   Filters   Flare & Ghosts   Flash

Lateral Color Fringes    Macro   Mechanics

Sharpness   Stabilization   Sunstars

 

Overall

Performance          top

This is Nikon's sharpest full-frame full-image fisheye, except for the newest 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E.

This manual-focus lens is also impeccably well made.

 

Manual Focus

performance          top

Focus is as smooth as silk, perfectly damped with no play.

One finger will do it, but it's better with two fingers. This lens has the classic Nikon manual focus feel: smooth and slick with no play and little to no damping needed.

 

Focus Breathing

Performance          top

As a unit-focussed 16mm lens, there is almost no lens motion as focussed, and therefore there is no visible breathing.

Focus breathing is the image changing size as focused in and out. It's important to cinematographers because it looks funny if the image changes size as focus gets pulled back and forth between actors. If the lens does this, the image "breathes" by growing and contracting slightly as the dialog goes back and forth.

 

Bokeh

Performance          top

Bokeh, the feel or quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to how far out of focus they are, is only fair, but who cares: there's almost never anything out of focus with a fisheye lens.

Here's a snap at (gulp) headshot distance:

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Bokeh

Davis 6250 weather station, 19 July 2017. Nikon D810 with Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/3.5 at 1/1,000 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolutions images properly).

 

Distortion

Performance          top

This lens has loads of fisheye barrel distortion; that's the whole point. You can restore to a rectilinear view with software like DxO Optics Pro.

 

Ergonomics

Performance          top

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Fisheye

Nikon 16mm f/3.5. bigger.

No surprises; it handles great like every other Nikon manual-focus lens.

Even better, changing filters is the easiest of any lens ever made: just move the filter selection lever, which you can do without taking your eye from the finder!

 

Exposure

Performance          top

Set your Non-CPU lens data in your Nikon's menu, and you'll get fantastic color matrix metering. Exposure is great with this lens on any compatible Nikon, and it's compatible with a lot of Nikons made since 1959!

 

Falloff

Performance          top

Falloff on FX and 35mm is minor at f/3.5, mostly gone at f/5.6 and gone by f/8.

If anything the falloff helps direct the viewer's attention into the image and keep their eyes from wandering off at the sides, usually a good thing.

 

Filters

performance          top

Filters are easy: just move a lever to select any of three built-in filters:

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Fisheye

Filter Selector, Nikon 16mm f/3.5. bigger.

These three filters are the standard filters for 35mm B&W film: either N (no filter), Y48 Yellow, O56 Orange or R60 Red.

Use N indoors, with color film or for digital. Avoid this with B&W film outdoors because skies wash out on B&W film without a filter.

Use Y48 Yellow for normal outdoor shots on B&W film. The Y48 makes skies look normal on B&W; you need this filter. Avoid this filter with color film or digital, on which it is only a special effect.

The O56 Orange is my favorite on B&W outdoors. It emphasizes clouds and contrast in the sky, but not too much. Avoid this filter with color film or digital, on which it is only a special effect.

The R60 Red makes the sky very dark and emphasizes clouds. Avoid this filter with color film or digital, on which it is only a special effect.

Here's how they look on digital or on color film:

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Fisheye Filters

No Filter: Palm Springs Air Museum, 24 July 2017. Nikon D810 with Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/11 at 1/250 at ISO 100. bigger

 

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Fisheye Filters

Y48 Yellow Filter: Palm Springs Air Museum, 24 July 2017. Nikon D810 with Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/11 at 1/250 at ISO 100. bigger.

 

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Fisheye Filters

O56 Orange Filter: Palm Springs Air Museum, 24 July 2017. Nikon D810 with Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/11 at 1/250 at ISO 100. bigger.

 

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Fisheye Filters

R60 Red Filter: Palm Springs Air Museum, 24 July 2017. Nikon D810 with Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/11 at 1/125 at ISO 100. bigger.

 

Flare & Ghosts

Performance          top

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 fisheye ghosts and sunstars

Palm Tree, 19 July 2017. Nikon D810 with Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/22 at 1/60 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG file.

My single-coated version sometimes can have some blue flare in dark shadows if you're shooting against the light.

Otherwise it's very resistant to ghosts. Unlike modern zooms, it's a simple design with only 8 elements in 5 groups.

This is the very worst I could get it to flare.

 

Flash

Performance          top

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 fisheye ghosts and sunstars

Flying Boxcar Cockpit, 24 July 2017. Nikon D810, Bulit-In Flash ON, Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/3.5 at 1/60 at ISO 100. bigger or full-resolution file.

it works fine with the built-in flash.

While the built-in flash isn't rated to cover 170,º it turns out that it isn't directional, and covers this lens well. This lens is so short that there isn't any shadowing, either.

I find it's good that there is less light on the sides, since indoors things on the sides are usually much closer than what's in the center.

Try it yourself before you presume it won't work.

 

Lateral Color Fringes

Performance          top

There are no color fringes as shot on Nikon FX cameras, which by default correct for any that may be there.

 

Macro

Performance          top

It gets close, but because it's so wide it doesn't look that way:

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Fisheye

Kienzle Flieger Automat 800/2843, 19 July 2017. Nikon D810 with Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at close-focus distance wide-open at f/3.5 at 1/2,000 at Auto ISO 100. bigger. or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolution images properly).

The great news is that even wide-open, it's still super-sharp:

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Fisheye

1,200 × 900 pixel crop from above. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolution images properly).

If this crop is about 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, then the complete image printed at this same extreme magnification would be about 25 x 38" (65 x 100cm).

If this crop is about 12" (30cm) wide on your screen, then the complete image printed at this same extreme magnification would be about 50 x 75" (1.3 x 2 meters).

 

Mechanical Quality

Performance          top

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 Fisheye

Nikon 16mm f/3.5. bigger.

Like all Nikkor manual focus AI-s lenses, the Nikon NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 is built to the highest mechanical standards of any lens ever made.

 

Hood Tabs

Solid anodized alloy.

 

Front Bumper

None.

 

Filter Threads

None (internal filters).

 

Front Barrel

Anodized and enameled aluminum.

 

Focus Ring

Rubber-covered metal.

 

Focus Helicoids

Feels like brass: smooth and silky with no play or need for damping grease.

 

Depth-of-Field Scale

Engraved into barrel and filled with different colors of paint coded to the aperture ring.

 

Aperture Ring

Cast aluminum, anodized and enameled.

Engraved markings filled with different colors of paint coded to the depth-of-field scale.

 

Automatic Aperture-Coupling Prong

Solid chromed, machined brass (F) or stamped stainless steel (AI and AI-updated).

 

Internals

All metal!

 

Moisture Seal at Mount

No.

 

Mount

Dull chromed brass.

 

Markings

All engraved and filled with paint.

 

Date Code

None found.

 

Noises When Shaken

Very mild clicking.

 

Made in

Japan.

 

Sharpness

Performance          top

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 fisheye ghosts and sunstars

Flying Boxcar Cockpit, 24 July 2017. Nikon D810, Bulit-In Flash ON, Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/3.5 at 1/60 at ISO 100. bigger or full-resolution file.

As you can see above and at Sample Images, it's sharp corner-to-corner even wide-open, which is more than I can say for the 16mm f/2.8 AI-s (1979-1998) and 16mm f/2.8 AF-D (1993-), which get fuzzy in the corners wide-open.

Of course you have to be in focus, but so long as you have focus, it's sharp out to the corners. Bravo!

The only limitation to picture sharpness will be your skill as a photographer.

 

Image Stabilization

Performance          top

It has no stabilization, but it covers such a wide angle that it minimizes camera shake. I get perfectly sharp shots down to about 1/4 second hand-held.

 

Sunstars

Performance          top

Nikon 16mm f/3.5 fisheye ghosts and sunstars

Palm Tree, 19 July 2017. Nikon D810 with Fisheye-NIKKOR 16mm f/3.5 at f/22 at 1/60 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG file.

With a classic 7-bladed diaphragm, it makes classic 14-pointed Sunstars on brilliant points of light.

 

Compared

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format

Compatibility   Specifications

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

Overall

It's sharper than the newer 16mm f/2.8 AI-s (1979-1998) and 16mm f/2.8 AF-D (1993-), but of course is manual-focus only. I prefer manual focus for fisheyes and focus them by the footage scale; AF systems aren't that precise with ultrawide lenses like this.

That's right: i own about three 16mm f/2.8 AI-s and one 16mm f/2.8 AF-D, and use this f/3.5 lens instead.

I expect that the new 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E (2017-) might be sharper at the corners wide open, but this newer lens is also much more prone to damage since its front element is completely unprotected, and this old manual lens is much more durably made than the new 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E. Of course the new lens can zoom out to be just a 180º ball floating in the middle of a frame of darkness.

 

For B&W Film

This is the best lens for B&W film because it has the necessary filters built in. The 16mm f/2.8 AI-s and 16mm f/2.8 AF-D use rear bayonet filters, and come with A2, B2 and O56, but you'll have to go find and buy the Y48 and R60 filters separately for them.

 

For Color Film

For 35mm color film the 16mm f/2.8 AI-s and 16mm f/2.8 AF-D are better because they come with an A2 warming rear bayonet filter, as well as an L39 UV. You'd have to tape a gel to the rear of this lens or the new 8-15mm for use with color film.

 

Usage

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format

Compatibility   Specifications

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

Use on FX or 35mm Film — not DX

Avoid using this on DX cameras, on which it is a distorted, but not particularly fisheye, lens.

Use the 10.5mm DX Fisheye instead on DX.

On DX, this 16mm lens isn't really much of a fisheye.

 

Get Close!

Most people get garbage photos with ultrawide lenses. Ultrawides have to be shot close so you can fill your frame with the subject. Ultrawides are never for "getting it all in."

You need a lot of skill to make meaningful images with a fisheye. You have to get very close, and every millimeter you move changes your composition. You need to breathe like a sniper and fire at just the right moment.

See also How to Use Ultrawide Lenses.

 

Filters

See Filters for how to use the built-in filters.

 

Recommendations

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format

Compatibility   Specifications

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

This is my favorite full-frame fisheye. The new 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E may be fun, but I worry about scratching its unprotected front element, and it's much bigger and more expensive for what in reality is really just a joke lens you'll use very rarely before you tire of it.

These are easy to find at eBay where I got mine, but you may have to wait a while for one to appear. Be sure to read all of How to Win at eBay.

Be sure to get the dedicated 64K front cap with yours. There is no other good way to protect the front element if you don't get the special front cap. The rear cap is the standard one.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. I use the stores I do because they ship from secure remote warehouses where no one gets to touch your new camera before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection.

Thanks for helping me help you!

Ken, Mrs. Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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24-26 July 2017 , Aug 2013, Dec 2007. 350