Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Fisheye

Review Date : Thu, 1 Jul 2010

Author :

Sigma 15mm

Compatible with both full-frame and cropped-sensor bodies, this fisheye is attractively priced and performs well

Pros: Fisheye effect
Cons: Fiddly to use

The ‘fisheye' designation tells you immediately that this optic is what people will regard as being either a special purpose or gimmick lens: in reality it is both because the images that it records can either complement or detract from the subject respectively.

Sigma's 15mm lens is comparatively compact yet still finds room for both a focusing ring and, on the Nikon-fit lens, an aperture scale that can be viewed by older Nikon bodies. The aperture scale must be set to its f/22 position for automatic aperture control and a lock is provided to maintain this position.

Missing from the lens is a focused-distance window. More serious, however, is the non-IF focusing mechanism that forces the user to keep his/her fingers away from the focusing ring in AF mode. This is very hard to do as even the slightest forward movement of the hand risks intruding into the fisheye's field of view, which is 180° across the frame diagonal on a full-frame camera.

Despite its marginally longer focal length, Sigma's 15mm Fisheye has a wider field of view than is offered by a 14mm rectilinear lens but, of course, the trade-off comes in the form of severe barrel distortion that causes straight lines to curve around the centre of the frame. This is in the nature of a ‘fisheye' lens and can be minimised by confining straight lines to the middle of the frame.
Extreme edge distortion of this type makes technical evaluation difficult but consistent results were recorded through careful use of the test target.

The MTF data obtained indicate good sharpness, with resolution figures above the critical 0.25 cycles-per-pixel threshold between f/5.6 and f/16. There was minor chromatic aberration and also some slight signs softness in the far corners, beyond the reach of the test target.



Sigma 15mm MTF Chart



Given that this is a full-frame lens, it is tempting to ask whether its behaviour on an APS-C body is more subtle. The answer is a qualified ‘no'. Although the distortion is less severe it is still very obvious and nobody would ever doubt that a ‘fisheye' lens had been used. As such, the value of this lens comes down to personal preference regarding the distinctive ‘fisheye' look.

Philip Andrews

Phillip Andrews

Philip is a Senior Lecturer in Photography & Digital Imaging, and an Adobe Alpha tester. However, he is best known as one of the world's leading authorities on Adobe Photoshop Elements. He is also a best-selling author of 18 books on Elements and digital imaging. Philip will be discussing news from Adobe and sharing his Photoshop, Elements and Lightroom techniques. To learn more great Elements techniques from Philip visit his website.

Price as reviewed



Features 17/20
Design 17/20
Image Quality 18/20
Performance 18/20
Value 18/20
Overall Score 88%