Nikon 14mm vs Nikon 16mm Fisheye + Lens Correction

Nov 25, 2016

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

Nikon 14mm vs Nikon 16mm Fisheye + Lens Correction

Nov 25, 2016

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

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Nikon 14mm f/2.8 versus 16mm f/2.8 fisheye

I have been using both the Nikon 14mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 16mm f/2.8 fisheye for a while now, and I have been noticing that the images from the 14mm are very very similar to the images from the 16mm fisheye after a lens correction has been applied.

Of course, there is one very big difference between these two lenses: the Nikon AF Nikkor 14mm f/2.8 ED lens costs $1891.95…while the Nikon AF Fisheye Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D lists for $996.95 – so the big question is: is the 14mm f/2.8 really worth nearly a grand more than the fisheye?

In this article I will post a few sample photos along with my thoughts on the differences and similarities of the Nikon 14mm f/2.8 vs the Nikon 16mm f/2.8 fisheye.

Similarities Between the Nikon 14mm and Nikon 16mm Fisheye

Both lenses are 1990’s era Nikon glass and are long overdue for an update. They’re both bombproof all metal construction with a physical aperture ring.

Both lenses have an aperture range from f/2.8 to f/22.

Both lenses have a bulbous front element and cannot use front filters (but both accept rear filters).

Differences Between the Nikon 14mm and Nikon 16mm Fisheye

The 14mm f/2.8 is the widest full frame fixed rectilinear lens available from Nikon, while the 16mm fisheye is wider but gives you a distorted 180 degree field of view.

The 14mm is significantly bigger and heavier than the 16mm fisheye (670g for the 14mm and 285g for the 16mm fisheye). In other words the 14mm is more than double the size and weight of the 16mm fisheye – the fisheye is a surprisingly tiny lens!

And then there is the cost. The Nikon AF Nikkor 14mm f/2.8 ED lens costs $1891.95 versus the Nikon AF Fisheye Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D listing for for $996.95.

Nikon 16mm f/2.8 fisheye (left) vs Nikon 14mm f/2.8 (right)
Nikon 16mm f/2.8 fisheye (left) vs Nikon 14mm f/2.8 (right) with Nikon D800 camera bodies.
Nikon 16mm f/2.8 fisheye (left) vs Nikon 14mm f/2.8 (right)
Nikon 16mm f/2.8 fisheye (left) vs Nikon 14mm f/2.8 (right)

Image Quality

Let me premise this with a disclaimer – I am not a big fan of the image quality of the Nikon 14mm f/2.8 on modern high pixel count cameras. I find the 14mm to be noticeably soft (especially wide open at f/2.8) with atrocious stretched-out distortion and vignetting in the corners.

I know that the 14mm f/2.8 has a great reputation as a sharp ultra-ultra wide and obviously there is distortion in the corners – but since the whole point of spending a small fortune on an f/2.8 lens is to shoot at f/2.8; and the way this lens stretches out the corners – I just feel underwhelmed every time I use it.

Having said that, the 16mm fisheye isn’t great at f/2.8 either, but overall I find that images from the 16mm fisheye are definitely sharper overall.

Field of View: 14mm Rectilinear Lens vs 16mm Fisheye Lens

The Nikon 14mm f/2.8 offers a 114 degree angle of view, compared to 180 degrees for the 16mm fisheye.

Here is where things get interesting.

With a one click lens profile correction, the images from the 16mm fisheye look very similar to the images captured by the 14mm (I did not crop these images, but they would look even more similar with the corrected fisheye images slightly cropped in).

Here are three scenes side by side – the before image is from the 14mm f/2.8 while the after image is from the 16mm f/2.8 fisheye with a lens profile correction applied. All other processing is the same for both images.

Nikon 14mm f/2.8 versus 16mm f/2.8 fisheyeNikon 14mm f/2.8 versus 16mm f/2.8 fisheye

Nikon 14mm f/2.8 versus 16mm f/2.8 fisheyeNikon 14mm f/2.8 versus 16mm f/2.8 fisheye

Nikon 14mm f/2.8 versus 16mm f/2.8 fisheyeNikon 14mm f/2.8 versus 16mm f/2.8 fisheye

Is The Nikon 14mm f/2.8 Worth $1000 More Than The 16mm f/2.8 Fisheye?

Both of these lenses seem to do much the same job, and produce very similar results.

Looking at the side by side comparisons above, I prefer the overall look from the 14mm versus the corrected 16mm fisheye. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but the actual rectilinear frame from the 14mm just looks better than the computer approximation applied to the 16mm fisheye.

If you’re careful with the fisheye, you can get away without too much distortion (surprisingly), but what distortion there is at the edges is multiplied when you apply a digital lens correction – to the point where you really cannot do a lens correction with certain images.

It also takes a little practice to shoot with a fisheye with the intention of correcting the distortion in post – you have to plan ahead and leave room around the edges (the portion that will be cropped out after the correction) which makes composition more difficult in the field.

But honestly, I just don’t like the Nikon 14mm f/2.8 very much. Given a choice between the two, I would save my money and go with the fisheye. The next lens in my bag is the awesome Nikon 20mm f/1.8 (which I love) so I don’t feel like I am missing much by skipping from 20mm right to the fisheye.

What Do You Think?

Have you used the Nikon 14mm f/2.8 or Nikon 16mm f/2.8 fisheye? Which lens do you prefer?

Is the Nikon 14mm f/2.8 worth the cost, or is the fisheye better value?

Do you really need an ultra-ultra wide lens with a focal range between 20mm and fisheye?

Leave a comment below and let us know!

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JP Danko

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

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6 responses to “Nikon 14mm vs Nikon 16mm Fisheye + Lens Correction”

  1. Marcel Bidon Avatar
    Marcel Bidon

    Hi,
    I am using DX; 10-24 f/3.5-4.5 and 10.5 f/2.8 fisheye. Most of the time for wide side I prefer to use the fisheye, corrected or not depending of the picture. For processing the fisheye, I am using Fisheye-Hemi plug-in which giving very good results (and wilder angle) than the correction in Lightroom.
    What are you using?

    1. Robert Mynard Avatar
      Robert Mynard

      I’ve used the Hemi plug-in as well and gotten really good results but it’s a different look than a “traditionally” straightened fisheye as it’s designed to straighten the vertical lines to make people look natural but keep the fisheye look of the horizontal lines.

      1. Marcel Bidon Avatar
        Marcel Bidon

        If you take care of having a straight horizon when you take the picture, it is giving interesting natural perspectives. It is marketed as making people look natural in fact it is a Pannini perspective which is convenient also for large landscapes.

  2. Victor Berthold Avatar
    Victor Berthold

    My choice for jobs is now the 20mm f 1.8 Nikon (I confirm : awesome), 16 mm f 2.8, only for the fisheye effect ; and the very new Laowa 12mm f 2.8. This one is … extremely awesome, probably one of the best ultra wide angle lens ever made.

  3. Frank Nazario Avatar
    Frank Nazario

    personally im starting to see a trend of outrageous pricing for glass… in order to justify a lens like this its almost as if your only gig would be this type of photography… sorry won’t bite… its like buying a tilt shift.
    At the end the customer will NOT see the difference the result would be so similar that only in a direct comparison is where you will notice the difference and NO I will not spend 1000 dollars more for a tenth of a degree in rectilinear correction.

  4. Graham Avatar
    Graham

    I have the 16mm fisheye and the 14-24 F2.8. I love the fish eye and with a bit of practice, many of the pics I take do not even look like a fisheye shot. ITS VERY VERY SHARP. Framing on this lens is very important and takes time to get correct.

    Do not capture with the 16mm with a lot of info in the sides, always try to make the horizon straight. Its not always possible but many of the frames dont even look fisheye’d

    I am thinking of going to the Z6 and the thing that annoys me is that I will not be able to autofcus on that body which means this lens will have to go. No E version is on the horizon and when it arrives I am sure the price will be stupid enough i cant afford it.