Sigma 15mm & Tokina 10-17mm fisheye for full-frame

Comparing sharpness, deciding which is better for your full-frame camera
By Scott Gietler

The Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens is by far the most popular lens choice for underwater photographers who own a cropped-sensor dSLR and want to do wide-angle underwater photography.

For full-frame shootings using a camera like a Nikon D800 or a Canon 5D Mark II or Mark III, the Sigma 15mm fisheye is often chosen over the Nikon 16mm or the Canon 15mm fisheye lenses, because of its great close-focusing ability.

However, many full-frame users are unaware that the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens is a very viable option for a full-frame camera, and may be preferable to the Sigma 15mm fisheye lens.

sigma 15mm fisheye lens review
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, pool photo, 180 degree diagonal angle of view


Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens on a full-frame dSLR camera
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens at 15mm, on a full-frame Nikon D800 camera. 180 degree angle of view, same as the Sigma 15mm, and no vignetting.

 

Sigma & Tokina Fisheye lens on a full-frame camera

As you can see, the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye and Sigma 15mm fisheye lens produce identical images on a full-frame camera like the Nikon D800, when the Tokina is set to 15mm. There is no vignetting, and you do not need to go into a special "DX" mode.

So does this mean that the Tokina 10-17mm lens is a full-frame lens at 15mm? I would say so, even though it is marketed as a DX lens. The Tokina does vignette from 10mm - 13mm, but it does not at 14mm to 17mm. So in some respects, you have more flexibility with the Tokina that with the Sigma, although the field of view from 14mm to 17mm does not change dramatically.

 

Image Tests

A wine bottle in the pool made a great test subject. We took images at different apertures with the wine bottle at the center of the image, and at the corner of the images, in a 6-inch dome. You can view the images below, or skip to the bottom of this article for our conclusions.

 

Corner image sharpness

Sigma 15mm fisheye lens tests

Sigma 15mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F4

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F5.6

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F8

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F11

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F14

 

Corner image sharpness, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens

 

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mmm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F4

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F5.6

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F8

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F11

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F14

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F4

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F5.6

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F8

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F11

 

Sigma 15mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, corner sharpness, 100% crop at F14

 

 

Center image sharpness, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens

 

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mmm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F4

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye corner lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F5.6

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F8

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F11

 

Tokina 10-17mm fisheye center lens sharpness underwater photo
Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens, center sharpness, 100% crop at F14

 

Using the Tokina fisheye with the Canon 5D

You can see some amazing underwater photos with the Tokina and the Canon 5D Mark III here

 

Sigma and Tokina fisheye lens on a full-frame camera - conclusions

  • Center sharpness for both lenses was very good at F4 and F5.6, excellent at F8 and higher. 

  • Corner sharpness for both lenses was poor at F4 and F5.6, ok at F8, and good at F11 and F14. I would expect corner sharpness to improve slightly in an 8-inch dome, and degrade in a 4-inch dome.

  • If you are moving into a full-frame camera, and already own the Tokina 10-17mm lens, then I see no reason not to keep using it. If you don't own a fisheye lens, then it appears that you can get good results with either lens.   I also tested both lenses on a D800 while diving at Catalina island earlier this year, and at that time I also found the results to be similar

  • If you don't own either lens, then you have a choice. Both lenses are similarly priced. If you want to own a 4-inch glass zen dome, you'll need to shave the hood of the Sigma fisheye, which is a disadvantage. Ikelite users will also experience vignetting. However, users of 6 or 8 inch dome ports on non-Ikelite housings may be able to avoid purchasing an extension ring by going with the Sigma. 

Further Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Scott Gietler is the owner of Bluewater Photo, Bluewater Travel, and the Underwater Photography Guide. Bluewater Photo, based in Santa Monica, CA is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious underwater camera stores, serving many thousands of customers each year, where nothing is more important than customer service. The Underwater Photography Guide is the world’s first website to feature free tutorials on underwater photography, and has become the most trafficked resource on underwater photography worldwide. Bluewater Travel is a full-service dive travel wholesaler sending groups and individuals on the world’s best dive vacations. 

Scott is also an avid diver, underwater photographer, and budding marine biologist, having created the online guide to the underwater flora and fauna of Southern California. He is the past vice-president of the Los Angeles Underwater Photographic Society, has volunteered extensively at the Santa Monica aquarium, and is the creator of the Ocean Art underwater photo competition, one of the largest underwater international photo competitions ever held in terms of value of prizes. He lives in California with his wife, newborn girl and scuba-diving, photo taking 4 year old son.

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