Photos By Ambassador Steve Miller
One of our go-to lenses for shooting underwater is the Nikkor AF-S 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED wide angle fisheye zoom lens. Released in 2017, this lens zooms from a super-wide circular 180 degree vertical/horizontal field of view to a non-circular fisheye 180 degree diagonal. The lens is compact and easy to travel with at 3.27" (83mm) long and 1.07 lb (485 g).
Underwater we typically want the largest diameter dome possible, and to keep that dome as far away from the front of the lens as possible without vignetting (catching the edges of the port in the frame).
Some people use compact 4" or 6" diameter domes to cut down on their system size and shoot close focus wide angle. However, the smaller diameter domes can significantly degrade edge sharpness.
The DL Compact 8" Dome (left) is considerably smaller and lighter than the standard DL 8" Dome Port (right).
An excellent alternative is a low profile 8" diameter dome. It's the same quality dome as our standard 8" dome, but we bring it closer to the front of the lens and remove the excess to make a much smaller sized port with comparable image quality. When shooting the Nikon 8-15mm at f/11 and smaller apertures the results are incredibly close to the quality of a full sized 8" dome. The system is quite compact, very well balanced, and makes it much easier to get in close to macro close-up subjects.
These photos were taken at the Wakatobi marine park using the Nikon Z7 full frame mirrorless camera in 200DL Underwater Housing # 71063 with optional 45º Magnified Viewfinder, dual DS161 strobes, and DL1 DS Link TTL Converter.
All photos copyright © 2019 Steve Miller
8mm • ISO 200 • f/16 • 1/125 • A fisheye lens and compact dome are critical when shooting close focus wide angle.
15mm • ISO 200 • f/16 • 1/125 • Subjects like scorpionfish lend themselves well to close focus wide angle because they generally allow you to get closer than other more skiddish fish.
8mm • ISO 200 • f/14 • 1/125 • Man-made structures like the Jetty Bar at the Wakatobi Resort do look warped when shooting a fisheye lens.
15mm • ISO 200 • f/10 • 1/125 • The warping effect is minimized when zooming in to the 15mm focal length.
8mm • ISO 200 • f/16 • 1/125 • The port hole effect of a circular fisheye can look like a window to the underwater world.
15mm • ISO 200 • f/16 • 1/125 • Reef-scapes still maintain good sharpness throughout the frame when shooting at relatively small apertures.
15mm • ISO 200 • f/18 • 1/125 • Reef-scapes can be more compelling when you have a strong subject of focus that's close enough to your dome to be lit by your strobes.
15mm • ISO 200 • f/11 • 1/125 • A fisheye lens gives you a different perspective on a subject that you would typically correlate with macro, like this clownfish in an anemone.
8mm • ISO 200 • f/18 • 1/125 • The circular frame of the 8-15mm perfectly frames this tiny subject.
15mm • ISO 200 • f/11 • 1/125 • A fisheye lens lends itself to shooting the fluid movements of schooling fish.
15mm • ISO 200 • f/16 • 1/125 • Edge sharpness will improve at smaller apertures regardless of your lens and port combination.
15mm • ISO 200 • f/16 • 1/125 • The detail is there if you want it... Though sometimes a lack of definition around the edges can be desirable when shooting marine life in crowded background scenes.
8mm • ISO 200 • f/14 • 1/125 • Nemo finds his home right in the center of your circular fisheye.
Ambassador Steve Miller has been a passionate teacher of underwater photography since 1980. In addition to creating aspirational photos as an ambassador, he leads the Ikelite Photo School, conducts equipment testing, contributes content and photography, represents us at dive shows and events, provides one-on-one photo advice to customers, and participates in product research and development. Steve also works as a Guest Experience Manager for the Wakatobi Dive Resort in Indonesia. In his "free" time he busies himself tweaking his very own Backyard Underwater Photo Studio which he's built for testing equipment and techniques. Read more...