First review of the new Nisi 15mm f4 lens

Tips & Techniques

Nisi is best known for its highquality filters. The company recently changed its name to Nisi Optics, showing a new and extended vision geared towards producing quality lenses.

The Nisi 15mm f4 has been long in the making, but these days finally hit the market. The lens is available in full-frame mounts for Nikon Z, Canon RF, and Sony E. It also comes with a Fuji APS-C X mount. The lens offers a whopping 112 degree of field of view for full-frame cameras, which equals a 14,5mm focal length.

Built, handling, and specifications

The built quality is outstanding – the lens comes with a metal chassis. Both the focus and aperture rings operate smoothly. At dusk, though, it can be difficult to read the markings on the lens for someone who needs glasses for close details.

Here are the full specs

  • Diameter: 79 mm
  • Field of view: 111.8° (diagonally)
  • Length: 77 mm
  • Weight: 470g (without hood and caps)
  • Filter Diameter: 72 mm
  • Number of Aperture Blades: 10 (straight)
  • Elements/Groups: 12/10
  • Close Focusing Distance: 0.2 m
  • Maximum Magnification: 1:7.7

Unlike many other wide-angle lenses, it is easy to attach filters to the lens since it comes with a 72mm filter thread. A close focusing distance of only 20 cm means that you can go very close to a foreground object and focus stack the scene if you so prefer. Being able to be this close to an object opens new creative possibilities.

Sharpness

The lens is very sharp in the middle of the frame and is on par with my other wide-angle lenses.

Ringerike, Norway, end of Nov 2020. Shot at iso 100 and f8. 20 secs.

Close crop of the image above:

Nisi promises that the lens delivers excellent corner to corner sharpness. The next set of example images seems to confirm that claim.

Sunrise Tyrifjorden, Norway, beginning of Jan 2021. Shot at iso 100 and around f9.

Right corner:

Left corner:

Only the extreme corners go a tad soft at f9. The lens’ sweet spot is between f5.6 and f8.

Distortions

The lens controls wide-angle distortions well. Horizon lines are more or less straight, and there is no middle of the frame dip in either direction. For architectural photography, there is a slightly visible wave distortion.

Sunset Tyrifjorden, Norway, end of Nov 2020. Shot at iso 100 and f11. 30 secs.

Even lines along the edges are well preserved when shooting from a low point of view.

Ringerike, Norway, beginning of Jan 2021. Shot at around f/16. Single exposure and the image is sharp all the way.

Usually, the trees would lean towards the middle of the frame when I shoot from such a low angle with a wide-angle lens. This is not the face with the 15mm f/4 NiSi.

Sunstar

The lens produces a pleasant ten pointed Sunstar at all apertures. The only thing you will notice when turning the aperture ring is that the Sunstar angle is changing. In practical terms, this means that you do not have to shoot extra exposures at a narrow aperture to get a crisp and well-defined Sunstar.

Ringerike, Norway, beginning of Jan 2020. Shot at f8.

Flare

The lens’s only weak spot is flare resistance. It is not uncommon for wide-angle lenses to produce flare when you shoot directly into the sun. However, the Nisi is prone to a little more flare than what I am used to from wide-angle lenses. It may be necessary to shoot an extra exposure with a finger in front of the sun and decompose the two.

In this instance, however, the lens produced a modest level of flare:

Chromatic aberrations

Color fringing around high contrast edges is reasonably well controlled.

Ringerike, Norway, beginning of January 2021. Shot at f8.

There is some modest greenish/cyan color fringing, but it vanishes immediately you check for ‘Remove chromatic aberration’ in Lightroom.

Conclusion

The Nisi 15mm f4 is a lens it is easy to fall in love with. It has character — a quality it isn’t easy to articulate but is well felt. The lens is lightweight and well built, and its only major minor flaw is flare resistance. It may be that using the lens hood will reduce flare, but I haven’t yet tested that.

Hopefully, the next iteration of the lens will come with electronic focus and aperture control. The latter will make it easier to set the desired aperture when it is dusk. I would also love to see the lens with f2.8, which would turn it into a decent night photography option. However, that would most likely add some weight to the lens.

You can pre-order the NiSi 15mm F/4 at B&H for $579.00.

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