Welcome to our ultimate Altura Photo 8mm review that we have been looking forward to posting due to being massive fans of fisheye photography and similar photography niches. Our regular readers will probably know that the Rokinon 8mm (Click here to check for product prices and availability) is our go-to Fisheye lens of choice but we have been wanting to check out the Altura Photo 8mm for some time now.
Anyway, the Altura Photo 8mm has an excellent reputation within the fisheye photography community and its customer base seems to be growing at an almost exponential rate. This seems to be due to the low price tag, excellent performance, ease of use, and great build quality managing to win more and more people over.
Please keep in mind that there is a Nikon variant (Click here to check for product prices and availability) and a Canon variant (Click here to check for product prices and availability) of the lens available so be sure to pick up the correct one for your camera body of choice. We know there there are a few different lens adaptors on the market that will also allow you to use the lens with the camera bodies from other brands too but hand not tried the lens in this way ourselves.
User Interface And Control System
The control system on the Altura Photo 8mm is extremely easy to use and we are confident that the vast majority of our readers will be able to take it out the box and start using it with ease without having to read the manual and waste their time. Rather than be a jack of all trades master of none type of lens that has a ton of features to learn, the Altura Photo 8mm has been designed to do one thing and do that one thing very well.
As the lens is a prime lens that has been specifically designed to work around the 8mm focal length with an Aspherical dome lens, it is extremely easy to get in focus. The manual focus ring on the lens is very easy to use and allows you to tweak the focus of the lens as required to capture exactly what you need.
The manual focus ring also has a totally different texture when compared to the rest of the body of the lens too. This allows you to keep your focus on the viewfinder of your camera and locate it with just your fingertips with ease. Additionally, the texture on the ring helps you rotate it if your fingers are cold or wet too.
As this lens does not come with any autofocus technology, you will have to get used to manually focusing the lens too. Although we doubt many entry-level photographers will be looking to pick up a fisheye lens at this price point in the market as their first detachable lens, on the off chance you are, the lens is very easy to manually focus on your subject so there is nothing to worry about.
Additionally, the clickable aperture ring is also very easy to use allowing you to tweak the aperture of the lens to meet the conditions of your session. Although the Rokinon 8mm comes in slightly ahead with an f/2.8 aperture while the Altura Photo 8mm has an f/3.0 aperture, both lenses perform equally well in low light conditions.
Both the lens hood and lens cap are also easy to mount and unmount from the lens as required but keep in mind, as this is an aspherical lens, a traditional circular threaded lens filter will not mount to the lens. If you are wanting to use a lens filter, you will have to go with the box style lens filters and we are personally not fans of them. This is not specific to this particular lens though, all aspherical lenses have this issue.
Performance And Functionality
Moving on to the performance that the Altura Photo 8mm offers you, we were actually pleasantly surprised when we say the level of image quality that the lens is able to capture and feel that it can keep up with the Rokinon 8mm (probably the main competitor to this lens) in this area too. If you get the updated version of the lens with the 2019 optics then the Altura Photo 8mm may actually slip out ahead of the Rokinon in some areas.
The lens allows you to capture some breathtaking 180-degree views due to its aspherical dome forward lens element. You are able to use this to capture traditional fisheye style image or to capture some breathtaking landscapes with the slight hint of the fisheye effect as shown in the image below captured using the lens.
Although we do not know the exact process that Altura Photo has put the lens elements through to achieve the effect, they have confirmed that the lens elements on their 8mm aspherical lens have been treat and coated to help reduce both flare and glare. Although this is common at this price point in the market, there are some brands that skip it and you can definatley tell when it comes to the image quality that the lens can produce.
The coating on the lens elements helps you to get optimal image quality when using the lens on sunny days, while outdoors on clear days similar to the conditions shown in the image below or when using the lens for something like a concert where there are a bunch of lights.
That said though, the low light and variable light performance of the lens due to its f/3.0 aperture is also pretty good allowing you to capture photographs similar to the one below in poorly lit buildings.
In our opinion, Altura Photo really have done a great job with their 8mm lens and although we would say the Rokinon 8mm sneaks out ahead by a tiny amount when it comes to low light performance, the overall image quality of the Altura Photo 8mm definatley holds its own while also having the potential to sneak out ahead of the Ronikon if you are able to get your hands on the 2019 version of the lens with the updated optics system.
Build Quality And Design
When it comes to the design of a fisheye photography lens there really aren’t many things that you can do so its not really a competitive area in the niche. In our opinion though, the build quality of the lenses in this price bracket varies wildly depending on the brand of lens and the age of the lens too.
Thankfully, Altura Photo has knocked out a solid little lens that is very robust and can take a decent amount of bumps without issue. Although we have seen a few people report that they feel the lens is a little heavy for its size, this is normal for aspherical lenses as the forward lens element can come in at almost double the weight of a regular lens.
The lens mount on the Altura Photo 8mm is also solid and allows you to quickly and easily mount or unmount it from your camera body of choice as required too. We have already commented on the textured manual focus ring earlier in the article but we never mentioned that the ring has a nice level of resistance when rotating it. In our opinion, this does help to increase your accuracy when rotating the ring and help you focus the lens but if you are used to a lens without any resistance on its manual focus ring it may take a little getting used to.
The lens is essentially based around Six diaphragm blades, Eleven elements in Eight groups with a single aspherical lens element and it has all been put together very well. Again, we are impressed with what Altura Photo have managed to achieve and think that they have done a great job when it comes to build quality.
Third Party Reports
If you like, you are able to click here to read some other third party reviews of the Altura Photo 8mm from independent photographers who use it as their fisheye photography lens of choice.
That brings us to the end of our review of the Altura Photo 8mm lens and we are actually pleasantly surprised by what it offers and feel that it does provide a solid challenger to the Ronikon 8mm lens for the top spot when it comes to fisheye photography. It can offer you some excellent image quality in a large number of conditions while also being very easy to use and retailing for a fair price tag. In our opinion, it is definatley worth considering adding the Altura Photo 8mm to your camera accessories.