It was back in 2019 when a small group of photographers was asked for their thoughts on a new wide angle lens that would cost well below €1000 and that would perform like a much more expensive lens. We immediately jumped up and welcomed the idea! Nisi was working on a new wide angle lens for landscape photography that would fit the 100mm filters and would have a very interesting price point.
Now in 2021 the lens is here! It’s available for different mirrorless mounts like Sony and Canon RF.
I was able to use the lens for some time now and Nisi kept their promise, the lens is really good.
Available for only € 479,- this lens performs really well and I’m sure many photographers would love it.
As you can see in the table above it’s a relatively compact lens which isn’t too heavy. With 12 elements in 10 groups the actually did a very well job in keeping the weight relatively low. This lens has a solid build and the weight helps to stabilize the camera when shooting hand held.
The Nisi 15mm F4 features a very short minimal focusing distance of only 20cm! Giving your lots opportunities to get creative with your foreground. This lens will give you a field of view of 112 degrees which is really wide. With an aperture made of 10 blades, it is even possible to get sunstars wide open at F4.
The lens is manual focus only, but the focus has a really nice throw and runs smoothly. Don’t be afraid to use manual focus. Especially at 15mm and at medium apertures the focus is really easy to set and the depth of field helps you in this regard. You will have no problem at all to get the correct focus.
An other thing all landscape photographers will love about the design is the 72mm filter threat, which enables you to use the 100mm filters. This really makes it an ideal lens for landscape and architecture photography.
How a lens performs in the real world is sometimes very different than how the performance is in controlled lighting conditions. For my reviews I always take the lens with me and I judge the lens on it’s performance following one simple question: “would I take this lens with me on a shoot for a client?”
Let’s have a look at all the different performance areas.
Sharpness is more that just the center sharpness at F11. Especially wide open and at the corners are the areas that I look for. Regarding both points the Nisi 15mm F4 performs really well! I was really surprised by the corner sharpness as this is becoming a bigger problem the wider you go. Light has to bend pretty sharp in extreme wide angle lenses and controlling those edge beams isn’t easy.
But Nisi did a great job here!
I have compared the Nisi 15mm to my Zeiss Batis 18mm and Laowa 10-18mm. You will see the results later in this review.
Good contrast helps to render a sharper image. Good micro contrast (like you find in Zeiss lenses) helps to give the image some punch. The Nisi 15mm delivers good performance on both areas. It has a good overall contrast and is not affected by stray light. The micro contrast (in the fine details) is good.
Sharpness and contrast test with strong backlit situation
100% crop of lower left corner
CA is handled very well! This can be a major problem with ultra wide angle lenses, but Nisi did a great job here! In the most difficult angle there can be some lateral CA which is no problem at all. When you get the minor CA just hit the button in Lightroom and it’s gone.
Now this is the case with moth lenses. Everyone tells you that CA can be easily removed. But when the CA is more than 2 pixels wide and Lightroom revomes the CA, you are sometimes left with a white border around the edges of your subject. This really doesn’t look good and that is why I find it really important that if there is some minor CA, it should be limited to a pixel or 2. In that case you won’t see any halos around your subjects.
Nisi have used their knowledge on making cine lenses and filters to reduce unwanted flares. While some might find lens flares add something to the image, it is unwanted in terms of contrast and sharpness. When photographing at night with strong lights, there is a small angle at which you might get a lens flare. The flare is small though, so it’s easy to control.
The same is true during daytime when the sun is at a certain angle. There is some flare but reframing the image will deal with this. I’ve seen better performance on this part, but let’s not forget the price of the lens.
Distortion is controlled very well with the 15mm F4. As you can see in the image there is some minor distortion, which is easily corrected afterwards. I would have no problem using this lens for any architecture shoot for any client.
One of the selling point of the lens is the ability to shoot sunstars even wide open at F4. Thanks to the design of the 10 blade aperture it’s possible to shoot sunstars through the complete aperture range, instead of only from f11-f16.
This is highly a personal taste if you like it or not.
The thing I really like is the shape of the sunstars. They are well defined and shaped in a 10 pointed star. It’s very pleasing. What we often see with other brands are not well defined stars with a lot more spikes, which is very distracting. So to me they did a good job of using a 10 blade aperture.
Comparison to others
Now let’s have a look at how the Nisi 15mm F4 compares to other lenses. For this test I left the camera untouched, the same settings at the same location. The photos are taken right after each other, with just quickly switching lenses.
All image are taken at F8, so each lens will have a comparable sharpness level.
The lenses used are the Loawa 10-18mm and the Zeiss Batis 18mm.
Let’s first have a look at field of view and overall image quality:
As you can see there is a difference in color, contrast and clarity between the different lenses.
Bear in mind the Zeiss Batis costs € 1299 and the Laowa costs € 999.
Now let’s look at 100% crops from each image to see the difference in shaprness:
As you can see the performance of the Nisi 15mm is really good compared to both the Laowa (which suffers from loss of sharpness in the edge of the frame) and the Zeiss Batis.
The Zeiss is amazingly sharp and full of contrast but the Nisi 15mm doesn’t fall behind that much. It’s really remarkable what Nisi was able to produce.
After testing the lens for some time I can imagine that a lot of people will fall in love with this lens. The performance is really good, it has a solid build and the price of € 479,- makes it a very interesting option if you want a good quality ultra wide angle lens.
For me the only drawback is that it has no electronic connection, which means that you won’t have any exif data in your file (15mm + aperture information). The other thing is that you have to set your VR/IBIS to manual and select 14mm (as the lens is actually 14,5 mm). If you forget to set it, the image is hard to stabilize hand held. No biggie, just make sure you set the 14mm and your image stabilization will work just fine.
So to conclude. Would I use this lens on a shoot for a client?
The short answer is: YES!
I’m keeping it in my bag as it has a very good performance, allows the use of my 100mm Nisi filters and 15mm is fun to play with!