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Sigma 16mm F2.8 Filtermatic Fisheye

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8 34,832 Thu May 26, 2016
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
88% of reviewers $153.75 7.71
Sigma 16mm F2.8 Filtermatic Fisheye

Sigma 16mm F2.8 Filtermatic Fisheye
Sigma 16mm F2.8 Filtermatic Fisheye

Engraved name:
Sigma Fish Eye 16mm f/2.8 Filtermatic Multi YS-PM

Manual focus
180 degrees fisheye
305g, 66x50mm
Close focus 0.15m
Elements/groups 9/8

Uses 22.5mm filters that are screwed into a filter thread inside the lens, accessible by removing the front element.
Mount Type: M42 Screwmount
Price History:

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Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2016
Location: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
Posts: 97
Lens Review Date: May 26, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $220.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: vintage aesthetics and quality build; short focal length on APS-C sensor K-r (effectively 24mm)
Cons: soft focus, colour aberations, no auto functionality
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 4    Bokeh: 5    Handling: 8    Value: 7    Camera Used: Pentax K-r   

The Sigma 16mm lens has several iterations. The lens pictured on the left has two main sections separated by a bayonet mount that is released by a “Lock – Unlock” button. This allows one of four individual 20.5 filters to be inserted internally. The lens and mount also appear to be all of one piece.

The lens I have (on the right) is constructed differently. The hood screws off to reveal a pancake arrangement of three lenses, each separated by a loose retention ring. If you remove the lens hood, remember to point the lens up, or the contents will come tumbling out. The lens elements must be put back in the right orientation or you will not be able to achieve focus. In the back half of the barrel is the aperture mechanism plus four tiny filters – skylight, yellow, orange and blue. These filters change by rotating a filter ring placed between the focusing ring and the aperture ring. Truly “filtermatic.”

My Sigma 16mm also has an unusual mounting arrangement. The back end of the lens has a T-mount to which a range of adapters can be attached. My adapter is marked “YS-PM” – for Pentax/Practika. There is also a “YS-PE” that was built for the Pentax ES. Each adapter has a female T-mount (0.75 pitch) which attaches to the lens, and a male M42 (1.0 pitch) which attaches to the camera.

The adapter also has a pin which stops down the iris when used with Pentax film cameras. As this is a mechanical function, it does not work on DSLR cameras.

This is an aperture "preset" lens. The lens barrel has a chrome lever which stops the iris down, but only if you hold it down with the thumb of your left hand while metering or taking a picture. This can be awkward, especially when you want to use a tripod and remote shutter release. The simple non-destructive solution is to slip a small plastic tube cut from a ballpoint pen ink reservoir over the pin to hold the adapter in the stopped-down position. The plastic tube can be inserted with just your fingers and no tools are required. The lens now functions as a conventional manual lens. It will be easy to release the chrome lever to its original functionality at some future date.

I purchased the Sigma 16mm because there are few affordable options for a short focal length M42 lens to use with an APS-C sensor. Someday I might find (and be able to afford) an SMC Takumar 15mm aspherical, but that’s unlikely to happen soon. With the APS-C crop, the fish-eye effect is not nearly so dramatic and unwanted artefacts can often be muted further in post-production.

Are the build, handling and IQ worth the effort?

Lenses of this era were designed to be used with film developed in a lab with the final result printed on paper, just as microphones of the time were meant to be used with magnetic tape recorders in a production studio “lab” with the end result stamped into vinyl. Do we see/hear a difference between those analogue processes and what we can do in the digital era? I think so. It becomes an aesthetic decision, which is a different discussion than which is better.

We currently place a high value on corner-to-corner sharpness, but this is relatively new. The Bausch & Lomb Unar portrait lens for instance (a contemporary of Enrico Caruso) was sharp at the centre and progressively soft toward the edges. A separate ring with 4 positions allowed the photographer to dial up even greater degrees of softness.

Vintage lens may agitate some photographers – consider the soft focus, chromatic aberrations, vignetting, ongoing maintenance and, perhaps most annoying of all, no auto focus. Others will revel in the control that comes with manual operation and the way that no two examples of the same lens will necessarily behave the same way.

Being an old fellow, I’m attracted to equipment that has personality.

Please click the images below to get a better view. On the first two, I have left the aberrations uncorrected, so that you could see them for yourself. On the third, fourth & fifth - the Morning Star, the Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland, and the Crimean War Monument - I have suppressed the colour aberrations.


Registered: March, 2010
Location: Bologna, Amsterdam, Chiang Mai
Posts: 1,013
Lens Review Date: March 26, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: short min focusing distance, good IQ
Cons: none
Sharpness: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: LX; Super A   

I have no experience with digital, but i found it very good on film. Is it possible to give to the same lens an overall vote of 2? I guess not, something is wrong with that specific specimen.
Personally i'd never give a 2 if i find that one of my lenses is a lemon, i'd think that there is something wrong, and that my judgement would not be meaningful.
But, but... i don't mean to be rude, when i read that the lens has mechanical problems because it split in two... com'on, it is supposed to work like that!
It is the only way to reach for the 20.5mm filter, and fit a different one. Be advised that the optical projects NEEDS a filter in place, either the UV one, or whatever else you like.
I repeat, i don't have specific experience with digital, but i'm showing you the Modern Photography test, courtesy of Marc Bergman:

Not bad, isn't it?
It remains to be seen if the lens is prone to fringing on digital, and if it's of the kind that's easy to remove in automatic, but the sharpness is there.
On film it performed better than the Zenithar fisheye, which isn't bad at all.

Another important feature of the Sigma, which allows for creative shots:
min focusing distance.
Here the MFD of the Sigma is compared with other "brand" fisheye lenses:

150mm 5.9" Sigma-Fisheye 16mm f/2.8 Filtermatic
200mm 7.8" Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye
200mm 7.8" Olympus Zuiko Fisheye 16mm f/3.5
200mm 7.8" Pentax Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
300mm 11.8" Minolta Fish-Eye W.Rokkor-X 16mm f/2.8
300mm 11.8" Nikon Fisheye-Nikkor 16mm f/3.5, f/2.8

I still have to test it on digital, but i found that the same lens (picture on the left at the top of the page) was available, with almost identical look, in three different Pentax versions: M42, PK and PKA.
Of course the latter would be the best choice, if used on digital bodies.
New Member

Registered: December, 2012
Posts: 4
Lens Review Date: January 28, 2015 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 2 

Pros: cheap
Cons: unsharp all over, mechanical faulty
Sharpness: 2    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 5    Handling: 8    Value: 2    Camera Used: Olympus OM2   

My first unfaithfulness against my beloved ME and SuperA I had used till that moment: when I saw in some 2nd-hand-ad someone selling an Olympus OM2 (remember the FIRST camera with TTL-flash-control from 1976?) with a bunch of lenses coming with it: original 2.8/24, original 1.8/50, original 4/75-150, Tokina 8/500, tokina SD 28-70, Tokina SD 35-200, Tokina 2.8/28, Sigma 2.8/16 filtermatic fisheye plus the outstanding Olympus flash "quick auto 310" + 60cm TTL auto-chord. The bunch for 620 Deutsche mark at the time, that translates to some 400 US-$ anno domini 1999.

So, I can only pricewise say that (years later) I re-selled the Sigma for some 100 € (Euros),which translated then to some 140 USD.

As it was my first fisheye EVER (and I'd craved for one of those for long, but Pentax' smc-F 17-28 or other were far too expensive for my student's bank account then), I was very enthusiastic about it....about its different perception of the WORLD.
But shooting only with 100 ASA slide film (Agfa CTp100 was my fav), some days with the superb kodachromes 25 and 64, and looked at with my prime LEICA projector with the very very good 2.5/90 projection lens on it (I own also a Kodak Ektar projector with a very good lens and similar results), I had to refrain my Hallelujahs about this lens. Even pictures taken at f16 on bright days on sand dunes lacked sharpness. Only a minor blotch about in the center of the image was "sharp" enough.

Once, after a 3 hour voyage in an airplane with lots of atmospheric troubles and vibrations all over the airplane, the heavy front lens system (maybe 3 lenses, maybe more) came away from the rest of the bunch: I was shocked when I unzipped my camera rucksack.
Somehow, after a dozen Prozacs, I managed to calm down and try to fix it. It seemed impossible, and then, I don't know how, something made a click! and everything came into the right place. I had a lucky charm working.
That long summer was my last with that nightmarish lens. It was very pleasant to use (big and heavy and bulky, you might use it during a Dakota blizzard with your handcuffs on), but 1) the protruding front lens 2)the poor mechanical quality 3) last but not least the very poor IQ did refrain me on my feelings about the lens.

the 2.8 value is, in my opinion, also somewhat exaggerated. Afterwards, with my superA (with a poorer viewfinder than with the Olympus OM2) and the Pentax F 18-27, the image was brighter.

As far as I know, this lens from Sigma came in the heydays of "creative" photography in the Seventies. Pushing your Kodak T-Max 400 ASA up to 1200 and so on, there wasn't such a big expectation about lenses' quality as nowadays.

I warn you! do not buy this lens!!
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2008
Location: Bedfordshire, UK
Posts: 105
Lens Review Date: June 28, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, good built
Cons: none for me
Sharpness: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I bought this lens just out of curiosity. Since then I have used it a lot. It is a fun lens to use but is capable of very good results. I have the Pentax-A mount version so it is perfectly usable on digital but it really performs on film. (For digital I have the Pentax-DA 10-17mm).

This Sigma has a very good built even considering the fiddly way to change the built in filters. As I shoot almost exlusively film with this lens I leave the yellow filter in most of the time for my B&W shots. Sharpness is very good, detailed, contrasty.

A highly recommended lens.
Inactive Account

Registered: December, 2008
Location: Chicago IL USA
Posts: 19
Lens Review Date: March 24, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 

Pros: FUN and creative lens
Cons: Most mechanical problems of any lens I've ever had.

First, this is a GREAT lens for artistic photography. A full-frame fisheye can do a lot of things no other lens can even approach. It makes straight lines curved - and more so as you get to the edges of the frame. Have something in the middle and it's perfectly straight. You can create all sort of effects, yet landscapes are possible with no hint that you're using a fisheye lens. The fast f2.8 speed makes this lens quite usable indoors - if you're ready to let go of the idea that walls, floors and ceilings are supposed to be flat and straight.

This lens is also a challenge to use. You'll find your own shadow, your own feet, or something you never even noticed, accidentally in the frame. Everything you've ever learned about composing a picture will be challenged and tested.

I have an XQ Filtermatic with the M42 screw mount. The front element is H-U-G-E and you need to be constantly mindful you don't bang it with something. Even the original Sigma lens cap isn't great for avoiding problems. I've never accidentally smacked mine against anything, but you always need to be aware you have a huge hunk of glass stuck to the front of your camera.

I've had nothing but mechanical problems with this lens... front element loose, focusing ring came loose, now aperture blades are stuck at f11 The lens is useless at the moment and needs repair. Someday I will send off to Sigma and have the work done.

Even with all these problems I'd totally recommend this lens. One of the most creative and rewarding artistic tools you could ever have.
Senior Member

Registered: September, 2009
Location: Beautiful Bavaria :-)
Posts: 123
Lens Review Date: July 27, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: build quality, fun factor
Cons: filter set (see comments below)

Finally, a fish-eye lens.. Having stated many times that wide angle is not really my thing, I got infected by the super-wide view from this gem from the olden times.

Due to the fact that I still shoot a lot of film, it is a real 180 degree fisheye for me - and that is fun. I used it to produce ultra wide landscape views with no visible fisheye distortion effect - just keeping the horizon exactly in the middle and observe what happens at the corners! Amazing!

Two sets of filters were available, one for colour photography and one for B/W and in addition a clear filter that MUST be put in if no filter should be used (to achieve focus). I got the B/W filter set along with the lens and therefore use always the clear one...
And here is the problem: my clear filter has been used most of the time, obviously, because it has a circular dust marking or slight circular scratch. That seems to be a weak point of the construction, because the outer elements (that you screw out and in for changing the filter) somehow touches the filter surface or collects dust and speck in that place. I didn't dare to clean the filter yet, thank God, it is not visible in the pictures. But it might make the lens unusable one day!

The front cap consist of two parts: for un-vignetted shots you take off everything, if you leave the plastic ring on and take of only the top cap, you will get pictures with a black round vignette around (a pseudo circular fisheye effect).

Finally, the build quality: I find it to be superior to the Sigma lenses of the same period.

Registered: February, 2007
Location: Aurora, CO
Posts: 5,236

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 7, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $135.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Minimum focus distance, flare resistance
Cons: Exposure errors, a loose focus ring, possibly my copy is defective in both areas

I have a newer version than the one pictured, with an A poisition on the aperture ring. I had the Zenitar fisheye in basic K-mount, and I bought the Sigma for greater convenience. The Sigma is better than the Zenitar. It's sharper in the corners, especially at f4 and wider. It focuses much closer, 0.15 meters vs. 0.3 meters, which is much more useful for small subjects. It has greater flare resistance. It also has more range of motion on its focus ring, 180º vs. 90º, and easier-to-read engraved markings in feet and meters. There's even a mark for IR focusing. It focuses to infinity. The Sigma renders images about 500º cooler than the Zenitar.

My copy has a couple of problems which I am told are not typical. The exposure is not consistent. It will underexpose at f2.8 by about 0.5 stop, then gradually switch to 0.5 to 1 stop overexposure at f5.6 to f11, then back to underexposure by f22. It does this if I use the A setting or the aperture ring in M mode with stop-down metering. I have looked for a mechanical issue in the aperture mechanism but don't see anything. It bothers me more that I can't fix it than in use, where compensation is easy. Also my focus ring is loose, so it has some slop in it. I often forget to focus with a fisheye anyway, and am saved by massive depth of field.

Mine came without a cap, so I borrowed a tip from a Zenitar user and used three 67mm filters with no glass, screwed together as a short slide-on hood, and a 67mm cap. It just occured to me that that's helping with flare, since I did not use this with the Zenitar. I have used it on film a few times and it works well, except the short hood creation gets in the shot.

Overall it's a great lens even with the issues plaguing my copy. It is definitely worth pursuing over the Zenitar.
Veteran Member

Registered: April, 2007
Location: Uppsala, Sweden
Posts: 576
Lens Review Date: February 15, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $140.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Solid, Sharp, Minimum focus distance, Fun!
Cons: Heavy, if that is an issue

This is a solid piece of metal and glass, first time I removed the front element to get change the filter I almost didn't get it back in place because it sits so tight. Perfectly smooth focusing so build quality is as good as it gets.

I haven't had it too long but from what I have seen it is sharp from 2.8, corners are also good though it is a bit soft at extreme corners.

The minimum focus distance combined with the fisheye effect makes this one a very fun lens to use.
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