The Lumix G Fisheye 8mm F3.5 is the eighth lens Panasonic has released for Micro Four Thirds, and sees the company venturing away from mainstream optics towards something a little more exotic. Fisheyes are ultra-wideangle lenses which project images in a different way from conventionally-corrected rectilinear designs - straight lines are rendered as curves unless they pass directly through the center of the frame, with the curvature ever-increasing towards the edges. In essence, accepting this extreme barrel distortion makes it possible to design a lens with a much larger angle of view than is normally possible.

The 8mm F3.5 is a so-called 'diagonal' fisheye, which means it has a 180 degree diagonal angle of view and the projected image covers the entire frame. This is in contrast to 'circular' fisheyes, which give a 180 degree angle of view in all directions, but only form a circular image in the middle of the frame surrounded by a non-illuminated black border. Panasonic claims it's the world's smallest and lightest of its type, and that's easy enough to believe; a cursory glance at its specification reveals it to be remarkably compact and lightweight, weighing in at under 6 ounces and measuring less than 2 1/2 inches in length.

We must admit to feeling more than a little surprised to see a fisheye appearing from Panasonic right now, when we can't help but feel there are a couple of gaping holes in the Micro Four Thirds lineup that surely need filling more urgently (most notably a fast portrait prime in the 50mm F1.4 range). Then again Sony has chosen to produce a fisheye option for its competing NEX system from day one (albeit by the more flexible option of an add-on converter for the 16mm wideangle pancake), so clearly there's something we're missing here. Presumably there's sufficient demand for 'edgy' close-in shots of snow/skateboarders or wide sweeping vistas of sports stadia is sufficient to justify the development costs.

These doubts notwithstanding, we've had an early sample of the 8mm F3.5 fisheye (which we're told is representative of the final optical quality) in the dpreview basement for the last couple of days, just long enough to put together a brief overview of its design and bring you a small samples gallery.

Headline features

  • Diagonal fisheye (i.e. 180 degrees angle of view across image diagonal)
  • Compact lightweight design
  • Micro Four Thirds mount for Olympus and Panasonic cameras

Panasonic Lumix G Fisheye 8mm F3.5 specifications

Price • US: $800
• UK: £730
Manufacturer's code H-F008
Date introduced June 2010
Maximum format size Micro Four Thirds
Focal length 8mm
35mm equivalent focal length 16mm
Diagonal Angle of view 180º
Maximum aperture F3.5
Minimum aperture F22
Lens Construction • 10 elements / 9 groups
• 1 ED glass element
Number of diaphragm blades 7, rounded
Minimum focus 0.1m / 0.33ft
Maximum magnification 0.20x
AF motor type Stepping Motor
Focus method Internal
Image stabilization via camera body where available
Filter thread • No filter thread
• Rear holder for gel filters
Supplied accessories* • Front and rear caps
• Lens storage bag
Weight 165g (5.82oz)
Dimensions 61mm x 52mm (2.4in x 2.0in)
Lens Mount Micro Four Thirds

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area