8-15mm Fisheye E-type lens. New to me, what's the upside?

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There is a lens I'm lusting for - the 8-15 zoom. I've had a gazillion fisheye lenses, but the only one I have now is an Olioclip fishere/10x-macro set, where the outer element comes off, and the circular (8mm equivalent) fisheye clip-on lens for my phone becomes a super-closeup. The closeup is meh, but the fish is supercool, especially when coupled with the appropriate Hipstamatic lens and film. But I crave a full format fisheye, and since I have an 850, AND because the circular fisheye images from Nikon (and the 35mm Hasselblad) pics from the 1960s inspired me to take up photography in the first place. So I'm considering the Nikon 8-15 f/3.5-4.5 E lens to (finally) scratch that itch..

I read on the Nikon website that the lens is incompatible with my D2x, (and D100 - which I haven't used in 12 years!), as well as all of my Nikon film cameras. Nikon, you disappoint me. Well, before I say that, is there any advantage to E lenses? As far as I can tell, AF-S was the last new technology not to diminish compatibility with my older cameras. G took away the manual aperture selection, but E - that just seems to cut out cameras. Why? If there is an upside, sell us on it (you're good at that!) Otherwise I may forgo my purchase of the 8-15 lens, and buy a cheap 8mm manual focus lens that can be used with all my cameras. Here's one that looks good, for 1/10th price of the Nikon. Nikon, sell me on your lens!

Does anyone here use this Nikon zoom fisheye lens? I want it, but it's a lot of money so is it worth it (is it sharp enough at f/3.5-4.5, low chromatic aberration, fast enough at f/3.5-4.5, well made, and electronic error free)? My money is burning a hole in my pocket, so I wanna know!

Thank you.

ps, I changed the title of this thread to reflect the mini-review in post #6.
 
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Last week (on payday) I went to Tempe Camera and bought the 'AF-SFisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E' lens (for the same price as I would have paid to Amazon, B&H or Adorama but at TCR, I got brick & mortar cred, and helped keep my local camera store in business.) I've got to say - I love this lens. It's my seventh and best fisheye yet. As soon as I got home, I set the camera to shoot square, the zoom to 11¾mm and shot a bouquet my wife had set on the kitchen island:
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The E designation, as several of you have pointed out, means Electronic diaphragm. It takes signals via a new contact nub from modern digital bodies to the lens. Electronic actuators inside the lens close and open the aperture as needed. The downside is that the aperture only works on D700/D3/D300 or newer cameras. Older cameras (including all film cameras) lack the data contacts to mate with the nub on the lens. That's not a deal stopper, as my older cameras will autofocus and meter just fine, but only shoot wide open - and the lens is good wide open. My newer cameras are fully functional (f/3.5-29.)

Here's Ken Rockwell's Nikon Lens Compatibility page which is better than Nikon's own compatibility page.

The construction of the lens looks like other newer Nikkors. It's kinda heavy cause there's a lot of glass. Nikon is bipolar about the order of the focus and zoom rings, and this one puts the focus ring toward the camera. It's more compact than I expected:

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The lens is sharp: it does not get blurry toward the edge, but it does see the inside of the mount at the extreme edge, so there's a blueish ring around the perimeter. I find the image it throws to be beautiful. I thought I would use 8mm for circular or 15mm for full frame, but it turns out I LOVE 11 ¾ mm, which makes a perfectly square format that's 180° corner to corner. My (also new) D850 does square, 4x5, DX ... in fact there's 5 built-in aspect ratios. I'm especially thrilled with the square format though, because I have long lusted after the Zeiss 40mm fisheye (for Hasselblad, the only square format fisheye I know of.)

Here are some quickie examples from my desk:

Circular:
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Square:
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Full frame:
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Oh, one more thing, it's got a really cool, 2 piece lens shade/cap. You can take the whole thing off by pressing a button and twisting like a lens shade, or take off just the cap, leaving the flower-petal shade if you are using it at 15mm in the sun:

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@Palouse: the 200-500 is next on my lust list. I handled one at Tempe Camera, it's nice. It'll be a while though, because the 8-15 ate up most of my lens budget. I'm thinking I need something long to try astro-digi-scoping.
 
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Thanks for the note Chris. I probably would have missed this. Excellent report, didn't know that the hood/shade thing comes off. It looks really clear on the edges.
It does, and I am amazed at that! In the full circle mode (8mm) the perimeter has a buzzy border. That is because it's actually seeing the ring that holds the front element in place. Since it's touching it, it's too close to focus. The 180° does not include the edge.
 
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