Buying Guides

The Ultimate Lens Guide for Mirrorless Cameras Underwater

With camera brands releasing new mirrorless lenses on what seem like a daily basis, it’s tough to navigate which lenses to get, particularly for underwater shooters. In many cases, there’s a limited range of native mirrorless lenses available, so the best choice is actually to use a DSLR lens with an adapter. Here are our top mirrorless lenses for underwater photography.

Quick links to specific camera models: (scroll down or click a title for more details)

Best Lenses for Sony Alpha Series Underwater

  1. Sony FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS
  2. Sony FE 28mm f/2
  3. Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

Best Lenses for Nikon Z Mirrorless Series Underwater

  1. Nikkor AF-S 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5 Fisheye (with Nikon FTZ Mount Adapter)
  2. Nikkor AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED (with Nikon FTZ Mount Adapter)
  3. Nikkor AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR (with Nikon FTZ Mount Adapter)
  4. Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S

Best Lenses for Canon R Series Underwater

  1. Canon 100mm EF f/2.8L Macro IS (with Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)
  2. Canon 8-15mm EF f/4L Fisheye USM (with Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)
  3. Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM (with Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)

Best Lenses for Panasonic S Series Underwater

  1. Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DS Fisheye (with Sigma MC-21 Mount Converter)
  2. Canon 100mm EF f/2.8L Macro IS (with Sigma MC-21 Mount Converter)
  3. Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM (with Sigma MC-21 Mount Converter)

Best Lenses for Canon M Series Underwater

  1. Canon 8-15mm EF f/4L Fisheye USM (with Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)
  2. Canon 100mm EF f/2.8L Macro IS (with Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)
  3. Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM

Best Lenses for Olympus and Panasonic Micro 4/3 Underwater

  1. Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 Macro
  2. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO
  3. Olympus M.Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro

Best Lenses for Sony E-Mount Series Underwater

  1. Sony E 10-18mm f/4
  2. Sony E 16mm f/2.8 with Sony Fisheye Converter
  3. Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

* We are still gathering samples for all the different lenses. We’ll update the article in the next few weeks with more photos!
If you’d like your photos to be featured, let us know!


Full Frame


Best Lenses for Sony Alpha Series Underwater

 

Sony FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS

This is one of the best all-around rectilinear wide-angle lenses allowing for underwater scenes, large animals, and also the ability to zoom and capture closer subjects. There is a higher quality version, the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM with a larger maximum aperture, but for most underwater photographers shooting wide-angle the extra light may not be necessary for the increased cost. This lens is also great for video.

Maximum Aperture: f/4

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.92ft (0.28m)

Weight: 18.3oz (518g)

Price (Nov 2019) $1350

Sample Photos:

Coming soon…

Sony FE 28mm f/2

This lens is a favorite because of its versatility and the ability to use with wet lenses. On its own this basic and affordable lens can shoot small reef scenes and fish and other marine life and the maximum aperture of f/2 can create nice blur in background with focus and detail in the subject. Wet lenses can increase shooting opportunities on the same dive.

Maximum Aperture: f/2

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.96ft (0.29m) (AF)

Weight: 7.1oz (200g)

Price (Nov 2019) $450

Sample Photos:

Coming soon…

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

This lens is the best way to capture super sharp macro and get detail on the very small stuff. It can also be paired with a diopter wet lens for super macro. The lens is a little less forgiving than the 50mm and it’s much larger and heavier, but the resolution and capabilities are worth the extra weight and cost. The maximum aperture of f/2.8 is excellent for bokeh shots. This lens works on both E and A mount.

Maximum Aperture: f/2.8

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.92ft (0.28m)

Weight: 21.3oz (602g)

Price (Nov 2019) $1100


Best Lenses for Nikon Z Mirrorless Series Underwater

Nikon has only a few options for mirrorless lenses currently, but they have announced more will be coming out soon. Nikon mirrorless users will find investing in the Nikon mount adapter FTZ will allow them to use dSLR lenses, of which several are fantastic underwater. Recommendations for great dSLR lenses underwater include the Nikon 8-15 mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Fisheye which is great for ultra-wide-angle, split shots, close focus  wide-angle, big animals, and the ability to get circular fisheye shots. Popular Nikon dSLR macro lenses include the Nikon 60mm AF-S f/2.8G ED and the Nikon 105mm AF-S f/2.8G IF-ED VR, all which will work on the Nikon mirrorless cameras with the FTZ adaptor.

Nikkor AF-S 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5 Fisheye (with Nikon FTZ Mount Adapter)

This fisheye lens is a favorite of mirrorless and dSLR underwater shooters. With the capabilities of a 180 degree view as a circular fisheye the zoom also allows for 15mm, still giving an ultra-wide view. This lens focuses extremely close making it perfect for close-focus-wide-angle and also all types of wide-angle photography. Pair with Nikon FTZ mount adapter.

Maximum Aperture: f/3.5-4.5

Minimum Focus Distance: 6.3in (.16m)

Weight: 17.1 oz (485g)

Price (Nov 2019) $1250, $250

Sample Photos:

Coming soon…

Nikkor AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED (with Nikon FTZ Mount Adapter)

The dSLR 105mm macro is still the top choice for mirrorless and dSLR shooters underwater. This lens allows for sharp macro images and the focusing distance allows a diver to be slightly away from a subject as to not scare it. This lens paired with a wet mount diopter is the ideal solution for super macro. It can be used on mirrorless cameras with the Nikon FTZ adapter.

Maximum Aperture: f/2.8

Minimum Focus Distance: 1.03in (.03m)

Weight: 25.4oz (720g)

Price (Nov 2019) $899, $250

Sample Photos (Taken with the Nikon Z7 + Nikkor 105mm + FTZ Adapter)

Photos by Puttarat Horwang ( @aunkhorwang )

Nikkor AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR (with Nikon FTZ Mount Adapter)

The 16-35mm rectilinear dSLR lens is a favorite for underwater photographers that don’t want the fisheye effect in their images. This zoom lens allows for a very wide scene but also zoomed to smaller reef or wreck scene or pelagic animals that aren’t very close. An excellent lens overall for topside and also video use.

Maximum Aperture: f/2.8

Minimum Focus Distance: 11.42in (.29m)

Weight: 24.3oz (680g)

Price (Nov 2019) $1100, $250

Sample Photos:

Coming soon…

Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S

The only native mirrorless lens on the list, which we feel is relevant for underwater photographers. This is a versatile wide-angle zoom lens with useful length range (14-30mm) and maximum aperture f/4. It is great for wide reef scenes, closer fish portraits and video while achieving sharpness throughout the image. Lightweight and compact the lens is great for travel and element resistant fluorine coat helps repel dust, water, and dirt. Minimum focusing distance is 11in.

Maximum Aperture: f/4

Minimum Focus Distance: 11in (.28m)

Weight: 17.1 oz (485g)

Price (Nov 2019) $1300

Sample Photos

Photos by Puttarat Horwang ( @aunkhorwang )


Best Lenses for Canon R Series Underwater

Canon dSLR lenses can be used on Canon mirrorless cameras with a Canon EF-EOS R Mount Adapter. Some of our favorite dSLR lenses to use with the mirrorless cameras are the 8-15mm EF f/4L Fisheye USM which is great for close focus  wide-angle, super wide shots, big animals, split shots and the ability to get circular fisheye shots. For general  wide-angle the Canon 11-24 EF f/4L USM and 16-35mm EF f/2.8L III IS USM and the Canon 100mm EF f/2.8L Macro IS. Canon has also announced new RF lenses coming out in 2019 including an 85mm f/1.2 L USM , 24-70mm f/2.8 IS USM, and 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM.

 

Canon 100mm EF f/2.8L Macro IS (with Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)

As Canon works on more lens options, the dSLR 100mm macro is still the top choice for mirrorless and dSLR shooters underwater. This lens allows for sharp macro images and the focusing distance allows a diver to be slightly away from a subject as to not scare it. Pair the 100mm with a diopter to get stunning super macro shots. It can be used on mirrorless cameras with the small and lightweight Canon mount adapter.

Maximum Aperture: f/3.5-6.3

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.98ft (.3m)

Weight: 22oz (625)

Price (Nov 2019) $899, $100

Sample Photos:

Taken by Rina Yumol Jones ( @rinayumol_jones ) with the Canon EOS M5 mirrorless camera.

Canon 8-15mm EF f/4L Fisheye USM (with Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)

As Canon works on more lens options, the dSLR circular fisheye zoom lens is still the top choice for mirrorless and dSLR shooters underwater. This lens focuses incredibly close to subjects allowing for close-focus-wide-angle shots. It also is perfect for wide-angle wreck shots, pelagics, reef scenes and more. It can be used on mirrorless cameras with the small and lightweight canon mount adapter.

Maximum Aperture: f/4

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.52ft (.16m)

Weight: 19.1oz (540g)

Price (Nov 2019) $1250, $100

Sample Photos:

Taken by Shane Keena ( @smkeenaphotography ) on a Canon 5D Mark III

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM (with Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)

This Canon-mount dSLR rectilinear lens is a great option for wide-angle images. The zoom capabilities allow for wide-angle reef and wrecks and also zoomed, closer scenes. Pair with the Canon Mount Adapter.

Maximum Aperture: f/2.8

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.49ft (0.15m)

Weight: 27.8oz (789)

Price (Nov 2019) $1999, $100

Sample Photos

Taken by Shane Keena ( @smkeenaphotography ) on a Canon 5D Mark III

 


Best Lenses for Panasonic S Series Underwater

The new Panasonic S series have an L-Mount which allows the use of Leica, Sigma, ad Panasonic lenses. As new lenses for this system are in development, the Sigma MC-21 Mount Converter will allow for the use of Canon EF-mount lenses. Panasonic has announced at least eight new lenses will be released by 2020. Reviews have shown that sometimes when using converters the autofocus is slowed down on the Panasonic S cameras. Currently most underwater photographers are opting to use the dSLR Canon 8-15mm circular fisheye lens.

 

Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DS Fisheye (with Sigma MC-21 Mount Converter)

This Canon-mount dSLR fisheye lens is great for close-focus-wide-angle and ultra-wide images. It does well in low light and will work well with reef scenes, big animals, divers, and wrecks. Pair with the Sigma Mount Converter.

Maximum Aperture: f/2.8

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.49ft (0.15m)

Weight: 13.12oz (372g)

Price (Nov 2019) $550, $169

Sample Photos:

Coming soon…

Canon 100mm EF f/2.8L Macro IS (with Sigma MC-21 Mount Converter)

As Canon works on more lens options, the dSLR 100mm macro is still the top choice for mirrorless and dSLR shooters underwater. This lens allows for sharp macro images and the focusing distance allows a diver to be slightly away from a subject as to not scare it. This lens paired with a wet mount diopter is the ideal solution for super macro. It can be used on mirrorless cameras with the small and lightweight Sigma mount adapter.

Maximum Aperture: f/3.5-6.3

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.98ft (.3m)

Weight: 22oz (625)

Price (Nov 2019) $899, $169

Sample Photos:

Taken by Rina Yumol Jones ( @rinayumol_jones ) with the Canon EOS M5 mirrorless camera.

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM (with Sigma MC-21 Mount Converter)

This Canon-mount dSLR rectilinear lens is a great option for wide-angle images. The zoom capabilities allow for wide-angle reef and wrecks and also zoomed, closer scenes. Pair with the Sigma Mount Converter.

Maximum Aperture: f/2.8

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.49ft (0.15m)

Weight: 27.8oz (789)

Price (Nov 2019) $1999, $169

Sample Photos:

Taken by Shane Keena ( @smkeenaphotography ) on a Canon 5D Mark III


Cropped Sensor


 Best Lenses for Canon M Series Underwater

 Canon 8-15mm EF f/4L Fisheye USM (with Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)

As Canon works on more lens options, the dSLR circular fisheye zoom lens is still the top choice for mirrorless and dSLR shooters underwater. This lens focuses incredibly close to subjects allowing for close-focus-wide-angle shots. It also is perfect for wide-angle wreck shots, pelagics, reef scenes and more. It can be used on mirrorless cameras with the small and lightweight canon mount adapter.

Maximum Aperture: f/4

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.52ft (.16m)

Weight: 19.1oz (540g)

Price (Nov 2019) $1250, $100

Sample Photos:

Taken by Shane Keena ( @smkeenaphotography ) on a Canon 5D Mark III

Canon 100mm EF f/2.8L Macro IS (with Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R)

As Canon works on more lens options, the dSLR 100mm macro is still the top choice for mirrorless and dSLR shooters underwater. This lens allows for sharp macro images and the focusing distance allows a diver to be slightly away from a subject as to not scare it. This lens paired with a wet mount diopter is the ideal solution for super macro. It can be used on mirrorless cameras with the small and lightweight canon mount adapter.

Maximum Aperture: f/3.5-6.3

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.98ft (.3m)

Weight: 22oz (625)

Price (Nov 2019) $899, $100

Sample Photos:

Taken by Rina Yumol Jones ( @rinayumol_jones ) with the Canon EOS M5 mirrorless camera.

Canon EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM

This is a mid-range wide-angle lens with zoom capabilities allowing for wide reef scenes, wreck shots, big animals and divers while also letting the user take closer shots like fish portraits. This is an inexpensive and lightweight option.

Maximum Aperture: f/3.5-6.3

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.82ft (.25m)

Weight: 4.6oz (130g)

Price (Nov 2019) $300

Sample Photos:

Taken by Julie Louh ( @jlouh ) with the Canon EOS M5 mirrorless camera


Best Lenses for Olympus and Panasonic Micro 4/3 Underwater

 

Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 Macro

This is one of the best options for macro and will work with wet-mounted diopters for super macro. On full frame/35mm cameras it has an equivalent focal length 120mm. It is slightly faster focusing than the Panasonic 45mm.

Maximum Aperture: f.2.8

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.62ft (0.19m)

Weight: 6.5oz (185g)

Price (Nov 2019) $500

Sample Photos

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO

This is a great rectilinear lens with a wide view and bright with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 throughout its range. It is good for capturing wide scenes like reefs, big animals, divers, and does well for video. The Panasonic Lumix G VARIO 7-14mm f/4.0 ASPH equivalent comes in a big less expensive, but also is still very good.

Maximum Aperture: f/2.8

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.65ft (0.2m)

Weight: 18.8oz (534g)

Price (Nov 2019) $1300

Sample Photos:

Coming soon…

Olympus M.Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro

The Olympus 8mm fisheye is the highest quality fisheye available. Its maximum aperture of f/1.8 makes it very bright and the 180 degree field of view is perfect for underwater shooting to get very wide-angle shots. It works great for reef scenes, big animals, and close-focus-wide-angle and delivers sharp images. A less expensive alternative is the Panasonic Lumix G 8mm f/3.5, but has a maximum aperture of but f/3.5 instead of f/1.8.

Maximum Aperture: f/1.8

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.39ft (0.12m)

Weight: 11.1oz (315g)

Price (Nov 2019) $1000

Sample Photos

Photos by Tanya Houppermans ( @blueelementsimaging )

 


Best Lenses for Sony E-Mount Series Underwater

 

Sony E 10-18mm f/4

This is a great rectilinear wide-angle lens option allowing for wide shots but also the ability to zoom in a little for closer scenes. This lens is also a good option for video and has a constant f/4 maximum aperture at all focal lengths for smooth video zoom transitioning.

Maximum Aperture: f/4

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.82ft (0.25m)

Weight: 8oz (255g)

Price (Nov 2019) $900

Sample Photos

 

Sony E 16mm f/2.8 with Sony Fisheye Converter

This lens is a great basic and affordable lens that works well with wet mount adapters which can give a shooter plenty of options on every dive. It is also small and lightweight making it great for travel. We recommend using it with the Sony Fisheye Converter.

Maximum Aperture: f/2.8

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.8ft (0.24m)

Weight: 2.4oz (67g)

Price (Nov 2019) $259

Sample Photos (with fisheye converter)

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

This lens is the best way to capture super sharp macro and get detail on the very small stuff. It can also be paired with a diopter wet lens for super macro. The lens is larger and weighs a bit more than most mirrorless lenses, but the resolution and capabilities are worth the extra weight and cost. The maximum aperture of f/2.8 is excellent for bokeh shots. This is a full frame lens that will work on a cropped sensor with a 135m equivalent.

Maximum Aperture: f/2.8

Minimum Focus Distance: 0.92ft (0.28m)

Weight: 21.3oz (602g)

Price (Nov 2019) $1100

Sample Photos (Taken with the Sony A6500 E-Mount)

Brandi Mueller

Brandi Mueller is an award winning underwater photographer, photojournalist, scuba diving instructor, and boat captain.
She is an Ikelite Ambassador and a member of the Ocean Artists Society.
Brandi Mueller

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