Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mini-Review: Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L USM Fisheye Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens

Copyright 2010 – Canon USA

I’ve been lusting for this lens since I first got my hands on it in September of 2010, so when I found on Monday I could get one in this article (still available) I was all over it. Mine arrived from B&H today so despite bad weather and not much time sunlight after work, I got out and played with it a bit.

Creativity Blooms

Oh when you get a shot with this lens like the one above you just think – wow, I’m really going to love this lens! It definitely opens up the creative door and clears off the cob webs. I just love this shot of what normally would be a very boring photo.

Focus can be tricky at 8mm


To get a shot that doesn’t include your feet or head, you need to get into some interesting positions. Unless you have a Canon Right Angle Finder and use it, it’s easy to miss your focus target as in this case.

When it nails the focus, it can be sharp – and fun

It was really fun when just screwing around yielded something fun like the shot above.

The blue fringing was present on all of my 8mm shots from a Canon 5D Mark II. In addition, it’s hard to tell here – but the full frame is black so click the image to see a larger frame on your browsers default background color.

You can do some interesting things including whacky HDR 

Clouds are really cool in fisheye shots so this cloudy day shot got a little more interesting. This was just a 5 minute edit and it’s a tad on the cheesy side with the colors, but you can see with some time and patience that Photomatix can be a good start to an interesting image.

In this shot the three exposures combined to create the noise in the outer part of the frame. The blown sky is because I merged the JPEG’s instead of corrected RAW’s or doing a fix in Photoshop using a good layer. I’d do that if I had the time, but in this case I didn’t.

Sometimes 15mm is better than 8mm

Mouse over to see 8mm, mouse out to see 15mm

Despite this being a zoom lens, it’s easy to treat it like a prime and get stuck at 8mm. After all, that’s the fun of this lens. However, going up to 15mm sometimes create just as interesting shots as shown above (hover over to see 8mm). This of course begs the question, would the 16-35mm be just as good?

Notice the hood in the 8mm shot – it’s scary not to use it because the lens sticks out, but you need to remember to remove it at 8mm. I frequently I forgot and ruined plenty of shots.

But Honey, it’s for the baby!

Most of us are never going to be able to justify this lens, so you need to think of how you can sell this to the spouse. Take a few shots of junior in ways that you don’t normally see and that might be just enough to get a “that’s neat” and you are home free.


Money doesn’t grow on trees around my house either, so I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to keep it or just rent it from one of the companies in my Lens Rental Series (discounts) like and If I could only use it when I rented then I’d probably never rent it. Even if I did rent it, I’d probably not have it with me when I was inspired to say “this is a great application for a fisheye”.

However,  I ask myself – if I were to own this lens, I’d use it and probably get some creative shots I’ve never imagined before? This lens is small enough to fit in my bag, so I could just take it everywhere.

However, it’s so expensive for a niche shot, would it make a good investment? Then again I think I could eventually probably get one good shot along the way that sells well in which case with three 16x24 print sales it could easily pay for itself.

Decisions, decisions, decisions. At least B&H gives me 30 days to decide, and I’d rather have it in my hands while I think than do with out. Worst case I can probably sell it to a friend at full price as these aren’t going to be in stock much longer, and this is a desirable enough lens that it is certain to hold its value well.

Click here to purchase yours from B&H today.


I purchased this lens with my own money from B&H using its Bill Me Later feature so I can get more time to pay for this bad boy. If you make a purchase using the links provided in the article it helps to support this blog as I may get a commission. If you are going to buy this lens anyway then please use my links.

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Dan Carr said...

Hey Ron,

I'd be interested , if you keep it, to hear more on your experience with the IQ in the longer term. I just posted a pretty big review of it on my site and I have found that the chromatic aberrations are some of the worst I've ever seen. I must admit that I concentrated more on 15mm (or 12 on a 1d4) because I think 8mm is too gimmicky for the work that I do, but I used a 15mm fish quite a lot. said...

I accidentally deleted this comment post due to trying to approve via my phone instead of waiting until I was on my computer:

Rob has left a new comment on your post "Mini-Review: Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L USM Fisheye Ultr...":

Great review! I was really excited to see this lens tested on a full frame camera. I owned a cheap 8mm Peleng and currently use a Canon 15mm fisheye. In most cases the 15mm is enough, fills the frame but still offers sharp focus.

The 8mm would be handy to have for an experimental photos, like the spherical panoramic images. said...

Rob - this lens is definitely much better at 15mm than 8 - no doubt. I'll be doing more testing and hope to add more details on my blog when I do.

Dan - Yes, the CA is horrific at 8mm as shown by the big blue circle around the images at 8mm. It doesn't seem as bad at 15mm, but given the physical shape of this lens and all that it is trying to accomplish I am not surprised. I think there's a good reason we haven't seen a 8-15mm before now.

I would suspect the next release of DPP to have some better built-in processing of raw images from this lens that could help to address this problem. We'll have to see.

Elide Požrl said...
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