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Canon 8-15mm F4.0L Fisheye lens first impressions: you can’t shoot wider than this:-)

Take a look at this craziness:

Lake Lanier: fisheye HDR Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens review
Lake Lanier: fisheye HDR Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens review

It is done by fisheye lens:-))

Recently I’ve picked up a¬†Canon 8-15mm F4.0 L ¬†fisheye lens and wanted to share my first impressions:-)

 

1. Body and design

 Canon 8-15mm F4.0L fisheye lens

canon 8-15mm f4L fisheye lens
canon 8-15mm f4L fisheye lens

canon 8-15mm f4L fisheye lens review by alex koloskov
canon 8-15mm f4L fisheye lens

The lens is very similar to the¬†Canon 14mm F2.8L by size and look. I was using the 14mm for commercial architecture assignments a few years ago and I love this lens. However, unlike 14mm, the fisheye is not “corrected”, providing all kinds of distortions to a photographer. The lens has a small removable hood (14mm has non-removable hood) with cap attached directly to a hood. The hood can be used only at 15mm, and it becomes visible at focal lenght of 14mm and shorter.
Full description and explanation of lens controls available  at Canon website.

2. Image samples

When attached to a full frame camera, ¬†image circle fills the sensor¬†completely¬†only between 14.5 and 15 mm. Zoom it to 8mm and it will show you full 180¬į view circle:

Canon 8-15mm F4.0 L fisheye lens at 8mm
Canon 8-15mm F4.0 L fisheye lens at 8mm

There is not much use for this type of zoom for a full frame shooter, IMO. It would be more practical to use this fisheye on crop sensor cameras, zoomed to 10mm on APS-C sensor it will provide the same image as 15 on a full frame.

I’ve used it for a few days with a Canon 5DMKII, shooting some photos at the nearest lake and I love it! The lens gives me such an unusual view of regular¬†landmarks that it’s hard to not to be creative with it. Point camera down, and you get a from a space shuttle-like look of the Earth:

Canon 8-15mm F4.0L at 14.5mm, pointed down

Lake Lanier: fisheye HDR Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens review
Lake Lanier: fisheye HDR Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens review

Be¬†careful¬†though, as it can catch some unwanted objects: Look closely at the image and you’ll find what I mean :-)

Turn camera up and you’ll get an opposite curvature view:

Canon 8-15mm F4.0L at 14.5mm, pointed up

Example photo taken by Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens
Example photo taken by Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens

Tip:

To get interesting and creative shots without anything spectacular around, shoot from extremely lower position and have some objects close to the camera. To get the shot above I had camera about 2 inches from the ground. Even small stone like you see on the right can become a big rock and will look quite interesting. 

3. Image quality.

Lens has¬†relatively¬†good sharpness for ¬†fisheye “L” lens, just¬†slightly softer than Canon 14mm F2.8. The biggest difference is a pretty serious amount of CA lens has. I guess this is the maximum what you can get from such wide zoom fisheye. Check it out, 100% crop below:

Canon 8-15mm F4 L fisheye image quality, 100% crop

canon 8-15mm f4 L chromatic abberations image example
canon 8-15mm f4 L chromatic abberations image example

However, I do not consider this to be a big issue, as Photshop CS5 fixes such things in one move of a slider.

Lens is a real fun to play with. Weird looking urban (still in my to-do list) and landscapes is not only area of use for the lens, it is capable of doing creative portraits as well:

Canon 8-15mm F4L fisheye portrait example

Creative portrait by Canon 8 15mm f4L fisheye lens
Creative portrait by Canon 8 15mm f4L fisheye lens

 

 Tip:

For such environmental portraits I use on-camera mounted hotshoe  flash, and dial exposure compensation to -1EV and flash exposure compensation to +1 EV. Such settings works similar to HDR, but instead of multiple exposures everything gets done in one: underexposed sky (meaning it will darker) and slightly overexposed close subjects.

 

Few more examples of multiexposure HDRs done by this fisheye:

Canon fisheye 8-15mm F4.0 L HDR image examples:

Lake Lanier HDR by Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens
Lake Lanier HDR by Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens

 

 HDR by Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens
HDR by Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens

Now, you may be wondering what happened and why I’ve start doing stuff like this outside the studio? The answer is simple: I’ve always been shooting landscapes, but I’ve never posted them here:-)

It’s funny why I got this fisheye lens: I was inspired by¬†talented Poland photographer¬†Pawel Tomaszewicz: I saw his work on Google¬†plus¬†and was thrilled by the beauty of the images done with fisheye lens. The next day I ordered my first fisheye, Canon 8-15mm F4.0L zoom¬†at BHphotovideo.com. Currently lens is back-ordered, but if you make¬†¬†an order they will ship it to you as soon as they get next batch. For me it took about 2 weeks.

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5 responses on "Canon 8-15mm F4.0L Fisheye lens first impressions: you can't shoot wider than this:-)"

  1. j’ai un 24, pas de d√©formations, cela ne vous d√©range pas ?

  2. Awesome post – a well rounded review, and you have some great sample images here. I’m going to have to rent one of these lenses sometime to mess around with, and see how I like it. I’ve never shot anything wider than my 18mm kit lens on my 40D, so yeah – there’s definitely an urge to go wider. With the crop factor, I’ve really never gone wider than 28.8mm

  3. Sweet lens thx for short test Alex. I am personally using SAMYANG 8mm not too bad lens at all, but only manual focusing < is like I need it on fisheye :P, and no zoom <- I can live with out it but it is good advantage to have one. Cheers M8!

  4. Thank you for the review!

  5. Alex, thanks for the information on the 8-15mm … I’ve been trying out a 14mm Nikkor prime on my Canon 5DmkII lately, based on the good results I’ve had with a Nikkor 20mm prime.

    Lens flares are the only potential issue.. check out this timelapse clip on Vimeo or this Flickr set for actual images:

    [img]http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6151/6195906939_2a6b9066cb_z.jpg[/img]

    http://vimeo.com/29871589
    http://flic.kr/s/aHsjwczu9e

    Thanks for sharing.

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