Ever since Canon announced the EF 8-15mm f/4L fisheye lens back in September 2010 I have been impatiently waiting for it. I knew that, at least in theory, it was going to be awesome and after having it for a few days now, I can say that it’ll blow you away. Whoever came up with the idea for this lens has to be a very brilliant designer. I know it may sound like I’m biased, but I’ve got plenty of negative posts here on my blog about Canon. The most famous are my posts on the EOS 5D Mark II autofocus issues. But with this lens, if I want to be honest, I have no choice but to praise Canon.
The lens is beautiful, extremely well built, feels very solid in your hands, focusing and zooming are very smooth and the image quality is simply awesome. The lens delivers very sharp images all the way to the edges. Even on an APS-C camera like the EOS 60D or EOS 7D you can now get a 180° view in your pictures with a full 180° circular fisheye view on full frame cameras such as the 5D Mark II. You can capture the entire sky with just one image on a full frame camera.
The picture above was taken two days ago just outside my house. I noticed some really scary looking rainclouds outside and grabbed my camera with the 8-15mm lens on it to capture them. The picture was shot at 8mm on an EOS 7D, and I did crop out the corners to remove the vignetting. But even then, just take a look at how much of the sky I was able to capture in just one shot!
The angle of view is so wide that it takes some getting used to because objects at the edges that you don’t want in the frame show up, such as tripod legs and even your own hands or feet.
As you can see in the picture above, having a 180° field of view can give you interesting results. You can see my feet as I was standing outside while I took a picture of what was in front of me. I did crop out the corners again to remove the vignetting, but even then, it’s incredible how much you can get into a single frame.
I’m very satisfied so far with this lens. I have yet to do some real work with it, but so far I’m impressed. The only issue I had with this lens as soon as I started using it was the fact that the lens cap can easily come off. I’m not the only one complaining about it, you can find more info on this issue in the review at The Digital Picture. But next to the incredible awesomeness of the lens itself, the lens cap issue is a very minor problem.
Keep in mind that this post of mine is not meant to be a review of this lens. I’ve just used it for a few days and not yet on assignments. But my initial impressions are that you’ll be blown away by the results and the awesomeness of the lens itself. I’ll be posting more about this lens in the future once I have done more work with it.
With this lens Canon strengthens their lead in the area of lenses even more. All they need now is an update to the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L that can rival the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 G in sharpness, or a 14-24mm f/2.8 lens of their own. I hope that the 5D Mark III will be a significant upgrade to the 5D Mark II when it will be released soon and that everything we complained about will be addressed. If that happens I’m going to be a very happy Canon user.
Update January 31st, 2012: I’ve added another post about this lens after using it for a few months. You can read it here.