Lenses come in all shapes and sizes and offer a medley of different ways to change a photographer’s perspective. The lens I’m reviewing today is on the extreme end of perspective-shifting imagery.
The Canon Fisheye Zoom Lens EF 8-15mm f/4 L USM is a reality-shifting lens that provides one of the widest angles a lens can produce. Obviously, 8mm is really REALLY wide. In fact, it’s so wide that the lens actually prevents light from hitting the whole camera sensor. When you have this lens attached to a full frame Digital Single Lens Reflex camera (DSLR) and are zoomed out to the widest focal length, this lens creates an image that is a circle in the center of the frame. The rest of the image is black because no light is hitting that area of the sensor.
That’s ridiculously wide.
Now, this lens doesn’t just create a circular image. You can zoom out to 15mm and have the image fill the whole frame. But whatever focal length you chose to shoot at with this lens, the distortion will always be there.
This is a small lens with some unique physical properties. Chiefly, the front element of the lens is a convex piece of glass that is incompatible with filters. The focus and zoom rings of this lens are thin and I actually found myself having to adjust to the ergonomics of the lens because I would reach for the zoom ring and end up changing the focus.
I ventured out to Ferris State University’s University Center as well as downtown Big Rapids at night to get some images of local scenery. The image quality of this lens is superb and, despite the heavy distortion (which was on purpose; you don’t have a fisheye lens without distortion), the photos produced by the lens are crisp and detailed throughout the entirety of the image.
Let’s talk about cost. This is one of Canon’s L (Luxury) lenses so it’s as close to optically perfect as possible with excellent build quality. So, yeah. It’s expensive. It runs at about $1,249. That’s actually not too bad as far as lens prices go… but this isn’t a lens for a photographer on a budget.
Especially since it’s a specialty lens that really doesn’t work for portraiture. Just take a look at the selfie to the right (yes, I’m calling it a selfie because the lens was literally an inch away from my face which is actually closer than I hold my phone). If you want images of people with big noses, this is the lens for you.
All joking aside, this is a fun lens for landscape and architectural photography. At the lens’ widest, it packs in a complete 180-degree view of whatever you point it at. If you’re not careful you can even capture a bit of yourself in your photos.
It’s THAT wide.
Now, would/will I buy this lens? Probably not, and even if I did I think I would prefer it for videography more than anything. I currently own a wide angle lens that fits all of my needs: The Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L USM II.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my time with this lens. As a photographer I love a change in perspective and this lens certainly delivers.