Review Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4L USM Fisheye & Canon 5D MK3 (C FF)
Early October 2012, we have tested the Canon 8-15 mm Fisheye on a camera with an APS-C sensor (Canon 650D). Now we publish a Canon 8-15 review, in which we have used a camera with a full frame sensor (Canon 5D MK3). The Canon 8-15 mm zoom lens is on the market since late 2010 and is a lens that gives unique images. Very few fisheye zoom lenses are for sale. The Tokina 10-17 mm , which we have tested on a Canon 60D before, is currently the only alternative.
Canon 8-15 mm @ 14 mm & Canon 5D MK3Click on the image for a much larger version.
Canon 8-15 mm @ 8 mm
Canon Fisheye zoom lens @ 11 mm
At a focal length of 8 mm (picture above), the Canon 8-15 mm has an impressive horizontal field of view of 180 degrees. However, a large part of the edges is black as a result of vignetting. Even at a focal length of 11 mm, the extreme corners are black. If you do not want black edges, you need to accept a significant loss of resolution for an image taken at a focal length of 8 mm, because you crop the image. And the picture that remains, after cropping a picture taken at 8 mm and maintaining a 3:2 aspect ratio, is more distorted, but not wider than a picture taken with a focal length of 15 mm (move your mouse over the picture). If you want to preserve that huge field of view at a focal length of 8 mm as much as possible, cropping to a panorama shot (below) is better.
Canon 8-15 mm @ 15 mm
Construction and autofocus of the Canon 8-15 mm
The lens body has a new texture like all new models in the L series. The Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM is supplied with a lens cap, sleeve, and hood. That is nice, because wide-angle lenses are always more sensitive to reflections in back light. The ultrasonic autofocus motor (USM) allows for fast and accurate focusing. The Canon Fisheye lens is resistant to dust and water, and thus usable under extreme conditions.
The Canon 8-15 mm Fisheye has no built-in image stabilization. Many people use the maxim that for a sharp picture, one needs a shutter speed of 1 / focal length at minimum. Nevertheless, with cameras with a high resolution, it is better to use 1 / 2 times the focal length. With a focal length of 8 mm, it is already enough to have a shutter speed of 1/16 seconds to take a sharp picture with the Canon 8-15 mm on a Canon 5D MK3. The combination of the light intensity - f/4 - of this lens and the possibility to use ISO 1600 or higher without difficulty with a modern camera such as the Canon 5D MK3 amply countervails the absence of image stabilization.
Canon 8-15 mm vignetting
We have not measured the Canon 8-15 mm’s vignetting. This image illustrates probably immediately why we have not done this. We are dealing with a circular fisheye lens, making the edges and corners black due to vignetting.
Distortion and bias
The distortion of a fisheye lens increases to 25% or more at an 8 mm focal length. However, it appears in practice that there are many applications, in which distortion is not disturbingly present, as long as you locate the horizon in the middle of the image. If you do not or you hold the camera at an angle, you as a photographer will create a significant distortion.
Move your mouse over the image for the difference between an image with the horizon under the middle and a horizon above the middle.
Canon 8-15 mm Bokeh
The depth of field of Fisheye lenses is so large, that an image is quickly sharp from front to back. We have examined the bokeh of the Canon 8-15 mm zoom lens in images taken from very close. The bokeh of the Canon Fisheye on a camera with a full frame sensor is not too bad.
Flare and ghosting are common in wide-angle lenses. Canon has coated all the lens elements with Super Spectra Coating and the inside of the front element with a Subwavelength Structure Coating. As a result, the risk of internal reflections is effectively reduced. The front and rear elements are provided with a fluorine coating that sheds water, dust and dirt. The lens is therefore easy to keep clean.
In practice, we got no disturbing glare or ghosting, even if we photographed right at the sun, as in this image. At the bottom of the image, the lens hood is visible. Even in the studio, we encountered only little flare and ghosting under extreme conditions: great.
Move your mouse over the image for ghosting during the studio test.
Canon 8-15 mm resolution
We have measured the resolution at a focal length of 12 mm and 15 mm. With a Fisheye lens on a camera with a full frame sensor, the corners are black, making it impossible for you to measure the resolution in the corners. With a focal length of 12 mm, the resolution of the edges remains behind the resolution in the center. However, after stopping down two stops, the edge resolution and the center resolution are equal. With a focal length of 15 mm, this is already the case after stopping down one stop.
We have measured chromatic aberration at a focal length of 12 mm and 15 mm. Due to the nature of a Fisheye lens, there is strong vignetting in the corners (the corners are black) and we have therefore not been able to determine chromatic aberration in the corners. In the Canon 5D MK3 jpg files, the chromatic aberration at the edges is low. In practice, you will not encounter disturbing chromatic aberration. This is a very good performance for a fisheye lens.
Conclusion Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4L USM Fisheye review
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you store the files in the camera as jpg, where you have all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Fisheye zoom lens
Zoom range with a large field of view
Chromatic aberration is limited
Insensitive to flare and ghosting
Construction of high quality
Fisheye Distortion effect
Visible vignetting at all focal lengths
The Canon 8-15 mm is a unique fisheye zoom lens. The only alternative that we have tested is the cheaper Tokina 10-17 mm , but optically speaking, the Tokina Fisheye zoom is no match for the Canon. The sharpness of the Canon 8-15 mm is OK; the chromatic aberration is nicely limited. This lens is resistant to flare and ghosting, which is an extremely good achievement of Canon. At the shorter focal lengths, the lens hood gets into the picture. But the first thing you'll remember after using this Canon Fisheye zoom lens, will be how much fun it is to see the worlf from a totally new perspective.
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.
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