Review Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4L USM Fisheye & Canon 650D (C APS-C)
In August 2010, the first Canon Fisheye zoom lens is announced: the Canon 8-15 mm. The Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM zoom lens replaces a Fisheye lens with a fixed focal length: the Canon EF 15mm f/2.8. The Canon 8-15 mm is a unique lens, because it is a Fisheye zoom lens with a focal length range of 8 to 15 mm, with which you can take both circular and full screen fisheye images. The Tokina 10-17 mm zoom lens is the only other Fisheye zoom lens that we have tested. However, at a focal length of 8 mm, the field of view of the Canon 8-15 mm is significantly greater than the field of view of the Tokina 10-17 mm at a focal length of 10 mm.
When this Canon Fisheye lens is used on a camera with APS-C sensor, the Canon 8-15 mm gives a "traditional" full screen Fisheye image, which only has visible black edges at focal lengths of less than 10 mm. You can limit the zoom range to focal lengths without vignetting with a zoom lock switch. In this Canon 8-15 review, the Canon Fisheye is put to the test on the Canon 650D, a camera with an APS-C sensor. Soon a Canon Fisheye test on the Canon 5D MK3 will follow.
Canon EF 8-15mm Fisheye @ 9 mm f/7.5 Click on the image for a crop at 100% magnification of the picture above.
Canon Fisheye zoomlens @ 15 mm
Canon EF 8-15 mm @ 8mm
The ultra-wide-angle zoom of the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM offers a spectacular field of view for a creative vision on all imaginable subjects. At a focal length of 8 mm, the subject appears as taken from a great distance, even though you are close by. It is also nice to apply the characteristic Fisheye distortion effect.
Construction and autofocus
The Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM is supplied with a lens cap, sleeve, and hood. The latter is important, because wide-angle lenses are always more sensitive to reflections in back light. Thanks to the ultrasonic autofocus motor (USM), this Canon Fisheye zoom lens focuses quickly and accurately. If desired, you can manually override the autofocus without having to push extra buttons or go through menus. The Canon Fisheye lens is resistant to dust and water, and thus usable under extreme conditions. The exterior features a new texture to match the high quality "look and feel" of all new models in the L series
Image stabilization Canon 8-15 mm
This Canon Fisheye zoom lens has no built-in image stabilization. Given the f/4 aperture and the focal length range of this lens, image stabilization will rarely be missed in the daily use of the Canon 8-15 mm.
Vignetting Canon fisheye zoom lens
At a focal length of 8 mm, black edges occur with this Canon Fisheye zoom lens. We have thus not measured vignetting at that focal length. In Imatest, we have measured vignetting at a focal length of 11 mm and 15 mm. At full aperture, you can encounter visible vignetting at the edges in practice. After stopping down one stop, vignetting is already low for a fisheye lens.
Move your mouse over the image for the Imatest results for vignetting in jpg files created with the Canon 8-15 mm and Canon 650D.
Distortion Canon fisheye zoom lens
When using Fisheye lenses, you are always dealing with a combination of distortion caused by the lens and distortion caused by the photographer / position. At the top of this test, two images are shown, taken from the same position as the image on the right; nevertheless, this one is taken in such a way that the horizon is located approximately in the middle of the image. The distortion is not too bad in these two images, taken at a focal length of 8 and 15 mm. Here you see how the image distorts when the camera is slightly tilted and the horizon is no longer at the center of the recording. If you want to take a picture with little distortion with a fisheye lens, it is very important to keep the camera straight and to position the horizon in the center to avoid bias.
Move your mouse over the right image and see how the barrel distortion changes when you put the horizon above or below the center of the recording.
Bokeh Canon fisheye zoom lens
Wide-angle lenses are never really judged on their bokeh. The depth of field of such lenses is so great that an image is quickly blurred from front to back. We have examined the bokeh of this Canon Fisheye zoom lens by taking shots from close by. The bokeh of the Canon Fisheye on the background of this image is nicely round at first sight. Nevertheless, if you zoom in, you see that the bokeh has ugly edges. As already said, bokeh is an unimportant parameter for a wide angle anyway. Click on the image for a full size display of the bokeh.
Ghosting and flare by bright light form a big challenge when shooting with a wide angle or fisheye lens. To eliminate flare and ghosting as much as possible, all lens elements feature Canon's Super Spectra Coating. The inner surface of the front element also features Canon's Subwavelength Structure Coating (SWC). This coating uses miniscule cone-shaped structures, shorter than the wavelength of visible light on the surface of the lens element, reducing the risk on reflections before the light reaches the sensor. The front and rear elements are provided with a fluorine coating resistant to water, dust and dirt, causing dirt particles to be easier to remove from the lens.
The Canon Fisheye delivers absolute top performance here: in practice, we got no disturbing glare or ghosting, even if we photographed right at the sun, as in the image on the right. Under extreme circumstances in the studio, we have been able to generate a slight flare and a side image, but that is top class too, with this Fisheye not being inferior to almost all lenses we have tested so far.
Move your mouse over the image for ghosting during the studio test.
Resolution Canon fisheye zoom lens
The resolution of the canon 8-15 mm is already high in the center at full aperture. The highest center resolution is at aperture 4 - 5.6. With a focal length of 8 mm, the edge resolution after stopping down one stop is equal to the center resolution. At the other focal lengths, this is already the case after stopping down one stop. At a focal length of 15 mm, we could also measure the resolution in the corners, which is not inferior to the resolution of the edges: very good.
Click on the image for the resolution of this Canon Fisheye zoom lens at different focal lengths.
In the design of this Canon Fisheye zoom lens, 14 lens elements in 11 groups are used, including one aspherical and one UD elements (Ultra-low Dispersion) in order to correct chromatic aberration. The design of the Canon 8-15 mm is very successful in terms of chromatic aberration, as evidenced by our test results.
With fisheye lenses, it is not possible to measure the chromatic aberration at the edges. Only at 15 mm, it was possible to measure the chromatic aberration at the edges. We encountered little chromatic aberration in both the Canon 650D jpg and RAW files, so you will have no problems in practice.
Click on the image for the chromatic aberration of this Canon Fisheye zoom lens at different focal lengths.
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".
Zoom lens with a unique focal length range
Good image quality: high resolution, low chromatic aberration in jpg files
Insensitive to flare and ghosting.
Vignetting is nicely limited
The characteristic Fisheye distortion
No image stabilization
The characteristic Fisheye distortion and susceptibility to bias
This Canon Fisheye zoom lens is a very special lens with good image quality, which is fun to use. Canon has been very successful in eliminating flare and ghosting. That is a top achievement for a wide-angle lens. Using a Fisheye zoom lens gives you the unique opportunity to get much of the area in your photo. As a result, you can also get very close to the subject. If you keep the horizon well in the middle, the distortion of this lens does not have to disturb you. However, if you tilt the lens just a little bit, or place the horizon outside the center, distortion is clearly visible. This is inherent to the use of a Fisheye lens. You can take creative images with it as a result, but you should also make sure that the effect is not getting boring. The Canon 8-15 mm is thus a fisheye lens that you will consciously use in a limited number of cases. This makes the price for this lens high.
The Canon 8-15 mm Fisheye zoom lens is also a unique lens. There are virtually no alternative Fisheye zoom lenses on the market. The Tokina 10-17 mm Fisheye is a much cheaper alternative, but then you have to take a lower image quality and a smaller field of view for granted.
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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