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Review of Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM

This lens is the latest addition on my lens arsenal.  My first L lens and my first fisheye.  I'm still learning to use fisheye anyway, dare me to write this review.  I ordered this lens form Focus Nusantara for IDR 11.490.000,00 plus shipping fees of IDR 25.000,00 totalling IDR 11.515.000,00 or about USD 1251 converted.  They shipped the item and it arrives my home on the day I returned from business trip.  This lens, sitting on my dinning table, waiting for me to unbox it. 

First impression:  this lens is crazy, unlike anything I've seen before.  It is heavy and when attached to my old EOS 400D, made the system forward heavy and not balanced.  Not a big deal for me since I was heavier than the lens, it might be a problem for smaller people.

Construction

The Canon EF 8-15 f/4L Fisheye USM is a solidly build lens.  It is heavy metal covered by plastic and built to L lens standard.  The zoom ring and focus ring is made smoothly.

However mounting and unmounting this lens feels a bit heavy, possibly due to this lens is still new and the grooves is still full. 

There are no rubber gasket on the camera side of the lens that provides protection from dust and water, which is actually impossible to do since putting rubber gasket there will prevent the lens from receiving gel filter.

On the zoom ring there are writing '|              8 10 12 14 15'.  The Bar on the left is used as indicator whether user are zooming on H & C area (explained later).  While the others are mostly normal.

There are marking H & C on the lens body indicating the recommended widest angle that can be used by APS-H or APS-C sensor respectively before the lens create a disturbing vignettee.  Do not believe this marking as it is very conservative.  On my APS-C camera, I can get the | bar to pass C marks and get result without vignetting, I called this 9 mm setting.  I don't know the actual mm numbers anyway.

H & C area

Limit switch, in contrast to the Canon 70-200mm,  the limit switch on the EF 8-15mm is used to limit the zoom range of this lens from 10-15 mm for use in APS-C or APS-H camera to avoid vignetting.  My recommendation is leave the lens at no limit, as 8 mm is way wider than 10 mm, therefore at 8 mm cropped this lens will produce different result than 10 mm.  Moreover you can actually got to 9mm setting without having noticable vignetting.

The EF 8-15mm at 8 mm on a full frame cameras, the vignetting will get huge, so huge that the image then fill a circle inside the frame, making this lens a circular fish eye.  So now you got two lenses in one, a circular fish eye for full frame and a partial fish eye for small frame formats.

Oh yes, first time on the Internet, the EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye got 7 blades diaphragm.  As far as I'm researching, other site mention this.

Advantages

I have not yet use this lens in real photography photographing real subject. I used it in my room just for fun.  Finding disadvantages is also easier than finding advantages.  Skip this section and go to disadvantages if you like. 

All I can tell right now, focus is highly accurate and very sharp.

Disadvantages

The first time I was about to attach the lens to the camera, I'm having problem with rotating the lens.  The only thing that did not rotate when I screw the lens is the middle part of the lens body which is very small and front most part which is covered by the hood.  The others parts are the zoom ring and the focus ring which rotates with my hand while mounting or unmounting the lens.  There is no place to hold this lens firmly.

The hood is used as the mounting for the lens cap.  I don't really like this idea, and possibly most of you who shot full frame will hate this idea too.  The hood included with EF 8-15mm lens will be in your image, thanks to the lens'es 180o field of view.  In order to make a proper photograph, you will need to remove the hood and you just cannot put a lenscap on the lens, leaving the lens hanging unprotected.  This is real 麻烦 (mafan) or pain!  On APS-C however there just no problem with the hood.  I don't know about APS-H.

The lens have no forward protecting filter threads.  Some manufacturer should create spherical filter to cover the lens opening and hungs just like hood.  This is expensive and I don't want anything scratches the lens.

Conclusion

I visited a forrest but it is dark when I reach there.  So no picture from the forrest.  I rarely have time for holiday, so I decided to test the lens in a more civilised area, near my home!  Please take a look at this test picture.

street

 

More picture are coming soon.

Compared to the EF-S 10-22, the EF 8-15mm is a completely different animal.  Take my word for it, this lens is uncivilised.  I use the EF-S 10-22 for more than a year and I pretty much know what the lens is capable of.  Getting used to 8-15mm is a really different matter.  The amount of distorsion is huge however the sharpness is impressive.  This lens is a beast.  It is so wide and heavy that you can hold it handheld for 1 second of exposure.

Moreover the ultrasonic motor of this lens is so strong that it almost rotate the body when engaged!  Combined with the sheer weight of the lens, my body almost could not handle it.  The lens is heavier than the body (540 vs 510 g) makes system becomes front heavy and unstable.  But it is a real fun to use this lens.  I'm just afraid that the powerful ultrasonic motor and the weight put pressure on EOS 400D's plastic frame hence deforming the frame.

Recommendation

I recommend owner and lover of Canon EF-S 10-22 mm to buy this lens.  If you love your ultrawide, you will definitely love this lens.  This lens is not for everyday photography tough.  Hard to use and hard to master.  Incorrectly use will yield bad images.

If you just got your first camera with a kit lens, you ought to buy the EF-S 10-22 mm before stepping to this lens.  For most people this the EF 8-15mm is useless.  I have difficutlies in fitting the lens in my camera bag.  I limit my lenses to two at any given time the EF 50 mm f/1.8 which is the best lens for portrait and people and and EF-S 10-22 mm which is the best lens for any other thing.

This lens is for special effect, will have a place of its own.  I might need to enlarge my camera bag, but I hate it as bringing more than 2 lenses is a hassle.  Therefore the EF-S 10-22 mm and EF 50 mm stays.  The fisheye, urm, to be honest I don't know where to place it in my camera bag.  But definitely not giving it away to you.  May be one fine day it will have its own place.  When you have enough experience with ultrawides and loves to haul more than 2 lenses, the EF 8-15 mm is a must have!

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