Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)

Special thanks to Markus Stamm for providing this lens!

Introduction

The Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye is one of Canon´s few remaining lenses which were initially released back in mid to late 80s with the introduction of the EOS system. Fisheye lenses are rather odd beings which go in and out of fashion every once in a while. At the moment they seem to experience a renaissance regarding the recent release and/or announcement of the new Nikkor 10.5mm (Nikon DX) and Olympus 8mm (four-thirds). Unlike these two lenses the Canon covers the full 35mm format.

Traditionally fisheyes are often used for aerial-, underwater- and some kind of indoor photography but beyond that they aren´t usually terribly useful ... but still fun to use. Due to the uncorrected extreme field-of-view (180 degrees) the fisheye perspective can produce some oooohs and aaahs from your audience but it shouldn´t be used too often in presentations because the effect of awe-inspiring vistas fades rapidly. Besides it isn´t exactly easy to achieve a good composition.
Some may argue that you can now generate a distortion-corrected image by using digital correction filters or tools such as Adobe PS CS2, Debarrelizer or PTLens. However, in this case you may as well consider one of the normal ultra-wide lenses which aren´t much more expensive.

On APS-C DSLRs the fisheye effect as well as the field-of-view is greatly reduced due to the cropped borders. Naturally it is still obvious as soon as you´ve a straight line at the image border but sometimes you may even wonder whether this is a true fisheye on an APS-C DSLR anymore which somehow also limits its scope here.
Anyway, the 15mm f/2.8 is a full frame fisheye so the image covers the complete 35mm image field (as opposed to the rare circle-format fisheyes).

Typical for all fisheye lenses the EF 15mm comes with a rather gigantic front element (relative to the size of the lens at least) which is easy to scratch. Attaching a filter for protection is not possible. Canon even struggled to provide an effective lens cap - it´s a clip-on type cap which cannot be locked on the lens so it may well be that you open your photo backpack and discover that the cap is somewhere but not on the unshielded lens. Canon should have done better here. However, a compact hard case is provided.

The construction quality isn´t great but decent. The outer barrel is made of sturdy plastic and there´s even a tiny build-in metal lens hood. The small plastic focus ring is less fun to use - it produces a scratching sound typical for many Canon EF lenses of that era. The lens features a classic AF micro motor which is surely well sufficient for this lens. Full-time manual focusing is obviously not possible here nor really needed.

The optical construction is made of 8 elements in 7 groups without any special elements. The lens features 5 aperture blades. As mentioned front mounted filters are not possible but there's a rear gel filter holder. At just 330g and a dimension of 73x62mm it is a light-weight and compact lens.




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