A SIMPLE REAL WORLD SHOOTING REVIEW
I had the pleasure of testing out this lens through Canon Taipei, Taiwan. Mounting the 15mm on my dslr a test shoot inside and a walk outside the store ensued. For 20 minutes frame after frame of downtown Taipei was captured on my Canon 50D.
Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye (Canon Taipei price NTD24,000-approx. PHP36,000) is equivalent to 24mm in full frame numbers when used on a 1.6x crop body (EOS 550D, 50D or 7D). This lens first produced in 1987 still holds up to today’s dslr technology. It was fast to focus albeit with a buzzing sound for lack of USM, small, light weight and is the only lens in Canon’s line up with an intentional distortion (fisheye).
I was surprised at how fast the Canon 15mm focused on AF without having USM (Ultrasonic Motor) but the whirring and buzzing sound of yesterdays lens technology was pretty obvious when used indoors. It doesn’t have full time manual focus so switch flicking is necessary and the MF ring was a tad too small to operate with my stubby fingers. It doesn’t take much though to go to infinity with this wide a lens. Focus ring is not as smooth like other old EF lenses (85mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4). The coarse rotation of the focus ring is quite evident. I can relate this to my EF 28-70 f/3.5-4.5 from 1987 (I still have today and yes, it works on dslr’s).
The front element of the lens is convex and sticks out of the lens. It won’t hold any standard screw on filters (it does have rear slots for holding up to three gelatin filters). To protect the convex element a metal hood is permanently attached with front lens cap being metal in construction that fits smoothly over the hood.
Based on the time I had, the EF 15mm fisheye is very pleasing to use. Both indoors and out I had no trouble with focusing. I always use the center focus point, and corner to corner sharpness is excellent. Very solid feel when mounted on the 50D much like the weight ratio of EF85mm f/1.8 mounted on. The photos were not examined at 100% pixels as I want to keep this review as real world realistic as possible.
One other aspect to think about is this lens can not be used on a x1.3 or x1.6 crop dslr to achieve the full fisheye effect. A crop sensor uses the middle part of the sensor and it would just be restricting the 15mm’s full potential. True Ultra Wide Angle lenses are much better alternatives made for crop sensors like the Canon EF-S 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 USM an equivalent of 16-35mm on full frame. Or wait for the upcoming Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM (approximately 12-24mm on full frame) which I’m eagerly waiting for more performance reviews and hoping to get an actual hands on with.
The final verdict- I would love to have this lens for a full frame cam to get the funky cool view. But would not see much use on crop dslr’s. On the business end, the UWA’s would fare better in the long run for events and client acceptability. In the meantime, the Canon 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye will have to go into the wish list.
All photographs captured with Canon 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye mounted on a EOS 50D x1.6 crop sensor dslr.