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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.

Mac15mm_002

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).

Mac15mm_004

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.

Mac15mm_005

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.

Mac15mm_003

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.

Mac15mm_001s

All photographs captured with Canon 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye mounted on a EOS 50D x1.6 crop sensor dslr.

…IN YOUR LENSES

Stumbling upon a recent article ‘Finding the Sweet Spot’ by Ontario-based photographer, Steve Richardson, reminded me of questions posed by friends on particular lens sharpness of various makes. Generally, a standard answer would be-the relative optimum sharpness of a lens would be f/7 to f/8 to f/9 or the maximum aperture of the lens and decrease aperture by 2-stops. With the Canon 24-70 f2.8L a bias answer would be that it’s sharp throughout.

Of course, sharpness depends greatly on brand and sheer luck. A dependable brand (Canon, Nikon, Olympus Zuiko, Zeiss, etc.) will produce lenses with about an 85% success rate without obvious flaws. Until it gets dropped and the focus mechanism will need repair.

With third party brands (Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, etc.) sheer luck plays a huge role in getting a sharp lens. As too many factors come into play and most notably, third party lenses are reverse engineered from actual samples of lenses from the  big two-Canon and Nikon. Resulting in a bigger chance a buy will result in a faulty lens. From a personal stand point, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 and 10-20 f4-5.6 are excellent and cheaper third party options to their more expensive counterparts but still not impervious to flaws.

Pro quality lenses are also prone to it’s fair share of faults. Take the Canon 85mm f/1.2L II(US$1,800)-it’s not necessarily sharper than the Canon 85mm f/1.8(US$400) but the L version has weather sealing and produces a much more beautiful bokeh(background/foreground blur) than the non L f/1.8. Do these factors substantiate a purchase for a greatly more expensive lens? To each their own.

After thorough research and lens purchase the best thing to do to ensure a good copy is to test it’s sharpness. Here is a very simple and effective way of doing it. Just follow the simple instructions on Steve Richardson’s post over at Photogrpahy Bay.

MacPFS003blog

Shot details: Canon 50D+EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, AV Mode(Aperture priority), f/2.0, ISO 100, AWB, Flash Off, Adobe RGB, Center-weighted average. RAW converted in DPP and post processed in Photoshop. The photo was cropped to approximately 2/3 of the original 15 mp and zoomed in (right) to check clarity of detail.

In ‘Finding the Sweet Spot’,  the Canon 50mm f/1.8 II was used for testing. Photographer Steve Richardson’s copy of this lens had a maximum sharpness  at  f/8. Does this mean the nifty-fifty should be used at all times at f/8? Determining  lens sharpness should not deter you from capturing good photographs at any aperture. It is just a guide for knowing the exact opening for maximum sharpness when the need arises. All lenses should be used to it’s full potential by testing different apertures and shutter speeds on various subjects and compositions.

This author has used the nifty-fifty from it’s maximum opening of  f/1.8 to minimum opening of f/22 and gotten excellent results time and time again. Not every photo is equal but you will get a good one most of the time. Finding the sweet spot on the cheapest and lightest lens in Canon’s line up only makes the nifty-fifty much more fun to shoot with.

CANON MAKES THE BEST EVEN BETTER

One of the most popular lens with pros and amateurs alike kicks off the new year with an under the radar announcement and a loud bang for photographers.

ef70-200mmf28lisiiNo doubt the EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM is the choice for the new 4 stop Image Stabilizer. If Canon’s quality control is up to standards the new re-designed optical system, consisting of 23 elements in 19 groups should deliver impressive results. But, according to Canon’s MTF chart, the 70mm end is a bit week. Then again, purchase of this lens will not amount to too much usage on the low end of the zoom.

The main differences between the EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II and f/4L IS are 2 full stops of light and a very big difference in price point. At present the EF 70-200 f/4L IS USM goes for USD1,349.00. As of this press release there is still no official price for the new f/2.8L IS II but there are rumors around the net pointing towards USD2,500.00 and that translates to a whopping PHP118,00.00.

An events and wildlife shooter will have the most advantage when it gets dark with the f/2.8L IS II. But, if shooting in daylight is a regular occurrence then the f/4L IS would do just fine for just PHP65,00.00. The Image Stabilizer on the recent f/4L gives a 4 stop advantage as well on all focal lengths and this, IMHO, is just right for most photographers.

In real world shooting applications, the charts and specs on paper wouldn’t mean anything. These are only reference guides to help make a purchasing decision. Canon L lenses are the best out there but do buy what you need and can afford. A photographer just needs to find his/her shooting style to choose the right lens.

ef70-200mmf28lisii_lenshoodThe EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM comes with the newly designed lens hood ET-87 and ring type tripod collar.

The enhanced magnesium alloy barrel design of the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens features added strength with a minimal 20-gram increase in weight compared with the previous model (1490g vs. 1470g) and retains Canon’s protective seals and fittings providing dust and water resistance for those photographers working in adverse conditions. A new bayonet mount on the front of the lens includes a locking mechanism to ensure the supplied lens hood remains securely in place. Other noticeable improvements include a wider focusing ring, and sleeker design by reducing the thickness of any protruding elements such as the switch panel. The new lens is also compatible with Canon’s existing EF1.4X II and EF2X II Extenders as well as EF Extension Tubes and the 77mm Close-Up Lens 500D.

I’ve got a few thousand images that needs my undying attention in post processing so I will get this off my chest. I just thought some of you would find this offer from Canon Japan interesting.

With recent news of Canon developing the Hybrid Image Stabilization system comes the newest addition in the L family the Canon EF 100mm F2.8L IS USM macro lens. A great choice for the 1st HIS lens.

Below is the ad for a “Limited Box Present” that I wouldn’t mind having but is most probably only available in Japan. More on the Hybrid IS lens from Canon USA’s press release.

The new member of the L family. Image from Canon Japan.

The new member of the L family. Image from Canon Japan.

The EF100mm F2.8L being sold with a Limited Box of goodies. Image Canon Japan.

The EF100mm F2.8L being sold with a Limited Box of goodies. Image Canon Japan.

The box contains photos and info on the new EF HIS lens. Would mind finding myself one of these Limited Box thingy. The Japanese do come out with alot of gimmicky material to release a new item. Image Canon Japan.

Contains photos and info on the new EF HIS lens. As well images captured with the 100mm. Wouldn't mind getting myself one of these Limited Box sets. The Japanese do come out with alot of gimmicky material to release a new item. Image Canon Japan.

It’s been confirmed that there will be an official press announcement at 9:00AM CET on September 1, 2009 (September 2, approximately 3:00PM for us in South East Asia) in Stockholm, Sweden, where Canon will announce their new DSLR/lens line up. Finally, all the speculation surrounding the 60D/7D will be put to rest.

Chinese poster. Way to go, again, Canon Rumors.

Chinese poster. Way to go, again, Canon Rumors.

My gut tells me that the 7D will turn out be a great cam for portrait and event shooters. Especially with the DUAL DIGIC 4 sensor and I’m really hoping that it will have better dynamic range with improved noise levels in low light. One very distinct advantage now will be the addition of HD video. Giving pros another creative option/addition to their event packages for clients.

However, the biggest improvement, will be the built in FLASH MASTER (FINALLY-don’t let this one be just a rumor!). I won’t have to plan a new flash purchase for a simple off cam lighting set up. I’m also glad this will be a 1.6 crop camera as not to compete directly with the full frame 5D MKII and EF-S users will not be short changed.

I will be containing my lust for the EOS 7D though, as I am sure there will be bugs. Fortunately, we’ll be seeing a bunch of reviews and images once the cams released. And everyone will be able to judge if it’s a must have or not. Have patience. Why wait? Well, good things come to those who do.

Here’s the post from Canon Rumors to whet the appetite. The source of the post is rated a CR3 which means it’s pretty reliable.

Canon EOS 7D
– Dual DIGIC 4
– Built in Flash Master (Goodbye ST-E2)
– Full HD Video
– APS-C (1.6 Crop)
– Non Articulating LCD

Updated Lens Info [CR2]
I’m still waiting on CR3 confirmation, so these are one step lower at CR2.

18-135 3.5-5.6 IS – I like this one for an all rounder. Time to sell the EFS 17-85.
15-85 f/3.5-5.6 IS USM– my guess is both these are EFS. Better if EF!

The macro still holds true.

No 70-200 f/2.8L IS update according to this source.

Update from Canon Rumors

EOS 7D Specs:

-18mp
– dual digic 4
– 8 fps
– 19 af points
– ISO 100-6400 (L & H1 & H2)
– 63 metering zones
– 100% viewfinder
– Horizon Help Viewfinder
– 3″ VGA LCD
– FullHD Video

In USA: $1699 Body
In Canada: $1999 Body

Update on the upcoming lenses, as I’ve guessed they are EFS. Bad side, can’t use these on the full frame bodies. Good news, if they are as good as the EFS 10-22 or EFS 17-55 f2.8 then we’re set for another round of purchasing. Then again, they could just be the same as my kit, which I still have, the EFS 17-85. Or they could have the new hybrid IS =) Can’t wait now for the official word from Canon.

We'll I guess now the info is real. Image from Canon Rumors.

We'll I guess now the info is real. Image from Canon Rumors.

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