I almost didn’t purchase the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lens. I remember a conversation when I bought it a few years back on Google+ with my good pal Gordon Laing where I was really debating buying it. It was in pre production and I had an order in with B&H but it hadn’t shipped yet. At around $1,400 the lens felt expensive for what I worried might be an oddball lens, a lens useful for making a few high impact fisheye shots but not good for much else.
I’m happy to say that I did buy the EF 8-15mm fisheye lens and that I couldn’t be more happy about that decision.
My main dilemma with the EF 8-15mm fisheye was that I already owned the excellent EF 24mm f/1.4 lens and EF 14mm f/2.8 lens, and so I felt like I had the whole wide angle world covered. Now I find that I use this lens at 15mm much more than either my EF 24mm f/1.4 lens and EF 14mm f/2.8 lens and get what feels to me to be a remarkable more normal non fishy looking wide angle shot. Yes, you can tell it came from a fisheye lens at 15mm, but barely and I love the slightest degree of distortion I get there artistically speaking.
Of course I have way more fun shooting this lens at 8mm and have found that beyond traditional fisheye subjects, this lens has opened up a whole new world to me when it comes to shooting more abstractly — especially with architecture. I find these days my EF 14mm lens stays in my bag and instead I put on my EF 8-15mm fisheye lens for almost every ceiling photo I take.
I find this lens gets me my highest impact shots. Shots that make you go wow and make people notice.
On a full frame lens this lens gives you a perfect circle at 8mm. I love the square crop format and frequently shoot it at 8mm and then crop square afterwards.
The lens is super sharp and great if you want to get the entire ceiling of Chihuly’s amazing sculpture at the Bellagio like in the photo with this post.
While it’s not the best portrait lens, it can be fun to use as well with photographing people in new and creative ways (like this version of the human eye that I used it on).
As a reminder, my analysis of my Canon gear is being done in partnership with Canon and I am receiving compensation for this work with them.