The Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM, My New Favorite Wide Angle Canon L Series Lens

My Friend Chihuly Says Hi

I almost didnít 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 hadnít 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.

Iím happy to say that I did buy the EF 8-15mm fisheye lens and that I couldnít 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.

Welcome to Caesars

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 ó 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 Chihulyís amazing sculpture at the Bellagio like in the photo with this post.

While itís 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.

Meet You at the Cosmopolitan

You Give Your Hand to Me

If You Can Find Her

Your Love is My Favorite Color

Time for a Beer?

Your Love is My Favorite Color


The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM lens ó One of the Fastest Canon Primes You Can Buy

Sunrises Are Best in Las Vegas

It doesnít get any more bokeh than f/1.2.

The first thing you notice when you hold the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens for the first time is how significant the weight of this lens is over the less expensive EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens or EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens(both also excellent 50mms lenses). You can feel the quality as you weigh it in your hand. A big, solid, piece of glass allows this super fast f/1.2L lens to get the shallowest depth of field possible.

If you are going to be shooting in the darkest of environments, this is the lens for you. I use this lens a lot at night time parties or indoor events, where getting closer than you need with the EF 135mm lens is not a problem. I use this lens to take amazing photographs of paintings in museums and other places where you want a near perfect technical image at closer range. Itís a wonderful portrait lens of course.


I like to take this lens with me if Iím going out to dinner at a restaurant or out for cocktails as it does a remarkable job at capturing food/cocktails in low light. As an aside, the cocktail in this post that I photographed with it is called the verbena and is a secret drink off the menu at the Cosmopolitan Chandelier bar in Las Vegas. The cocktail contains an edible flower called a Szechuan button that you chew before drinking the cocktail. It actually alters your tastebuds and feels like an explosion of pop rocks in your mouth as your entire mouth goes numb. As you sip your cocktail after chewing the flower you taste it in a whole different way. Iíd definitely recommend checking it out at the Cosmopolitan on your next trip to Vegas.

Back to photography, the only drawback of this lens is the price. You do pay up a bit for quality here. Itís not that this lens is not worth the money (a little over $1,500), it is, itís just that the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens is such a fantastic value when you compare the two (at around $400). While I like this lens much more than my EF 50mm f/1.4, if you are on more of a budget, you may find that the EF 50mm f/1.4 lens is the better 50mm lens for you to buy. On the other hand, if you really must own the best at 50mm lens, this is it.

Sit Over There

It should be noted that at f/1.2 this is currently the fastest (lowest aperture) lens in production by Canon but that it shares this distinction with the EF 85mm f/1.2 USM lens, another excellent Canon portrait lens that I do not own yet, but that is on my list to consider soon.

There is another f/1.0 lens that Canon made, but that lens is no longer in production that Iíve never tried.

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. More on Canon prime lenses here.

I'll Hold You

Through the Years

Through the Years

I Felt This Way Before

Just Wait and See

Turn Me On

A Reminder to Myself

Time to Go Macro With the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens

Just Wait Until Midnight

While the EF 135mm f/2L USM is my favorite Canon L Series lens, one thing it does not do is macro photography.

With a minimum focus distance of 3 feet, the EF 135mm lens can do a great job with a lot of flowers or other traditional macro subjects, but it really cannot do traditional macro work.

If you want a very high quality portrait lens that can also do macro work, the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is the lens for you. Like the EF 135mm lens, this lens is an Image Stabilization lens which is helpful to minimize camera shake when you take those super close very precise macro shots. This is my favorite lens to make abstract macros of flowers with. If you are into shooting insects or flowers or a close up of the human eyeball or really anything macro you can imagine you will love this lens.

What I like most about this lens though is that it is not *just* a macro lens. It takes such nice portraits and is great to use for all other sorts of photography. This makes this lens suitable for use as a primary prime lens for just about every type of photography that can also produce stunning macro work.

Just Wait Until Midnight

Shooting food is one of my favorite subjects these days. I shot the photo of caviar in this post with this lens at Michael Minnaís excellent spot in the Bellagio hotel. Be sure to try the tasting menu there on your next visit to Vegas, itís worth it!

I also own the earlier non-L series generation of this lens and Iíll say that Iím so much more impressed with the results I get out of the newer L series version.

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. More on Canon macro lenses here.

Just Wait Until Midnight

Just Wait Until Midnight

Just Wait Until Midnight

Just Wait Until Midnight

My Favorite Lens of All, the Sharp, Smooth, Feel of the Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

One Last Hand

For those of you who know me or follow my work, you probably already know about my love affair with the Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM telephoto lens. Simply put, this is my favorite lens I have ever used in my life. Itís also the lens I use for probably 70% of the photographs which I produce. This is a workhorse lens and I believe it is the sharpest lens that Canon makes. If I could only own a single Canon prime lens, this would be it.

Bet Red

Professional grade Canon L series lenses are not cheap. Canonís L series represent their top of the line optics. They are what almost all Canon professional photographers shoot with. That said, I think the EF 135mm f/2L USM is one of the best values as far as Canon L series lenses go. The lens costs a little over $1,000 and is amongst the most economical L series lenses you can buy.

I probably shoot this lens at f/2 the majority of the time. This gives you a super clean point of focus, with the beautiful out of focus bokeh away from your primary point of interest. For those low light shallow depth of field photos, it does not get better than this lens in my opinion. The portraits you can make with this lens are beautiful ó sharp as tack but with the subtle bokeh around the edges that a lens like this can produce.

Two Hearts Can't Be Wrong

The autofocus on this lens is the most responsive of any lens Iíve ever used. It autofocuses so lightning fast and allows you to quickly lock in on the action that you want to see. Itís a very quiet and very smooth feel when you hit your focal point perfectly on the mark.

The photos in this blog post were all taken on my recent trip to Vegas with this lens. I cannot recommend this lens strongly enough. An example of why I like this lens so much can be seen in the first photo in this post. Forget about it as it appears in this post, click here to see it in full high res glory. Look at how sharp the details are on that photo. Notice the individual neon tubes as visible in the Harrahs and Flamingo signs. I took this photo from the balcony of the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a great distance away. The 135mm EF f/2L USM gave me the distance I needed to shoot down with such clarity on the neon signs in the photo.

The photo of the roulette wheel and the mannequin in the post show how great the bokeh and depth of field is around an isolated focus point. This is another of my favorite characteristics of this lens. Shooting portraits at f/2 on this lens feels just perfect to me.

In addition to portraits, this lens is great for street photography, sports, concerts, abstracts, and so many other types of photography.

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. More on Canon telephoto lenses here.


I'll Take Two

Seeing Red

An Introduction to DSLR Photography, the Canon EOS 70D and EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

Just Wait Until Midnight

The very first Canon DSLR I ever purchased, about a decade ago, was the Canon EOS 10D. The very first Canon lens I bought was the EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM zoom lens.

While my photography has advanced considerably over the past decade, this was an excellent starter set up for me. It was a decent DSLR for me (for the time) with a lens, which gave me a very wide range. Ultimately I upgraded bodies and got into more expensive Canon L series prime lenses, but this early set up gave me an opportunity to really experiment and try to figure out if this was a pursuit that I was going to invest more time and energy into.

About the same time I bought my original EOS 10D and EF 28-135mm lens I also purchased a set of Ping golf clubs. I thought golf was going to be something that Iíd end up being interested in. I paid too much for what at the time were top of the line clubs. Unfortunately, I never did take up golf seriously and I have a very expensive set of unused Ping golf clubs that sit in my basement today. Maybe someday one of my children will take up golf.

The point of that story is, that if you are starting out with digital photography, you need something that is solid and good enough to take awesome photos, without investing $10,000 into your new hobby. This is why I suggest the EOS 70D and EF-S 18-135mm STM lens as an entry point for people starting out. The EOS 70D is one of Canonís most popular DSLRs, but itís much cheaper than the primary body I use, my EOS 5D Mark III. Although I do encourage people to use prime lenses, most people starting out donít want to buy 5 different prime lenses with 5 different focal distances ó that can get very expensive quickly.

The EF-S 18-135mm lens is a strong, high quality lens that you can use with the EOS 70D and shoot everything from wide angle landscapes, to telephoto shots of your kidís baseball game or school play. With just a bit more range than my first EF 28-135mm lens, itís a great way to start out. Although I donít personally shoot a lot of DSLR video, many people do and itís nice to have such high quality video as another option with this set up.

The photos in this post were all taken with this camera and this lens on my recent trip to Las Vegas.

A Joy You Could Not Measure

Through the Years

Because the EOS 70D is a cropped sensor, this lens actually has even more reach than a 135mm lens on a full frame. A cropped sensor is 1.6x times smaller than a full frame sensor — full frame sensors are the same size as traditional 35mm cameras.

Practically speaking, what you see when you look through a camera with a cropped sensor at 50mm would be equivalent to what you would see at 80mm on a camera with a full frame sensor. For this reason, if you are shooting sports or wildlife or other subject matter where you want longer reach, the cropped sensor delivers more reach.

Full frame sensors, in my opinion, do better in low light and at high iso settings and are preferable, but they are also more expensive and might not be as necessary for someone starting out.

Sunrises Are Best in Las Vegas

One of the fun things that I like doing with a zoom is zooming while my shutter is open on a long exposure shot. This creates an interesting double exposure zoom sort of effect that I use in some of my photographs. The disadvantage of this zoom is that it is not as fast (low aperture number) as some of the prime lenses.

If you end up starting with this sort of a combo, you might also want to consider the excellent value you get from a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II or EF 50mm f/1.4 USM prime lenses. Both of these lenses represent excellent value and are some of the least expensive prime lenses you can buy. Youíll have no problem using the EF-S 18-135mm lens during the day, but at night, or in a much lower light situation, youíll appreciate being able to put on a faster 50mm prime lens that will work better in less light.

For many photographers the EOS 70D is all the camera you will ever need. Some of the best photographers I know are content to shoot with this body and never upgrade from here. To see some of the best work done with this camera body, check out these photos on Flickr all taken with the EOS 70D. Because this camera will be enough for some folks, I think this is a good place to start.

I personally use my EOS 70D as a second camera ó a good backup to use in case something goes wrong with my EOS 5D Mark III and a camera I can keep at my office in case I feel like taking a break during the day and walking around town and shooting. I think it works especially well for street photography given the range you can get with the EF-S 18-135mm lens.

As your passion for photography grows though you will want to consider upgrading to a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and some of the prime lenses that I will review in some upcoming blog posts.

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.

Better Lines

Boulevard Poolside

Lay Out

Just Wait and See

A Joy You Could Not Measure

A Joy You Could Not Measure

Through the Years

Through the Years

Optics Matter ó Camera and Lens Guide for the New Canon DSLR Shooter

Waking Up With You in Vegas

Last month I spent four glorious days shooting the lights and sights of fabulous Las Vegas. As always, I packed my camera bag full of my favorite lenses and other accessories. I havenít done a ďwhatís in my bag,Ē type post in a while, so I thought Iíd use this trip to talk about what camera/lens combinations I used on this trip and why.

In todayís day and age, I hear many photographers talk about ditching their DSLRs for other sorts of setups. I am not one of those photographers. Simply put, I believe that optics matter. I believe that there are things you can do with a DSLR and lens that simply cannot be done as well with other setups. There are unique qualities and characteristics of a well made piece of glass that cannot be replicated with micro compact software based algorithms.

The light going through the glass is primary and fundamental in my opinion, and I refuse to give up the high quality I demand for the convenience of something tiny that I can fit in my shirt pocket, text my friends with or strap to my helmet.

Each photographer must find their own way when it comes to what works best for them, but for me the glass is what matters most of all and there is just no substitute for high quality Canon lenses.

Iíve been shooting Canon digital SLR cameras for over 10 years now and itís the lenses that allow me to get the shots that I need to get and that allow me to accomplish what I need to accomplish photographically speaking. Like everyone else these days, Iíll snap off mobile shots and post them to Instagram, but what I feel is my more important body of work comes from my DSLR.

To start with, Iíll inventory what I brought with me on my recent Las Vegas Trip ó whatís in my bag:

1 Canon EOS 70D camera body
1 Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera body
1 Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens
1 Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM lens
1 Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens
1 Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens
1 Canon EF 8-15mm f/4 Fisheye USM lens
1 Benro Carbon Fiber Tripod
1 Sandisk 64GB SDXC Extreme Pro Flash Memory card
1 Sandisk 32GB SDHC Extreme Plus Flash Memory card
1 MacBook Pro
1 Drobo Mini

All of my camera gear fits comfortably into my LowePro CompuDaypack bag. I keep the MacBook Pro in the hotel room and it is where I dump my photos to at the end of each day of shooting. The Drobo Mini is used as backup, so that I always have two copies of my image files before clearing off my memory card. It easily fits in the hotel room safe, while I am out shooting during the day and night and connects via Thunderbolt so backup copies are quickly made.

So this is my system, but whatís right for you may be a different story.

The number one question I get from people on social networks is, “what camera should I buy?” The advice I give is pretty much always the same ó some sort of Canon DSLR set up, depending on your budget.

Part of why I recommend Canon, is because thatís the gear that I love, use and know. I am simply blown away with the high quality I personally get out of the system. For the life of me, I cannot imagine living without the crisp, sharp perfection of my EF 135mm f/2L USM lens (my favorite lens).

While there are other systems out there, this is the system that Iíve adopted and mastered. It does a remarkable job of getting me the images that I want and need.

There are lots of other reasons why I recommend Canon as well though.

When you are a new DSLR user, I believe one of the best things you can do is try lots of different lenses. Because there are more DSLR Canon shooters out there than any other kind, I find that borrowing friendsí lenses is a great way to stretch your experience, then learn and try new approaches.

Over the years Iíve lent my own lenses on photo walks to hundreds of different people and am always pleased when someone gets to try one of mine out. Likewise when Iím out shooting, I always like running across a different Canon lens and being able to swap with a friend for a few hours to try something new. Chances are if you are going to get into photography you will end up with photographer friends, and chances are that more of them will be shooting with a Canon DSLR system than any other.

For example, this past year at Coachella I shot with some very serious high end professional lenses that my pal Robert Scoble got from a lens rental site, the Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM and the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM.

If I wasnít a Canon shooter, the fact that my buddy Robert Scoble brought those really nice lenses would have been worthless to me. As it was though, I was able to borrow these great lenses just like Robert was able to borrow my EF 8-15mm fisheye lens too to get some awesome crowd shots.

Canonís range of lenses is remarkable and unmatched. There is a reason why the pros primarily shoot Canon. Even if you canít afford many of the most expensive professional grade lenses, you can borrow them or even rent them from many places online. Their line up is unmatched, which is optimal for expanding your work with new lenses or renting specialty lenses from time to time.

Another positive about Canon is their great service and support. Many times Iíve sent my Canon bodies in for cleaning, my overworked lenses in for minor repairs, the service has always been quick and top notch. Although Iím more self taught and donít have as much patience for training and education, Canon does have some great resources for the new DSLR user with the Canon Live Learning Center and Canon Live Learning.

These days I usually recommend new users go one of two ways when they want to take the next step with their photography and invest in a DSLR system.

For those on a bit tighter budget, I recommend getting the Canon EOS 70D Digital SLR Camera with the EF-S 18-135mm STM Lens. This is a perfect starter combo and runs around $1,500. While there are other cheaper Canon set ups, I think the EOS 70D provides significantly better quality for a little bit more in cost. This camera holds its value well and is a great camera to learn on. If you decide you want to spend more, you can always sell it back on eBay or somewhere else and upgrade to my next recommendation, the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III, is the camera that I personally use the most. It is the workhorse of digital SLRs. It is the best camera I have ever owned. It also costs around $3,400 for the body alone though ó so this camera is either for people who have that sort of money to spend, who are very committed to honing their DSLR skills (and maybe even selling photos to offset the cost), or who have tried another Canon system, like the EOS 70D and are ready to take the next step up.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I am going to give more detailed reports on the gear that I use in 5 different blog posts, one on the EOS 70D EFS 18-135mm STM lens set up for starters, and then one each on the four professional grade lenses I took on my Vegas Trip. Iíll provide photographic examples from these different set ups and talk about why I would recommend you consider each.

Although Iíve written several ďwhatís in my bagĒ type posts before, by way of full disclosure, I want to disclose that part of the reason for my writing this post now is because Canon recently contacted me about working closer with me as a Canon photographer. They have agreed to sponsor this post and Iím receiving compensation from them.

While Iíve turned down many sponsored type posts from other products in the past, because Iíve been such a passionate Canon user for so many years prior to being approached, I had no problem saying yes to this sort of arrangement with them. When I love a product Iím happy to endorse it. Itís exciting to me to be working closer with Canon and especially exciting to me that Canon is interested in the various social networks and what social photographers working on the web are doing today.

Iím also very open to this post being a conversation about the current state of photography gear ó so feel free to give your own input on what works best for you and why. Iím happy to consider your input and also to answer any questions you may have about my gear or recommendations from my perspective.

The Canon 5D Mark III is Out

I think I may have gotten an order in with Adorama. We’ll see if it actually ships (fingers crossed). I’ve also got an order in with B&H.

Lots of coverage out there right now.

1. I posted on it on Google+.

2. Scott Jarvie’s Nikon Boy Reaction to the Mark III.

3. Robert Scoble’s post on G+. Scoble got an order in with B&H.

4. Digital Photography Review’s write up.

5. Engadget / Gizmodo / CNET / The Verge.

6. Official Canon page on the new camera.

7. Gordon Laing’s write up at Camera Labs.

8. Alex Koloskov: Canon 5dMKIII? My biggest disappointment from the company I use to love.

9. Vincent Laforet

10. G Dan Mitchell.

11. Planet 5D.

5D Mark III order page for:


[Update: I thought getting an order in last night with Adorama was too easy. Between B&H and Adorama I guess it’s a waiting game now. Got this email from them this morning:

“We’re sorry for any inconvenience. Unfortunately, one or more of the items in your order are not in stock, see details below. We’ll ship your order as soon as possible. If you want to cancel your order, please let us know.”]

Canon’s Big Anti-Dust Technology Lie

Canon's Big Anti-Dust Technology Lie

Full-Frame, Dust-Free Images. Updated EOS Integrated Cleaning System specifically designed to work with a full-frame sensor. Canon’s Integrated Cleaning system includes a cleaning unit designed specifically for the EOS 5D Mark II’s full-frame CMOS sensor. The camera’s low-pass filter even has a new fluorine coating upon its surface to help repel dust. Dust that makes it past the EOS 5D Mark II’s sensor cleaning system is easily removed in post processing using DPP software’s Dust Detection Delete function, which can remove dust spots automatically from single or multiple image files

– Canon marketingspeak on their Canon 5D Mark II Camera

One of the things that pisses me off to no end is how *horrible* a job the Canon 5D Mark II does at dealing with dust on my sensor. I struggled with dust on my sensor with my old 5D so I was super happy initially to learn that the new 5D Mark II had anti-dust technology built in. Except that Canon’s so called anti-dust technology with the 5D Mark II is utter crap and pure marketing speak bull shit. The image above is an image of mine taken from a trip a few weeks ago to Miami. My 5D Mark II is less than a year old and this is the type of dust I am seeing on my images. I’d encourage you to look at this image full size here. How is this even remotely acceptable?

Granted I use my camera heavily, but I can count over *40* different dust specs on the image above.

Frankly I can tell no difference between the dust on the sensor of my 5D M2 and my old 5D without so called “anti-dust” technology. Whatever the case, for Canon to prominently advertise the 5D Mark II camera as having an anti-dust feature is false advertising in my opinion.

I posted about my horrible experience with the 5D M2 and dust over at Buzz here.

Ed Fladung suggested in that post that I give the Arctic Butterfly brush a try to remove the dust on my sensor. So I ordered one of these brushes from B&H for $112. Hopefully this helps me. I can’t see how anything could make my 5D M2 much worse in terms of dust though.

Canon Rebel and Kit Lens Survives 3,000 Foot Skydiving Fall and Still Works, Then Why Are Their L Series Lenses So Crappy?

From Crunchgear:

I donít think anyone is too hot on the idea of testing this question, but one skydiving photographer added a data point unwittingly when his Rebel XT popped off his head at the beginning of a jump. I would have pulled some True Lies-style freefall gymnastics to get it back, but not everybodyís as cool as me and Arnie.

Incredibly, the camera didnít explode into a thousand pieces on landing ó in fact, it sustained only minor damage and both the camera and lens are working! Are you kidding me?

Looks to me like it landed in a bog, or peat or something. That probably helped. Whatever the case, letís hear it for this heroic little camera.

Of course my own experience with Canon products has been the exact opposite and I find that especially their lenses hold up horribly. I’ve had to send my $950 L Series 135 f/2 lens into Canon now *FOUR* times for the exact same autofocus problem. The last two times I’ve sent it in they’ve claimed “impact damage” even though I’ve never dropped the lens in my life. At first they sent me an email saying that because it had been my fourth time having it repaired that they were going to repair it for free. But then 2 days latter they called a psyche on me and took back their offer to repair it for free and decided to charge me $315.14 instead.

So how is it that a Rebel with a crappy kit lens can fall 3,000 feet and survive but I’ve never dropped my 135 f/2 lens once in my life and have had to have the lens repaired 4x for the exact same problem.

I’ve had autofocus problems with my 50 f/1.2 L series lens (it has a really hard time autofocusing on things within 10 feet) since the day that I’ve bought it but don’t dare send it in to Canon because I’m sure they’d want to ream me again for their shoddy L series products.

Thanks, Clearlight!