Thursday, 19 June 2008

Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye Lens

My new Canon fisheye lens was delivered at the weekend. I intend to use it at weddings for scene-setting and group shots in cramped locations (I'll be using it at The Dog Inn in Wingham this Saturday), and for general interior photography. The shot above is of The Guildhall in Sandwich and illustrates the extreme barrel distortion that the lens causes. This can be corrected in Photoshop to give the picture equivalent of an ultra-wide 12mm lens. Distortion is minimised on vertical and horizontal lines which bisect the frame (notice the flag pole above) so if you're shooting a landscape, and want to keep it looking relatively normal, place the horizon in the centre. However, the distortion is key to the appeal of the lens for me.

A couple of downsides which come with the fisheye territory. In areas of contrast within the shot, chromatic aberration is very noticeable (you may still notice a little in the top left hand corner above - this is after correction in Lightroom). Also, the lens cap does not clip into place and is easily removed - care is required when storing the lens in your camera bag.

The convex surface of the lens means that filters cannot be used (I keep B+W UV filters on all my other lenses). Of course not having a filter on the lens reduces the chance of flare, as demonstrated perfectly by the shot above where I shot almost directly into the sun - there are only a couple of small flare spots (pentagonal due to the 5 aperture blades in the lens).

My first impressions with this lens are favourable. Image quality is excellent and the lens is compact and light (a nice change from lugging a 70-200m f/2.8 L IS lens about).

Check out my photography here: Kent portrait photographer


TJ said...

Thanks for the review. I just got this lens "today" and I didn't use it still. It's my bad that I didn't check for CA and distortion limits before buying, but well, I had in my mind other things that I found in this lens. Mainly, the 180 degrees FoV.
Do you have a specific "values" for correcting the distortion, stored in your PS "Lens Correction" filter?
As for CA, I think it all depends on the contrast in the scene itself, but any note about the typical range?

David said...

Hi TJ,

To be honest I gave up trying to correct for distortion with the lens correction filter - I was never very happy with the results.

Chromatic aberration does increase with contrast and when the lens is wide open. I've not looked 'scientifically' at this aspect of the lens but I bet someone has on the internet!

Sorry I couldn't really be of any use.

All the best,


TJ said...

You are of use of course, and hence we have this review here :)