Lens review

Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4 L Fisheye USM

11 August 2011
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

As we mentioned in the introduction, zoom fisheye lenses have appeared previously as well – but they were not exactly the same as the Canon, presented here. In their case we had only the diagonal fisheye function, available at the shortest focal length. The Canon gives us something more, as it acts as a fisheye on every sensor available in the Canon system. On full frame and at the shortest focal length it is a circular fisheye, at the longest focal length – a diagonal fisheye. On an APS-H sensor and at the shortest focal end we don’t see full circle but we get dark corners – the lens becomes a diagonal fisheye on that detector at a bit more than 12 mm focal length. When we work on an APS-C matrix, we still see dark corners at the shortest focal length but already at a bit less than 10 mm the lens becomes a diagonal fisheye instrument. We don’t have to remember these values because the Canon features on the casing two focal lengths marks, under the letters of H and C; when you put the focal ring in such positions we get a guarantee that the lens, for an appropriate sensor, will work as a diagonal fisheye with 180-degree diagonal field of view. Such a versatility is undoubtedly a big asset of the new Canon lens. First of all, people who own several bodies with different sensors’ sizes don’t have to buy several fisheye instruments any more - this one will work on all of them. Secondly, the new Canon is the first fisheye instrument which can cooperate with APS-H sensors without any problems. So far the owners of those reflex cameras were doomed to use full frame fisheyes which, on such a sensors, didn’t give full circle anyway. Now they have a lens which can work as a diagonal fisheye, offering also narrower angles of view and being a step towards a circular fisheye.

In the photo below the tested lens is positioned between the 8 mm Samyang fisheye and the Sigma 1.4/30

Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4 L Fisheye USM - Build quality

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The Canon EF 8–15 mm f/4.0L Fisheye USM is a lens belonging to the L series (Luxury) instruments - the top-of-the-range Canon series, produced completely in Japan and resistant to difficult weather conditions (dust, humidity). The casing of the lens is made of magnesium composites with a metal mount. The mount includes a rear lens, 21 mm in diameter, which is positioned on the same level at 8 mm focal length and hides by about 2 cm inside the casing when we pass to 15 mm focal length.

Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4 L Fisheye USM - Build quality

On the casing itself we see a narrow, immobile ring on which you can find the C and H letters, mentioned previously. Immediately behind it there is a zoom ring. It is 16 mm wide, ribbed and featuring focal length markings. The ring moves smoothly and is well-damped in all the range. Its position near the mount can be problematic when you want to attach the lens to bodies of a lower class than 1D so these with in-build flash. Its protruding part, looking from above, simply obscures focal length markings. It is perhaps not exactly a big nuisance, because we use the ring while looking into the viewfinder, but such a problem was easily avoidable – it would be enough, for example, to switch the position of ribbed part and focal lengths markings.

Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4 L Fisheye USM - Build quality

The next part of the lens features a distance scale under a window, expressed in feet and meters. On the left side of the scale we get a focus mode switch (AF/MF) and on the right – a LIMIT switch, which restricts the zoom to the range of 10-15 mm.

The next element is a manual focus ring. It is 16 mm wide, with a red stripe, so characteristic for L-series instruments; its ribs are rubber-padded. The ring’s work is smooth and really beyond reproach. Running through the whole scale takes a turn through 90 degrees. The front element is 7 cm in diameter and changes its position slightly. It is hidden the deepest at about 11 mm and it extends by several millimeters when you pass to extreme focal lengths.

The front element system is surrounded by a mount which enables you to attach a hood. The problem is that you can use it only on a body with an APS-C sensor. On full frame and at the shortest focal lengths the hood covers the field of view’s edges in the 8-12 mm focal range. At 13 mm, however, its influence is very slight and at 14 mm it becomes imperceptible. The hood is also used for attaching a quite big front cap.

8 mm 10 mm
Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4 L Fisheye USM - Build quality Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4 L Fisheye USM - Build quality
12 mm 14 mm
Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4 L Fisheye USM - Build quality Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4 L Fisheye USM - Build quality

When it comes to the optical construction we deal here with 14 elements which are positioned in 11 groups. The producer boasts of one aspherical element and one element made of low-dispersion UD glass. Inside you can also find an aperture with seven diaphragm blades which can be closed down to f/22. The producer emphasizes the fact that special SuperSpectra coating and SubWavelength Structure Coating (SWC) were used to ensure the lens’s good work against bright light. Additionally, the front and rear element are covered by special layers which make the lens easier to clean.

Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4 L Fisheye USM - Build quality

The buyer gets two caps, a petal-type lens hood and a soft pouch included in the box.

Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4 L Fisheye USM - Build quality