When I first saw the image results from a fisheye lens I wanted one, ordered one, and in that nagging doubt that “it’s a one trick pony” whilst the order took a month, I cancelled and ordered a more versatile superwide. A few years later I eventually got a used copy of the superb Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye for my 400D, and I think it’s telling, that 6 months later when I upgraded to the full frame Canon EOS 5D, there was no doubt in my mind and a Canon EF 15mm F/2.8 Fisheye was ordered to arrive at the same time.
The usage is backed up in Lightroom too, instead of being a ‘one trick pony’, it has been used for nearly 40% of my shots, the Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 just pips it at 44%, but suspect those figures will soon be reversed. Favourites though, the fisheye is a clear winner, not just for myself, but evidently very popular amongst my Flickr viewers too.
Like everything on a full frame camera, it vignettes wide open, but it soon goes as you start stopping down, not that I care much as I usually like it, and if you don’t it can be quickly fixed in Lightroom. It’s also sharp, I’ve not looked closely at 100% samples, but The Digital Picture spend a lot of time looking at those things so I don’t have too.
One unexpected downside is limbs, from the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye, I knew fisheyes were wide, but the Canon 15mm is a few degrees wider in Canon mount and it’s quite easy to get your own elbow in shot when bracing, or your knee, or your backback, legs are pretty much expected on most days. The flip side of this is of course how close you can be to a building and still get it all in shot, usually you can pretty much take a few steps out of the door, turn around and you’ll fit it in neatly demonstrated below, this was taken from within the boundary of the Gherkin in London (about 20′), and you can see it’s managed to capture in the whole building.
Genuine bad bits about the lens, the focus motor is one of the older micro motor lenses and it’s a bit slow, and, but more annoyingly the push on lens cap doesn’t have quite enough grip, and is prone to falling off in the bag, I’ve taken to holding it on the lens with an elastic band till I find a more permanent solution.
Of course all that is forgotten the moment you pick it up, bung it on the camera and start smiling at the results you’ve got. Worried about getting one? Don’t be. They’re excellent fun and a great addition to the kit bag. If you are using one of the many crop sensor bodies though, I would thoroughly recommend the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye which is just as superb.