I am a big fan of wide-angle lenses and in particular the wide aperture models from Canon which, when used correctly, can create stunning landscape and architectural photos second to none. My current personal favourite is the 17-40mm f4 which I find to be sharper and more complete than the more expensive 16-35mm f2.8. Mounted on a full frame body the 17-40mm usually gives me everything I could wish for, even in dim conditions…… However, when I had the chance to test the ultra wide 15mm fisheye lens on a recent trip to NT I did not have to think twice: It is light-weight, ultra sharp, gives you a full 180° angle of view and the current retail price is less than A$900. Could this be the perfect UWA lens for me?
I used this lens on two different pro bodies: the EOS 1Ds and the smaller more compact EOS 7D which with its APS-C format sensor changes the 15mm fisheye perspective into a more versatile but much less impressive 24mm wide angle lens, which basically does not give the lens the justice it deserves!
Used with a full frame camera this lens is a monster! -It is by far the most impressive fisheye lens I have ever tried, it beats the 10.5mm and 8mm from Nikon any day! It is a challenge not to be dragged in to the playful world, which this lens offers; Everything looks so much different when seen as a part of a 180° perspective. What I particular like about this lens is the superb sharpness it offers in most conditions, which rarely lets you down. AF is not the fastest around but I know that this issue has been fixed in the more recent versions of this lens (the version I tested was a 2006 production model) and since I always shoot in MF mode this does not really affect my final verdict of this lens.
-Fantastic sharpness from around f.4 and downwards
-Affordable (and in my mind: better-value-for-$$ than the 14mm UWA)
-Very nice picture quality without any significant loss of quality in highly distorted areas
-8″ focus distance (or app 20cm for the metric people out there)
-Slightly soft when used full open at f2.8 -this improves massively when stopped down
-Limited area of use in general (creates dramatic effects with absolutely everything you put in front of it!)
-slow-ish AF which can be an issue to hardcore users.
Verdict: A very great lens with massive potential when used on a full frame body. If you are working with a APS-C format camera then I would rather recommend the 10-22mm which will give you a better suited UWA effect (although it does not give you the 180° angle of view which is offered by the 15mm) If you are an interior photographer or an avid outdoor fanatic then this is a lens you simply must try out! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED