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Canon 15mm f/2.8
EF Fisheye

© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

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Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye

Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye (rear gel filters, 11.3 oz/319g, about $650 used). enlarge. This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) or at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

May 2012    Canon Reviews    Canon Lenses    All Reviews

Original image. Roll mouse over to see after rectification in DxO.


More sample Photos: See my 2007 Death Valley Gallery.

Ideal Uses: Fantastic fisheye for EOS full-frame digital and EOS autofocus film cameras. Used with software like DxO, fantastic for one-shot non-distorted ultra-pans.

Not for: I wouldn't bother with this on a 1.3x or 1.6x camera. All you get is part of the effect, which looks like it's broken. If shooting Canon FD, you need the Canon FD 15mm f/2.8, a different, and also excellent, lens.


See also: Canon 8-15mm Fisheye.


Introduction       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations


Ritz Camera

I personally buy from Adorama, Amazon, Ritz, B&H, Calumet and J&R. I can't vouch for ads below.


The Canon 15mm f/2.8 full-frame EF Fisheye is the best fisheye I've ever used. It is super-sharp, never fuzzy in the corners like Nikon fisheyes can be on a bad day.

The Canon 15mm fisheye fills the full frame with curviness and waviness, seeing 180º from corner to corner. Groovy!

The Canon 15mm fisheye is far sharper than any fisheye from Nikon, and I have used Nikon's 7.5mm, 8mm, 10.5mm, and three different optical designs of 16mm fisheyes (16mm f/3.5, 16mm f/2.8 AI and AI-s and 16mm f/2.8 AF-D).

Why is this Canon so much better? Beats me, but it is, and it also has the largest front element of any 15mm or 16mm fisheye lens, telling me that Canon didn't compromise as much as did Nikon.

This Canon also costs one-third less than Nikon. If you shoot fisheye, you want one of these.

This is the world's best full-frame fisheye. If you shoot lesser formats (1.3x or 1.6x) on Canon, you're out of luck, because Canon makes no fisheyes for the smaller formats. Nikon makes a 10.5mm fisheye designed to fill the frame of Nikon's little DX cameras, while Canon makes nothing similar. I show examples later of what happens on different formats.

The 15mm fisheye is one of the oldest lenses in Canon's catalog. It is unchanged since its introduction as one of the original lenses introduced with the EOS system in 1987.

Canon 15mm fisheye

Canon 15mm fisheye. enlarge.


Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations



Canon calls this the CANON FISHEYE LENS EF 15mm f/2.8.

EF means "electronic focus," meaning that there is an autofocus motor in the lens itself.



8 elements in 7 groups.




Canon 15mm Fisheye, front

Canon 15mm fisheye at f/2.8 (EF diaphragm not visible). enlarge.

5 straight blades.

Stops down to f/22.


Close Focus

8 inches (0.2m) from the image plane.

Focuses even closer to the front of the lens — too close.


Maximum Reproduction Ratio



Hard Infinity Focus Stop?


This is great for astronomy; just turn to the stop and you have fixed laboratory-perfect focus all night.


Focus Scale



Depth-of-Field Scale

Yes, but only for f/8 and f/16.


Infra-Red Focus Index

Yes, red dot in depth-of-field scale.


Filter Thread

Rear, Canon 15mm fisheye

Rear gel filter slot, Canon 15mm EF Fisheye. enlarge.

There is no front thread.

Gel filters are cut to size and slipped in the slot in the rear.

Canon is thoughtful enough to print the cutting guide on the back of the lens for our convenience.



72.6mm front diameter, measured.

Canon specifies 2.9" diameter by 2.4" long (73.0 x 62.2mm).



11.260 oz. (319.2g), as measured by me.

Canon specifies 11.6 oz. (330g).

Front metal cap: 0.797 oz. (22.65g), measured.

Rear standard EOS cap: 0.390 oz. (11.0g), measured.

Ensemble (carry weight): 12.445 oz.(352.8g), measured.




The little extensions from the front are to protect the front element.



Canon 15mm fisheye front cap

Front cap, Canon 15mm fisheye. bigger.

The front cap is a very nice lathe-turned, anodized solid billet aluminum cap.

It's lined with felt.

It has a 73mm push-on diameter.

If you lose it, you can get another one of these beauties for $22.

The rear is the standard EOS cap.



$650, USA, December 2009.

Box, Canon 15mm fisheye

Box, Canon 15mm Fisheye.


Performance       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

Overall    Focus    Distortion    Ergonomics    Falloff    Filters

Flare    Color Fringes    Mechanics    Sharpness    Sunstars


Overall      back to Performance    back to top

The Canon 15mm fisheye works great. It's sharp even wide-open corner-to-corner, unlike Nikon fisheyes, which get fuzzy in the corners unless stopped-down.


Focus     back to Performance    back to top

Auto/Manual Switching

You have to move the switch on the lens to get Auto or Manual focus.

Unlike older Nikon lenses, the manual focus ring doesn't turn during autofocus. You don't have to keep away from it; it disengages when in AF mode.


AF Speed

AF is fast, as Canons always are.


AF Accuracy

AF is always right-on.


Manual Focus

Manual focus is easy, once you've moved the switch on your camera.


Distortion    back to performance     back to top

distortion on 5D

As shot on full-frame.

Shot on full-frame, the 15mm fisheye sees 180º from corner to corner, and less from side-to-side.

distortion on 5D

As shot on a 1.6x camera.

Shot on a smaller camera, like a Rebel or 7D, you're only using the middle of the image, so you get far less effect. All you're doing is cropping the middle half of the full-frame image, and blowing it up to fill your final print.

This smaller shot is what you get on a small frame camera. I've shown it smaller so you can see how it's just the middle of the upper image. (see also Crop Factor.)

You'll see the smaller image is just the middle cropped out of the full-frame shot. If we enlarge the shot from the smaller camera to the same size, we get this:

Xti shot

As shot on a 1.6x camera.

Shot on a small camera, it's distorted, but not as whacky as on full-frame.

No one really wants distorted images. Over the decades I've owned many fisheyes, and my photos made with them are boring. Al they say are "wow, so this guy used a fisheye." The only good shots I've made with fisheyes is looking into Manhattan flying over in a small plane, or from the top of the Empire State Building.

The best modern use for fisheyes is as an easy way to grab data for software straightening. I prefer DxO, with which I easily can do this:

Fisheye image. Roll mouse over to see after DxO rectification.

After DxO converts the images, they are straighter than what I get with other standard ultrawide SLR wide lenses! DxO is that good.

The biggest problem is trying to previsualize the effects as I shoot, which is why I prefer non-distorting wide lenses, like the Canon 14mm II.

The reason you'd want to shoot a fisheye and straighten it later, instead of simply shooting a regular ultrawide lens, is because a fisheye cots a third of what a straight 14mm lens costs, and because the result usually sees even wider. The result from straight lens will be sharper.


Ergonomics    back to performance     back to top

Ergonomics are great, except for having to fiddle with a switch on the camera to go between auto and manual focus.


Falloff (darkened corners)    back to performance     back to top

Falloff is no big deal, even shot wide open. It's invisible, unless you're comparing the same shots made at different apertures on top of one another. If you do, there is a little falloff at f/2.8, which is much less at f/4, and gone by f8.

DxO corrects that, too, automatically based on the aperture data in your EXIF.

Here are shots inside a gazebo for comparison.

I've greatly exaggerated this by presenting it against a gray background. In real photos, it's minor at f/2.8 and invisible by f/4.

See the dark corners? Those are the darker eaves of the gazebo, not lens falloff at f/8. I didn't run these through DxO.


Canon 15mm fisheye falloff, full-frame.



© 2009 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.



Filters, Use with   back to Performance    back to top

Use rear gels.

I use a Kodak 81A gel when shooting Fuji Velvia 50, and no filters shooting digital.


Flare and Ghosts   back to Performance    back to top

I see few, if any, ghosts.

This is great, since half the time the sun is in your image.


Lateral Color Fringes   back to Performance    back to top

Like many Canon lenses on Canon cameras, there are some green-magenta fringes.

Unlike Gen 2 Nikon DSLRs, Canon cameras are not yet smart enough to be able to correct for this.

If it bothers you, DxO also corrects this at the same time as it corrects falloff and/or distortion.


Mechanics    back to Performance    back to top

Canon 15mm fisheye is mostly metal, inside a partially plastic case.

Vestigial Hood: Metal.

Forebarrel Exterior: Metal and plastic.

Aft barrel Exterior: Plastic.

Focus Ring: Plastic.

Focus Helicoids: Could be metal.

Depth-of-Field Scale: Yes.

Internals: Seem like mostly metal.

Aperture Ring: None.

Mount: Dull-chromed brass.

Markings: Paint.

Serial Number: Bottom rear of plastic barrel, filled with paint.

Ass-Gasket (dust seal at mount): No.

Noises When Shaken: Clunking and clicking.

Made in: Japan.


Sharpness    back to Performance    back to top

Warning 1: Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens.

Warning 2: Lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers.


The Canon 15mm f/2.8 fisheye is the sharpest fisheye I've used. It's always sharp, getting best by f/5.6 in the farthest corners.

Lateral color is more of a detriment to sharpness than sharpness itself here.

If you're shooting distant flat landscapes, there is a tiny bit of curvature of field. To make the corners their sharpest at f/2.8, pull in the focus a bit. Of course this makes the center softer. Play around and see for yourself.


Sunstars    back to Performance    back to top

With its straight 5-bladed diaphragm, this fisheye makes ten-pointed sunstars on bright points of light.


Recommendations       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Recommendations

With Canon, you've got only one choice for a fisheye for the EOS cameras, and this is a great one.

Shoot it straight (ha ha), or even better, it makes a fantastic lens with which to gather data for rectification with DxO Optics Pro.


More Information: Canon, USA.


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