Canon 8 - 15 mm f/4L - school
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Photos and review by Chris Skopec, SmugMug QA Tester. Thanks to our friends at for supplying the gear for these reviews! 

What motivated you to choose this lens?

I picked the Canon 8-15mm fisheye because I’ve always been curious about using a fisheye lens. I tend to frame most of my images at the widest angle of view I can so I was naturally curious about going as absolutely wide as I could and playing with a fisheye lens.

What lenses of this type do you normally shoot with?

Lenses that I currently use and are comparable to the Canon 8-15mm are:

• Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6

• Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS

Out of my entire setup, the 10-20mm lens and 55-250mm lens ever see any real work. And with those 2 lenses, I’m typically shooting at the extreme ends of the focal lengths, near 10mm with the Sigma and above 200mm with the Canon. My eye just tends to frame the world best at those extremes and ignores the rest in between, leaving the rest of the items in my bag mostly there just to take up space and add weight.

What did you like about the 8-15mm fisheye?

This lens is just flat out, incredibly fun to use. At the 8mm zoom range, the fisheye effect creates some really interesting images. And even though my Canon 7D has a crop sensor and I couldn’t get a complete circle in my images with this lens, the fisheye effect still creates a unique perspective and distortion pattern beyond what you can create with just an ultra-wide angle lens. This lens really shines out in nature or in the city where you have tall vertical elements surrounding you. The distortion will “pull” those elements in and around you, making them feel like they encompass you, drawing you into the center of the image.

And using the fisheye as a portrait lens is beyond entertaining, especially with young, energetic kids. The day I picked up all of this wonderful gear, I took it with me to my in-laws where my nephew (2 years old) and niece (4 years old) were gathered to build gingerbread houses for Christmas. I brought my 7D with the fisheye lens attached and had an absolute ball photographing them. The distortion of the lens combined with the elastic faces of the kids on sugar highs was magical.

Compare: Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4L Fisheye

Compare: Canon EF 8-15 mm f/4L Fisheye

What didn't you like about the 8-15mm fisheye?

My biggest “complaint” with this lens is that it’s really a one trick pony. At 15mm, there’s not much difference between this lens and another at the same focal length. It’s really only at the 8mm end of the spectrum that this lens begins to differentiates itself from other ultra wide angle lenses.

And while it does some really fun and interesting things at 8mm, I personally can’t see myself being able to justify the price of this lens for the limited capability that it offers.

Compare: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6

Compare: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6

Any other thoughts about the Canon 8-15mm lens?

I may be selling the 8-15mm lens short by saying it’s “just fun” or calling it a “one-trick pony” and I’m sure a part of that is I just didn’t explore my creativity enough with the lens. I can see it being an interesting lens to use in a big city or further exploring the use of it as a portrait lens. But I no longer live in a big city, nor do I have interest in shooting portraits so where I see a one-trick pony, you may see a world of possibilities.

Would I buy the 8-15mm lens? I wouldn’t. As I’ve said, it’s fun, but it’s just not practical enough for my limited gear budget to accommodate it. I would (and will) certainly rent it again in the future, but I can only see owning it after I win the lotto.

Compare: Canon EF 16 - 35 mm f/2.8L

Compare: Canon EF 16 - 35 mm f/2.8L

Who's Chris?

I’m just a guy that loves my job as a SmugMug QA Tester and loves to get out in nature to capture the beauty of it with a camera. (And the fact that my job also involves my hobby just makes me love it even more.) As a photographer I would say that I’m daring and adventurous, in a “Let’s-take-thousands-of-photos-and-not-process-any-of-them” kind of way, because more often than not I would rather go out and capture more images than sit and process the ones I already have sitting on my hard drive.

I’m definitely not a gear guy. Of course I care about the quality of my equipment, but I’m not about to start paying attention to every minute detail of my equipment or every spec that most review sites throw at their readers. I care about my equipment being able to capture the scene and being able to represent the feeling I had while I was there. I’ve often found that I’m able to do that with the “budget” camera kit I own. 

I would much rather use perfectly good equipment instead of incredibly good equipment and put the money saved towards trips to great photographic locations. With the right light and location I was able to capture some great images with just a Canon XTi and an old Tamron 19-35mm wide angle lens my dad found on eBay for me. And to this day that camera/lens combo still dominates the images on my SmugMug site. So I definitely believe it’s best to be in the right location with camera gear you know how to use than to just buy the most shiniest, expensive equipment you can find.

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