This is the first gear review on this blog; I have been contemplating if I should do gear reviews as I am a believer of creativity over gear, yet after searching on the net, most reviews focus on the technical aspects of the gear, the size, the weight, the performance, the resolution etc, but rarely elaborate on the user experience and feel (there maybe user review on the sharpness, focusing speed etc.). I will try to approach this “gear review” from a different perspective. Please leave comments and let me know if this is useful for you or not…
After thinking for a while, I have finally invested into a new lens, the Canon 8-15mm f4L Fisheye zoom lens. It is certainly not a cheap lens, as it costs over HKD10,000 (USD1,300), yet the biggest obstacle was that I was unsure if its useful or not. After using it a most of the time during my Malaysia trip, I was totally convinced that it an excellent addition to my gear.
For the rational bunch (like me), you will be thinking that the fish eye is really a fun lens, and its not as “practical” as a 50mm f1.2L, 24-70mm f2.8L II, 70-200mm f4L IS which is in the same price bracket. If you are currently not a proud owner of the lenses I just mentioned, then you should really consider getting those before getting the fish eye.
OK, back to the fish eye experience. Out of the box, it feels solid as all L series lens do, and opening the lens hood will reveal the massive concave glass. On the 5D mark 2 it feels balanced and mobile.
In action, the lens opens up a whole new world of creativity, especially at the 8mm end. I have been to KL a few times, yet with the fish eye I manage to see the city in a whole new way. Composition is totally different from the conventional ways, peripheral vision is extremely important to make sure everything in the frame is intended. The sharpness, colour, saturation, chromatic aberration is well controlled, image quality is top notch. I also tried to use it to take group shots for 8 people sitting round a circular table, and again it allowed me to capture the scene in an interesting way.
In short, I think this is an excellent lens to add to a complete working focal range, if you have lenses which covering 16mm to 200m already and is looking for some zest for your portfolio, I highly recommend this lens which opens up your creative possibilities. Landscape photographers should certainly use it, and in the right hands wedding and portrait photographers will also find its uses.