PHOTOKINA: We spent some time with a pre-production version of Canon's upcoming fisheye zoom.
FROM OUR EDITORS AT PHOTOKINA: We got our hands on a couple pieces of new Canon glass tonight, including their upcoming 8-15mm f/4L fishey zoom. The Canon rep informed us that the pre-production unit we were checking out may actually be the only one like it in Europe at the moment. It's not a final build, so we weren't able to grab any sample shots, but we did get to look through it to get a feel how it performed on both full-frame and crop sensor bodies.
On a 1D Mark III, the widest setting creates a dramatic, circular image. As we were warned by the Canon rep, we had to be careful not to get our own feet in the image when pointing the camera straight ahead because the field of view is so wide in every direction. Even when it was zoomed all the way out to the 15mm focal length, the fisheye effect was still very pronounced.
For a frame of reference, we also tried the lens on a 7D body. With the zooming limiter turned off, you can go all the way to 8mm, which gives you an image with cropped off corners. The amount of the image gets lost actually seemed to be a bit less than we originally expected. When the limiter switch (which is located on the right of the lens barrel) is turned on, the ring stops turning at 10mm, assuring a full-frame image. Obviously, the fisheye effect wasn't quite as pronounced on a crop sensor body—you lose those outside areas where the most distortion happens--but, even at 15mm (24mm equivalent), it's still very clear that you're shooting with a fisheye. We did some A/B with a non-fish 17-40mm f/4L just for reference and the difference is extremely noticeable.
One of the most impressive things about the lens is how small it is. It was dwarfed by the 1Ds Mark III body and was incredibly light. It also focused incredibly close. So close, in fact, that we had to be careful not to bump the front element into our subjects as we tried to max it out.
Ultimately, our brief time with this lens made us even more excited to get our hands on a retail unit we can put through our Pop lab tests. It made us even more excited to get one and put some skateboarders in front of it.