Why You Might Want To Consider A Full Frame Fisheye Lens Even If You Have A Crop Sensor Camera

Why You Might Want To Consider A Full Frame Fisheye Lens Even If You Have A Crop Sensor Camera

There are few things better in life than having something go wrong that leads to the discovery of something even better.

Such is the case with my plan to test out a Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens courtesy of BorrowLenses.com. My intent with the lens was to take it with me to the wilds of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah for some crazy, circular images. The problem is I lack a full frame Canon camera, but would be traveling with Michael Riffle, who owns a Canon 5D Mark III. He accepted the challenge to test the lens, being familiar with fisheyes himself.

One thing led to another and we never got around to testing the lens on his camera. Instead, I often found myself using the lens on my Canon 7D, a crop sensor camera. The Canon 8-15mm is intended to fit a full frame sensor and produce, at 8mm, a fully circular image, much like this example from a Sigma 4.5mm on a crop sensor camera.

PeterWestCarey-Nepal2011-1008-9891

What happened instead was a cross between this full circle and a more traditional 15mm on a crop sensor. The 8-15mm lens will show edges of the circle when below 10mm but will otherwise fully cover the sensor from 10mm-15mm. A major difference from a non-fisheye lens, though, is the curving in the image.

For instance, here are two shots, both taken at 10mm. The difference: the first lens is a non-fisheye Canon EF 10-22mm lens and the second is the Canon 8-15mm fisheye.

PeterWestCarey-Utah2012-1021-7193

PeterWestCarey-Utah2012-1021-7187

Both shots are taken from nearly the same perspective (the fisheye is taken from the position of the Nikon D800E in the first image) but the fisheye gives a different feel. I only made slight clarity and level adjustments in the photos and did not crop them, so this is what you can expect at 10mm.

Below 10mm the black edge of the area outside the fisheye is seen. How bad is it? It depends.

At first it annoyed me to have the incomplete image. Neither full fisheye nor filled frame. Like this:

Peter-West-Carey-Utah2012-1021-7155

But then I started finding instances where it worked well. The arches found in these parks lent themselves naturally to the form factor. The more I experimented, the more I enjoyed the effect.

I realize not everyone will like this look. By the time you read this, there might be a dozen notes in the comment section below stating how horrible it is. But this is photography and it is art, so it doesn’t really matter what I like or the commenters like. It matters what you like.

Below are more examples from my short trip. If they intrigue you to give the lens a try, all the better. Some have the corners blacked out and some are zoomed in slightly. Experiment, play, have fun.

(Click on an image for a 1000px version)

The first set of images are from Mesa Arch in Canyonlands NP at sunrise which was packed with 20 or more photographers. The second set is from Delicate Arch in Arches NP at sunrise with absolutely no one else around.

Peter-West-Carey-Utah2012-1022-7348

Peter-West-Carey-Utah2012-1022-7392

Peter-West-Carey-Utah2012-1022-7445

Peter-West-Carey-Utah2012-1022-7451

Peter-West-Carey-Utah2012-1022-7456

Peter-West-Carey-Utah2012-1022-7500

Peter-West-Carey-Utah2012-1023-7955

Peter-West-Carey-Utah2012-1023-7961

Peter-West-Carey-Utah2012-1023-8001

Peter-West-Carey-Utah2012-1023-8010

A special thank you to BorrowLenses.com for giving me the chance to play with the lens.

Read more from our category

Peter West Carey

Peter West Carey leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics - A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

Some Older Comments