Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye Lens

by Philip Greenspun; created 1996

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I got hold of this lens because I wanted to do some technical photography. We needed to show the view of a radar sensor that "sees" in a hemisphere and hence wanted a lens with a 180 degree angle of view. The Canon EOS 15 fisheye has an advertised 180 degree angle of view but it turns out to be corner-to-corner along the diagonal. It isn't nearly as wide as a true hemispherical view. So I had to get hold of a Nikon 6/2.8 lens, a $14,000 monster that is not exactly pocketable.

So what did I do with the Canon? Had some fun. It is a $700 lens so you don't have to live in constant terror that your dog will smush his wet nose against the front element. It is compact, not much bigger than a 20, and well-constructed. It will inspire you to think about creative ways to use its distortion.

This is not a lens for every day, but in some ways I think I like it better than my 14mm rectilinear wide angle which was vastly more expensive. Oh yes, as you can see from the example photos, this is a "full-frame fisheye" which means that it covers the entire 35mm frame to the corners.

Alex in front of the MIT Media Lab. Alex and Rob Silvers in front of the MIT Media Lab. Alex in front of the Green Building. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Santa Karin at night. Visby, Gotland. Sweden Santa Karin. Visby, Gotland. Sweden

Technical Data
Construction: 8 elements, 7 groups
Angle of view: 180 degrees
Focus motor: AFD
Closest focusing: 0.2m (0.7 ft)
Filter size: Rear drop-in gelatin filter holder
Length and diameter: 62.2 x 73 mm (2-7/16 x 2-7/8 in)
Weight: 330 g (11.6 oz)

Text and pictures copyright 1996 Philip Greenspun