Canon's full-frame, wideangle-to-fisheye zoom lens attempts to offer more than just a one-trick effect. Mat Gallagher finds out whether this lens really should have a place in your kit bag
This lens is one of the most compact in the L-series range, and is shorter than even Canon’s EF-S 10-20mm wideangle model. Due to its size and field of view, stabilisation really isn’t missed in this model and the additional weight and cost would actually impair its handling and value.
When using the lens on an APS-C camera such as the EOS 7D, the limit switch – designed to stop the lens extending into a vignette – is useful as a guide, although I preferred to allow it to extend as required and crop the scene where necessary, as this allowed the full distortion effect to be achieved. The lens hood is handy for protecting the front optic and can remain on for APS-C use. However, when using the lens for its circular fisheye effect on a full-frame body, the front element becomes fully exposed, which does encourage the return of the lens cap between shots.
The autofocus is extremely rapid and left very few situations where manual control was necessary. With the minimum focus only slightly longer than the lens itself, it is possible for the subject to be almost touching the lens, although this can drastically reduce light levels as the lens starts to shade the subject, so careful metering is needed. Also, when dealing with more distant subjects, the huge field of view can skew the light levels so a centreweighted, or even spot, metering mode can be useful.