A fisheye lens is arguably the most fun piece of optics to use in any setting, providing in many cases an almost 180-degree view of the world. The best Canon fisheye lenses can be rendered with a different look depending on if they are used on a full-frame or crop sensor camera body, with also the differences being shown in either circular or diagonal fisheye varieties.
This essentially means that the final fisheye image will either look like the circular view as shown in the top image of this article or the near 180-degrees of view being stretched completely cross frame. Luckily, most of our top pick lenses can produce both types of images.
If you have never shot images with a fisheye lens, you’re probably already used one via a door ‘peephole,’ which is essentially a fisheye view of the outside world. But, apart from the novelty factor and how they are used as a security device, what are the other applications?
Astrophotography is one worthwhile outlet to capture as much of the sky as possible, extreme perspectives such as cityscapes, and using the distorted perspective to your own creative advantage. They are commonly used for VR tours and I’ve even seen one put to good use to capture the whole crowd at an open-air gig.
Therefore, let’s have a closer look at the best Canon fisheye lenses, which include third-party makers as well as Canon’s own-brand versions.
1. Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM (Overall Winner)
Canon’s own offering in this department comes in the form of the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM. As typical of a top-quality L-series Canon lens, this example isn’t cheap, but it will cover all your fisheye lens needs. This lens provides an ultrawide 8-15mm zoom ability and internally features two ultra-low dispersion glass elements, plus a fluorine and Sub Wavelength coating.
Built to the usual L-series standards, this lens is fully weatherproofed producing a diagonal fisheye image on crop sensor bodies, while on a full frame camera, a diagonal fisheye effect is shown at 15mm and a central circular view at 8mm.
The Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM also has autofocus, using Canon’s renowned ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM) which is both quick and quiet. The resultant images produced from this lens look fantastic, with very little of the flaring common in fisheye lenses. Essentially, if you don’t mind the high price tag, the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM ticks all the boxes for a high-quality Canon fisheye lens.
There are fisheye lenses that go much wider than the Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG, but this example produces a diagonal final image rather than a circular effect, which is more usable in the long run.
This lens features a multi-layer coating, with an internal optical arrangement of seven elements arranged in seven groups. The lens also features autofocus and a nice, bright f/2.8 aperture. This isn’t so much needed for depth of field, as fisheye lenses have naturally large depths of field, but rather for light-gathering abilities.
On the whole, the Sigma produces very sharp images, with good protection against lens flaring. It offers a good balance between overall cost and optics.
The Sigma 8mm f/3.5 EX DG costs more than the lens above, but it also goes much wider and creates a circular image on a full-frame sensor. On APS-C sensor camera bodies, this circular view is cropped, but also provides more of a diagonal viewpoint, if you don’t mind a bit of light falloff in the corners.
You definitely cannot fault the image quality with this lens, being sharp throughout the aperture range. Plus, the Super multi-layer coating seems to do a very good job of reducing ghosting and flaring when the sun creeps into frame. Essentially, if you can afford the price, this is an excellent quality lens.
The long titled Tokina AT-X 107 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 DX has everything you need from a Canon fisheye lens and at a reasonable price. The only downside here being that is built specifically for APS-C sensor cameras.
The lens features a Water Repellent (WR) optical coating and built-in autofocus. Image quality is largely very good, with only slight amounts of vignetting in the corners. The lens cap is a bit short, but it’s the resultant images that count and the Tokina is very capable of producing rich colors and good detail up to the edge of the frame.
While the Lensbaby 5.8mm f/3.5 fisheye lens is the widest and cheapest on this list, it works best on APS-C sensors, with a small circular view being seen on full-frame cameras.
This is a manual focus only lens, but it does have good optics for the price. It doesn’t have any of the fancy multi-layer coatings of the other lenses, but it handles things like lens flares quite well considering the basic optics.
6. Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 ED AS IF NCS UMC (Budget Winner)
The Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 ED AS IF NCS UMC may be a manual focus only lens, but it provides high-quality images for the money. Equally capable on full-frame and crop sensor bodies (equivalent focal length of 19.2mm) and produces a rectangular view of the world.
The lens features 12 elements arranged in eight groups, with Nano crystal and ultra multi-coatings and features a manual aperture control ring, with clicks at each aperture stop. The lens produces no darkened corners and while images are generally sharp, detail can fall off slightly at the edges.
Overall, the Rokinon provides excellent optics for the money and with a little cropping in post-editing, images can provide a wonderfully wide perspective of the world.
Summary of the Best Canon Fisheye Lenses
Like many lens choices, you can purchase a fisheye lens just for the sheer joy of its use, but in the long run, it’s better to have a certain application to gain its full use. There is also the consideration of using a prime lens or zoom, but in reality, you will find that all the lenses on this list provide very good quality for their respective price points.
There’s no denying a fisheye lens can expand creativity levels with their unique perspective to the world. And as usual, it’s better to save that little bit longer for better optics, rather than going for the cheapest Canon fisheye lens possible.