Monday, January 24, 2011

Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye

My favorite lens during the last ten years of my career as a Picture Editor was the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8 L lens.

The 14mm was big, heavy and ULTRA WIDE in coverage! It also has a big price tag to match! It can set you back for NZ$ 3,000 a piece!

I love the elongated perspective of this ultra wide lens and with it, even a slight difference in shooting angle or position will cause a great difference in how the subject appears!

I wrote about the lens here.

After leaving the paper I cannot afford that expensive chunk of glass, I had to look for a cheaper alternative for my ultra-wide addiction!

I decided on the very compact Canon EF 15mm fisheye lens. There are some good reasons behind it ;)

It is small, it is relatively cheap compare to a 14mm ultra-wide. At NZ$1,309.00 (latest 2011 price) it can give wider coverage than a 14mm, especially if you are using a APS-C size DSLR.

If you are a lucky owner of a full-frame DSLR, this little beauty will reward you with a angle-of-view of 180 degrees!

Photozone posted a really detail test on this marvellous lens, I won't bore you with mine :)

Instead I will show you this was the ONLY DSLR lens I used on our visits to Alcatraz Island. (A Canon G7 point & shoot was also used for some shots).

The Alcatraz Prison shot from our approaching ferry, this shot was taken with a Canon G7 point & shoot.

If you are in San Francisco for a visits, what do you do? Not put a flower in your hair, duh! Go and visit the most famous (infamous) prison in America! The venue is so popular that there is a lengthy visitor waiting list! Lucky for us, our eldest daughter has booked our tour weeks ago :)

You can advance book your tickets and tours here.

This is what greet you when you get off the ferry.

These barracks were built 1905, when the army added three stories on top of an existing building. When the military outpost became a prison, it was converted into apartments for the prison guards and their families.

The sign on the wall is a reminder of the 1969-71 Native American occupation of the island.

According to Wikipedia:

"During the nineteen months and nine days of occupation, several buildings were damaged or destroyed by fire, including the recreation hall, the Coast Guard quarters and the Warden's home.

The origins of the fires are unknown. The U.S. government demolished a number of other buildings (mostly apartments) after the occupation had ended. Graffiti from the period of Native American occupation are still visible at many locations on the island."

"During the occupation, the Indian termination policy, designed to end federal recognition of tribes, was rescinded by President Richard Nixon.

He established a new policy of self-determination, in part as a result of the publicity and awareness created by the occupation. The occupation ended on June 11, 1971."

A giant poster remind the arrivals that if you break the rules, you go to prison; but if you break the prison rules, you go to Alcatraz!

At places like this, you better wish you have a REALLY WIDE lens! Your normal 28mm wide angle on your point & shoot won't even capture HALF of the poster! Ha ha ha...

The arrival room for the jail birds where they changed into their prison fashion and shoes. Again, a really wide lens win here; in this case, a fisheye lens is ideal! Distortion? What distortion? ;)

Designed by Major Reuben B. Turner, when it was completed in 1912, the Alcatraz cell house was the world's largest concrete-reinforced building!

With central steam heating, skylights and electric lights, it was considered a very modern place.

When the Bureau of Prisons took over, they made it even more escape-proof with tool-proof steel bars and gun galleries at the ends of the building.

Look at the two pictures on top, the upper one was not manipulated; the bottom one was opened in Photoshop CS5 and put through it's "lens correction" filter.

See how the barrel distortion of the lens was completely removed! What did I tell you about this cheap but great ultra-wide?

Here is another shot, before and after Photoshop lens correction; I rather like the one with distortion, what about you?

May and Ming inside a Alcatraz prison cell. (Canon G7)

Prisoners were assigned to these private cells and provided with only clothing, food; water and medical care.

These cells are about 9 feet by 5 feet, and prisoners spent up to 20 hours a day in them!

Too much time to kill? You can play endless games of checkers in the cell; by yourself!

Or all the time in the world to practice painting to be the next Picasso ;)

The June 1962 Alcatraz escape was an attempt by American criminals Clarence Anglin, John Anglin, Frank Morris, and Allen West to escape Alcatraz Island, one of the United States' most famous prisons. It is possibly the only successful escape attempt from the prison.

They created lifelike dummies to put in their beds so guards wouldn't miss them during their regular prisoner counts.

It took them over six months to use tools they stole from prison job sites to enlarge the openings around their air vents until it was large enough that they could squeeze out through them.

They were never caught, and to this day, no one knows if they made it to freedom or not.

Famous? You mean INFAMOUS? Making criminals into heroes! (Canon G7)

Le General outside one of the cell.

The library where "The Bird Man of Alcatraz", Robert Franklin Stroud did his research and became an ornithologist.

The room which provide music for the inmates, this was shot through a window; again a super wide is king in situation like this.

A room with a view!

And this is the view, to freedom? Priceless to the inmates, I suppose?

A barb wired and walled up courtyard.

You can see San Francisco city and the Golden Gate Bridge from this side of Alcatraz. Alcatraz is just a 15-minute boat ride from San Francisco.

Our tour ended here, you can wait for the trolley cart to take you back to the ferry or...

Take a nice long walk along the pathway to the jetty.

Air Show... this lone Western Gull watching his aerobatic mates in the sky.

Golden Gate Bridge as seen from Alcatraz with a Canon G7.

In summer, Alcatraz is the nesting-place for Western Gulls, they build hundreds of nests on the island to raise their chicks here.

Famous Last Words...

Writing this post rekindled the Fisheye addiction in me! Now I wanna get one for my Olympus E-P2!

All the fisheye shots you see here were taken with my ex-Canon 15mm and ex-Canon 30D.

The little fisheye lens was sold to Lamont a while back and he was using it in London, until; this new year eve when he has his whole bag of Canon gear stolen from him! My ex-fisheye included!

So you low-down-scumbag who stole Lamont's gear, listen up; the fisheye lens with S/N 30565 has a curse on it.! We will get you yet! May be they should put you in Alcatraz and throw away the key!!

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