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Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
221 498581 Apr 15, 2015
Recommended By Average Price
95% of reviewers $1,189.88
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.34
8.21
9.5
ef_35_14_1_

Specifications:
L-series professional f/1.4 wide-angle lens with an aspherical lens element to correct aberrations. The floating system enables high picture quality to be obtained over the entire focusing range. Autofocusing is quick and quiet with rear focusing and ring USM. Full-time manual focusing is also possible.

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 35mm 1:1.4
Lens Construction: 11 elements in 9 groups
Diagonal Angle of View: 63
Focus Adjustment: Rear focusing system with USM
Closest Focusing Distance: 0.3m / 1 ft.
Filter Size: 72mm
Max. Diameter x Length, Weight: 3.1" x 3.4", 20.5 oz. / 79.0 x 86.0mm, 580g


 


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Rubber Soul
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Registered: Dec 11, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 636
Review Date: Mar 10, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent resolving power when shooting wide open at f1.4; Beautiful bokeh; Fast and accurate focusing; Jaw-droppingly beautiful color and sharpness starting at f2.8.
Cons:
Very poor color contrast and extreme levels of color fringing at f1.4; An "L" lens that is not weather sealed; An old film lens that hasn't been optimized for the digital age;

Wide open at f1.4, the lens has SUPERB resolving power in the center portion of the image. It can resolve the smallest of details, which is truly amazing. As expected for a wide angle lens at this large aperture, it is very soft towards the borders. What bothers me is the poor color contrast at f1.4. It's like you're looking through a fogged up window. High resolving power for small details, but very poor color contrast. Post processing will help the color problems, but it may look unnatural and overprocessed.

At f2, the contrast problem is halfway gone. The resolving power in the center portion is at a peak. Border sharpness improves from "very soft" to just "soft". I do not hesitate shooting at this aperture.

At f2.8, the color contrast and center sharpness is already at a peak. This is as good as you can imagine, which is EXCELLENT. The images you get from this baby at f2.8 and below are simply jaw-droppingly beautiful. At f2.8, I would term the edge sharpness as "acceptable" on a cropped camera. The edges on a full 35mm sensor would still qualify as "slightly soft." Edge sharpness doesn't really peak until somewhere between f5.6 and f8 --- depending on sensor size. But that's entering uber pixel-peeping territory. For all practical purposes, the images you get from the EF 35L is already magical at f2.8.

Focusing speed and accuracy is as good as you can get for any EF lens. Build quality is excellent... however, it is not weather sealed. In that sense, it falls short of what you'd expect from a $1100 USD lens.

The one thing that truly bothers me about the lens is the high levels of distortion at large apertures, which is VERY disappointing for such an expensive fixed focal "L" lens. This is unfortunate, because this is a lens people buy *specifically* to use at large apertures.

Chromatic abberation is pretty high at f1.4. Even worse, the color fringing and blooming are very extreme when shooting wide open. In high or medium contrast situations, it's not uncommon to see purple and green blooming surround the out-of-focus background blur. It has ruined many of my shots. And unlike chromatic aberrations, these asymmetric color bloom are NOT easily fixed in post processing. Stopping down once to f2 greatly diminishes these distortions, although they don't really completely disappear until f2.5 or so.

This 1998 lens is also getting a long in the tooth. It was designed for film, and not fully optimized for digital photography. In recent years, we've seen new versions of older lenses greatly benefit from optimization. Less flare, less color aberrations, etc. The EF 35mm f/1.4L is a great lens that could be even better.

Regardless of these flaws, there's no question the EF 35mm f/1.4L remains one of the most beautiful lenses today. The bokeh is dreamy, and its sharpness at f1.4 is as good as it gets for any lens at this aperture. I'd rate this lens 9 out of 10.



Mar 10, 2007
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Zagisis
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Registered: Mar 29, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 30
Review Date: Mar 2, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,120.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, good color, quick focus, small.
Cons:
Lens hood, Pricey.


I have been contracted to shoot professional indoor playhouse productions. These images would then be used for newspaper and other publications. I needed the best photos so I had rented a few likely lens candidates. I had tried the Canon 85mm f1.2L and the 24mm f1.4L on my Canon 5D. These lenses were adequate for my purposes, but I found that each had its drawbacks for my uses. The 85mm was a tad too close up for stage action. The 24mm was too wide and had some vignetting issues on the wide ends. I went ahead almost blindly and purchased the 35mm from B&H.

At first I noticed that the lens cover was difficult to put on. It was more of a struggle than my other "L" lens. So I thought I practice on and off a few times. I also purchased a 72mm UV filter. At first I noticed some CA on the corners right away. Finally I took off the lens hood and UV filter. I reposition them and have had no problems.

The real test will come next week when I get to use the 24mm in a few stage productions. I am sure that all will be good.

As for as the initial results the 35mm performs very well. The images are sharp, good color, it creates a very creamy "bokeh" background. Its best when the subject is in the middle of your focus. I am not going to bore you with the MTF and other specs. To me those things are not as important as real life results.

The lens is costly, but I am positive that it will pay for its self soon enough. I have recently seen a video that illustrates how lenses are made. They claim its takes very expensive raw materails to make, and one lens takes about 6 weeks to manufactor. If you like to view the upcoming images using this lens please click on: www.afphotodesign.com

Thanks for reading...







Mar 2, 2007
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Peter Eavis
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Registered: Feb 5, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 13, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image sharpness. Colors fabulous. Records the right amount of light. Very fast focusing. Not that big (compared to zooms). Versatile in low light.
Cons:
None I can see so far.

The decision for me as I move into primes was whether the much cheaper 35mm f/2 would be my 35mm lens or not. I got one and tried it out. The problems with that lens is not sharpness. Instead, it records colors overly harshly and struggles with overexposure. It also is slowish to focus and that is a real draw back with wide apertures when doing people work.

I then tried the 35mm f/1.4 and -- yes, this is a cliche, but it applies -- it was like night and day on the 80% of the shots I took. The f1/4 never fails to take the pic you want it to take. With the f/2, it was often a struggle -- it was too much work getting that (very good) lens to take shots I thought would work out great. The f1/4 makes photography a joy, not only because of the quality of the results, but also because the ease of using it makes it a joy to get those results. I feel I have more time now to concentrate on getting the next shot and positioning etc. This is key for anyone doing people shots on the streets, like I do in NYC.

I used to like the smallness of the f/2 a lot -- stuff my 5D in my jacket and go shoot. But the f1.4 is nothing like a zoom, so I am fine with it.

So, when all is said and done, it is worth the extra money.


Feb 13, 2007
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shaunknee
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Registered: Jan 2, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 10
Review Date: Feb 8, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, build, contrast & AF speed
Cons:
None

I hated the build quality and CA of my 50 f1.4. I sold it and replaced it with this gem.
It is twice as big unfortunately but worth it. I find I use lens more then any other now because of its speed and IQ


Feb 8, 2007
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peeder
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Registered: Jan 27, 2007
Location: N/A
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 27, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: All
Cons:
Zippo

No one would ever need treatment for depression if their eyes were replaced by a pair of 35L's.

Jan 27, 2007
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Xenedis
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Registered: Feb 11, 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 6
Review Date: Jan 19, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Speed, sharpness, focal length (on a full-frame DSLR), bokeh and all else that goes with L.
Cons:
Price, vignetting and plastic shell.

I shoot with a 5D, and have 50mm, 85mm, 135mm and 300mm primes. What I was lacking was a fast, wide prime. The 35/1.4L filled that gap, and very nicely indeed.

I've started to get into some band gig photography, and wanted a wider view than 50mm.

The 24/1.4L and 35/1.4L were both up for consideration, but from the reading I'd done, the general consensus was that the 35/1.4L was the better lens.

I did have a chance to try a 24/1.4L, and it performed well, but I felt that 35mm would be a safer focal length. I have the 24-105/4L IS, so I have the wider FOV when I want it. However, 24mm comes with some trade-offs.

I bought the 35/1.4L without having even tried it, but I knew it would be good. What I didn't know was just how good it would be.

It has been described as one of the best Canon primes, and deservedly so.

I shot with it a lot today, and while I bought it primarily for low-light shooting, it's far more versatile, and deserves to be used even in good lighting.

It unquestionably handles low light. I look forward to using this at my next gig shoot, and for more general street shooting. I also look forward to using it in other low-light environments, and I today experienced its capability in a very dimly lit Cathedral.

What I've observed about the 35/1.4L in the weeks I've owned it is that it is very sharp straight from the camera, and requires little or no sharpening in post-processing. Colour is good, too.

The fast f/1.4 aperture allows isolation of subject from background, but with the wider focal length, there's more room to breathe as far as depth of field is concerned. Background blur is smooth and creamy, and the eight-bladed aperture ensures great bokeh.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it vignettes at wider apertures. Mind you, I do use a 5D, and even my 70-200/2.8L IS vignettes on that.

I was surprised to discover that the lens's shell is made from plastic (albeit a strong plastic) rather than metal. I was also surprised at how heavy this lens is for its size. It is a large lens for its focal length, but it does contain a lot of glass (11 elements).

Below is a gallery of some of the images I've captured with this lens:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/tags/canonef35mmf14lusm/

If you want a good, wide, fast prime and need or want the 35mm focal length, I'd recommend the 35/1.4L without hesitation. I can see myself going out with just this and the 135/2L. Together, these two make for an unbeatable minimalist low-light combination. Throw in a 50mm or 85mm prime to cover the middle ground.

All in all, this is a fantastic lens, and I'm very pleased I bought it.

J.


Jan 19, 2007
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Canonised
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Registered: Dec 11, 2005
Location: Singapore
Posts: 2
Review Date: Jan 7, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Build Quality, great image quality output, fast focussing, almost the widest aperture available.
Cons:
Almost too expensive for a prime, big lens for its focal length, a tad soft wide open.

It may seem weird to some here but I was only attracted to this lens after having bought, used and enjoyed the Sigma 30mm f1.4.

That lens is wonderful (although I had to try 3 before getting a good one) and I use it on my 20D for lots of creative work in low light as well as indoors in day time. Its a great lens but has some faults (like it will misfocus when focussing at infinity). When I read all the great reviews of the 35L I thought it would be a great glass to upgrade to.

It costs 3 times as much as the Sigma but I estimate the improvement is about 15% (thats how good I think the Sigma is). That 15% is in the sharpness at f1.8 and the saturation of the colours compared to the siggy.

I have plans to acquire a FF body - which is why I am keeping the Sigma (which apparently is not FF compatible).

Oddly enough, I found the size of the 35L a tad big. This may be because I am too used to the Sigma 30mm. However, on a pro body the lens will feel perfect.

As for the image quality, I find my conclusions are very similar to many others posts here.

So far I have no regrets with this lens and I recommend it for those who genuinely need a good quality fast wide lens.



Jan 7, 2007
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juberisk2
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Registered: Sep 16, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 406
Review Date: Dec 31, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,050.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: great balance/feel, very nice bokeh, superb images by f2.8 with stunning color/contrast/sharpness
Cons:
usable wide open but wish it were a little sharper by f2, distortion



Dec 31, 2006
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Mike Tuomey
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Registered: Jul 22, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 2924
Review Date: Dec 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Build, color rendition, bokeh
Cons:
Cost, softness and vignetting wide open

Overall a keeper because it's the best Canon can do around this focal length, but I don't believe it deserves rave reviews.

Colors and bokeh are wonderful on both my 1D and 5D. It sits on the 5D most of the time. Great for available light candids, walk-around shooting.

It's quite a bit softer wide open than I expected. Past f2-ish the lens sharpens up. And the vignetting is also surprising - it doesn't moderate until around f4 or so.

I guess you can argue that some softness and vignetting in low light shooting is acceptable, but it's still disappointing,

Paying $1100 for a sharp, balanced 35/4 with nice color and bokeh seems extravagant.


Dec 22, 2006
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Hacker
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Registered: Feb 24, 2006
Location: Singapore
Posts: 98
Review Date: Dec 10, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,350.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazing bokeh for even a 35mm lens. Very sharp at f1.4 and contrast and colors are excellent.
Cons:
Price and weight. Lens hood too bulky when transporting or carrying in a compact bag.

Ultimate 35mm lens for SLRs.

Dec 10, 2006
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alfieri
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Registered: Feb 25, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 178
Review Date: Dec 6, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Canon's best wide-angle prime; excellent colors; love the perspective on 5D and 20D; very sharp at f/2 and higher, good down to f/1.4; particularly sharp on 5D, though not as sharp as 135/f2L or 85s; no issue with the weight or handling
Cons:
front external glass seems to collect dust more than other lenses; vignetting is noticeable below f/2; the lens could be a little sharper and I'd more for that

sample images and ramblings are here:

http://alfieri.smugmug.com/gallery/1655634


Dec 6, 2006
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timster
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Registered: Oct 30, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 162
Review Date: Dec 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: solid construction. superior color, contrast and detail will make many of your lens seem lacking. vignetting sometimes gives character.
Cons:
large glass element and red-ring makes this a not-very-subtle lens with a not-so-subtle price tag. vignettes wide open. superior color, contrast and detail will make it hard to use other lens that you might have paid a lot of money for.

i know i'm probably another fanboy just throwing over more praise on the already massive pile over this 35L.

so i'll just say this. if you want a wide-angle low-available-light working lens for candids and hate using a flash or if bokeh makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over, then this lens delivers. in spades.

if you're happy to shoot stopped-down, and have the wife-factor to worry about - or just think it's downright asinine to blow $1100 on a prime, there's plenty of good alternatives out there!


Dec 1, 2006
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DLai
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Registered: Nov 28, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1130
Review Date: Nov 28, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Size, weight, build, sharp at 1.4, perfect for day/night time wedding events or general street photography.
Cons:
Price...but then again you get what you pay for. No weather sealing though.

Fantastic lens at an outrageous price! Its true that nothing is more flexible than a zoom...but if you are willing to sacrafice the zoom capabilities and have something faster than f2.8, this is it. I find myself reaching for this lens more often than my 24-70L. This along with my EFS 10-22 and 85 make up my travel kit. (I shoot with a 20D)

Nov 28, 2006
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Ed Cucci
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Registered: Nov 18, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 39
Review Date: Nov 19, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,230.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great wide open, lightweight, good for avialble light
Cons:
not the 24mm

Love this prime. Great for clubs, seminars or anywhere that flash is either a detriment or not useful. To be honest, I really wanted the 24mm but it was soft at the edges to f4 - couldn't live with that. But I'm real happy with it. Love to see it on a FF. Great product!

Nov 19, 2006
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jmaio
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Registered: Feb 26, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 382
Review Date: Nov 15, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: One of the few lenses I've bought where I can say its really sharp wide open.
Cons:
None

I just received this lens a few hours ago and did some images of a test chart at f/1,4. Its one of the sharpest Canon lenses I own and by far the sharpest WA lens.

I just sent my 24mm f/1.4 because of soft focus wide open and if they can get it anywhere near this lens, I'll be one haooy camoer.


Nov 15, 2006
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Andy M
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Registered: Sep 10, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 9
Review Date: Oct 29, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp at f1.4. Relatively compact. Extremely well built. Provides excellent results.
Cons:
Quite expensive.

Probably my favourite lens.

Not a lot to say, other than buy one if you can!


Oct 29, 2006
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Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
221 498581 Apr 15, 2015
Recommended By Average Price
95% of reviewers $1,189.88
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.34
8.21
9.5
ef_35_14_1_


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