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  Reviews by: Daan B  

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Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: Nov 8, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,165.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Center sharpness, contrast (3D), colors, bokeh, low light performance (1.4), build, AF
Heavy field curvature resulting in high amounts of CA's and softness at the corners; therefore less suitable for landscapes / scenery on FF

I've bought this lens to be used on a 5D for shooting environmental portraits in available (low) light and some landscapes / scenery.

Sharpness wide open in the center is quite good (still needs a little USM though). It becomes noticebly better at f/2. At f/2.8 to f/5.6 it reaches the sweet spot in the center of the frame (which is excellent - comparable to the 50mm 1.4). From f/8 sharpness starts to decline. Corners on FF are falling behind across the whole range of apertures. Even at f/8 the far corners are still a bit soft. You really can see the effects of some rather heavy field curvature here.

Contrast is excellent (even at f/1.4). Colors and bokeh are amazing. Obviously this lens was designed for low light performance. It really shines when used wide open in low light. Distortion is minimal. Haven't tested it for flare. There is some purple fringing in the center of the frame wide open. At f/2.8 this is entirely gone. CA's are are different matter. This is definitely the weak spot of this lens (again the effects of the rather heavy field curvature). In the far corners and borders I have seen CA's of 6 pixels wide (on FF) at f/8 (when shooting tree benches or buildings against the sky).

The build quality is very good. Although there is some extensive use of (good quality) plastics. The focus ring is smooth and a little bit damped. The lens has a good size and weight and balances nicely on my 5D with grip. It looks kind of handsome too. The AF is very fast and in good lighting very accurate on a 5D. In extremely poor light it has trouble achieving focus.

For shooting environmental portraits in available (low) light the lens does really a good job. For shooting landscapes / scenery on FF it's less suitable. Mainly because of the corner softness (corner sharpness is way better on my 24-70L or 50mm 1.4) and the high amounts of CA's in the far corners (even at f/8 and smaller). Mind you, the corner softness and CA's are less of an issue on a crop body.

I had thought it to be an allround lens. Instead I must conclude it's a specialty lens. A very good specialty lens indeed, but nevertheless not as versatile as I would have liked it to be.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Oct 31, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: IQ, build, fast and accurate AF, versatility
Build, high tolerances in AF, not as sharp as (L) primes

It seems these lenses leave the Canon factory with very high tolerances in the AF system. As far as sharpness / focus goes, I tried several copies that all behaved very differently. Some were even totally soft at all apertures. I'll write this review based upon my findings with this lens AFTER a calibration by Canon Service (both lens and body) and when used on a 5D.

On a 5D the 24-70L gives beautiful images. It produces that famous L 3D look with excellent contrast, colors and bokeh (=super smooth). It is definitely not as sharp as my (L) primes, but the excellent contrast helps creating an illusion of sharpness. Over the entire FL the lens is somewhat soft at f/2.8. At f/4 it is getting noticebly better. At f5.6 it reaches it's sweet spot. Sharpness performance on the wide end of this lens is a little bit better than on the tele end. The images take additional sharpening in PP very well. I didn't see a lot of CA or fringes(in high contrast areas). The lens showed a very good performance here. Flare is also well handled.

The 24-70L is made out of good quality materials. The downside: this makes the lens very bulky and heavy (about 1kg). Also, depending on the situation, the lens can be quite conspicuous. IMO the lens is not so well balanced on a 5D (with grip). I guess on a 1D body this is less of an issue. My sample had a bit of a stiff zoomring from 24mm to 35mm, but after little use the zoomring quickly became smooth. I am not very font of the external reverse zooming mechanism. But this makes it possible for the lenshood to be very effective during the entire FL. So in the end there's a slight trade off in design to get the best possible performance. I can live with that.

The AF is fast and accurate. It becomes slower (but remains accurate) when focusing in very poor light. I have had a few occasions though were the lens / body totally missed focus (used one shot with focus confirmation, static subject in good light). But I haven't noticed this behaviour anymore after the calibration. I like the close focusing possibility. I wouldn't call it macro, but the lens is capable of capturing a lot of fine detail. This adds to the versatility of the lens IMO.

I would recommend this lens as a general workhorse. For shooting landscapes, events, people and detail shots it is a very capable lens. I wouldn't recommend it for travelling because of it's size and weight. I also would like to recommend calibration as a standard routine after buying this lens (which is free of charge when under warranty).


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