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Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

ef_35_14_1_
Review Date: Aug 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Razor Sharp (at least my copy is) Little to no distortion (even while used as a 56mm on a crop body!)
Cons:
A bit heavy (but a relief compared to 24-70), expensive 72mm filter? Not many lens were made in this size.

I've used a 24-70 2.8L for a few months, but it finally dawns on me that the huge zoom doesn't fit my shooting style, its too big to bring with me most of the time and its too slow for indoor shots.

So I finally gave in and traded it with another photographer for his 35mm 1.4L.

Compared to the 24-70mm 2.8L...

Having had bad experience with the 24mm 1.4L, I was skeptical when I tried the lens, but damn! Maybe its just my copy, but the lens is SHARP at 1.4 already, I could swear its sharper than the 24-70mm at 2.8.

Compared to the 24mm 1.4L...

MUCH MUCH sharper (at least 2x pixel density at 1.4 according to my guess-timate) creamy bokeh (to be expected), CA much better controlled, little to no distortion! (with the 24mm you get ppl's face messed up when shooting close)

Versus 24mm 1.4L as a main lens for crop body...

If you're deciding between 24mm 1.4L and 35mm 1.4L as the main lens for a cropped body, I would recommend 35mm, for its much better resolution befitting the heavy price tag, for its much better CA and Distortion control, and also because it converts to around 56mm, which is a nice "normal" lens for every occasion. Also when/if you upgrade to a full frame, it will show its true self as a versatile 35mm moderate wide angle, where as if you went for the 24mm, you're left with something much more radical and specialized.

The 24mm isn't BAD per se, its just that to get 1.4 for a 24mm Canon has made a lot of compromises, compromises you might not be willing to put up with (I was gravely disappointed), while the 35mm was made with much fewer compromises due to the less radical wide angle (this was what I was expecting with the 24mm).

In the end, this is a fantastic lens... in the Canon lineup. There are arguably even better lenses out there such as Pentax 31mm 1.8 LIMITED, but shooting Canon and shooting wide, it does not get better than this!


 
Canon EF 28mm f/2.8

ef28mmf_28_1_
Review Date: Jul 11, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Light, relatively fast, focus consistently, very very sharp for its price (if you bought it that is, mine was a loan for a trip)
Cons:
Construction feels a bit flimsy (a trade off with the weight and price), as for other stuff like not fast enough or non-USM, thats not what this lens claims to be so no complaint.

Well, I had the... well I won't say pleasure (I mean it's great, but more in a cost/benefit kind of way instead pure quality), "experience" of using this lens on a month long trip to California and China. This lens, working from its specification sheet limitations, does a great job of capture images that is quite sharp, consistent and with good colors. Bokeh is so-so, its not ugly at all but don't expect miracle from a 2.8 non-L.

Despite its initial impression of being flimsy (which it is, compare to something like an L), this one can take the regular beating of the road and shine through, as well as taking great, sharp photos without weighing you down.

IMHO, the weight and size is a definite plus compare to the L primes such as the 24/1.4 or the 35/1.4 (those bricks takes the "walk-around" out of "walk-around lens", sure some people claims they're willing to put up with it, but that doesn't take away the fact that it's still a pain), the only limiting factor is it being 2.8. But if that's enough for most of your shooting needs then this is definitely a GREAT value.

However I personally got a super sharp kit lens 18-55mm 3.5~5.6 (quite a surprise to discover that AFTER I learnt how to properly use my camera), so 2.8 wasn't that much of an improvement for me. In the future I might try the 28mm 1.8 USM due to the bigger leap in light absorption.


 
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L USM

ef24mmf_14l_1_
Review Date: Jun 18, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Build Quality Bokeh f/1.4 USM
Cons:
Terrible CA all the way up to f/8 Very blurry, can't seem to focus at infinity Heavy (which is a given for the Build Quality, but still)

I was new to digital photography (and photography in general) when I found the courage to buy the 24mm 1.4 lens, and its been 3 month, and countless exchange between me and the salesman at the local camera shop, I feel like its been ages.

When people say there's quality control problem at Canon, its true. When people talk about getting lens exchanged and the new one just as bad, it turned out to be true as well. People talked about 24mm not being sharp, how true it is. CA problem? Abound! (yes, I've tested using my kit lens and the 24, kit lens' tons better at the same aperture)

Maybe its just me, but Canon Canada's warehouse at the Mississauga has sent me just about all 24mm 1.4L's in Canada (which is 2), and both of them are no good, and I'm not talking about being anal, just good enough to justify the L moniker, heck, a 28mm f/2.8 used lens that the camera shop lend me for a trip I took is CONSISTENTLY sharper than that heavy and worthless thing.

For what its worth, f/1.4 itself is pretty amazing to use, the possibilities it opened up were amazing, however with the focus problem it just can not be used in ANY circumstance.

Fortunately for me, Galaxy Camera has been quite understanding and accommodating, I'll probably be able to get store credit towards other lens while they take their time sort out the whole mess and get both lens returned to Canon.

I talked with the sales clerk about QA issues, and he told me Nikon is the same, but with worse customer/warranty service (his words not mine).

Anyways, lessons learnt:
1. Expensive lens != good lens,
2. Always try before you buy to save you lots of trouble,
3. When online reviews says a lens have QA issues, it does.

In my case the lens had to be special ordered, so I wasn't given a choice in terms of trying the lens out. But anyways, when buying the EF 24mm 1.4L, you NEED to try it, or make sure you're covered under a no-hassel refund policy or (in my case) know that the store treats its customer right.

Because the other reviews talking about QA issues are absolutely correct.