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  Reviews by: ktownsend  

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Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: Oct 6, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent contrast, AF, colors

Having seen all the glowing reviews, and missing a real wide angle prime in my collection, I bought this lens on a business trip to Japan, since there was a reasonable savings compared to prices here in France (around 400 difference).

The color and contrast on this lens is excellent (and up to my expectations of the best L lenses), but while it is quite sharp when printed and when viewing at normal sizes (say 25 or 50% in Photoshop), I expected it to be sharper at 100% looking at all the reviews, etc. Could be my copy. (I admit Canon's quality control sometimes makes me feel like I'm playing the lottery buying their high end products!)

The lens is very good, and I think deserves it's reputation, but I notice that my 85L has the same beautiful constrast and colors, but is visibly sharper (very noticable side by side at 100%) compared to the 35L. That said ... the 85L is also the standard I compare every other lens to, so it's a tough act to follow. No regrets on the purchase, and I recommmend it to anyone who wants to learn how to use it, I guess all the gushing of others just set me up for a very mild disappointment, though maybe others are coming from expectations other than the 85L.

On a positive note, I find the 35L has a lot less CA than the 85L, which is a huge problem on that otherwise divine piece of optical engineering. It exists, but is much less pronounced wide open, and I'm less afraid to use the 35 in strong back lighting, though I haven't used it as much as I would like to really knows its strength and weaknesses.

Highly recommended ... but if I had to keep only one lens between my 35L and my 85L, I'd keep the 85, but it's also a question of shooting style (portraits for me). I'm happy to have both options, though, and at the moment my day to day (light) photo bag only contains these two lens, a couple pocket wizards, a 580 EX and my 1Ds. There isn't much that I'd want to photograph that I can't address with these two beautiful lenses.

Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8

Review Date: Jun 30, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated


I made a simple page (in 5 seconds in notepad) showing some test images from this lense. I would have found this useful when I was considering buying it, so I thought I'd post it here for others to benefit from. The test was done for me, and is very unscientific, so please take it for what it is.


Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8

Review Date: Jun 29, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Adaptability, excellent (very solid) build quality and good manual focus ring.
Price (not trivial for a simple photo enthusiast like me). Out of the box colour a bit less appealing than some of my L lenses, but not terrible or visably distorted ... just needs some work.

I hesitated between the 90mm and the 45mm, with the 90mm reportedly being a bit sharper (and the 24 the worst of the three). For better or for worse, I opted for the 45, though, because of the crop factor on my 20D, short sighted though that might be. If I upgrade for a 5D or 1DSII, I hope the 45 doesn't become too short for me, since I'm mostly a 70-90mm shooter (35mm equivalent).

I was initially a bit disappointed by the sharpness of this lense. In retrospect, my technique was probably partly to blame. Perhaps I expect too much, but still I find my 85 1.8 (maybe I just have an excellent copy) is sharper aperture for aperture, and at 1300 I maybe expected more. I also get better colour from my L lenses, with the 45mm sometimes needed a bit of work (like most of my lenses, though, so no fault here ... just pointing it out if it helps someone else).

I took a couple hours to do some tests tonight, comparing all the f-stops. I can't post images here unfortunately. But, at 2.8, its a bit soft, but, still being a prime, better than many zooms. Absolutely not terrible or dog ugly ... but if you know what high-end lenses look like, you see it. By 4.0, you notice the difference in the fine details, and by 5.6, its very sharp, with very fine details sharply rendered (at least my copy). Another small step up at 8.0, minimal but noticable, and I didn't find anything really improved at 11.0. So, 4 is very usable, 5.6 is excellent, 8.0 razor sharp (technique permitting). 2.8 is absolutely usable, but may require some USM work in Photoshop, wheras, 4.0 or higher will be much easier to get the results you probably want.

The build quality is exceptional. Good, smooth manual focus ring. Very solidly built, and I think it can take the punishment it might receive from some users, just be careful not to get dust inside it, since the shift/tilt mechanisms does allow some possible problems with this, which I don't think can be mechanically avoided. It's heavy, but that doesn't bother me at all.

The lense rotates 270 (or is it 360?), which means you can shift up and down, or left and right ... I mention that because many people omit that, and it's obviously important.

Despite the partially negative comments, I think it's an excellent lense, and recommend it to the right audience. You just have to learn how to use it properly (like any quality tool) to get the best results. Focus, etc., can poses challenge, so you have to be up to learning some new technique, etc. (I order the Angle Finder C today just for this lense.) I think this lense can deliver results no other lense can (outside the other 2 TS-E lenses) ... the question is if it's the right creative or technical tool for you. I can't answer that for you, though. ;-)