25 April 2013

Canon 24 f/1.4 L USM II Review

Canon 5D MK II | 1/160 s | f/1.4 | ISO 200
For a few months now I'm a lucky owner of a Canon 24 f/1.4 L II lens. It's the fastest prime lens I own and use it for many of my landscape shots and almost for all night landscape shots (including both HDRs and astrophotos).

First some technical specs:
Aperturesf/1.4 - f/22
Field of view84 degree
Minimum focusing distance25 cm
Filter thread77 mm
Dimensions9.35 cm × 8.69 cm
Weight650 g
Number of aperture blades8
Auto-focusYES
USMYES
Image-stabilizationNO
Price~ 1800 USD

The build quality is typical for L-series lens and it means it's excellent. The lens looks and feels very firm, solid and durable (in fact I think this lens looks more solid than most of the other L-lenses). The only downside is that it's pretty heavy (650 g) and quite large. It also uses 77 mm filter thread.

Sharpness is fantastic across whole frame. It might be a bit soft at f/1.4 (but still sharper than most of the lenses wide-open) but stop it down to just a f/2.8 or f/3.5 to get razor sharp images. However, please note that f/1.4 is still completely usable and I use it with success to capture many night photos.

Chromatic aberration is hard to notice even at f/1.4. There is also no noticeable issues with distortion. Also flares are rather small. Please note that I can compare results here to Canon 24-105 at 24 mm.

One more thing to note is that this lens produces very nice bokeh.

The greatest drawback is large vignetting at f/1.4 (vignetting is really strong!). However, together with very shallow depth of field produced by this aperture it creates interesting effect so it may not be a downside for everyone.

Another is that this lens is quite expensive (it costs about 1800$).

Summing up this short review, Canon 24 f/1.4 II is a truly wonderful lens which I would recommend to anyone serious about landscape photography as well as for anyone shooting in low-light situations (astrophotographers, wedding photographers, etc.).

Pros:
- excellent image quality (great sharpness, low chromatic aberration, low distortion)
- great build quality
- fast and accurate auto-focus
- beautiful bokeh
- very fast aperture

Cons:
- heavy vignetting at f/1.4
- quite expensive
- heavy

Below are a few more sample photos taken with this lens on 5D MK II:

Canon 5D MK II | 1/125 s | f/1.4 | ISO 200
Canon 5D MK II | 1/320 s | f/7.1 | ISO 100

Canon 5D MK II | 1/500 s | f/7.1 | ISO 100
Canon 5D MK II | 30 s | f/1.4 | ISO 100

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