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Review Canon 24 mm 1.4L II @ 5D MK3
The Canon 24 mm f/1.4 L II was introduced at the end of 2008. In the digital photography era, that seems like ages ago. But this is still one of Canon's fastest wide-angle lenses with a fixed focal length. Such lenses can be used for available-light photography and are to be found in the bags of many professional photojournalists and landscape photographers. According to Canon, the image quality of the 24 mm 1.4 L II is improved in comparison with its predecessor, thanks to two exceptionally accurate aspherical lenses, which correct aberrations, image curvature and distortion.
Review Canon EF 24 mm f/1.4L II USM @ Canon 5D MK3
Canon EF 24 mm f/1.4L II USM @ f/1.4, 1/1000 sec, 200 ISO
Build and auto focus
The Canon lenses are designed for intensive use by professional photographers in their daily work. Water- and dust-resistant seals offer extra protection, and the lens will be delivered with a lens bag and sun cap. In the Canon EF 24 mm f/1.4L II, environmentally friendly, lead-free glass is used. It is an addition that makes you tthink, since I have not often encountered it on other Canon lenses.
The silent USM (Ultra Sonic Motor) of the Canon EF 24 mm f/1.4L II focuses quickly and can always be overridden manually. The AF speed is not lightning-fast, but it gives nothing up to the modern 24-70 Canon zooms that we have reviewed previously. The floating internal focus system, according to Canon, provides high image quality across the whole focal range. It also ensures that the front lens does not turn during focusing, which is nice for using, for example, a circular polarization filter.
The vignetting at full aperture amounts to 3 stops. If you are going to correct for this, then you will have more noise in the corners of the image than in the center. After stopping down two stops, 1 stop of vignetting remains visible.
Distortion Canon EF 24 mm f/1.4L II USM
We can be brief about distortion: you will have no trouble with it when using this lens. And that, given the large field of view, is a good performance.
Canon applies a special, patented Subwavelength Structure ("SWC") lens coating, which was specially designed by Canon for digital photography. SWC coating is based on the surface of the eyes of a moth and lets more light through. According to Canon, the coating helps to minimize flare and reflections as a result of reflections on internal components (in particular, the sensor). In most cases, it works well. In practice, under extreme conditions (direct backlighting) and when not using the sun cap, both ghosts and flare are encountered when using the Canon 24 mm f/1.4L II. Not so much at full aperture, but when you stop down.
Canon EF 24 mm f/1.4L II USM @ f/4, 1/250 sec, 200 ISO
The center sharpness at full aperture clearly increases by stopping down two stops. The sharpness in the corners is visibly lower at full aperture than the center sharpness. The highest sharpness in the corners is reached at f/5.6. Even so, you will experience the sharpness in practice as constant from f/2.8 through f/11. Across that range, this Canon performs exceptionally in comparison with other Canon lenses. Only the Sigma 24-105 mm f/4 Art and the Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8 L II perform better at 24 mm for resolution.
Canon EF 24 mm f/1.4L II USM @ f/1.4, 1/100 sec, 200 ISO
Lateral chromatic aberration, blue- and red-colored edges at sharp contrast transitions in the corners of the image, are common in wide-angle shots. This kind of color separation is minimized by the design of the Canon 24 mm f/1.4L II by applying two lens elements with an extra-high breaking index ("UD elements").
But with bright (<f/2.8) lenses, CA can also occur: purple (in front of the focal point) and green (behind the focal point) edges at sharp contrast transitions in blurred parts of the shot. This color separation, called color bokeh, unfortunately does not only appear in the corners, but across the entire image. Here you see an enlarged part from close to the center of a shot taken with the Canon 24 mm f/1.4 L II. Stopping down helps. Above f/2.8, you will have no further trouble with it.
Bokeh Canon 24 mm 1.4L II
There are many micro-43 and APS-C lenses with a quieter bokeh.
A large sensor, rounded aperture lamellae (preferably as many as possible) and high brightness all make a positive contribution to the bokeh. But the glass types applied and the types of lens elements that are used also have an influence. In our standard test set-up, the bokeh did not look bad, although there was a colored edge around the bokeh rings. But in some practice shots, the bokeh was quite noisy.
Conclusion Canon 24 mm 1.4L II review with Canon 5D MK3
Look in our list of all reviewed lenses of the lenses we have reviewed with a Canon mount in order to compare the performance of this lens with other lenses. Tools JX Error: Definition with ID 330 does not exist.
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you store the files in the camera as jpg, and you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens if the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and camera.
Solid build quality, extra-well sealed against dust and splashwater
High sharpness above f/2.8
Lower sharpness and lots of vignetting below f/2.8
Visible longitudinal chromatic aberration
The Canon 24 mm f/1.4L II has already been around for a few years, but it is still among Canon's best and fastest wide-angle lenses. If you don't need the brightness, then the Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8 MK2 offers higher and more even sharpness. Vignetting with a wide-angle lens for a camera with a full-frame sensor is common, but 3 stops at full aperture is quite a lot. On the other hand, a nearly total lack of distortion is an exceptionally good performance for this lens.
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Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.