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Keywords: Canon EF Wide Prime 35mm IS Stabilized USM tested


Registered: April 2014
Posts: 7
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM review by MichaelShea
Review Date: 1/18/2015 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $630.00| Rating: 7 

Pros: Fairly lightweight and compact; near silent, precise autofocus; attractive colours; extremely effective image stabilisation; low distortion
Cons: Lens hood is essential but not provided; adequate sharpness but not outstanding

From my own extensive research of the worldwide web, I fully expected this lens to be somewhat inferior to its 35mm f2 similarly image stabilised sibling, which in fairness would have been far easier to construct. But the difference is significant and whereas the 35mm lens stands out as a class apart from typical universal zoom standard, to be honest this wide-angled model does not. But it has its own merits and if the focal length is particularly important to you, perhaps for street shooting purposes, you will surely enjoy using it.

It is not bitingly sharp at any aperture and for a landscape lens this is both a disadvantage and minor disappointment. The acid test is with distant, small objects at the edges and corners of the frame. It really doesn't make a great amount of difference what setting you choose between f4 and f8, the results are not mushy by any means, but not overly impressive either. However, it is certainly true that on the 5D mark iii at least, raw file sharpening in Lightroom improves the situation a good deal. After some trial and error, I found that settings of 45, 0.9, 30 and 6 respectively worked very well for images taken in the great outdoors. My 35mm f2 lens did not require any amplification of the default sharpening settings at all and that tells you all you need to know about the gulf in class.

Autofocus with this lens is so fast it's almost unnerving, especially for the likes of me with my recent diet of Fuji XF and Olympus four-thirds lenses, wonderful though they are in other respects. I mention these manufacturers because it is only fair to point out that they have each produced fine wide-angled lenses that are in terms of colour, contrast and sharpness, at least equal and in some instances superior to this Canon prime. This might be a bitter pill for some Canon fans to swallow. The Fuji XF 14mm f2.8 lens in particular covers a wider field of view, but is superior to the Canon in every respect. Most notably in terms of sharpness from corner to corner. As a cropped sensor lens, it also exhibits far less in the way of vignetting, but that flaw on full-frame is forgivable and it can be corrected quite easily after the fact.

Build quality is very good. I'm not particularly bothered whether a lens is made of metal or plastic, so long as it looks and feels as though it is built to last. The mount is of course metal and the exterior moving parts are solid and unshakable enough to appear permanent. The absence of a supplied lens hood is unforgivable in my opinion. My Chinese replica version is in the post and Canon knows full well that this is an essential accessory for any wide-angled lens. My first session in the low winter morning sun didn't produce any disasters, which suggests that work against bright light is good. But sooner or later either flare or poor contrast will become factors unless I deliberately avoid pointing my camera towards the light.

Colours from the lens are typically vibrant Canon and all have a magical tendency to look warm and punchy without being artificial or over-saturated. This makes even thumbnail images look pleasing. The lens does not exhibit very much visible distortion, which is helpful because even with camera profiles, the process of correcting it can often cause blurriness at the edges and the less that needs to be done the better.

By nature, I am a zoom rather than prime shooter. And I was a reluctant full-frame convert because I have been accustomed to lightweight equipment. I eventually opted for the Canon 5D mark iii because of its superior focus system, but only decided to buy the camera because I eventually came around to the view that I could also buy lenses that were of a convenient size and weight, without being compromised in terms of image quality. This particular lens balances well on the camera and helps justify my decision to throw my hard-earned cash in Canon's direction.

In summary, the lens is a joy to use and the results from it are pleasing, if not exactly top notch. Therefore, with some slight misgivings I can recommend the lens and hope this review has been of some help to you.


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