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Keywords: Canon EF Wide Prime 35mm tested


Registered: July 2009
Posts: 6
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 review by Ashley_Pomeroy
Review Date: 1/17/2010 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 7 

Pros: Sharp in the very middle at all apertures; sharp almost to the corners at f/8; small; light; good colour, contrast
Cons: Feels redundant - you really have to want it; overpriced; physically old-fashioned

I wanted a small, wide autofocus prime lens for my full-frame Canon 5D. I already have a superb 24mm lens - a tiny Olympus 24mm f/2.8 that I use with an OM-EOS adapter - but I find myself running out of patience with manual stop-down and zone focus. I want something that I can use on the fly, on the hoof, in changing conditions, one-handed, so that the camera is an extension of my will instead of an apparatus that I have to hold and operate.

Canon's prime range appears to be almost uniformly great above 50mm; at 50mm it is variable but generally very solid; wider than 50mm it is variable. The 35/f2 seemed like a good choice but is apparently soft in the corners, the 20/f2.8 comes across as a dog, the two 28s don't appeal to me. The L primes including the 24mm f/1.4 are no doubt superb, but if I had £1,000 to spend on a lens I wouldn't spend it on a lens, I'd spend it on a fortnight's holiday to Italy. The fast zooms that encompass the 24mm focal length are also large and expensive, and the 24-80mm I used to own wasn't great at 24mm. The Tamron 24-135mm I also used to own was good at 24mm but bulky.

Which leaves the 24mm f/2.8. It's is one of Canon's oldest primes, and is a fairly obscure lens. The only sustained piece of writing about it on the internet is a piece at Prime Junta, written by "psulonen", who is one of the reviewers below. The lens is obscure because its full-frame focal length overlaps with a bunch of popular zooms, including the 17-40mm, and so most photographers already have something that is as wide or wider. If you have the 24-70/f2.8 it doesn't even have speed on its side.

Physically the lens is plastic, slightly more girthsome than I expected. The autofocus goes vzzz but the focus travel is so small that moving from infinity to close-up takes a split-second. The tiny manual focus ring rotates freely when in autofocus mode.

On my 5D it's sharp in the middle at all apertures, with roughly the outer 10% of the corners being mushy at f/2.8. At f/8 roughly the outer 5% at the corners are mushy (the edges are fine, and to be fair this corner softness tends to be lost in grass, soil etc at the bottom of the frame). There's a certain, mild amount of red/cyan fringing, which is fixed with a setting of -20 red/cyan in ACR. At 24mm and f/2.8 it's hard to throw the background out of focus, but to my eye the background blur looks a bit "busy", with lots of well-defined circles rather than a smooth paste.

One thing I have noticed is that, at closer focus ranges, the lens is less wide than my Olympus 24mm f/2.8. Based on the samples I have shot, the Olympus lens is sharper across more of the frame, but of course it's more fiddly to use. This leaves me in a quandry, though. If I go on holiday it would be silly to pack both; it would be irritating to waste time fiddly with a manual focus, manual stop-down lens; it would be silly to not capture foreign scenery with the best optical quality I can afford. These conflicting requirements gnaw at my mental well-being.

Colour and contrast are subjective things. To my eye it seems to be a colourful, contrasty lens, rather than a washed-out yellow mess as per the Sigma 15-30mm I was glad to get rid of. My copy at least seems to have a slightly purple bias.

I don't have a formal test set-up, and of course I'm biased in favour of a lens I paid for with my own pocket. I'm not likely to go on the internet and tell the world that I bought a lemon. Nonetheless SLRGear's test results seem unusually pessimistic. The review at suggests that the lens has pronounced field curvature, which might explain why it seems to perform so poorly at f/2.8.

On a crop-sensor camera it would be a decent walkabout 31-38mm depending on whether you have a 1.3x or 1.6x camera. I have an old Kodak DCS 560, which is a Canon-mount digital SLR with a 1.3x crop sensor, and in that context it's a handy all-purpose lens that is sharp across the frame one stop down. The problem with this is that almost all crop-sensor zooms are sharp across the frame one stop down, and a lot of them have image stabilisation as well.

Would I recommend it? If you have a crop-sensor camera it doesn't make a lot of sense although it is generally sharp across the frame. If you have a 24-70mm f/2.8 it's almost pointless. If you're going abroad and you need to pack light and small - this is me - it makes a certain amount of sense. Cropping off the outer 5% improves the image quality greatly although it's still not quite as good as my Olympus 24mm, which admittedly is a vintage manual focus lens that only works with an OM-EOS adapter. 24mm is noticeably wide but relatively mundane by modern standards; it's not eye-popping. At the retail price of about £350 it's overpriced for what it is. It seems to be the best mid-range wide Canon prime although it's a shame that it's not objectively the best mid-range wide prime.

Registered: November 2008
Posts: 5
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 review by photonut
Review Date: 11/15/2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $280.00| Rating: 7 

Pros: small, sharp, fun to use

I've owned this lens for a little over a year now and I was shocked when I first saw the official review pop up here. They must have hit a bad copy as it does not match my own experience at all. The off-center blur plot is a bit of a giveaway too.

Anyway, I bought this lens before a trip in the summer of 2007 without being sure it would be useful. I was quite wrong: I ended up taking most of my pictures with it and it stayed on my camera most of the time. It's light and is a good walkaround focal length on a 1.6x body. The picture quality is simply great! When I got back I had a few pictures printed at 8x12... and this lens at f/4 was so much sharper than my 17-85 at f/8. I simply couldn't believe it. I ended up selling the 17-85 the next year.

The build quality is quite good, focus is fast enough (for what it matters at that focal length anyway), balance is great on a 30D. It's sad that as a prime it's only f/2.8 but to be honest I shoot it at f/4 or f/5.6 most of the time and have not missed the extra stop that much. When I want narrow DOF I just use my 35 or 50.

Registered: November 2008
Posts: 1
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 review by tipsy1956
Review Date: 11/8/2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $220.00| Rating: 8 

Pros: Small, convenient to carry, light, relatively cheap
Cons: only f2.8, no hood comes with it

My copy on a crop certainly doesn't reflect the tests by slrgear.
Certainly it is decently good at f2.8 ( with corners slightly soft ) but at f4, it is improved greatly and you can't ask anything better at f5.6. Perhaps slrgear has got a bad copy? I actually bought this lens twice, I sold it after I got the tamron 17-50 f2.8 which I wasn't so happy with, and finally I bought it a second time after I sold the tamron 17-50.

I use it as a go about lens, with a 50 f1.8 II as the longer lens. The combination is cheap, light, and convenient. Only disadvantages is no wide angle since 24 mm is 38mm cropped which is a mild wide angle. I certainly wish it is a f2.0 which would make a great standard lens.

Registered: January 2007
Posts: 8
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 review by ckhorne
Review Date: 1/14/2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 8 


This lens is very good for walk around indoors, where the subject is tight, and there's plenty of casual portrait shots. I really enjoy the ability to take pictures using natural light (to maintain the lighting/mood), and this lens lets me do that. Otherwise, I'm relying on my f/4 IS lens, which can't quite seem to bridge the gap.

This is a good lens for the price - the build quality is ok, but usable - it doesn't feel cheap. It's a useful lens to keep in your bag for those times when a lower f stop is required.

Registered: December 2006
Posts: 2
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 review by markenoch
Review Date: 12/3/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $150.00| Rating: 7 

Pros: Good sharpness, small and lightweighted
Cons: Flare problems

I had this lens for about a month. Bought it used. I used it as a walkaround lens, since with the 1.6x multiplier, it is has about the same fov as a 35 mm lens for film. A range I used much in the film days. Construction is good but not great. The focus wheel is a little flimsy and overall it feels somewhat cheap. Autofocus is fast but noisy. It makes a buzzing like sound as it focuses. Sharpness is good even wide open on a 6 megapixel camera. Didn't notice much vignetting either. But didn't look for it. My copy had severe flare problems when doing nightphotography. But then again I bought it used, so it could have been a former owner maintance problem - I suspect there was something wrong with the coating. That made this lens useless for me. But if you wan't a small, lightweight and cheap lens and like the 35 mm fov, then you should give this a closer look.

Registered: November 2006
Posts: 6
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 review by jeffn
Review Date: 11/25/2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $300.00| Rating: 7 

Pros: Excellent optical quality; lack of distortion
Cons: Average build quality; not a lot of "snap"

Very good glass: center is sharp wide open. Stopped down to f5.6 and you are sharp corner to corner. Distortion free.

This is my first choice for on-tripod, panoramic compositions.

It's small, light & handy.

Registered: October 2005
Posts: 6
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 review by psulonen
Review Date: 10/23/2005 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 8 

Pros: Very compact, nice enough optics, solid all-around performer
Cons: Not very bright for a prime, not significantly better than many zooms

(Comments based on tests and experience on the EOS-5D.)

One Canon's "pocket primes," the 24/2.8 often falls through the cracks: not too many people seem to own one. I think the reason is the large variety of 24-something zooms, most of which are not much darker nor much pricier than the 24/2.8, and some of which are very good. And there's its big brother, the big, pricey, and two stops brighter 24/1.4L.

Taken on its own terms, the 24/2.8 is a very nifty little lens, packing a quite an optical wallop for the small size. It's excellent wide-open, sharp in the center, with moderate light fall-off and corner softening. The corners get steadily better until f/8...f/11 or so, by which time the frame is very very good. It also has remarkably little distortion or CA.

The lens is highly resistant to veiling, and moderately resistant to flare spots even in extreme circumstances like night cityscapes. The six-blade iris does give its signature to highlights, which you may or may not like.

In use, it's a simple, reliable performer. The AF is on the noisy side, but quite quick; it's internal focusing too with all that implies. No fancy widgets like USM or such, build is solid but nothing special.

I can highly recommend this lens for anyone looking for... well, this kind of lens. That is, a very compact 24 mm prime, for whatever reason. If you're just looking for a good 24 mm, you won't really gain much by picking this over, say, the 24-85/3.5-4.5 USM -- perhaps a bit of sharpness wide-open and a half-stop or so of brightness.

In a nutshell, while being a very nice lens in its own right and having no glaring problems, it is bound to have something of a limited appeal simply for being what it is. But if you like what it is, go ahead and get one -- I don't think you'll be disappointed. And do get the rather nice petal hood Canon offers for it as well; it really makes a lot of difference.


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