Size Doesn’t Matter When You’re Packin’ this Powerful Little Pro Pistol, the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Lens
The #1 digital photography manufacturer in the world doesn’t upgrade a lens because its designers have nothing else to do on a Tuesday afternoon. Canon introduced the EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens during 2008 because it was able to make significant improvements to the much earlier (1997) EF 24mm f/1.4 USM.
Professional photographers, who shoot landscapes and indoor sports images, such as basketball from a position below the net, and use a full-frame DSLR, applaud Canon for its upgrade. Many of them declare it the best performer in Canon’s wide-angle line-up, especially because it has the fastest (and widest) aperture of them all. Of equal importance to pros and serious enthusiasts, who have a need for this lens, is that the 24mm f/1.4 is also extremely well built, easy to operate and delivers the creativity they expect from wide-angle photography. To give any photographer a rugged, dependable tool to shoot in any environment, Canon added dustproof and weatherproof construction features. A weather seal gasket covers the metal lens mount, for example. To completely seal this lens, a filter must be attached to the front element.
The image quality of the new Canon 24mm has also caught the eye of many photographers. Not only does it have Canon’s Super Spectra multi-coating to combat internal reflections and flare, but also Canon’s exclusive Subwavelength Structure Coating on the inside surface of the large front element. The 13 glass elements in 10 groups include Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) elements as well as two aspherical elements. Chromatic aberrations are significantly controlled with the UD elements while the aspherical glass provides pro-like contrast to the border of any image.
By designing the 24mm f/1.4L II lens a wee bit larger (3.4 x 3.4”, or 87 x 87mm), the focusing ring has also been enlarged, for a better grip and smoother operation. The upgraded shape of this lens results in more shooting comfort, better balance and a very solid feel. Many photographers remark that one of the improvements they like the most, compared to this lens’ predecessor, is the ease of manual focus. They also expect and receive internal focusing, so the length doesn’t change, and full-time manual focusing.
The Ultrasonic Motor (USM) for the auto-focus system was already so noiseless and precise in the original 24mm f/1.4 that Canon and its loyal customers didn’t require much, if any, improvement.
In terms of optical performance, it isn’t surprising that images shot wide open are not quite as sharp as those at f/2.8. An aperture of f/1.4 is quite an extreme and only a small group of photographers, and they will be professionals, will ever need it. The almost “perfect” sharpness at f/2.8 will deliver all the clean, crisp images that virtually every photographer will expect. Using slightly smaller apertures (f/2.8 and f/4) also noticeably control vignetting. Shooting wide open creates much more vignetting, causing the corners to exhibit more than 4 stops of light less on a full-frame sensor. Professionals, unlike amateurs, often want softer corners, which puts the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens right in their creative comfort zone.
An upside of the lens’ very wide apertures is that they give professionals the added contrast they also demand in the center and at the midway point between the center and the edges. Flare, chromatic aberrations and barrel distortion are all virtually non-existent at these wide openings too. The science of optics dictates that a wide-angle lens is not supposed to create good to excellent bokeh, especially at the widest apertures, but this lens does much more than an adequate job at high quality background blur.
The bottom line for those photographers with the older 24mm f/1.4 in their bag is that the newer II model is definitely worth purchasing, especially if the widest apertures are important to what they shoot. It’s not unusual for some photographers to be creatively challenged by the 24mm wide-angle view; but those that accept the challenge and learn to compose correctly with this lens will be extremely happy they bought it.
, 2012, saving you $180, or a price of $1,481.00. For more information, visit http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=Canon+EF+24mm+f%2F1.4L+II+USM+lens&N=0&InitialSearch=yes.
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