Photography News issue 24

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Photography News Issue 24 absolutephoto.com

Tests

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM £2799

Specs

Price

£2799

Format Full-frame, APS-C Mount Canon EF Construction

A member of Canon’s L lens family, this is the world’s widest zoom lens (as claimed by Canon) and its rectilinear projection (straight lines stay straight) means it’s perfect for all sorts of subjects, especially scenics and interiors. At £2799, though, it costs more than most cameras which limits its appeal. Construction is first rate, as you’d expect for the price, and the lens feels very, very robust while the separate zoom and focus barrels are smooth with just the right amount of resistance. There’s only one control on the lens barrel and that’s an AF/MF focus switch, but the lens offers full- time override anyway. The lens’s most notable physical feature is its bulbous front element and although the fixed cutaway lens hood does offer a limited degree of physical protection, its effectiveness in strong lighting is more difficult to gauge. Flare, though, is well controlled thanks to the various exotic lens coatings. Given the amount of exposed glass, it pays to regularly check the front surface for dust, scuffs and, god forbid, fingerprints. This design does mean that if you intend to use filters then you’ll need to invest in the Lee Filters SW150 system when a suitable adapter becomes available. That is a significant investment but if you want to use filters then options are limited, and you can’t hold the filter in front of the lens because of obvious size, reflection, and flare issues. This is a fabulous – and fun – lens to use. True, it’s a beast and front- heavy on an EOS 5D Mark III and the pair is a strain on the wrists, but such issues fade when you start to enjoy the lens’s amazing field of view. For drama, set 11mm, move in close, and dynamic foreground and amazing lead-in lines are yours.

Optically, the lens is no slouch which is just as well given its price tag. Starting at the 11mm end, central image quality is very impressive from maximum aperture onwards and only slips away at f/16 and f/22 thanks to some diffraction. Images are also full of contrast and detail which you may not expect from such an extreme lens. Edge quality is less impressive but that’s only in a relative sense. The extreme edges need stopping down to f/8 and f/11 for high sharpness. A similar pattern of optical performance is seen at 16mm. There’s very good central sharpness wide open, improving to f/8 and f/11 and then dropping away at f/16 and f/22. Edge sharpness starts at a higher level than at 11mm and is very good from f/4 onwards. You won’t be surprised to hear that the 24mm setting gives a high level of performance too, notably in the centre where sharpness is very high from f/4 onwards, again to f/22when the image loses its bite. Edge quality gains with stopping down, peaking at f/11 before fading away at the smaller values. All round, it is impossible not to be impressed with this lens’s performance given its extreme wide- angle setting. To be honest, f/22 is the only aperture to be wary of because image sharpness is less good – but even here some use of unsharp mask makes a noticeable improvement. WC

16 elements in 11 groups Special lens elements Ultra-low dispersion, Super UD elements, four aspheric Coatings Subwavelength Coating (SWC), Air Sphere Coating (ASC), UD (Ultra low dispersion) Filter size Optional filter holder Aperture range f/4-f/22 Diaphragm 9 blades Internal focus Yes Manual focus Full-time override, switch on lens Minimum focus 28cm Focus limiter No Maximummagnification

How it rates

Verdict This is not a lens for the faint-hearted. It’s darned expensive and not everyone will have a use for it. It’s also a serious lens to use too – even more so if you want to use filters with it. But if it appeals and you have the budget, it’s a remarkable, highly capable optic.

0.16x (at 24mm) Distance scale Yes, and IR index Depth-of-field scale No Image stabiliser No Tripod collar No Lens hood Built-in Weather-sealed Yes Dimensions (lxd) 132x108mm Weight 1180g Contact canon.co.uk

Features World’s widest rectilinear zoom lens

25/25

25/25

Performance It delivers very sharp images at most apertures

Handling Big, heavy and filter use difficult, but still rates very highly

21/25

Value for money It’s a serious investment, but potentially worth it

20/25

Optically, this lens is no slouch which is just as well given its price tag

91/100

Overall An amazing lens with huge creative scope Pros Optical quality, wide setting Cons Filter use only possible with a suitable and expensive holder, bulky

11MM

16MM

11MM, F/4

11MM, F/8

11MM, F/16

16MM, F/4

16MM, F/8

16MM, F/16

24MM

The images We fixed our test lens to a tripod- mounted Canon EOS 5D Mark III and then shot at every aperture and at three focal lengths. The enlargements on the right were taken from the centre (left half) and the edge of the frame (right half) to examine sharpness.

24MM, F/4

24MM, F/8

24MM, F/16

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