Canon 24mm f/1.4L lens quick review

I’m currently renting a Canon 24mm f/1.4L lens. This is the first time I’ve used one, so I thought I would share my impressions. Short answer…I love it!

ISO 800, 1/50 sec at f/1.4

24mm is probably my favorite focal length, and the super-shallow depth of field from the large aperture is just great. So far I find that the bokeh is very pleasing too. Attached to the 5D Mark II the combo is just about small enough to look like a “normal” SLR and be reasonably discreet. That’s why I felt comfortable bringing it out to dinner, where I took the above shot…not something I’d really want to do with a 1-series body and 24-70mm lens.

The lens is surprisingly sharp in the center, even wide open at f/1.4. It’s not tack sharp, but on a lens like this I don’t mind, since I’m looking for a slightly dreamy feel anyways. I’d imagine that the corners are quite soft at that aperture, but I can’t imagine that mattering for how I would use this lens. The newly released Mark II version of this lens is supposed to feature improved sharpness.

Any negatives? Autofocus seems to be a little slow. However, I’m still getting a handle on the low-light AF performance of my 5D Mark II, so I’m not certain I can blame the lens just yet. It would be nice to have the weather sealing that was added to the Mark II version. On the other hand, the Mark II is slightly larger.

All in all, I’m very impressed. It’s everything I hoped for. I’m very tempted to pick up a used copy as people upgrade to the Mark II version. I have a few ideas for nature images that I want to attempt with this lens…

Note: For more samples, see the “photo of the day” from yesterday and today…they were also shot with this lens at f/1.4.