Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Review

March 30, 2015 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L is the world’s widest-angle rectilinear zoom lens. Featuring three aspherical lenses including a ground aspherical element which maximises image quality and delivers minimal levels of distortion, Super Spectra coatings to reduce ghosting and flare, fluorine coatings on the front and rear elements to prevent dust and water drops sticking to each element, water and dust resistantance, an ultrasonic focus motor, a nine-blade circular aperture, silent high-speed AF performance, full-time manual focusing, the new Canon 11-24mm lens offers a complete range of ultra wide-angle focal lengths in a single optic. The Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM is available now for £2799.99 / $2999.99 in the UK and the USA respectively.

Ease of Use

Weighing in at 1180g and measuring 13cms in length, the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM is a very big lens indeed, almost twice as heavy as the EF 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. While you can use it on a smaller APS-C body for a 16-26mm equivalent angle of view, it won't balance very well at all. As demonstrated by the images below, it's a much better match for a professional-grade, full-frame camera like the 5D Mark III, and even then you'd probably want to fit a battery grip when using it hand-held.

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMThe Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMThe Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMThe Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMThe Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens alongside the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

As you would expect from a lens that costs this much, build quality is excellent, certainly up to the "L" moniker that denotes Canon's premium lenses. The Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM feels very solid in your hand, even if the outer barrel and the filter thread appear to be made from plastic. The focusing ring is generously wide and has a ridged, rubberised grip band. It has no aperture ring, which is no big deal unless you wanted to use it on a very old film body. The lens also features a distance scale.

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMThe side of the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMThe side of the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMFront of the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMRear of the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens

The final control on the lens barrel is a focus mode switch with the usual AF/MF settings. Note that the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM usefully offers full-time manual focusing even when AF is selected.

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMSide of the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMSide of the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMThe Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens in-hand

The Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens ships with a non-removable petal-shaped lens hood and a protective drawstring lens case. Given the cost of the lens, we'd have liked to have seen a hard case included.

Focal Range

At the 11mm focal length the angle of view is 117 10' degrees.

Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG HSMField of view at 11mm

At the 24mm focal length the angle of view is 74 degrees.

 Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG HSMField of view at 24mm

Focusing

The Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens has a fairly wide focus ring. There are hard stops at both ends of the range, making it easier to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the filter holder doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM zoom is a quick performer, taking about 0.15 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III that we tested it with.

We didn't experience much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time. It's also a fairly quiet performer, thanks to the built-in USM (Ultra Sonic Motor), which makes this lens quite well-suited to video recording.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are impressively well controlled with this lens - the examples below show the worst-case scenario.

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM

Vignetting and Distortion

With the lens wide open at f/4, you can see some very signifcant light fall-off in the corners at both ends of the focal range. Stopping down helps, although to completely get rid of this phenomenon, you will need to use an f-stop of f/8 or smaller.

Barrel distortion is very evident at the 11mm wide-angle focal length, disappearing completely at 24mm.

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMVignetting at 11mm

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMVignetting at 2mm

Macro

The Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM is not a macro lens. The closest focus point is at 28cm from the film/sensor plane when the focal length is set to 24mm, and Canon quotes a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.16x for the lens. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject.

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USMClose-up performance

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.

Entry Tags

review, lens, wide-angle, canon, travel, wide angle, landscape, f4, ef, journalism, journalists, photojournalist, architecture, usm, reportage, ultra, cityscape, 11-24mm, Canon EF 11-24mm f4L USM Review, 11-24, 11-24 mm

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