Canon EF 35mm f/2 - Review / Test Report - Analysis
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)
Article Index
Introduction
Analysis

Distortion

The lens shows only a minor degree of barrel distortion (~0.75%) - this is nothing to worry about in field conditions.

The chart above has a real-world size of about 120x80cm.

Vignetting

Despite being tested on an APS-C DSLR the EF 35mm f/2 exhibited a fairly pronounced degree of vignetting (1.1EV) at its largest aperture setting. However, from about f/2.8 the issue is reduced to a quite negligible degree.

MTF (resolution)

The lens showed a strong performance in the lab. The center is already very good at f/2 increasing to excellent resolution figures at medium aperture settings. The borders are very good throughout the tested aperture range. The resolution peak is reached around f/5.6. All-in-all a very harmonious MTF curve.

Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows line widths per picture height (LW/PH) which can be taken as a measure for sharpness. If you want to know more about the MTF50 figures you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations

Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

Lateral CAs (visible as color shadows at harsh contrast transitions) are no big issue with an average CA pixel width of less than 1.1px at the image border throughout the tested aperture range.

Bokeh (out-of-focus blur)

The EF 35mm f/2 is a fairly "fast" lens so it seems to be an attractive option for shallow depth-of-field situations - on paper. We haven't really done a formal analysis of the bokeh this time but the lens did disappoint in the field especially with respect to out-of-focus highlights - here's a sample image:

Verdict

The Canon EF 35mm f/2 may not be the most sexy lens around but its performance is generally very solid. The resolution is very high and evenly distributed across the image field even at max. aperture. The amount of vignetting leaves something to be desired at f/2 - 1.1 f-stops is too much for a full format lens within the tested APS-C scope. That said it's not an issue anymore from f/2.8 onwards. Lateral CAs aren't something to worry about - the same goes for the moderate level of barrel distortion. The major weakness of the lens cannot be found in the more formal performance characteristics: the bokeh (the quality of the out-of-focus blur). In critical situations it is clearly sub-standard which is disappointing for a large aperture lens. Mechanically the lens is a little outdated by now and Canon should really consider to update the lens with a USM drive and especially a decent focus ring.

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