Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM L - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published March 2006

Special thanks to Oliver Francke for providing the lens!


Released back in late 1998 the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM L is one of many ultra fast fix focals in the Canon lens lineup. It's one of the more frequently discussed speciality lenses in the community and often compared to its closely related cousin - the EF 24mm f/1.4 USM L. Both belong to the professional L (Luxury) grade league within the system. Regarding its release date it is obviously a full frame lens but as usual we'll have a look how it performs on an APS-C DSLRs (EOS 350D/Digital RebelXT) where its field-of-view is equivalent to a classic ~56mm lens so it can be considered as a standard lens here.

The optical construction is made of 11 (lead-free) elements in 9 groups with one ground aspherical element. In order to achieve a max. aperture of f/1.4 Canon had to use big glass elements (see below) so the lens is rather fat at 86x72mm and comparatively heavy (580g).


The minimum focus distance is 0.3m resulting in a max. object magnification of ~1:5.5. Typical for many high performance wide angles the lens features a floating system to achieve a constantly high image quality throughout the focusing range. The aperture mechanism has 8 aperture blades. The filter size is 72mm. A petal-type hood is included.


As to be expected from a member of the professional grade Canon L league the lens is beautifully crafted with a metal body and high quality plastics. The very broad, rubberized focus ring has a smooth and well damped action. The front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem. The focusing speed is very fast and thanks to USM the AF noise level is near silent. Typical for ring-type USM AF drives full-time manual (FTM) focusing is possible in one-shot AF mode.

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