Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM L II - Review / Test Report
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published December 2015
Eventually all good things must go and this time it has hit the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM L. Released back in late 1998, it has been along for the ride for quite some time. However, lately Canon was starting the feel the heat namely from the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and the Tamron 35mm f/1.8 Di VC so here we go again with a refreshed version ... let's welcome the new Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM L II. Obviously a member of the "Luxury" (L) league, it is primarily targeting professionals. Canon seems to think that money is no issue in this case because the pricing has been lifted to new heights as well. At 1800US$/2000EUR, it is probably beyond a price point where the fun ends for most mortals nowadays.
The most significant new feature in this lens is Canon's new BR or "Blue Spectrum Refractive" element. To cite Canon: "The optical element offers characteristics that significantly refract blue light to achieve what the developer is calling “impressive levels of (axial) chromatic aberration correction”. Canon also applied its new fluorine coating to repel dust and smearing on the front and rear element. The new SWC (sub-wavelength coating) on the rear surfaces of the first two highly curved elements is meant to reduce flare. We'll see whether all this can make a difference ... and justify the price tag.
If you know the old lens, you will noticed that the mk II is quite a bit longer (2cm) and also heavier (180g). This is promising to some degree - bigger tends to be better after all. Whether you appreciate this in your lens bag may be a different story though. Typical for such professional grade lenses it is beautifully crafted based on a metal body and high quality plastics. Canon also claims to have improved the weather sealing compared to the mk I version. The very broad, rubberized focus ring has a smooth action. The size of the lens remains constants regardless of the focus setting. A deep petal-shaped hood is included.
As usual Canon used its Ring-type USM AF in this lens. While it is certainly near-silent, we think that the AF speed is slightly reduced albeit still fast. Full-time manual (FTM) focusing is, of course, always possible in One-Shot AF mode.
|Optical construction||14 elements in 11 groups including 1xBR, 2x aspherical & 1xED elements|
|Number of aperture blades||9 (rounded)|
|min. focus distance||0.28m (max. magnification ratio 1:4.75)|
|Filter size||72mm (non-rotating)|
|Hood||petal-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)|
|Other features||weather sealing, SWC coating, fluorine coating|