Saturday, May 2, 2015

Canon EF 11-24 F4L USM

This is not a technical review of this lens.
Its wide (very, very wide), sharp, contrasty and perfectly rectilinear.
That's about all I have to say about that.
And now that that's been said, let me tell you what I think of this four thousand dollar (Canadian, eh) lens.

Here is the grand total of my feelings, summarized in two sentences: I am enamored by this lens. I really enjoy how it challenges and excites me.

A bit of background
At the beginning of 2013 I sold both my 16-35 and my 24-105 to help fund the purchase of the new 24-70.
At the same time, I purchased my first full frame digital camera, the 1Dx.
So, not only have I been without a wide lens since then, I have never experienced just how truly wide a lens could be.
Well, that was the case until March 20th of this year when, on a whim, I wandered into a local retailer and they happened to have the 11-24 on the shelf in the store.
And I picked it up.

A bit on 11mm
Here's the thing about 11mm on the Canon 1Dx that I'm loving.
When I travel or wander and take pictures of landmarks, I know that I'm not the first one that's been there.
I'm not the first person to take a photo of the subject.
When I browse Flickr, I see virtually identical photos of many landmarks.
Like the Eiffel Tower.
Its truly damn hard to get a unique picture of the Eiffel Tower.
BUT, break out the EF 11-24 F4L on the full frame camera.
That 126 degree view.
The perspective distortion.
The vignetting.
The flare.
New and unique pictures are no longer a fleeting dream.
And that excites me.

Take Orpheus here for example.
He's been hanging out at this spot on this hill for over 40 years.
But I doubt anyone's taken THIS photo of him before.
I've managed to snap pictures of the CN Tower, Baltimore harbour, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the National World War II Memorial, the US Capital Building, Nathan Phillips Square and even the Toronto Irish Famine Memorial.

And it wouldn't surprise me if these were all unique as well.
And I think that's awesome.

All about the base
Its crazy how aim can affect an image with this lens.
Take a look at ol' Orpheus again.

This is a good representation of actual proportions.
But if I shift the aim to the right a little...

Or, if I tilt up a bit...

Three totally different images, all from the same scene and same camera/lens set-up.
Creatively, this is bonkers.

But, if there's one thing that this lens has taught me, its that I can't hold my camera straight.
Never have I experienced a lens that draws so much attention to the slightest shift in aim.
At 11mm, the horizon is long. Very long. And if off by a degree or two, a very noticeable slant is apparent.

And then there's the leaning buildings.
Tilt slightly up and the towers lean in dramatically.

Tilt slightly down and they lean out lazily.

But perspective distortion is not a flaw, where as my handling of it may be.

Speaking of distortion, I love grills.

I've been taking pics of interesting grills for as long as I can remember.
And the wider, more distorted the image, the more I love them.

So, that's another reason this lens is heavenly in my eyes.

Filling the frame

Pictures at 11mm are more appealing, at least to this humble scribe, when there is a definitive subject in both the foreground and background.

The angle of view covers so much space that if its not filled to a certain degree, both near and far, the image's excitement can fade.

So finding the subject, or should I say, an ideal angle now involves observing so many more details of the scene.
More complicated, more challenging, more fun!

So to conclude, let me say that I love this lens.
Its well worth the price for not only professional applications, but also for amateur play.

As my farewell anecdote, I will answer the question that is on everyone's mind...
...yes, yes it takes great BIF images at 11mm

Note: all images in this review were taken at 11mm on a Canon 1Dx.