Michael Topham headed out to Bodiam Castle in East Sussex to capture our first shots with Canon’s all-new EF 11-24mm f/4L USM wide-angle zoom

Late last week a huge box arrived beside my desk. Would this be the review sample of Canon’s latest wide-angle zoom I’d been longing to get my hands on again since my hands-on first look at Canon’s official launch two weeks ago?

Just as I’d hoped, inside was a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and beside it a pristine box holding the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM. Without any shilly-shallying it was soon coupled to the full-frame DSLR  and I began firing off a few shots to find out how much of the office I could squeeze in the frame.

This turned heads in the AP office and soon had every member of the team wanting to find out what it was like to compose an image using the world’s widest rectilinear zoom lens. An office environment is no place for lens testing however, so a quick look at the weather forecast suggested next week would be the best time to get out and test it to find out how it performs in the landscape.

My chosen location for testing the EF 11-24mm f/4L USM was Bodiam Castle in East Sussex – a National Trust property where a wide-angle zoom is one of the best lenses for capturing the long drawbridge that leads out across the mote.

Early impressions reveal the lens is incredibly fast at locking focus, which it does so quietly with little fuss. The zoom and focus rings are quick to find from behind the camera and both offer just the right level of rotational resistance.

Rattling out frames through the aperture range revealed some signs of vignetting on the camera’s LCD at the corners from f/4 to around f/6.3, but we’ll have to study our images more closely before we can reveal our final judgement on image quality.

The build quality of the lens is nothing short of sublime. It’s a weighty beast at 1180g, which did make the camera and lens combination feel rather front-heavy when used handheld, but for the majority of shots where the shutter speeds dropped below 1/100sec, a tripod was used.

Having used only used the lens for a couple of hours, I’m yet to inspect the image quality closely – something you can look forward to in our full review where we’ll also divulge our lab results in great detail.

As for the initial performance out in the field, the EF 11-24mm f/4L USM is certainly living up to my expectations of being one of the finest wide-angle zooms Canon has ever created but, regrettably, at £2799 it’s going to remain out of reach of my budget for quite some time.

  • Trefor Patten

    Moat not mote. Mote is a speck.

  • sintricate

    I think I can live with f/4 seeing as how I’d probably use this for landscapes and they’re rarely shot wide open. That price though… whew!

  • David Purton

    Yes….my mistake! 14-24 for ff so not as wide for sure, but still one useful stop faster and much cheaper! I would expect the usual amateurish Canon owner backlash comments!! Sad, but hey, to be expected!!! Being pro 30 years I find this aspect all a bit sad…..thought they might have grown out of it!! Will be interesting to see the vignetting figures…11mm on ff is an achievement for sure. Of course you may always be able to stand further back! I am guessing flare could be an issue and a lens hood fairly ineffectual…

  • Michael Topham

    I’m guessing you’re referring to the NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED here David? Yes, it is slower, but from what I’ve seen of my test images so far I’m mightily impressed by its sharpness. Vignetting, as to be expected, is most severe at 11mm, but is not an issue when the lens is stopped down to f/6.3 or f/8. Wait for the review for a more detailed analysis.

  • Well.. like u Nikon guys without choice of 135mm f2, 85 f1.2, DO lenses, and bunch of other good stuff..
    and there’s no Nikon 12-24 f2.8 anyway..

  • David Purton

    So its 1mm wider than the Nikon 12/24 f2.8 and 1 stop slower. Wih vignetting an issue with all ff wide angles, this is important. It is also around double the price….just don’t see it. Of course if you are Canon you don’t have a choice!