Canon has made a bold statement with its latest L-series lens, but is the world’s widest-angle rectilinear zoom lens all it’s made out to be? Michael Topham puts the f/4L USM to the test

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Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM


Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM review


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Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Review – Hands-on First Look

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM at a glance:

•    16 Elements in 11 Groups
•    9 Diaphragm blades
•    28cm minimum focus distance
•    Dimensions: 108x132mm
•    Weight 1180g
•    £2799

On the same day that Canon took wraps off the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R, the all-new EF 11-24mm f/4L USM has been unveiled – the world’s widest-angle rectilinear zoom lens. This super-wide focal range lens is exciting news for Canon full-frame users, especially those who regularly shoot landscape or architectural subjects, who have been calling out for a lens of this type for years and one that’s on par, if not better than, the highly respected Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED.

The first thing that strikes you about the lens is the big, bulbous front element

The first thing that strikes you about the lens is the big, bulbous front element

With an arrangement of 16 elements in 11 groups, the construction of the lens features no fewer than four aspherical lenses, one of which being the ground aspherical type to maximise image quality and ensure it delivers minimal levels of distortion.

The renowned red ring around the fixed petal hood is the giveaway that the falls into Canon’s camp of L-series lenses and as such features the manufacturers Ultrasonic Motor (USM) technology to keep focusing precise, virtually noiseless and incredibly quick. The EF 11-24mm f/4L USM is also the first lens in Canon’s EF lineup to feature two sub wavelength coatings (SWC). Set to its widest focal length, the lens has a minimum focusing distance of 32cm at 11mm, which shortens to 28cm when the zoom is set to 24mm.

With such a large and bulbous front element, the EF 11-24mm f/4L USM relies on its fixed petal-shaped hood and push fit lens cover to protect it when not in use. Screw-in filters are not compatible with the lens however and there’s no suitable filter holder available at present. That said, Canon openly disclosed that they’re currently in talks with Lee Filters to produce a similar filter holder kit to that produced for Nikon’s AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED – a lens that’s similar in the way it has a bulbous front element.

Other interesting points to note are its weight, which at 1180g makes it a heavy lens to handle. The zoom ring has been designed to operate across its range in just under a quarter of a turn, while the body is extremely rugged and features dust and water resistance to make sure it’s suitable for use in the most demanding environments and situations.

First Impressions

We were able to put the lens through its paces

We were able to put the lens through its paces

Whilst at the launch of the EOS 5DS and 5DS R, we were fortunate enough to lay hands on one of the first samples of the EF 11-24mm f/4L USM to get a better impression of its handling and build quality.

What strikes you first about the lens is just how immense it is and how much glass has gone into the construction of the front element. It feels every bit as heavy as you’d expect and rather front heavy too – the use of a battery grip with the EOS 5DS to which it was mounted would have certainly improved the handling of this combination. Both the zoom ring and manual focus ring are of similar size and operate with a pleasingly fluid motion, with neither being stiffer than the other on the sample we handled. The AF/MF switch proved easy enough to find from behind the camera and as to be expected from a Canon L-Series lens with an extortionate £2799 price tag, the build quality is sublime.

While the high price is likely to put the EF 11-24mm f/4L USM out of reach for many enthusiast and semi-pro photographer’s, it’s likely to be a lens that’s very much in demand from Canon professionals and those who’d prefer to pay a fraction of the price to hire the lens on a one-off basis. With lens being available from March, we’re looking forward to getting hold of the lens in the next few weeks for optical testing and review, so be sure to watch this space.


Filter diameter:N/A
Lens elements:16
Diaphragm blades:9
Minimum focus:28cm at 24mm
Lens mount:Canon EF
  1. 1. Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM - Introduction
  2. 2. Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM - Build and handling
  3. 3. Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM - Image quality
  4. 4. Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM - Our verdict
  5. 5. Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Review – Hands-on First Look
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