Lens review

Canon EF 35 mm f/1.4L USM

29 May 2009
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

All those, used to 1.4/50, primes can be surprised by the dimensions of the Canon 1.4/35. We can’t forget about two things, though, Firstly, none of the 1.4/50 instruments belongs to the L class so is dust and moisture resistant and made from magnesium composites. Secondly, a 50 mm lens on an analog gives us barely 47 degrees field of vision and the 35 mm lens – over 16 degrees more. It implies, though, that the front element must be significantly bigger. As a result, the Canon 1.4/35 is a lens of considerable dimensions, what can be seen in the picture below, where it sits near the Canon 1.8/50 and the Sigma 17-70mm.

Canon EF 35 mm f/1.4L USM - Build quality

The lens body build quality is difficult to fault. It is solid, dust and moisture resistant, made from magnesium composites, and during focusing, all the elements move only inside the lens, not changing the instrument’s size. From one side we see a solid metal bayonet, from the other a filter thread 72 mm in diameter which does not rotate. In the middle we’ll find a very comfortable manual focus ring, which allows a perfect movement precision with the distance scale window below.

Canon EF 35 mm f/1.4L USM - Build quality

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Everything would be just perfect if not for a scrupulous inspection of the lens elements, which is always made before more serious tests. When we looked at the element from the bayonet side we saw something very disturbing. On one of the outer surfaces there was a defect, which looked as if the glass was chipped; what’s more it was situated right in the middle of the lens. You can check it yourself in the picture below as it is perfectly visible.

Canon EF 35 mm f/1.4L USM - Build quality

It is very unlikely that a similar hole was the result of a rough treatment during the transportation, especially that the defective element doesn’t touch anything else from the side of the defect itself, so there’s nothing that could possibly do the damage. Much more probable is another scenario – such a trash has passed the manufacturer’s quality control in the factory and has been sent for sale. It’s really a shame, taking into account the fact, that we deal here with one of the most expensive short focal length lenses Canon has had in its offer, coming from the renowned Luxury series.

The inner construction, apart from the hole in an element, consists of 11 elements in 9 groups. One element is aspherical; the aperture has 8 diaphragm blades and can be closed to f/22.

Canon EF 35 mm f/1.4L USM - Build quality

The L- series buyer gets two caps, a soft case and a petal-type lens hood in the set.