Lens review

Canon EF 24 mm f/2.8 IS USM

17 October 2012
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality and image stabilization

Let’s start this chapter by comparing the tested lens to its competitors with very similar parameters. The following chart will make it easier. It sticks out at once that we deal here mainly with old devices. Apart the Zeiss, still present on the market, the other lenses were launched in years 1985-1993. In those times the f/2.8 aperture was rather typical in this class of equipment. Currently Canon has to compete with much faster rivals, though. Let’s see what these rivals have to show near 24 mm focal length and by f/2.0. We won’t include here f/1.4 instruments which we consider a quite separate group. An appropriate chart shows that there are plenty of rivals faster than the Canon.

If you take its quite significant dimensions into account the aperture of the tested lens is hardly impressing. However, handling it you don’t get an impression the producer has overused plastics parts here. In the photo below the Canon 2.8/24 is positioned next to its brother with 28 mm focal length and the classic EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM model.

Canon EF 24 mm f/2.8 IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

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The tested lens starts with a metal mount which is surrounded by a bottom made of plastics on which there are some contacts. A rear element, 18 mm in diameter, moves during focusing. It is situated almost on the same level as the mount when you set the focus at infinity. When you pass to the minimum focus the element hides inside the barrel over 0.5 cm deep. The interior of the lens is revealed then, but it is very well darkened, without any electronic parts visible. It’s worth noticing that when the rear element moves, the front element remains immobile so during focusing the whole optical system of the lens is changing, along with its effective focal length.

Canon EF 24 mm f/2.8 IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

Passing onto the proper casing, covered by black plastics, first you meet an inscription stating the focal length value (24 mm) and, on the left, a red dot which makes the alignment with a camera easier. Right next to it there are switches controlling focusing modes (AF/MF) and to manage the optical stabilization (STABILIZER ON/OFF). Turning the lens further you can find its serial number and a piece of info that it was made in Japan.

Canon EF 24 mm f/2.8 IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

Over the „24 mm” inscription you get a clear distance scale expressed in meters and feet, set behind a window; underneath there is a depth of field scale presented for f/22 and f/11 aperture values.

The next element is a rubberized and ribbed manual focus ring. It is almost 13 mm wide and its work is beyond reproach – the moves are smooth and well-damped. Running through the whole scale needs a turn through 90 degrees.

Immediately behind that ring there is a thin silver stripe and the lens ends right behind it. On the end there is a hood thread (as always with a Canon you won’t get a hood included in the box, it must be bought separately) which is surrounded by a filter thread, 58 mm in diameter. The front element is 42 mm in diameter and around it you can find a part of the lens with its name and basic parameters.

Canon EF 24 mm f/2.8 IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The Canon EF 24 mm f/2.8 IS USM consists of 11 elements positioned in 9 groups. Inside the construction you can also find an aperture with seven diaphragm blades which can be closed down to the value of f/22. The producer also boasts of using Super Spectra coatings which are supposed to ensure high transmission and less ghosting and flare.

Buyers get just the caps in the box. Such frugality is, unfortunately, typical for Canon. It’s a pity because at this price point some producers can add also a hood and a case.

Canon EF 24 mm f/2.8 IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

To sum up this chapter we should emphasize the fact that we like the Canon’s policy in this class of equipment much better than the policy of Nikon. The Canon equipment is still produced in Japan, all the devices look much more solid, holding them you don’t get an impression you deal with plastics of bad quality. They don’t feature any annoying slacks which are simply ubiquitous in Nikkors costing less than 3,000 PLN.

Image stabilization

You can discuss at length the practical usefulness of image stabilization at 24 mm but it won’t change the fact that this lens boasts such stabilization and our duty is to test it in a diligent way. At every exposure time in the range from 1/30 to over 1 second we took several dozen photos with the stabilization switched on and off. Then we determined the percentage of fuzzy photos and we presented it as exposure time function, expressed in EV ( the zero point is an equivalent of 1/25 of a second). The appropriate graph can be found below.

Canon EF 24 mm f/2.8 IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The maximum distance between two measure series reaches 3.5 EV and such is the value of the stabilization – really close to those declared 4 EV. Overall 3.5 EV is a good result, allowing you to speak highly of the tested lens.