LensTip.com

Lens review

Canon EF 35 mm f/2 IS USM

20 February 2013
Szymon Starczewski

3. Build quality and image stabilization

There are a lot of full frame 2/35 class lenses, available on the market. Most of them are old constructions, without optical stabilization. The following chart presents how the tested Canon compares here. The Zeiss is physically the biggest and the heaviest of all. We are not surprised by its weight because it is a completely metal lens but the significant length of the Zeiss, especially when compared to its rivals, is a bit puzzling. The Canon 2/35 IS occupies the second place when it comes to the physical dimensions and weight. It is not anything surprising as well - the presence of the optical stabilization makes the whole optical system more complex; the usage of an USM motor contributes to it too.

The dimensions of the tested Canon can be assessed by looking at the picture below, in which it is positioned near another Canon, the EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM.

Canon EF 35 mm f/2 IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

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The tested lens starts with a metal mount surrounding contacts and a rear part of the casing, made of plastics. Inside that casing there is a hole in which you can find a rear element, 21 mm in diameter. That element changes its position – it is almost on the same level as the mount when the focus is set at infinity and it hides almost one centimeter deep when you pass to the minimum focus distance. The front element remains immobile so you deal here with a system which changes the focal length.

Canon EF 35 mm f/2 IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization


When the rear element is hidden as deep as possible there a slit is formed between its rim and the proper casing of the lens; it is big enough to see some electronic parts through it. It is of course also the first place through which dirt can invade the interior of the whole lens.

Looking from the side of the mount a red dot which makes the alignment with a body easier is the first part on the proper casing. Further on you see the “35 mm” focal length marking and above it there is a clear distance scale behind a window, expressed in feet and meters. Under it you find a depth of field scale with markings for f/22 and f/11 apertures.

Canon EF 35 mm f/2 IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization


On the left side of the scale there are two switches. The first one is used to choose the focusing mechanism working mode (AF/MF) and the second one controls the optical stabilization (STABILIZER ON/OFF). On the right side of the scale you can see inscriptions: „IMAGE STABILIZER” and „ULTRASONIC” which mean this lens features an optical image stabilization system and an ultrasonic autofocus motor. On the opposite side of the scale there is a serial number of the lens and information that it was produced in Japan.

A manual focus ring is the next part of the casing. It is 12 mm wide and covered by rubber ribbing. The ring works as it should, it is well damped and without any slack. Running through the whole scale takes a turn through about 150 degrees. It is a very good value, allowing you to set the focus with a great precision. The Canon here is not worse than other top-of-the-range manual lenses.

Behind the manual focus ring you can find a narrow, silver ring which doesn’t move; it turns into a hood mount.

An immobile front element of the lens is 49 mm in diameter. It is surrounded by an inscription with the name and the parameters of the instrument; around that inscription there is a non-rotating filter thread, 67 mm in diameter.

Canon EF 35 mm f/2 IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The optical construction of the tested lens consists of 10 elements positioned in 8 groups. One element is aspherical. Inside you can also find an aperture with eight blades which can be closed down to the value of f/22.

When it comes to the accessory kit, the Canon company wasn’t especially generous – you get just two caps in the box. It is worth emphasizing, though, that the front cap is already of the new type; still at that price point the company might have added at least a hood and a case.

Canon EF 35 mm f/2 IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

Image stabilization

The Canon company declares that the tested lens is equipped with an optical stabilization system as efficient as 4 EV. Of course we decided to check that claim. For every exposure time ranging from 1/40 to 1 second we took several dozen photos with the stabilization switched on and off. Then we determined the percentage of blurred photos and presented it as an exposure time function graph, expressed in EV (the zero point corresponding to the 1/30 of a second) – it is shown below.

Canon EF 35 mm f/2 IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The maximum distance between both curves is a measure of the stabilization efficiency. In this case it amounts to a bit over 3 EV. It is a good result but you have to admit that the 2.8/24 IS and 2.8/28 IS models, presented not so long ago, had the results by about 0.5 EV better.