Lens review

Canon EF 35 mm f/1.4L II USM

17 February 2016
Arkadiusz Olech

11. Summary

  • very good build quality,
  • sensational image quality in the frame centre,
  • very good image quality on the edge of the APS-C sensor,
  • good image quality on the edge of full frame,
  • lack of spherical aberration problems,
  • negligible chromatic aberration,
  • imperceptible coma, corrected the best in this class of equipment,
  • low coma level,
  • lack of problems with astigmatism,
  • silent, accurate and efficient autofocus.


  • significant vignetting,
  • performance against bright light could have been better.

I do not hesitate to call the Canon EF 35 mm f/1.4L II USM an outstanding lens. When in 2010 Nikon launched its not especially good Nikkor AF-S 35 mm f/1.4G they didn’t know that their rival, Sigma, is preparing a new Art line, including such a hit as the 1.4/35 model. Canon, on the other hand, were completely aware what their new product would have to face. They also most likely knew that Tamron was launching new fixed focal length lenses of high quality as well. They simply couldn’t afford to launch a weak device or even a mediocre one. Accordingly, the Canon EF 35 mm f/1.4L II USM is one of the sharpest lenses we’ve dealt with so far, faring better than its strongest rivals in most of testing categories. If only it managed to avoid the slip-up with flares it would be a perfect instrument.

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It’s price, amounting to 8,000 PLN, is quite another matter. I didn’t include it in the cons section because I didn’t do such a thing in case of even more expensive Otus lenses. Devices which are trendsetters and are able to break resolution records shouldn’t be criticized for their prices. It is a rule in optics (and in other areas as well) that, up from some very high level, any improvement, even by just several percent, is very expensive indeed.

Still, privately, I cannot help thinking that the price of the new Canon could have been a tad lower. If a very solid Zeiss Distagon 35 mm f/1.4 T* can cost less than 6,000 PLN and the Sigma A 35 mm f/1.4 DG HSM, a device optically brilliant, can cost 3200 PLN it is really difficult to believe the Cannon might not be a bit cheaper and still providing the company with a healthy profit.

However you don’t judge the winners. The best quality and the highest level of reliability always are very expensive and so far in the 1.4/35 class I haven’t seen a lens better than the new Cannon.