Field Report on Canon’s New 11-24mm f/4 Zoom
Ever since I first heard this lens was coming (and that seems like forever ago), I have just dying to get my hands on it. For past year or so I had been relying on my 16-35mm, but then I got a Canon 14mm prime lens and fell in love with it, but the thought of having a zoom that goes all the way out to 11mm, yet not being a fisheye, made it (at least on paper) my dream lens (photo above courtesy of B&H Photo)
We took a family vacation just a couple of weeks ago and I got Canon to loan me one for the trip so I could do a field test, and see if it was all it was cracked up to be. Right before I left on the trip, Brad wanted to borrow it for his concert shoot at Red Rocks with Third Day, so he took it out too, and then Fed Ex’d it to me (Brad’s comments are here, too â” along with some sample images from him down toward the bottom).
I can tell you thisâ¦
It is, hands down, my favorite wide angle zoom ever! Don’t get me wrong, the 14mm is a really sweet lens. Really sweet. But it’s not 11mm. And it doesn’t zoom out to 24mm. And the 11-24mm does 14mm. And 16mm. And everything in between. It’s the dream.
What I loved:
It is sharp as a tack, edge to edge; it focuses fast, and the distortion is absolutely minimal, which on an 11mm is pretty crazy. It’s just an unbelievable lens. I’m crushed I have to send the loaner back, but my next call is to B&H to get on the waiting list.
What you need to know:
It’s a pretty large sized lens; it’s pretty heavy, and it’s fairly expensive (but at least it’s totally worth it on all three counts).
Above: The view from above the clouds at the top of Mount Haleakla, Maui, Hawaii. That’s not a pano. That’s a single frame at 11mm.
So, do we really need to go to 11mm?. Yes! Isn’t that “too wide?” Not at all (see that image above). But to help visually display the difference, and why going crazy wide is so awesome, I took three shots from the exact same shooting position, only changing the Zoom amount so you can see what 24mm looks like, then 16mm, and finally 11mm. It’s quite a difference in how much fits in the same sense (I’m sitting in an outrigger on the beach at Mama’s Fishhouse on Father’s Day).
Above: Here’s the scene at 24mm (zoomed all the way out).
Above: Here’s the same scene at 16mm. You see a lot more palms, and more boat as well.
Above: Now here’s 11mm. Mmmmmmmmm, that’s wide, baby. Super wide! Delicious wide. Look at all the extra palms, extra boat, extra beach, etc.. It’s a whole different world.
Above: Here’s a side by side between the 24mm and 11mm shot from the exact same spot and position (click for a much larger view). All of a sudden, 24mm looks more like 50mm.
OK, I’m turning it over to Brad now (but I’ll be back at the end)
Take it away, Braddo!
Canon has had a good variety of wide angle lenses for a while, but as a HUGE fan of super wide angle zoom lenses, I've had an itch that was almost scratched but not quite. Now with the 11-24mm f/4, that itch has been scratched very well.
As a concert photographer who is usually limited to the photo pit without a lot of room to move back and forth, zoom lenses are a life saver. That's why I was thrilled when Canon announced this new ultra wide angle lens, and even more thrilled to try it out during a couple of recent shoots.
Is there distortion on the edges? Well, sure, a little, but it's incredibly minimal! Check out the completely un-cropped images above, with no lens corrections, shot at 12mm. The guys on the edges would normally be stretched quite a bit more, especially in the first one, but this rectilinear lens handles them really well.
I also love just how close this lens allows me to get to performers who come out to the edge of the stage or come out for some crowd interaction. The musician above looks like he's still a decent distance from where I'm shooting from, right? Here's an iPhone shot from the crowd where you can see me in the lower right hand cornerâ¦
I'm probably a bit closer than you were expecting, right? My only complaint about the ultra-wideness of this lens is that it makes it difficult to keep the other photographers out of my shots!
This thing is a bit of a beast though, coming in at 2.6 pounds (for comparison, another one of Canon's wide-angle zoom lenses is 1.35 pounds), so it can add a little weight to your pack and shoulders. But for the results, it's totally worth it to me.
I didn't see any noticeable chromatic aberration in the images, and I have no complaints on edge to edge sharpness even its widest points.
This thing handles lens flare like a champ. Normally in a shot like the one above, with the sun beaming directly into the lens, you'd be lucky to see much of anything. But here you just get a little bit of flare near the headstock of the guitar.
As with any lens with a rounded front element, you'll want to make sure you keep a lens cloth handy for the occasional accidental finger smudge. The built-in lens hood does help prevent that, plus it's never going to fall off and get lost during a shoot.
So, is this lens worth it for music photographers? If you're a fan of the ultra-wide look, then absolutely!
OK, Scott back again
Many thanks to Brad for sharing this thoughts and pics (and thanks for getting me the lens before I had to head back home). ;-)
Let’s wrap up with some specs (from B&H’s site)
Dimensions: Approx. 4.3 x 5.2″ (109.22 x 132.08 mm)
Weight: 2.6 lb (1.18 kg)
Price (B&H Photo): $2,999
Here’s a link with all the details and stuff.
I super-mega dig this lens, and you’ll be seeing a lot of it this coming football season from me (yes, I know it’s perfect for landscape and architectural photography, but apparently it works awesome for concerts and travel, too and I imagine it will be insane for remote football shots and celebrations after the game, and I can’t wait to share that stuff with you in just about 8 or 9 weeks).
That’s it for our field report. Hope you all have a great Tuesday! :)
-Scott (and Brad!)