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Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the ultra-wide angle Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens for full-frame cameras.

|  Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and Features

Canon EF 11 24mm L Lens (1)

This new ultra-wide angle zoom lens is currently the widest rectilinear lens available for full frame SLR cameras. It sports a reasonable f/4 aperture throughout the zoom range, silent Ultrasonic focusing, with full time manual override and a weather resistant build. Owing to it holding the current title of being the widest lens available, it costs a pretty penny, commanding a price of £2800. In this review, we'll take a look at how it performs, and whether it's worth the money.

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Handling and Features

Canon EF 11 24mm L Lens (4)

At first glance, this lens looks exactly like it is the bigger brother of Canon's older 14mm f/2.8 lens. Design and build of this lens is what you'd expect of Canon's L series, with tough black finished metal and plastics used throughout its construction. There's a lot of glass in the design of this lens, which adds to the weight, which is still well over a kilogram, despite it sporting a reasonably modest f/4 maximum aperture. The lens balances well enough with the Canon EOS 5D Mk III camera body used for testing, but it may be too large and heavy to use with some of Canon's more compact camera bodies.

Canon EF 11 24mm L Lens (9)

An Ultrasonic motor powers autofocus, which allows manual focus adjustments to be made at any time, and AF speeds are very fast as a result. Manual focus adjustments are a pleasure to apply, thanks to the smooth, precise and well damped focus ring. A distance scale is located on top of the lens behind a small window, which will be especially useful for setting the hyperfocal distance with a calculator, as there is no hyperfocal scale marked on the lens. Closest focus is 28cm which is great for the occasional wide-angle close up image, or for shooting in claustrophobic environments. Estate agents in London will love this feature.

Focusing and zoom are performed internally, although due to the wide angle nature of the lens, and bulbous front element, with integrated hood, you'll not be fitting filters to this lens easily. 

Canon EF 11 24mm L Lens (7)

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Performance

Between 11mm and 16mm, sharpness is already outstanding in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture, with performance towards the edges of the frame being very good. At 11mm, stopping down results in little improvement in clarity towards the edges of the frame, but at 16mm, excellent performance is realised with the aperture stopped down to f/8.

At 24mm, sharpness remains outstanding in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture, and excellent towards the edges of the frame. Stopping down to f/5.6 results in outstanding sharpness across the frame.

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D MK III using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are well controlled for a lens this wide, just approaching a pixel width at f/4 and 11mm. This low level should cause few issues, even in large prints and harsh crops from the edges of the frame.

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D MK III using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is reasonably well controlled for a lens covering such a wide angle of view, with the corners being 2.84 stops darker than the image centre at 11mm and 1.3 stops darker than the centre at 24mm. Visually uniform illumination is achieved with the lens stopped down to f/8 throughout the zoom range.

Distortion is reasonable for a lens of this type. At 11mm 6.9% barrel distortion is present, which is replaced by a negligible amount of barrel distortion at 24mm. The distortion pattern has a very slight wave, being present in straight lines parallel to the edge of the frame. This may make applying corrections in image editing software afterwards more tricky, unless the software you use has a preset distortion profile to use.

This lens is very resistant to flare and contrast is excellent, even when shooting into the light.

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Sample Photos

Value For Money

It's difficult to talk about value for money with a lens like this. At the time of writing, it's unique. The price of £2800 will be beyond the reach of may photographers, so I suppose it boils down to whether the 11mm focal length is worth it for you.

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Verdict

Those simply looking for a high quality wide angle lens, may be looking a this optic with great interest, and the high levels of sharpness, reasonable distortion and good control of CA may have these people tempted. The price of £2800 puts this lens into a category of it's own. If you really don't need the 11mm focal length, your needs may be better served by Canon's 16-35mm f/4 optic.

Those who do need such a wide lens will not be disappointed by the performance of this lens. Inner-city estate agents will be able to make those hard-to sell bedsits look like a warehouse with this lens, landscape photographers may also appreciate the extreme perspective that can be created with this lens too.

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Pros

Outstanding optical performance
Unique 11mm focal length
Excellent build quality
Reasonably low distortion
Fast autofocus
Dust and moisture resistance

Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Cons

Slight wave to distortion pattern
Large and heavy due to optical design


The Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM delivers outstanding optical performance with excellent build quality.


Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Canon EF
Focal Length11mm - 24mm
Angle of ViewNo Data
Max Aperturef/4
Min Aperturef/22
Filter SizeNo Data
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min FocusNo Data
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens cap 11-24, Built-in lens hood, LP1424 case, Rear cap

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NeilSchofield Plus
15 1.7k 1 United Kingdom
19 Mar 2015 10:30AM
Under performance at 24 mm shouldn't it read stopping down to f5.6 and not f4

I think I will stick with my 16-35 f4, 11mm is seriously wide

I suppose there will be a few nikon 14-24mm on the second hand market soon, together no doubt with the nikon to canon lens adapters
Ross_D 8 841 1 United Kingdom
19 Mar 2015 7:27PM
At 2800 I'll give it a miss.
19 Mar 2015 8:50PM
Lovely lens for Canon users,but the price is ridiculous.
Niknut Plus
12 3.3k 82 United Kingdom
20 Mar 2015 3:42PM
1180grms & 2800 ????????......strewth !!!!......dream on !!.Grin

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