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Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews this ultra-wide angle 14mm f/2.8L II USM lens for Canon full-frame cameras.

| Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM in Interchangeable Lenses
Handling and Features

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens Review: Canon Ef 14mm F28 L II Usm (3)

An ultra-wide angle lens, which sports a fast maximum aperture of f/2.8 and silent focusing with full-time manual focus override. This lens certainly isn't inexpensive, being available for around £1850. In this review we'll take a look at how it performs and whether the premium price is justified.

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Handling and Features

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens Review: Canon Ef 14mm F28 L II Usm (7)

Build and design is typical of Canon's L series lenses, with tough black plastics and metal used throughout. The lens is weather sealed and designed to cope with the rigours of daily professional use. Despite the rugged build, this lens isn't very heavy, weighing only 645g. As a result the lens balances well on the Canon EOS 5D MKIII used for testing even without a battery grip attached.

Auto focus is powered by an Ultrasonic motor, and focusing is very fast as a result. Manual adjustments can be made at any point by turning the focus ring. The focusing ring is smooth and well damped, which makes applying fine manual adjustments a pleasure. Minimum focus is 20cm from the sensor plane, which is great for shooting in claustrophobic environments, or for exploiting the distorted perspective wide angle lenses produce from close up.

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens Review: Canon Ef 14mm F28 L II Usm (9)

Focusing is performed internally, but as there is no filter thread, there is no easy way of mounting graduated or polarising filters on the lens. The bulbous front element is protected by a permanent petal shaped hood. A holder for gel filters is provided on the rear of the lens.

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens Review: Canon Ef 14mm F28 L II Usm (4)

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Performance

Sharpness is already excellent in the centre of the frame at maximum aperture, although the performance of this lens towards the edges of the frame lets it down, only achieving fairly good clarity. Stopping down improves performance towards the edges of the frame, although it never reaches excellent levels of sharpness, peaking at very good levels between f/4 and f/11. Sharpness in the centre of the frame remains high, peaking at outstanding levels at f/4.

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens Review: MTF @ 14mm
MTF @ 14mm

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 Mark III using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are reasonably controlled, just exceeding three quarters of a pixel width at f/2.8, f/4 and f/22. Still, this low level should cause few issues, even in large prints and harsh crops from the edges of the frame.

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens Review: CA @ 14mm
CA @ 14mm

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 Mark III using Imatest.

As is typical with lenses of this focal length, falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is quite pronounced at 14mm. Here the corners of the frame are 2.65 stops darker than the image centre and illumination isn't visually uniform until the lens is stopped down to f/8.

Distortion is well controlled for a lens of this focal length. Imatest detected 3.7% barrel distortion which will certainly be noticeable, but as the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, it should be relatively simple to correct in image editing software afterwards.

Due to the extreme wide angle view of this lens, the permanent hood does little to shade the lens from extraneous light that may cause flare. Even so this lens performs pretty well for this type of lens, retaining good contrast, even when shooting into the light.

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Sample Photos

Value For Money

This lens currently costs around £1850 and is also the widest lens Canon make for their full frame EOS cameras. If you can live without such a wide angle, the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens may be better value, being priced at around £1220.

If you have the desire to go even wider, and don't require the f/2.8 maximum aperture, Sigma currently produce a 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens, which costs around £590, which is much better value for money.

Nikon users have the excellent 14-24mm f/2.8G lens as an option for the 14mm focal length. The price of £1300 for the Nikon lens certainly puts the price of the Canon optic into perspective, especially as it adds the flexibility of a zoom.

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Verdict

Overall, this lens performs pretty well, and is capable of producing excellent sharpness in the centre of the frame, and very good sharpness towards the edges. Unfortunately it is very expensive, especially for an ultra-wide angle prime lens that may see limited use. Unless you have the need to be shooting at 14mm a lot, then Canon's 16-35mm zoom may be a better value choice.


Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Pros

Great build quality
Excellent sharpness in the centre
Relatively lightweight

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Cons

Expensive, especially when compared to alternatives
Sharpness towards the edges of the frame could be better


Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Canon EF USM
Focal Length14mm
Angle of View0° - 114°
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter SizeNo Data
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus20cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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ianrobinson Avatar
ianrobinson 13 1.2k 8 United Kingdom
12 Nov 2013 5:08PM
Very expensive for what it is IMHO.
josa Avatar
josa 11 25 Czech Republic
12 Nov 2013 7:36PM
Just check this lens...

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