Review of the Canon Super Wide Angle EF 14mm f/2.8L (incomplete)

by planetmitchLeave a Comment

Several weeks ago, I rented the Canon Super Wide Angle EF 14mm f/2.8L, from the good folks at LensProToGo and I had a great time learning about it and shooting really wide angle photos and video. As you'll read below, I've labeled this as “incomplete” because I had a lens that wasn't performing up to par.

My experience taught me much – including what it is like to have a lens that is out of spec. It turns out that in this rare case, the lens I was using was somehow out of alignment (likely due to some gorilla throwing the box around during shipping), and tho I took some amazing photos, it really could have been even better! As you'll see in the video report and from the stills below, the focus on the particular lens I had was a bit off and LensProToGo discovered this after I returned it (which is some great customer support that I didn't know I'd get).

Anyway, please watch the report realizing I had an inferior copy and when I get a second chance (tho I won't be going back to these amazing locations again any time soon), I'll share my updated experience with you.


Canon Super Wide Angle EF 14mm f/2.8L Review – video version

Canon Super Wide Angle EF 14mm f/2.8L audio version

[powerpress]

Canon 14mm summary

As you saw (or heard) in the report above, the 14mm is a ‘super wide angle' and it truly means that. If you spend the approximately $2100 to purchase this lens, or if you rent it from someone like LensProToGo, you'll find that it may take some adjusting from your normal shooting style. Most of us are just not used to such a really wide angle view. It's also really nice and certain landscape kinds of shots where you have both foreground and distant elements as well as a pretty sky to go with them.

It is probably also likely a good lens for indoor real estate shots, although I didn't have a chance to really try that out, though some people may not like the angles that you make get with some of the items around the edges of the view. With this wide angle, where you point the lens determines what kind of lines you get in your view.

Look at the two trees toward the center, nearly vertical

Look at the two trees toward the center, nearly vertical

The same shot, slightly different orientation and look at the two trees now

The same shot, slightly different orientation and look at the two trees now

The version issues I had

The first thing I should've noticed when I got the lens was that it wasn't quite as sharp as everybody was raving about. I probably should've called LensProToGo and talked to them about it while I was out on the road and they may have sent me a different lens. I could see that it wasn't quite performing the way I expected, but since I'd never used one before I was unsure. I should have just called! Because once I sent the lens back and they analyzed it (as they usually do when a lens is returned), to make sure I didn't break it so the next rental will go well, they discovered it wasn't up to spec. To show me the difference, they sent me one shot of the lens I received and one that was from a better copy:

The copy of the 14mm that I rented - which was obviously fuzzy around the edges (click to see larger)

The copy of the 14mm that I rented – which was obviously fuzzy around the edges (click to see larger)

Another better copy of the Canon 14mm L - much better! (click for larger)

Another better copy of the Canon 14mm L – much better! (click for larger)

Quite a difference I'd say!

As I said in the video, during the trip I need decided to shoot several shots on a tripod with different apertures to see how the lens performed. I could tell that shooting wide-open was fuzzy around the edges so I wanted to see how it was at F-22. And I did discover that shooting anywhere above saying after 10, I could get some pretty decent shots without much distortion around the edges and so I was pretty happy going on with shooting during the trip. Even many of the shots that I made the first couple of days at f2.8 to f8, turned out pretty well and looking at small images (printed) or on something like the iPad, they look quite nice.

In Sequoia, I took this shot at f7.1 and you can see at the bottom, it is a bit fuzzy (click for larger)

In Sequoia, I took this shot at f7.1 and you can see at the bottom, it is a bit fuzzy (click for larger)

My Summary

I really can't wait to get my hands on a ‘better' copy of this lens. I really enjoyed challenging myself with shooting with a much wider lens than I'm used to. Even though I have the 24 – 105, and I often shoot at 24, shooting at 14mm is really quite different than anything I've ever done before.

The curvature of the front element obviously prevented me from using any kind of screw-on filter, and I don't own a matte box, so I was unable to add anything like a neutral density filter. But I didn't need to seeing as how i was shooting everything at higher apertures like f20 and 22. Pretty much everything was going to be in focus. I wasn't really out to shoot anything “cinematically” so I was okay doing what I was doing. I could shoot both still and video and be satisfied with what I was getting.

I can see why many people who use wide angle lenses like this use really small apertures so that everything is in focus anyway. I've seen many skating videos for example, where they're shooting in a high f-stop to make everything be in focus and not have to worry about it.

I'm looking forward to testing another copy that's for sure!

Pros and Cons!

Pros:

  • Super wide angle
  • Not too big or too heavy
  • copy I had wasn't properly focusing but I still got good results

Cons:

  • Can't use screw on filters
  • sometimes too wide angle (but that's not the len's fault)

As I said, we'll update this review soon with a better copy of the Canon Super Wide Angle EF 14mm f/2.8L.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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