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The evolution of excellence: Meet Canon EF 35 mm f/1.4 L II USM, the successor of 35mm f/1.4 L line

Good lenses, apart from being bulky/delicate/shit expensive, are like the window/eyes to a photographer’s vision. After endless trial and errors and a commitment of five years to professional photography, I have my arsenal of trusted lenses that I cherish and safeguard with my life. So when Canon sent me their much-anticipated, highly-debated successor to the 35mm f/1.4 L line up, I was on the fence. Can perfection be improved, after all?

Appearance | The First Look

With a bigger body and a robust build, this is a lens that has the curves that feel all the better while holding it. The grip is stable, focus ring much easier to use, and the new feature weather sealing is like the icing on the cake. The glass is definitely bigger and comes equipped with dust-proof and anti-drip features.

It also comes with a new hood style where you can simply use a button instead of lining it up. This is a great feature to streamline as well as speed up your workflow.

Here are some feature highlights at a first glance:

  1. 760 gms of weight (as compared to 580 gms of the predecessor)

  2. Filter size: 2.8 in./72 mm in diameter

  3. Lens construction: 14 elements (in 11 groups)

  4. Diagonal angle of view: 63°

  5. Focus adjustment: AF with full-time manual

  6. Closest Focusing Distance: 0.92 ft./0.28 m

Interaction | The image quality

In simple words, this lens ‘nails’ every shot. The sharpness of the images with minimum-to-non-existent colour fringing gives you stunning results, even in low-light situations. In the time that I had it, I played around with it quite a bit from experimental outdoor shots to a high-demanding professional shoot. And while I have my own favourites, this is the one I ended up using the most. The versatility and the focus accuracy that you get with this lens is simply breathtaking. Consider me hooked!

In terms of comparison, I’ve seen a few lenses which compete with this one in terms of amazing sharpness and contrast, but most of them falter when it comes to poorly lit locations, and this is where  35 mm f/1.4 L II takes over. Like a Boss.

You get exactly what you wanted in your shot, no fumbling with the focus, best pop of colours you can get next to the reality itself (heck, sometimes even better) and a clarity in wide open category that’s a little unbelievable at first. The closest comparison I can think of with this one in terms of performance would be 135L or 180L macro.


Verdict | Worth the investment?

It’s a delight for any professional photographer who’s looking for versatility, high performance and crazy sharpness/contrast in wide open frames. If you’re a street, travel or lifestyle photographer, this is something you absolutely cannot miss in your kit. The pop of colours and the range of width you can get for landscapes with this one even outdoes a 50L, and that’s saying a lot.

If you’re a wedding photographer, however, I cannot begin to tell you how easy it will make your life. It opens up a world of possibilities for you. No more frequent ‘zoom in’ required (that actually saves quite a bit of time to experiment with creative shots), the aperture really plays a saviour in low-light situations and the light-weight that just gives another excuse to use it more than other lenses.

While the lens launched in india with a hefty price tag of Rs. 1,50,000, it is currently available with decent discount and can be grabbed for Rs. 1,29,000 at Future Forward. Grab it while you can!

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