No, the Canon RF 14-35mm f / 4L IS USM is not a budget version of the Trinity lens. Yes, this model is a bit cheaper than the f / 2.8 optics, but it represents a whole different experience.
At these ultra-wide focal lengths, a single millimeter can make a big difference in the field of view – so much so that choosing the Canon RF 14-35mm f / 4L IS USM over the Canon RF 15-35mm f / 2.8 IS USM can be the difference between getting a shot and missing it.
For this reason, there are enough differences between the lenses that photographers are likely to choose based on their technical requirements, not just financial.
While trinity lenses (including the Canon RF 24-70mm f / 2.8L IS USM and the Canon RF 70-200mm f / 2.8L IS USM) are getting a lot of attention, Canon’s f / 4 brothers are options. exceptional. They’re significantly smaller than the f / 2.8 range, which makes them perfect for travel, with the acceptable price being a welcome bonus.
So how good is one of Canon’s latest additions to its ever-expanding EOS R system, and does it have what it takes to rank among the best Canon RF lenses?
Canon RF 14-35mm f / 4L IS USM: Specifications
Rise: Canon RF
Stabilization: 5.5 sets (up to 7 sets with stabilized body)
Elements / construction: 16 elements in 12 groups
Viewing angle: 114 ° – 63 °
Maximum opening: f / 4
Minimum opening: f / 22
Minimum focus distance: 0.20 m
Filter size: 77mm
Length: 99.8 mm
Diameter: 84.1 mm
Canon RF 14-35mm f / 4L IS USM: construction and handling
Today’s pro mirrorless lenses are a bit of a contradiction. In many ways, they’re the pinnacle of high-end optical design, often surpassing their DLSR counterparts, but one area where manufacturers seem undecided is the experience of build and handling. High-flying lenses had a really solid feel, being made largely of metal and almost always focused and zoomed in-house.
However, with Canon’s L-series RF glass (and Nikon’s S-brand pro Z mount models), the focus has been much more on weight reduction. While it certainly looks appealing in some ways, it has meant going without all-metal construction and replacing it with high-impact plastic. This doesn’t necessarily affect the structural performance of the lenses, but takes away some of that confidence that your expensive lens is built like a reservoir.
The Canon RF 14-35mm f / 4L suffers from this as well, but we can’t really fault that as it is the trend for almost all new mirrorless lenses. In addition, this model has a clear advantage: being an f / 4 lens, rather than f / 2.8, the weight gain is even more pronounced. It’s relatively light as a feather!
When you consider the focal length, stabilization, and all the other features built into the lens, it’s really impressive that Canon was able to keep the weight and dimensions to this degree. The lens is great for travel – armed with this and a superzoom, like the brilliant Canon RF 24-240mm f / 4-6.3 IS USM, you can shoot almost anything with a nearly empty bag.
The lens extends when zoomed in (the barrel is at its shortest length around the 22mm mark), but it’s minimal and the zoom control is smooth. It is also perfectly balanced on the Canon EOS R and Canon EOS R5. And like all L-series lenses, this one is of course weatherproof.
Canon RF 14-35mm f / 4L IS USM: performance
This is an L-series lens, featuring the coveted red ring around the barrel, so users will expect great things from the internals. Fortunately, you won’t be disappointed. The optics are beautifully sharp at virtually all aperture settings. Interestingly, we noticed hardly any real difference between f / 4 and f / 8, with only a slight drop in resolution as the iris is closed at f / 16 and above, thanks to diffraction. As always, for this reason, we would avoid the smallest openings unless necessary.
Contrast is high, but in the realistic style you would expect from a high-end lens. Colors are unaffected and images remain natural in their appearance, and performance is also maintained well towards the edges. Zooming in on the corners reveals a slight stretch, associated with the wide field of view, and there’s a noticeable smoothness from the center, but you have to look down to the pixel to really see it. In terms of details, the RF 14-35mm f / 4L is more than a match for the latest generation of R-series ultra-high resolution cameras.
When it comes to geometric attributes, as with almost all high-end mirrorless lenses these days, things get a bit tricky. Without automatic lens corrections enabled, there is excessive edge vignetting, as is barrel distortion. Once the corrections are applied, however, it all goes away and you end up with a balanced, evenly lit frame. Obviously, the 14-35mm follows the trend of relying on digital correction, rather than primarily optical strategies, to keep weight and costs under control. If we forget that, however, what you get from the lens are relatively straight lines and low chromatic aberration and vignetting, straight out of the camera.
AF, on the other hand, is super-fast and near-silent. When focusing from near objects to a far point, the lag is negligible, thanks to the ultrasonic motor. Focusing is entirely internal, so the front element does not rotate. Speaking of close focus, this is an important feature; the minimum working distance is 20cm, which is very impressive for a lens of this type. It allows you to fill the frame with foregrounds in landscape scenes and creates a unique perspective when shooting details at events. Although f / 4 doesn’t give you the bokeh known with the f / 2.8 version, at these distances it is possible to blur the background.
Another reason to cry out about this lens is image stabilization. It offers 5.5 stops of compensation on non-IBIS cameras, reaching 7 stops when paired with stabilized Canon EOS R3, Canon EOS R6 and R5 cameras. It is very effective at reducing camera shake and, combined with the large focal length, we were able to hold hands at shutter speeds of over 1 full second.
At around 1/10 s, even the enlarged images showed no blurring, keeping the ISO below 6400. At 1.3 s, the center was still mostly sharp, but the edges of the frame showed signs of blurring. rotational movement. We love that Canon chose to include IS in such an ultra-wide lens. By several metrics, there is no competition in this category.
Canon RF 14-35mm f / 4L IS USM: verdict
With the Canon RF 14-35mm f / 4L IS USM, the manufacturer has essentially created a new category of lenses. Yes, there are comparable optics, namely the Nikkor Z 14-30mm f / 4 S, but no other model quite matches the potential benefits of stabilization and focal range.
Image quality is superb, portability is extremely welcome, and the close focus capability is a big bonus. It’s not the cheapest lens on the market, but compared to the Trinity RF 15-35mm f / 2.8L version there is a significant saving. For a balance between quality, size and features, this winning optic represents excellent value for money.
Canon RF 14-35mm f / 4L IS USM: sample images
Canon RF 15-35mm f / 2.8L IS USM review
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