Canon 14mm review
Switching to the Canon 14mm
I made the jump to the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8 lens in late 2013 after my much used Canon 16-35mm was destroyed by an underwater accident in Fernando De Noronha (Brazil). I had to make the decision whether to buy another Canon 16-35mm or to try something new. I was never completely happy with the sharpness on the 16-35 plus I felt the Canon 24-70 was a better travel/walk about lens due to its further reach and overall more useful focal length coverage. So what I decided was to try out the Canon 14mm and pair it with the Canon 24-70mm. In this respect I would have the ultra wide 14mm for certain landscape shots where needed, and the 24-70 for general purpose. In these reviews I will not go into too much technical detail, rather concentrate on the results i saw in my photos.
Amazing Canon 14mm sharpness and image Quality
The first thing I noticed about this Canon 14mm lens was that it was SHARP, far surpassing the 16-35. With the 16-35 I was pretty unhappy with the corner sharpness, especially when shooting at f2.8. The edges would be slightly blurry. Also the 16-35 displayed quite bad distortion (as most wide angles do). But the Canon 14mm results were stunning. Even at f2.8 I was shocked at the sharpness. Don’t get me wrong at 2.8 they are not pin sharp, but they blow other lens away that for sure. Peak performance on the 14mm is reached around f/8. This is where the results are outstanding – tack sharp. The other thing to note is that the extra 2mm the Canon 14mm lens has over the 16-35 make a MASSIVE difference. It doesn’t sound like much but you really can notice the difference. It gives it a 114 degrees field of view. All this with very little distortion.
Build quality and size
The Canon 14mm lens is a weather and dust sealed metal and rubber constructed lens of high build quality. The Canon 14mm weighs 645g only and measures 80 x 94mm. This is smaller than the 16-35 and lighter, so it makes a nice companion to my 24-70 in my bag. The lens has a “bulb-like” front element which doesn’t accept filters. This is handled by a rear gelatin filter holder, which isn’t something I particularly like. Although it may work out cheaper than 82mm filters, it seems difficult to obtain 10stop ND filter and chopping them to size. Forget about using polarisers with the Canon 14mm as 1. they wont work in the rear holder as you need to be able to rotate in relation to the sun’s direction and 2. wide angle lens don’t work well at all with polarisers as the effect is very uneven across the frame. The Canon 14mm lens comes with a fixed petal-shaped hood to eliminate stray light and flare. Although I can say this lens does have difficulty when facing strong light sources.
Chromatic aberration and vignetting review
The Canon 14mm lens shows a moderate degree of CA at wide apertures facing strong light sources. Stopping down helps but doesn’t eliminate this. Vignetting is handled well and after f8 is barely noticeable. Before f8 the corners of the frame are 2.5 stops darker than the image center.
Canon 14mm lens review conclusion
The Canon 14mm lens for me was a very worthwhile investment, and upgrade. This lens is wider, sharper and lighter than the Canon 16-35mm lens. The quality alone makes it the best choice. Yes the Canon 14mm isn’t as versatile as the 16-35mm but that’s where you use the Canon 24-70mm lens. When you see something you need a very wide angle you pull out the 14mm. It has one purpose – to create the best wide angle shot with ultra sharp results. I have used mine one numerous travel occasions. In particular it has worked very well with night shots. I love using it, the results are so crisp. Yes the Canon 14mm’s price tag is a downside, but this lens is worth it for the results it gives you. I haven’t looked back since.
Sample photos taken by this lens
Here is a Canon 14mm photo example and the 100% views underneath. Shot at f9, ISO 250, 1/50sec handheld. Please click on the images to bring up the full size images: