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Author Topic: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0  (Read 5998 times)

mrsfotografie

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Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« on: March 30, 2013, 11:42:46 AM »
Now that the Canon EF 35mm f/2.0 is officially discontinued but still available new at reasonable prices, I'm tempted to get one of these small primes before they become unavailable. The question however is if it's worth it.

I previously had one that I purchased second hand. It was on old, tired lens from 1990 or so and the performance was not what I expected from it, especially when compared to my fantastic 50 mm f/1.8 Mk I. So thinking it was a dud, I sold it on.

What's your experience with recent copies of the 35 mm f/2?  And how should they compare to the 50 mm f/1.8 Mk I? Intended use is on full frame as well as crop.

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Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« on: March 30, 2013, 11:42:46 AM »

FTb-n

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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2013, 12:59:13 PM »
I bought mine in September 2011 for use on crop bodies.  I think it's sharper than my 50 1.8 II and better built.  It's just as noisy as the 50.  It was focusing short, but Canon corrected this under warranty.

This has been my primary low light lens and pseudo macro.  I don't have much need for a macro, but this thing focuses very close and is handy for the occasional close-up small item shots.

The 35 f2.0 has a reputation for being soft in the corners on full frame.  For some subjects, this may not be a problem.  But, it's nice on crop bodies that stay within it's sweet spot.  You can compare it with other lenses on The-Digital-Picture.com:

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=122&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=0&API=0&LensComp=810&CameraComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=0

I've since added the 40 f2.8 pancake to my kit which has replaced the 35 as my "travel light" lens.  The 35 sharpens nicely at 2.8, but the corners remain soft.  The 40 is sharp corner-to-corner wide open -- and it's quiet.

The 35 can be nice when you need the extra stop, which is why I'm keeping mine.  But, I'd recommend the 40 instead.  With rebates, it's twice the lens for half the price.
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mrsfotografie

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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2013, 01:33:44 PM »
I bought mine in September 2011 for use on crop bodies.  I think it's sharper than my 50 1.8 II and better built.  It's just as noisy as the 50.  It was focusing short, but Canon corrected this under warranty.

This has been my primary low light lens and pseudo macro.  I don't have much need for a macro, but this thing focuses very close and is handy for the occasional close-up small item shots.

The 35 f2.0 has a reputation for being soft in the corners on full frame.  For some subjects, this may not be a problem.  But, it's nice on crop bodies that stay within it's sweet spot.  You can compare it with other lenses on The-Digital-Picture.com:

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=122&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=0&API=0&LensComp=810&CameraComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=0

I've since added the 40 f2.8 pancake to my kit which has replaced the 35 as my "travel light" lens.  The 35 sharpens nicely at 2.8, but the corners remain soft.  The 40 is sharp corner-to-corner wide open -- and it's quiet.

The 35 can be nice when you need the extra stop, which is why I'm keeping mine.  But, I'd recommend the 40 instead.  With rebates, it's twice the lens for half the price.


FTb-n thanks for the link! It looks like the 40 mm obviously beats the 35 at any aperture except of course below 2.8.

But in the real world of course, the loss of a stop of light and awkward focal length on a crop means the choice is not that straight forward.  I have a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 that is stellar even wide open so a 2.8 prime on APS-C doesn't really bring much benefit. I consider the application of the 40mm for full frame only.

Maybe I should get them both?  ;D 
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 01:36:34 PM by mrsfotografie »
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Sporgon

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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2013, 02:39:40 PM »
If you're on crop and 40 is too long then I generally wouldn't hesitate to recommend the 35/2, but if your primary use for that lens is to use it f2-2.8 you may be dissatisfied with results from a dense crop sensor.

FTb-n

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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2013, 02:48:52 PM »
I had the EF-S 17-55 f2.8 IS for the crop bodies before purchasing the 40 2.8.  Optically, the 40 didn't offer anything that the 17-55 already gave me -- except it's compact size.  I do feel less conspicuous with the 40 and for me, the difference between the 40 and the 35 in focal length is negligible.

It really comes down to that extra stop.

I shoot a lot of figure skating events.  The most challenging are ice shows where I'm contending with spotlights for performance shots and flashlights for backstage photos.  Two years ago I rediscovered my old 50 1.8 for backstage photos with a borrowed T2i.  At the time, my main lenses were the 3.5-5.6 zooms.  The 50 made these backstage photos possible.

I then upgraded by adding the 60D, 35 f2, 70-200 f2.8, 17-55 f2.8, and 7D (in that order) before last year's ice show.  I expected to be using the 35 extensively for behind the scenes shots at ISO 6400.  I actually found the 17-55 more useful do the IS and quicker focusing.

More recently, I shot a school event at a bowling alley with "cosmic bowling" (as in very little light).  All I took was the 7D and the 35 2.0.  My keeper rate was very low and I attribute this to problems locking in on focus with the 35.  I had better success at a similar event with my 60D and the 17-55 f2.8 IS.

My conclusion is that the 35 on crop when shooting ISO 6400, f2.0, and shutter speed slower than 1/100 is a hit-or-miss thing.  I'm better off with the 17-55.  But, if there's enough light to shoot at 1/200 of faster, the 35 may give you an edge in stopping action.

My solution to the low light backstage challenge was to add the 5D3 to my kit.  There's another ice show in a few weeks and I plan on using the 35 on the 5D3 for that extra stop and comparing this to the 40 (and likely the 50 1.8).

As for overall value, my 40 is used a lot more than the 35.  Candidly, I'm still debating the real value that the 35 offers.  For very low light on crop, it has been of little benefit over the 17-55.  I have higher expectations with the 5D3.  But then, the 5D3 is so much better in low light, I may still prefer the 40 for its sharp corner-to-corner performance.  I'm not adding any more lenses until I get more experience in low light with the 5D3, but FWIW, if I didn't have the old 35, I'd rather put that $300 toward the new 35 2.0 IS (or the 35 1.4).
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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2013, 03:27:23 PM »
I just sold my copy today. I had it for a few years on a 50D and it served me well. I just wasn't thrilled with the noisy AF motor and hunting it did in low light, where I needed it. I was pleased with the sharpness at f/2 though. It is a dated lens, and i feel like for the money spent on it, you could look at spending a little more on the new Sigma 30 1.4 art that is coming out (for crop) or 35 f/2 IS. I am planning on picking up the new Sigma up when it comes out.


mrsfotografie

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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2013, 03:36:04 PM »
My conclusion is that the 35 on crop when shooting ISO 6400, f2.0, and shutter speed slower than 1/100 is a hit-or-miss thing.  I'm better off with the 17-55.  But, if there's enough light to shoot at 1/200 of faster, the 35 may give you an edge in stopping action.

My solution to the low light backstage challenge was to add the 5D3 to my kit.  There's another ice show in a few weeks and I plan on using the 35 on the 5D3 for that extra stop and comparing this to the 40 (and likely the 50 1.8).

I found my 'old' 35 mm to be hit and miss as well, but that was even with reasonable light on my 5D MkII. It truly had a remarkably low keeper-rate :(

Have you had a chance to use the 35 on your 5D MkIII yet, ie how is its AF performance on that body? What I'm trying to figure out is if my old copy was 'worn out' and if a new one will give more consistent results.

FWIW I know this lens is totally outclassed by the new IS version (the ISO-12233-Sample-Crops confirm that), but the new model is a lot more up-market and a lot bigger as well. I don't see myself using this prime enough to justify the added cost. I often use my primes as 'fun' lenses so IQ isn't always everything.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 03:37:54 PM by mrsfotografie »
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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2013, 03:36:04 PM »

FTb-n

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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2013, 04:49:29 PM »
First, the 50 1. 8) to which I referred was supposed to be a 50 1.8.

The 5D3 is less than a week old.  I'm still in the mode where I'm comparing various lenses and ISO settings on the 5D3 versus the 7D.  Today, it's a head-to-head comparison between the 5D3 24-105 vs. 7D 17-55.  I know what the results will be.  But I still want to see it for myself.

Haven't gotten to the 35 on the 5D3 yet.  I'll play with that more tonight as the sun falls.
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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 04:56:42 PM »
Congratulations with your new 5DIII, I'm sure you'll find it (full frame) a real eye opener! :)

I wonder how the 35 will fare...
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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2013, 05:43:03 PM »
I loved the 35 f2 on my 7D. Never missed focus, even in low light, and it was very sharp even wide open. My subject was never in the corners when I used this lens so I can't speak on that "issue", and the 7D cropped off the bad parts of the lens anyway!

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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2013, 06:04:27 PM »
I've since added the 40 f2.8 pancake to my kit which has replaced the 35 as my "travel light" lens.  The 35 sharpens nicely at 2.8, but the corners remain soft.  The 40 is sharp corner-to-corner wide open -- and it's quiet.
Same here. I've had the 35 f2 for 5 years or so, which I used on an EOS3 film camera. I now use it on a 5D3. However, the images from it never really had that "zing", whereas the 40mm is a totally different beast (I realise that's a very un-technical answer, but.... :) ). These days, I tend to use the 40mm, which isn't the fastest lens (from a focus perspective), but the images are tack sharp and contrast appears better with the 40mm.
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FTb-n

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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2013, 03:05:04 AM »
Just finished playing with various lenses on both the 5D3 and the 7D in a poorly lit basement.  I repeatedly focused on stationary subjects a few feet away, about 8 feet away and about 12 feet away.  Granted, this is highly unscientific.

On the 7D, exposures with the 35 were at 1/30, f2.0, ISO 6400.  The 17-55 seemed a tad quicker than the 40, but both were locking on without hunting for the 8' and 12' objects.  There was more hunting at the shortest object.  I switched lenses quite a bit.  There were times when the 35 seemed as quick as the 40 and there were times were it clearly lagged behind when focusing on the 8' object.  Each of these three lenses handled the 12' object without hunting.  I also tried my 50 1.8 and found it hunting on just about every attempt to lock on each object.

On the 5D3, exposures with the 35 were at 1/80, f2.0, ISO 12800.  The 24-105 f4.0 was the quickest to focus when set to 24mm and the slowest when at 105mm.  When set to 35mm, it was about even with the 40 and the 35.  I do think focusing the 35 on the 5D3 was constantly quicker than on the 7D.  But, the 50 1.8 brought up the rear and had similar hunting issues as with the 7D.

My take-aways:

- the zoom lenses focus quickest when zoomed out and set the bar for comparing the primes.
- the 40 f2.8 was consistent and kept up with the zooms.
- the 35 f2.0 was more inconsistent on the 7D.  It sometimes rivaled the 40 and sometimes did noticeably worse.
- the 35 f2.0 was more consistent on the 5D3 and rivaled the focusing performance of the 40.
- the 50 f1.8 likes to hunt -- a lot.

For me, the real test will be backstage at this upcoming ice show.  I'll leave the 50 home, but will be playing with both the 40 and the 35 on the 5D3.
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mrsfotografie

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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2013, 06:58:44 AM »
FTb-n, wow thank you for sharing your findings in such an extensive way!

It is obvious from these results that the AF system of the 5D3 generally improves AF consistency as would be expected.

It is somewhat surprising to me that your 35mm outperforms the 50 mm MkII, because the 35 is an older design. I can confirm that my 50 mm Mk I also hunts in low light. However given a little extra time to lock on, it does deliver with consistently sharp results.

It does seem to me now that my 35 mm may have had had too much 'play' in the AF mechanism because the 50mm does focus consistently, whereas my 35 mm had a low keeper rate even in good light.

From a technical point of view, it is apparent the 40mm is the better optic. More contrasty and more 'zing' as Mr Bean put it.

At least the AF performance itself need not be the big differentiator. Positives for these lenses are:

40 mm:
+Optical excellence
+Silent focusing
+Tiny and lightweight

35 mm:
+F/2
+A little wider
+Small and lightweight

More subjectively, how do you find the handling of the camera with the pancake? Obviously it's no longer possible to hold the camera by the lens!

For that matter, I would be careful with the 50mm Mk II, that plastic lens mount seems a little less secure when it has to support a 5D#.
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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2013, 06:58:44 AM »

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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2013, 10:26:30 AM »
My recommendation is to use this on crop bodies, but NOT on FF. 
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FTb-n

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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2013, 03:50:42 PM »
When using the 40 pancake, I grip the camera like an old rangefinder.  I hold the lens with my thumb an forefinger.  The other three fingers are folded into my palm with the body resting on these fingers.
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Re: Canon EF 35mm f/2.0
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2013, 03:50:42 PM »