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Author Topic: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM  (Read 7464 times)

SPL

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EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« on: January 31, 2012, 06:36:22 PM »
Hello Everyone,

I’m new here and have very much enjoyed the forum.  I have learned a lot…I was wondering on some input and comments though.  In increasing my lens collection, I have been considering a EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM for my 7D.  Hopefully upgrade to a 5DIII in years down the line.  My question is, has anyone had any AF/auto focusing, front focusing, back focusing, issues with this lens?,…any ideas/suggestions? Thanks

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EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« on: January 31, 2012, 06:36:22 PM »

JR

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2012, 07:56:41 PM »
Never had that issue with mine.  It is one of the sharpest lens I have seen, even wide open.  I use it with a 5DmkII but with a 7D you will get close to the 35mm view which is great for general purpose.  Dont regret buying this lens...also great for video use...

Jacques
1DX, 24mm f1.4L II, 35mm f1.4L, 50mm f1.2L, 85mm f1.2L II, 135mm f2L, 24-70mm f2.8L II, 70-200mm f2.8L IS II :  D800, D4, and a whole bunch of Nikon lenses

ejenner

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2012, 10:45:16 PM »

I think the issue is that the lens is manufactured in conformance with its specs, but that it may be more susceptible than other lenses to require microadjustment.  Any others want to chime in on this?  I am merely speculating here.

Just from my personal, somewhat limited experience, I would not buy a 1.4 or faster lens without having microadjustment on my body, and would even think seriously about it for an f1.8 or f2 on a telephoto.  Even for a 24mm lens, if you are going to want to nail focus at f1.4, either go into a store and find one that works with your body, have MFA, or send the lens and body in for calibration.

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2012, 12:04:46 AM »
I would NOT get this lens for a 7D. I tried 5 or 6 of them. ALL were inconsistent. I even tried sending one to canon maybe 3-4 times, they could not fix the issue. Problem is not consistent in focusing and therefore cannot be fixed with MFA. Look at the reviews on Canon.com. Even there this glaring issue is obvious. I don't think I've seen this issue reported with the 5D Mark II surprisingly.

Michael_pfh

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2012, 01:10:13 AM »
My 24 f/1.4L II works fine on both the 7D as well as 1D4. Did not have to do any MA.
1DX | 14 2.8L II | 16-35 2.8L II | 24 1.4L II | 24-70 2.8L II | ZE 35 2.0 | ZE 50 2.0 | 85 1.2L II | 100 2.8L IS | 135 2.0L | 70-200 2.8L IS II | 200 F2.0L IS | 300 2.8L IS II | 400 2.8L IS II | 500 4.0L IS

SPL

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2012, 09:26:46 AM »
Hey guys, thanks! I appreciate your time and comments, helps a lot!

Sean

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2013, 02:01:59 AM »
So hi everyone.  I'm new here.  Been grabbing useful info from here and entertaining myself with gear lust for a while, but I finally found a reason to post.  So with that...

Warning:  This is going to be a book.  For those of you interested in the conclusion, just hop to where I wrote "conclusion".   I'll try to be as brief as I can....   ;)

The Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM.  This is the newest lens I decided to add to my collection after finding myself in need of a good, fast, sharp, wide angle solution.  So I picked one up for a relative steal on CL (rather than going for my other consideration, the venerable EF 16-35 f/2.8L II), and got to playing around.  The first night, I tried it while with the seller, and decided that I'd take it home, despite that I wasn't 100% sure of the decision yet, or the image quality is was producing for me, but I figured that for the price at which I acquired it, I could probably make money if I resold it.  That said, day 2 rolled around, and I decided to take it outside and start really seeing what it could do.  I was impressed.  Like, really impressed.  It is an absolutely exquisite lens to shoot with, and produces some effects that I just haven't seen another lens capable of producing at this focal length, in part due to that beautiful f/1.4 aperture.  It's remarkably sharp, even wide open (full disclosure, I'm on a 7D, so can't say that much about the full frame corner thing...yet, give me a few more days), and produces some wonderful blur outside of the DOF range.

So then day three rolled around and I started planning a shoot with it.  While conceptualizing, I tried a few test shots of a setup indoors under some craptastic incandescent lighting, and noticed that my photo quality had kinda gone to poooo.  I was suddenly a bit bothered, wondering how something so capable one day ago had produced this hideous shot that now sat upon my LCD.  So I took a few more shots, trying to hold really still (yeah, I know it's 1.4 and all), and sadly, to no avail.  About now, I became concerned.  It appeared that the focus on the lens had grown very soft, and my images were looking downright terrible.  Now I had read a thing or two about strange autofocus issues with this lens whilst perusing reviews of it prior to and after acquiring this one; hence the impetus for my concern.  Had I acquired a bad copy?  Is that why the guy sold it to me, and especially at such a decent deal?  Well deuces...

Anyhew, after some reading, this got me to thinking that it was time for some good ol' scientific method.  So I sat down at the table, pulled out some DVD cases, arranged them upright in progressively further distances, all perpendicular to my focal plane (so as to test for front and back focusing), pulled up the custom function for Micro Adjustments, and got to work.  What I found was wild inconsistency.  Sometimes it would be tack sharp, sometimes it was as sharp as a warm stick of butter.  And all of this without moving the camera a single millimeter backward or forward, nor side to side.  Needless to say, I was perplexed.  How can I not move the camera a single iota, but still garner such maddeningly inconsistent results?  Well, no scientific method is useful without controls and variables, so I set to discovering an applicable variable.

I tried adjusting the Micro Adjustment to +5, then took a series of three shots.  Generally, one in the series would be sharp, with the other two displaying varying degrees of sharpness or softness.  This would happen each time.  I adjusted to -5.  Pretty much the same results.  I adjusted to +5 again.  To 8.  To 15.  To 20.  To 10.  Though some were clearly worse than others, the problem seemed to persist despite the micro-adjustments.  Clearly the problem was acting independent of this variable, so I had to try something different.  With that, I moved to simply trying different apertures.  One would think that to be intuitive, with 1.4 having such a narrow depth of field.  Same results each time.  Inconsistent, generally with one of three shots being sharper than its companions, though it was ever so slightly less of an issue at smaller apertures.  What could be going on here?  Was it really just a bad lens copy?

Enter light quality.  Or perhaps quantity.  Or both.  I pulled out the old Fenix flashlight to shed some serious light on the matter and determine if it was simply an issue of there not being enough light for the auto focus system to function as well as it could/should.  Admittedly, the kitchen lights at night can be a bit...insufficient, but with a 1.4 lens, I figured there would be no issue, especially since I was shooting on a table with a self timer to prevent any camera movement between shots in the sequence.  Well, apparently I was dead wrong on that.  Upon issuing that bright white light, I suddenly noticed that the variability between shots in the sequence had dramatically diminished.  Interesting.  So with that, I set the Micro Adjustments to zero, and began playing.  I achieved relatively consistent results as long as that light was shining on the subjects.  I moved through the aperture range.  Even more consistent as I stopped down.  Interesting.  So I tried another light source, this one also a relatively pure white LED light, though more distant, and bounced off of the ceiling instead.  Close to the same results, though not quite as accurate; minor deviations throughout, but negligible ones at worst. 

So at this point I had a hypothesis and decided to make my testing as accurate as I possibly could.  I switched on mirror lockup, pulled out the wireless remote, and thus made sure that there was no influence at all from my touching the shutter button.  I repeated the experiment with all three types of light, and each time, the strongest white light seemed to bring the camera to a relatively perfect focus each time.  I tried getting a focus point with that light, then switching to manual focus and shooting a three series.  ZERO variation.  I tried getting auto focus with that light, turning the light off, turning AF off, THEN taking a three shot series under the incandescent.  ZERO variation.  Dead tack sharp every time.  My hypothesis was beginning to pan out pretty much exactly as I expected.  Finally, I started moving the camera back and forth in distance from the subject while repeating each different phase of the experiment.  Each time, the variations were slightly greater when closer to the subject, and also, each time, the variations were slightly greater at the wider apertures, exactly as one would expect, but why the variation at all?  What was causing this problem? 

I hooked up my EF 100mm f2.8L IS USM Macro lens to see if the issue was present in it.  There was no variation at any point, in any light, whatsoever.  That lens, I know for a fact is as solid as a rock.  So how can I relatively succinctly explain the conclusion that I've come to on the issue with this lens?  As follows:

Conclusion:

So I've heard that the 5D Mark III doesn't seem to display this anomaly.  My conclusion is this:  The EF 24 f/1.4 II obviously has a relatively razor thin aperture at f/1.4, as we all know.  And the autofocus system on many slightly older dSLRs, (the 7D is beginning to age just a tad now) use slightly older and thus less accurate and proficient algorithms to acquire their focus each time that you half depress the shutter button to initiate said sequence.  Depending on infinitesimal differences in focusing location, and especially their application to this algorithm as the processor processes them, there are going to be minor variations in the appropriated plane of focus as dictated by the autofocus system's acquisition of a given focus point.  That said, when you're working on such a paper thin focal plane, as is associated with the f/1.4 aperture, you are more liable to experience a loss of focus due to tiny movements of your hands, or what have you.  We all know and accept this.  What I'm proposing, is that the slightly more antiquated, and thus relatively inferior (when compared with the 5D III) autofocus system found on the 7D (and lesser bodies), in cooperation with their lower light performance, is causing them to search a bit harder to find their focus point in LOWER LIGHT than a more advanced, more recent autofocus system, and therefore it is the addition of more, or higher quality light that allows the AF algorithm to repeatedly reproduce accurate results.  When the system has to hunt a bit more because of lower levels of light, or lower quality of light, it is inherently less likely to lock focus on EXACTLY the same millimeter as it did in the frame that was shot immediately prior to this now most recent acquisition.  When the light amount or quality is improved, it has a much easier time nailing the same point again and again, thus giving you consistent focus.  This is why I believe that I experienced inferior results whilst purchasing the lens under those shoddy indoor lights at night, as well as in my kitchen under those same craptastic incandescents, as opposed to during the day when I took it outside in broad daylight and experienced such phenomenal results.  It is a combination of the lens' inherently high level of sensitivity, and extremely narrow potential DOF, in combination with the AF system's tendency to be less accurate in low light situations, that produces the discussed variations. 

Now what of the EF 85mm f/1.2L USM?  I'm afraid I can't discuss that point, since I don't own that piece of glass.  I don't know if it experiences similar problems, and if not, then why that would be the case.

SO, what does this mean?  Well, to me, it means that this lens may not be quite as stellar for low-light applications on a camera body that is not as good at low-light performance as I had initially hoped.  This theory would hold consistent, given that the majority of complaints that I have seen with this lens have been on lesser bodies than the 5D II or the 5D III or the 1D or 1Ds series.  The lens is capable of amazing things, there is no doubt about that, but I think that if not married to the right body, or if married to such a body under less than optimal conditions, one must simply expect less consistent, and most probably, inferior results.  Unfortunate, its true, but I'm not sure that it's enough to make me sell this lens that can perform so fantastically under the right circumstances.

Now I know that this post was extremely long winded, and I apologize for that.  I actually tried to keep it as curt as I could, leaving out some minor details, but I'd love to hear discussion from anyone who owns this lens to see if this theory can be confirmed. 

Do you have the 24 II? 
Do you also have a 5D or higher body, or a 7D or lower body?
Do you shoot mostly in well lit situations, or do you shoot more in low light?
When shooting in low light, and if you own a 7D or lower body, do you discover that your lens' performance is less consistent, or gives consistently poor results?
If so, do you find that these AF issues resolve with the addition of more light, better light, or perhaps stopping down your aperture?

I'd really like to get some confirmation on this, because I know there are a lot of people out there concerned about this, and a lot of them are on forums asking these very questions.  So if anyone's ready and willing, chime right in!


Thank you to everyone for all of the sound advice you've provided me so far on this forum, and thanks to those of you who stuck through this beast of a post; and especially, thanks in advance to those of you who participate in the discussion!

All my very best to all,

-The Brains of Ape    :o
« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 02:37:29 AM by Apebrains »

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2013, 02:01:59 AM »

sarangiman

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2013, 04:44:39 AM »
Apebrains,

Sounds like you're doing a good job of some controlled testing. Apologies if I missed it, but, are you choosing the focus point? In order to eliminate yet another variable in your testing, you need to choose a focus point & stick with it. For simplicity, say, the center focus point (different AF points can show different performance &, actually, can require different AFMA values).

Low light definitely stresses AF systems, & can result in lower precision. This lower precision can, in turn, make it hard to choose an appropriate AFMA value. Since AFMA can also depend on subject distance (and, as I already mentioned, AF point), things can get complicated very fast.

In short, though, I'm not surprised with what you're seeing. My f/1.4 & f/1.2 lenses are extremely moody (the 85/1.2 is a beast in this sense), but in general I can find a somewhat optimal AFMA value per lens.

I do wish someone would test AF precision of various lens/body combos, including at different EVs, though I realize it's rather difficult & potentially resource-intensive/prohibitive. I recently was surprised by the poor low-light AF precision of my Sony NEX-6 + Sony 10-18mm f/4 OSS lens (which otherwise performs great in daylight), and that's CDAF, not even PDAF! The Zeiss Touit 12mm, OTOH, focuses with near 100% precision (repeatability) at f/2.8. This is the sort of information that, I feel, could be very valuable to consumers investing in a lens/system (as long as the tests are performed carefully/appropriately).

alexturton

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2013, 08:17:55 AM »
i bought a new 241.4 ii and found it to be wildly inconsistent and AFMA didn't help. After some googling I discovered other people having similar problems of inconsistency so I took it back for another copy. My second copy is spot on.
Bodies: 5d mk iii, 60d
Primes: 24L 1.4, Sigma 35 1.4, 40 pancake, 50L 1.2, 85L 1.2 ii, 8mm fisheye, lensbaby, 100L macro.
Zooms: 16-35 2.8 ii, 24-70 2.8 ii, 70-200 2.8 is ii, 120-400

Apebrains

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2013, 11:44:18 AM »
Saringiman, I utilized only the central focus point throughout the entirety of the testing process, but thanks for making sure it remained stringently scientific; that is of course of the utmost importance.  I am glad to hear that you've experienced similar fickleness with this lens, as I know many others have as well, but I just really wonder how much of it is the result of the BODY's AF performance in low light, as opposed to simply a lens issue.  This obviously can't be completely the case, because when I pair up the 7D with the EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro, the issue is completely gone, but I find it interesting that in better lighting conditions, the 24L performs flawlessly.  What design flaw in the lens would cause this?  Is the 85 1.2L a beast in the good sense (performs well) or in the bad sense (is VERY moody), in the context of your comment about it...?  That's certainly another lens I'm interested in, but I need a wide angle solution right now, and this lens is certainly the best horse for the job if it would only behave...

Alexturton, I'm interested to know more, since you are working with a 5D III body.  When you had the copy that was performing strangely, was it under low light conditions, or was it simply all the time?  When I'm using this lens with good lighting, she focuses beautifully.  This wouldn't concern me a shred if it weren't for the fact that I work with strobes quite regularly.  Because of that, if I don't use a supplementary light when getting my autofocus point, then I can't expect consistent and accurate focus for when the strobes fire.  If I'm doing a compositing image, and wind up with a slightly off focal point on the FIRST shot, then when I switch it to manual focus for the rest of the shots, in accordance with my testing, then every one will likewise be equally off.  So essentially, what I'm looking at having to do right now is utilize a strong flashlight in low light situations to acquire my AF point, then switch it off, switch to manual, and proceed about my business without moving the body.  Not necessarily problematic, I just wondered if this was an individual copy issue, and if anyone else had discovered this PARTICULAR quirk about it, or if marrying it up to the 5D Mark III alleviated the problem altogether.

Does that make sense?



Incidentally Alex, pretty sure my better half follows your stream on Flickr.  As I was sitting here writing this, she's like, "Oh, Alex Turton, I know him!"  You can imagine my response as I was curious to know how... ;)

« Last Edit: July 21, 2013, 11:50:46 AM by Apebrains »

adhocphotographer

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2013, 11:51:03 AM »
considering picking this up next week. some good info here, thanks guys!

Apebrains : you do realise your "conclusion" was nearly the same size as your discussion right? ;) thanks for the obvious effort, appreciate it!
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Apebrains

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2013, 11:53:55 AM »
adhocphotographer;  Conclusions generally are just that!   They're simply a summary for people who didn't want to follow the whole procedure.  Suppose I simply wasn't what one may call....succinct.  ;)

Standard

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2013, 12:18:26 PM »
No problems whatsoever here. Never had to AF microadjust any of my lenses. I shoot with both the Mark III and Mark II. You can see shots taken with this lens here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dunghoang/tags/canonef24mmf14liiusm/

Awesome clarity when shooting landscape using manual settings with Live View. Just as good handheld using AF. Just remember that any fast lens when shooting at large apertures, ie. f/1.2, f/1.4 + requires proper shooting technique and framing. I use back button focusing (on Mark II, I use single point focus). I see too many people blaming problems, ie. soft or out-of-focus images, noise, focus hunting, etc. to the hardware rather than their own poor techniques.

Some examples below. These are handheld at f/1.4 and f/3.2 respectively:


City of Fireflies by Standard Deluxe, on Flickr


Electric Night by Standard Deluxe, on Flickr

With tripod, manual settings, Live View, f/16:


Drop Off by Standard Deluxe, on Flickr


Under a Fleeting Sky by Standard Deluxe, on Flickr

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2013, 12:18:26 PM »

Apebrains

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2013, 12:36:43 PM »
Standard; whereas I understand completely where you are coming from, are you implying that sitting it on a table with a single autofocus point, on a single subject, with mirror lockup, and a wireless remote shutter with no variation in the settings is poor technique?  Then how is it that the EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro under the exact same conditions produces FLAWLESS results every time?  Whereas I understand that it's a bit of a chore, I'm not sure that you read my whole post...  I love the 24, I really do, I'm simply confirming many people's suspicions that something is inherently odd about the lens.  My question is whether it's isolated to the low light performance of sub 5D bodies.  Seeing as you have two different 5D bodies, and yours performs perfectly, my theory remains thus far upheld.  Now I understand that bad lens copies do exist, but this lens produces beautiful results for me.  It just only seems to want to do it consistently under better lighting conditions, and this is the first time I've ever experienced that with any lens.  I just think something is odd about that.

Standard

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2013, 12:57:42 PM »
Hi Apebrains. No. Not at all. I did not read your post(s) as it's quite lengthy. I don't spend much time here reading about test charts or technical tests on lenses, or even cameras for that matter and in no way I was implying you or any member here that they're using poor techniques, nor am I saying that I am the only one that know how to use good techniques. Far from it. I have lots to learn. I am simply saying that I have seen users having own certain lenses, both here and elsewhere, complain issues about their lenses, when it could also be a problem attributed to other factors, such as how they hold a camera, what settings the camera and lens are set at, stability of tripod and head, etc. I know this for a fact because when I take that exact same lens and put it on my camera and shoot images with it, I can't duplicate the same problems they have.

Sorry if you thought I'd implied anything negative about you. I used to post regularly here but when I see certain members misunderstand my comments, or are simply too sensitive about their gear, I deleted my account and now I rarely post anymore. While I dedicate time to learn how to use my gear well, I don't obsess with hardware data or testing techniques. I much prefer to be out shooting as much as I can. I haven't the time to defend, reply, or make clearer my comments. I like helping others but sometimes I get the feeling that people think I am here to simply criticize.

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Re: EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2013, 12:57:42 PM »