Review: Canon RF 14-35mm f/4L IS USM

Jethro

EOS R
CR Pro
Jul 14, 2018
562
463
DPP4 is no better to look at than previous versions. I've found it actually quite competent to use, on the occasions I have used it, and obviously it exists because Canon has to provide users with a means of processing images captured on its hardware. But (like others) I would only use it until camera profiles appeared in LR and/or DxO.
 

dilbert

EOS 90D
Aug 12, 2010
114
92
The difference is that developing software is really expensive.

That's correct, however once software is developed, the reproduction costs for selling it are much reduced than anything physical.

And each new camera/lens that Canon produces requires that its software is also trained (or given template data about the equipment) and thus updated.
 

Frodo

EOS RP
Nov 3, 2012
418
101
I shot a couple of photos with the 15-35 (first) and the 14-35 (second) at a photo show a month ago. I have posted them below. LR does not have a lens profile for the 14-35 and so I switched off the profile for the 15-35. The exposures on my R are 1/125@ f/2.8 and 1/60 @ f/4 respectively, both at ISO 6400.
The photos are not ideal for checking geometric distortion, but to my eyes the images are quite similar.
What struck me was the severe shading in the extreme corners of the 14-35.
Comparing the angles of view through the OVF, I thought there was little difference between the lenses. However, the difference between the uncorrected images (below) seems greater.
As I did not have the 14-35 profile, I was not able to find out the full resolution file size.

BZR_9897.jpg
BZR_9900.jpg
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Joules and Skux
Aug 7, 2018
353
305
Wow, that image really shows that the uncorrected version is pretty much unusable. That looks like a lot of stops of vignetting and correcting it would cause extreme noise if you already used a somewhat high ISO indoors.
 

jd7

EOS R
CR Pro
Feb 3, 2013
916
279
Why do I get the feeling that people on this forum would rather have a non-corrected and very distorted image in the EVF, and a non-corrected and very distorted photo rather than a non-distorted, sharp, excellent quality photo that this lens delivers with auto corrections turned on. I have been using a similarly auto-corrected pro level 12-100 Olympus lens for years and I never give the auto-corrections a second thought. I probably have other new mirrorless lenses that have the same auto-corrections and I don't even know about it. Apparently the final image isn't as important to many forum users compared to how you get there.
As much as my instinctive reaction is to be unimpressed by the distortion before software correction, I take your point. And I suspect Canon would say it is just using computation photography and ask why people are criticsing it for that when people tend to praise mobile phone manufactureres for what mobile phone cameras can achieve these days using computational photography,

As I think someone else has already said, perhaps the real issue may not be that Canon is using software to work around limitations of its gear, or (at least arguably) to achive its gear (eg by making it smaller and lighter than it would be otherwise, or enabliing it to go to a wider angle than it would otherwise), but the prices Canon is charging. Then again, if enough people buy the gear at Canon's asking price, you can't really criticise Canon for not pricing lower (they are in it for the money, after all!). Personally I do struggle with why people are willing to pay Canon's asking price for a lot of the R system gear, but it seems quite a few people are.
 

privatebydesign

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
10,502
5,740
I don't buy that for a second. Adobe is the 800lb gorilla of software and I'm sure Canon has a close and positive working relationship with Adobe. Canon has much more to lose by not cooperating with Adobe than Adobe has. Canon knows that DPP is just a gnat on the windshield of processing software and has no interest or financial reason to jeopardize their relationship with Adobe for the sake of DPP.
Adobe and Canon have very much had an on/off relationship for years. It seems that is the norm for Adobe and their corporate fellows.

There have been occasions where Adobe have obviously had pre release data for cameras as the profiles for them have been available as soon as the cameras were released whereas some bodies, especially when they are in short supply/high demand, have taken months after release to get body specific profiles and even then those have often been pretty poor in comparison to the boxed Canon profiles.
 

canonmike

EOS R6
CR Pro
Jan 5, 2013
453
390
As much as my instinctive reaction is to be unimpressed by the distortion before software correction, I take your point. And I suspect Canon would say it is just using computation photography and ask why people are criticsing it for that when people tend to praise mobile phone manufactureres for what mobile phone cameras can achieve these days using computational photography,

As I think someone else has already said, perhaps the real issue may not be that Canon is using software to work around limitations of its gear, or (at least arguably) to achive its gear (eg by making it smaller and lighter than it would be otherwise, or enabliing it to go to a wider angle than it would otherwise), but the prices Canon is charging. Then again, if enough people buy the gear at Canon's asking price, you can't really criticise Canon for not pricing lower (they are in it for the money, after all!). Personally I do struggle with why people are willing to pay Canon's asking price for a lot of the R system gear, but it seems quite a few people are.
Then again, if enough people buy the gear at Canon's asking price, you can't really criticise Canon for not pricing lower (they are in it for the money, after all!). Personally I do struggle with why people are willing to pay Canon's asking price for a lot of the R system gear, but it seems quite a few people are.
Understandable viewpoints jd7. For years, I waited long periods for reviews on new products and the price to come down to a level I thought justified a purchase. Yes, in other words, I was a tightwad and had plenty of time, IMO, to wait it out. Many things in life are a matter of personal belief, opinions, budget constraints, wants, needs, timing, motivation, influences, etc. Now, at age 76, as long as I can afford it, I overlook my prior purchasing hang ups. I do agree that almost all new Canon gear is overpriced when first released, not just the RF 14-35mm F4L lens and think that it should have been priced around $13-1400.00. In the meantime, I no longer own any wide angle EF zoom lenses, such as the EF 16-35 F4 L is and am in need of some form of wide angle zoom. Now preferring native mount lenses, whenever possible, I buy RF, knowing that's where most of Canon's R&D is going. If people waited to buy new gear until the reviews were mostly positive and prices were in bargain territory, hardly anyone would have initially bought R5's and R6's, in the face of all the vitriol surrounding both cameras. Thank goodness, most overlooked the overwhelming negative publicity and decided to find out for themselves, paying MSRP and happy to get their new gear. Now, most everyone will agree, even the naysayers, that both bodies provide an outstanding photographic experience, even up against Sony's A1 body. So, bucking all the ongoing neg commentary on the new RF 14-35, I can afford its overpricing and have it on pre-order and will make my own decisions after hands on experience with it. If that is enabling Canon to overcharge for future gear, then so be it. How else does anyone expect Mfgs to recover their start up costs, both R&D, as well as Mfg costs and continue to develop new products. If the lens provides me with greater positive photo experiences, then I will not care what I paid for it. If all the naysayers are correct and the lens just sucks, I'll just sell it and move on to something else. Generally, it's pretty easy to re-sell new Canon gear. Just look at how many people have sold their much maligned R5's, R6's, RF28-70's, etc., shortly after being released, for more than MSRP. Thank goodness for early adopters. It took me a few years to realize they are the direct reason we see new gear coming down the pipe. Personally, I thank them rather than questioning why they bought it and/or paid too much.
 
Last edited:

entoman

wildlife photography
May 8, 2015
357
386
UK
I really wish Canon hadn't put the zoom and focus rings so close together on this and some other RF lenses - it's so easy to accidentally grab hold of the wrong one when the camera is at the eye, especially as the rubber rings are so similar in texture and feel.

Of course, Canon can't just go back to the drawing board and redesign them now - it's too late for that. But a small step in the right direction would be to radically change the texture/ribbing of the zoom ring, to make it easier to distinguish it by feel, from the focus ring...
 

entoman

wildlife photography
May 8, 2015
357
386
UK
Personally I do struggle with why people are willing to pay Canon's asking price for a lot of the R system gear, but it seems quite a few people are.
Canon do actually produce a small but expanding range of budget lenses in RF mount, e.g. 35mm F1.8 macro, 50mm F1.8, 85mm F2 macro, 24-105mm F4-7.1, 600mm F11, 800mm F11, 24-240mm F4-6.3. All of these have had good reviews. I own the 800mm F11 and a friend has the 600mm F11, which both open up new fields of photography for those on a tight budget.

Each lens purchase needs to be considered on its own merit. Sometimes it's better to splash out on the RF exotica, other times it's better to go for the budget RF optic, or to get an EF version and use it with the EF-RF adaptor. Ergonomically, the EF lenses are actually better designs, because their RF replacements have the focus and zoom rings too close together and use the same texture of rubber, making it difficult to distinguish between the zoom and focus rings by feel, when the camera is at the eye.

I currently own an EF 100mm F2.8L macro, and have considered the new RF version, but I don't think the 1.4x magnification or the aspherical control are worth the extra expense. My EF lens is now 10 years old, very heavily used and suffering from intermittent problems with AF and OIS, so it's due for replacement. But I'm more likely to buy the non-L 85mm macro, which is optically excellent, or to get another EF 100mm F2.8L macro, than to spend £1500 on the RF 100mm macro.
 

LSXPhotog

Automotive, Motorsports, Commerical, & Real Estate
CR Pro
Apr 2, 2015
533
547
www.diossiphotography.com
I really wish Canon hadn't put the zoom and focus rings so close together on this and some other RF lenses - it's so easy to accidentally grab hold of the wrong one when the camera is at the eye, especially as the rubber rings are so similar in texture and feel.

Of course, Canon can't just go back to the drawing board and redesign them now - it's too late for that. But a small step in the right direction would be to radically change the texture/ribbing of the zoom ring, to make it easier to distinguish it by feel, from the focus ring...
I see this complaint a lot. It makes me wonder if you’ve used an RF lens or not. There is no mistaking what the zoom ring is on any of these lenses because it’s nicely contoured. However, the manual focus ring is VERY hard to find and I will occasionally have to take my eye off the EVF to make sure I’m holding the right spot.
 

entoman

wildlife photography
May 8, 2015
357
386
UK
I see this complaint a lot. It makes me wonder if you’ve used an RF lens or not. There is no mistaking what the zoom ring is on any of these lenses because it’s nicely contoured. However, the manual focus ring is VERY hard to find and I will occasionally have to take my eye off the EVF to make sure I’m holding the right spot.
I don't lie. Check my gearlist. Furthermore the fact that you've noted that this is a common complaint adds weight to the points I made. Why would someone who owns one of these lenses complain, unless there was a genuine reason???

The 24-105mm F4 is a pain in the butt to use because the zoom and focus rings are immediately adjacent and both have very similar rubber ribbing. Sure, you can move your finger up and down the lens to locate the contour of the zoom ring, but the rings are only separated by a 2mm gap and it's very easy to grab the wrong one, unless you actually *look* at the lens first.

Now, admittedly I've only owned this lens a couple of weeks and no doubt I'll gradually become more familiar with it, but nevertheless the ergonomics are plain awful when compared with my old EF 24-105mm F4 Mkii. The latter had a significant space between the 2 rings, and each had an instantly recognisable texture. The EF zoom ring was also much smoother in operation compared to the rather stiff RF version.

Another issue with the RF version is the proximity of the focus and control rings - the only saving graces being that the control ring does have a different texture, and can be disabled. There are so many customisable buttons and dials on the camera that the control ring IMO is just a fairly useless sales gimmick that would better have been left off. Without it, Canon could have made the focus ring far more substantial, and separated it properly from the zoom ring.

Optically the RF version is stunning, and it focuses much faster than the EF version, but ergonomically it's a disaster.

A classic example of form over function.
 

jd7

EOS R
CR Pro
Feb 3, 2013
916
279
Canon do actually produce a small but expanding range of budget lenses in RF mount, e.g. 35mm F1.8 macro, 50mm F1.8, 85mm F2 macro, 24-105mm F4-7.1, 600mm F11, 800mm F11, 24-240mm F4-6.3. All of these have had good reviews. I own the 800mm F11 and a friend has the 600mm F11, which both open up new fields of photography for those on a tight budget.

Each lens purchase needs to be considered on its own merit. Sometimes it's better to splash out on the RF exotica, other times it's better to go for the budget RF optic, or to get an EF version and use it with the EF-RF adaptor. Ergonomically, the EF lenses are actually better designs, because their RF replacements have the focus and zoom rings too close together and use the same texture of rubber, making it difficult to distinguish between the zoom and focus rings by feel, when the camera is at the eye.

I currently own an EF 100mm F2.8L macro, and have considered the new RF version, but I don't think the 1.4x magnification or the aspherical control are worth the extra expense. My EF lens is now 10 years old, very heavily used and suffering from intermittent problems with AF and OIS, so it's due for replacement. But I'm more likely to buy the non-L 85mm macro, which is optically excellent, or to get another EF 100mm F2.8L macro, than to spend £1500 on the RF 100mm macro.
Personally, I would not call the 35mm F1.8 macro or 85mm F2 macro "budget" lenses, even if they are much cheaper than an L series lens. The 35mm goes for over A$700, and the 85mm for over A$1,000. Further, I don't think they look good value when you put them up against lenses like the Sony 35mm f/1.8, Samyang 35mm f/1.8, Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S (although admittedly the Nikon is a higher price bracket), Sony 85mm f/1.8, Samyang 75mm f/1.8, Samyang 85mm f/1.4 and Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8 S, and I'd even throw in the old EF 85mm f/1.8). From everything I have seen and read, I would rate the two Canon RF lenses to be the weakest lenses of that group (optically and at the weak end for AF), with the possible exception of the EF 85mm f/1.8 although I still think it's possible I prefer the images it produces over the RF 85mm f/2 IS even if the RF lens is sharper. I also wouldn't call the RF 85mm f/2 IS small or light for what it is. I guess to be fair though, the Canon lenses are the only ones in that group with IS, and no doubt their close focus ability will be useful to some people.

The RF 50mm f/1.8 is in the budget category I guess, but even so it's twice the price of the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM and from everything I've seen and read, apart from the price the differences seem minimal. And again, if you consider it against the 50mm-ish lenses for the Sony and Nikon systems, there are options there for not a whole lot more money which are much more attractive to me.

The 600mm F11 and 800mm F11 are interesting options for anyone looking for that sort of reach, and I think it's probably fair to call them budget lenses once you think about the cost of getting that sort of reach with other lenses. That said, the RF 600mm is about A$1,300 and the RF 800mm is about A$1,700, while a Sigma 150-600 f/5-6.3 OS C for EF mount goes for under A$1,350. The Sigma is significantly bulkier but it also has a wider maximum aperture and gives you zoom flexibility, so I can see some people preferring it to the RF primes, but equally I can see other people preferring the RF lenses for their size and weight.

As for the 24-105mm F4-7.1 and 24-240mm F4-6.3, I have never looked closefly at them so I won't say anything about them.

Anyway, all of that to say that I struggle to see that Canon's "budget" RF lenses, and particularly the lenses which seem to me to be most likely to be useful to a large number of photographers, namely the 35mm F1.8 macro, 50mm F1.8, 85mm F2 macro, are great value. They are part of the reason that, personally, I don't see good value in the RF system.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AJ

unfocused

EOS-1D X Mark III
Jul 20, 2010
6,324
3,875
68
Springfield, IL
www.mgordoncommunications.com
Not to beat a dead horse too much, but some questioned my assertion that Canon and Adobe work hand-in-hand.

...I'm sure Canon has a close and positive working relationship with Adobe...
So I was reading through reviews of RF lenses from The Digital Picture and happened to come across one review where he quoted Canon technical advisor Rudy Winston

Rudy Winston via The Digital Picture said:
I’m told that Canon worked aggressively with Adobe to be sure to have the right profiles available to customers using Lightroom or ACR as soon as possible.
 

koenkooi

EOS 5D Mark IV
CR Pro
Feb 25, 2015
1,867
1,794
Not to beat a dead horse too much, but some questioned my assertion that Canon and Adobe work hand-in-hand.


So I was reading through reviews of RF lenses from The Digital Picture and happened to come across one review where he quoted Canon technical advisor Rudy Winston
Ah, that must be why Adobe still has no Camera Matching profiles for anything newer than the original R.
 

Joules

doom
CR Pro
Jul 16, 2017
1,726
2,135
Hamburg, Germany
I can't tell if this has been adressed already as I have not read every post. But evaluating the distortion present at 14 mm by making comparisons to the EF 16-35 mm 4.0 IS USM if clearly not doing it properly, simply because of the difference in focal length. I was curious to visualize the difference in distortion the RF 14-35 mm displays compared between different focal lengths. According to the uncorrected images from the review linked in the OP, the lens is virtually perfect by 28 mm and so I used that as baseline. It is kind of hard to see the distortion in my opinion when viewing the full uncorrected images, as those are also wider than the stated focal length and so the correction encompasses both a stretch and crop. So I compared them separately:

How much wider than stated are the uncorrected images (dark borders illustrade area to be cropped):
Crop_amount_comparison.gif


How much distortion is present in the uncorrected images, once the crop is applied:
Distortion_comparison.gif


At 16 mm, both compromises are clearly visible compared to the almost perfect image at 28 mm. But they appear also less pronounced than at 14 mm and do not look that problematic to me. Although it is unfortunate that you don't get a FF image out of this L lens at the ultra wide angle, due to the necessary crop. Looks to me like the loss in resolution due to that crop is greater than the one due to the stretch.

A proper comparison to the EF 16-35 mm 4.0 IS USM seems difficult to me, at least using the images from TDP, as those have differnt motives and it is not clear what distances the charts are at. From looking at it briefly on the TDP comparison tool, the EF lens looks quite similar to my eyes at 16 mm compared to the RF one at 16 mm. At 14 mm, no valid comparison is possible due to the difference in focal length.

On a side note, I find it interesting how severely this issue is perceived with regards to the people wishing for circular sensors. If those were a thing, the extreme distortion and fall off in image quality at the edge of the image circle would be visible in each and every frame and so people would have to chose all the time what amount of these issues they can tolerate for a given image. In this lens, Canon just does the same, only in the opposite direction they wish for. Instead of revealing more of the image circle by using an expensive modified sensor, we get to see more of it due to it just being too small to properly fit the FF sensor and therefore the sensor is digitally altered to the appropriate size.
 
  • Like
Reactions: koenkooi

entoman

wildlife photography
May 8, 2015
357
386
UK
Anyway, all of that to say that I struggle to see that Canon's "budget" RF lenses, and particularly the lenses which seem to me to be most likely to be useful to a large number of photographers, namely the 35mm F1.8 macro, 50mm F1.8, 85mm F2 macro, are great value. They are part of the reason that, personally, I don't see good value in the RF system.
Hi, I was using the term "budget" loosely, to indicate that they are much cheaper alternative to the Canon L series, but I agree that none of Canon's lenses are exactly cheap.

I only compare Canon with Canon, because other brands are not fully compatible with the RF system, although they work acceptably well for many people. No one's gonna stick a Nikon or Sony lens on a RF Canon, so they are irrelevant to the discussion. If someone wants Sony or Nikon lenses, they should obviously have bought a Sony or Nikon body, not a Canon.

I think Canon are to some extent justified in pricing their RF lenses higher than the EF nearest equivalents, because most of the RF lenses offer better optical performance and superior specifications e.g. more compact, closer focusing, wider maximum aperture etc.

If you are on a tight budget, don't forget that there are masses of superb Canon L lenses in EF mount that will work just as well on an RF camera, although they'll usually be a bit bulkier and may not focus quite as rapidly. Most of them are half the price of RF lenses, and there are thousands of mint condition ones on the secondhand market - I personally wouldn't buy a body secondhand, but lenses are usually a safe proposition - what happens is people buy a lens and then find that they don't use it often enough to justify the expense, so when they feel the pinch, they sell them, and they're usually in mint condition. I'be bought several lenses secondhand e.g. my 180mm F3.5 macro and 24mm T/S-E tilt-shift. Shop around and you'll find some great bargains!
 

lawny13

EOS 90D
Mar 6, 2019
102
73
1) Good job reenforcing Canon's customer-unfriendly design practices and rewarding them for their marketing rather than their actual products. You are why we're having to have these conversations at all. Stop giving companies money until you know that they've actually delivered.
2) Tamron's 17-35mm f/2.8-4 is lighter and smaller than this, also uses a 77mm filter thread, and at least going by Bryan's results of this 14-35, the Tamron is optically better in the center and only very slightly worse in the furthest corners. The f/2.8 wide end is a bit soft but you can consider that aperture to just be a bonus, since the Canon lenses don't have it at all; stop it down to f/4 or beyond and the Tamron sharpens up significantly. (Or at least my copy did.) I've owned the Tamron, it wasn't my favourite wide-zoom by any means, but if size is important to you then it is your winner and optically it's very good. I did prefer the optics of the Canon 16-35mm f/4 and that's ultimately what I stuck with, but I appreciate not everyone wants to carry something that size around (and it is only size, not weight; the EF lens is only 80G heavier than this RF and only 150g heavier than the Tamron!) and/or pay that much.

However you spin it, however you want to try to justify it to yourself, you know that you've paid a gigantic, arbitrary premium, twice, for the sake of saving 80g (180g, if we're including the adapter), about ~1.5cm in length, and a clearly-flawed extra 2mm which is being completed via software rather than the glass you've ostensibly paid for. This is the problem—you are part of it—and this is what manufacturers (it's not Canon alone) need to not be rewarded for.
End of it all it comes down to price. Close to 2k is steep… really steep. If this lens was priced closer to the original 16-35 then I think there would be less issues for people. when the price of A product goes as high as this one we inevitability start to ask ourselves why….

Main question… does the extra 2 mm on the wide end and filter situation justify what appears to be an 80% (!!), here in Europe, price jump?

People of course start to look at the competition, and alternatives. IMHO, this lens is 300-500 euros too expensive. So keeping that in mind…. I will consider getting it later when price comes down in combination with sales if nothing better comes out during that time. Cause I am still hoping for Tammy and/or sigma to jump in. This is low hanging fruit for them. i don’t see why one of them wouldn’t come out with an affordable 16-35 f4 that a lot of people would choose over this RF 14-35
 
  • Like
Reactions: dilbert and AJ

hawkjody

CR Pro
Aug 16, 2016
6
3
I got my copy and used it for the first time this weekend - notice SEVERE vignetting a 14 mm - is this to be expected or could it be a bad copy? No Lens hood on No Filter on. No lens profile yet available int LR none applied
 

Attachments

  • RF14 34 f4.jpg
    RF14 34 f4.jpg
    652.1 KB · Views: 35
  • RF 14 to 34 -2.jpg
    RF 14 to 34 -2.jpg
    1,018.4 KB · Views: 37