Review : Canon 35mm, 1.4


For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I received the Canon 35mm, 1.4 lens last week. And Oh! My! Goodness! I nearly died from excitement. I’ve been waiting for this lens f.o.r.e.v.e.r but wanted to make sure it fit into my style and aesthetic. I used it for the first time at Meg+Tim’s wedding and I loved it. Lovvvved it. I causally joked it’d take the place of my Canon 50mm, 1.2, but I’m happy to report I’m still sticking to the 50mm as my all-time favorite lens.

The 35mm is a perfect fit for what I wanted. I shot with the 24mm, 1.4 and while that’s a phenomenal lens, it was much too wide for my preference. Since I shoot primarily with fixed lenses, I needed a lens that worked well with the lenses I use the most: 50mm, 1.2 and 85mm, 1.2. The 24mm ended up being too much of a departure from my style and I feel the 35mm fills the gap just perfectly.

Okay. So why is the 50mm, 1.2 still my favorite? Well, I love it’s versatility. I can shoot within close proximity of my subjects and if I want a wider angle, I simply step back. The 35mm gives close to the same effect, but because it’s wider, it loses a bit of the editorial feel. Just a bit. I’m posting a few images and meta data to show what I mean…

I placed these two portraits of Meg side by side to explain my preferences. The photo on the left was shot with the 35mm, and the focal point placed on her left eye. While it’s a pleasant photo, it gives her a larger-than-life feeling. Which is fine, but it’s just not my taste. The photo on the right is definitely more my style. I stood a bit farther from Meg, but shooting her with the 50mm allowed me to see her within the frame, instead of make Meg the frame itself.
Left: 35mm f/1.4 1/1000 200iso
Right: 50mm f/1.2 1/2000 200iso

Here’s a photo of the bridesmaids shot with the 35mm. I did do some cropping because I shot it a little crooked, so it lost it’s full effect, but the idea is still the same. I would have preferred to photographed this set-up with the 50mm. The 35mm put too much space around my subjects and made them pieces of the frame, not the main focus…
35mm f/4.5 1/400 200iso

I also shot this photo with the 35mm and it’s perrrrrrfect for what I wanted, which is a more candid, photojournalistic feel. Sure, I could’ve shot this photo with the 50mm by backing up farther from my subjects, but I feel I would have lost the intimacy and interaction I had being in close proximity of the girls, talking and laughing…
35mm f/4.0 1/400 200iso

Like always, I shoot a traditional formal portrait of the bride and groom. You know, for grandma and Auntie Mae from Idaho. I could, of course, shoot a portrait of the bride and groom with the 35mm, but it would lose it’s traditional appeal because of the width of the lens. Which is its biggest asset, but I’ll get to that in a minute…
50mm f/3.5 1/320 200iso

Speaking of losing its traditional appeal, the 35mm is perfect for just that. Which is why I love it. The 35mm allows me to stand much closer to my subjects and interact on a new level, thus producing an entirely different image given the same environment. The portrait above and the photo below were shot in the exact same position within seconds of each other and the lenses yield such different results…and by this I mean the couple was standing in the exact same position. I swapped lenses and took two steps closer to them…
35mm f/1.4 1/800 200iso

Like always, these are merely my personal preferences and ideas. If I’ve offended you because the 35mm is your favorite lens, I’m sorry. We can have a shoot off when we next see each other. My opinion is worth nothing, but it’s mine and I thought I’d share. At the end of the day, I love the 35mm, 1.4. Love it. In fact, I shot an engagement session yesterday and I adored how it fit into my shooting style so seamlessly. My only regret is that I didn’t get it sooner. But don’t tell that to my 50mm. It’ll make her jealous.