Canon EF 11-24mm f/4 L Initial Gallery Impressions: We put this ultra-wide zoom to task on the 5D Mk III


posted Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 4:50 PM EDT

Canon's latest L-series offering is their widest zoom lens ever made, so we couldn't wait to take it out for a test-drive as soon as it touched down in our laboratory. Announced in February along with two new members of the storied 5D family of full-frame DSLRs, the 5DS and 5DS R, this constant f/4 11-24mm EF L lens has wide-angle versatility written all over it.

Two and a half pounds of glass and metal is not what most folks tote around for an everyday lens, but this is no ordinary lens. Promising not only outstanding image quality but also a very robust build to go along with it, including being dust and water resistant as well as sporting a fluorine coating for reducing fingerprint smudges, this "heavyweight" wide angle zoom brings real muscle to the table. We paired it with the uber-popular Canon 5D Mark III, a camera now three years old and yet one that as of this writing still resides on our homepage most weeks in our "Most Popular Cameras" pod. And quite the formidable combination it's shaping up to be.

The new Canon EF 11-24mm f/4 L shown on the immensely popular Canon 5D Mark III

Before moving onto the gallery, here's a quick glance at the relative size (smaller than actual size) as compared to Canon's own 35mm f/2 prime lens as well as Nikon's 14-24mm f/2.8 G:

The 11-24mm is about the same height as a similar wide angle zoom offering from Nikon, though is a bit beefier in width and a bit heavier as well at 41.5 oz to the Nikon's 35.3 oz. And while you don't get f/2.8, you do get the 3 additional milimeters of wider angle, which extends your reach to 126°.

The images below have been resized to fit this page and most have been cropped and/or slightly tweaked in post processing, primarily to balance the shadows and highlights. Click any image to access that image's carrier page and to see it as delivered straight from the camera, including access to EXIF data and the full resolution image.


I would have preferred to be in the desert with this lens, or perhaps on a gorgeous beach in the South Pacific, but then again maybe that would have been too cliché. As an alternative I tried to use it to make our somewhat barren early-spring surroundings a bit more interesting, employing that expansive 11mm maw for many of these.

1/160 / f/14 / ISO 125 / 17mm

1/160s / f/18 / ISO 100 / 11mm


Moving now to another classic use of wide angle lenses we'll look at a few various interior shots, beginning with capturing the bulk of a large fitness club, and then moving to a rather tight hallway in a cave recording studio.

1/40s / f/8 / ISO 1600 / 12mm

24s / f/11 / ISO 250 / 17mm / -1.7EV


Intriguing exteriors can also be a test in creating both depth and curbside appeal. Our senior lens specialist Rob Murray captured this image as well as the additional ones below it, in addition to more found in the 5D III gallery.

1/30s / f/5 / ISO 800 / 11mm / +0.3EV

Product Photography

Wide angles can make the somewhat normal appear much larger than they really are, and often more appealing. The BMW i3 electric vehicle is certainly not what most people would call "normal" -- it is in fact quite unique. But product photographers still need wide lenses to showcase interiors, especially smaller ones like in the i3, so we took Luke Smith, our senior lab technician, and his BMW i3 to the Black Forest of Germany to try and get some unique perspectives. (Er, it might actually be the Black Forest of Woodstock, GA, USA.) Of course, product photographers for big-deal products will spend days or even weeks on getting the best shots, but this lens allowed us to get this shot in about 15 minutes from prep-time to computer. (Not that this image would pass muster on Park Avenue, but at least the lens is right for the job.)

1/160s / f/8 / ISO 600 / 11mm

Documentary Work

In telling a full story, documentary photographers shooting a series generally employee the full range of focal lengths, from very wide shots to tightly framed telephoto images. I cropped this image just a bit and desaturated it for the more classic black and white dramatic flair, but it's the wide focal length that really helps tell this story. ("Gulf Coast Kids channeling Huck Finn.")

1/160s / f/4 / ISO 500 / 11mm

Unique Perspectives

I saved this part for as long as I could, not wanting you to think I walked around for two days using this $3000 lens just to create special effects. But I'd have to say that it was the most enjoyable part of the weekend shoot. After all, while advertisers often employ the more classic longer focal lengths for achieving good subject-to-background isolation for the more "serious" products, they're equally bound to rely on distorted perspective shots for the more whimsical products they're selling, and this lens can certainly achieve some interesting perspectives. This first one ("The World's Tallest Tulip?") is using the tele end of this lens at 24mm.

1/250s / f/14 / ISO 200 / 24mm

Aperture Series

I'll close this gallery perspective out where it began, with a traditional landscape shot but this time using foreground imagery for scale. I shot this image at all 6 full stops, focusing on the center rock for each shot. Clicking on any image will take you to that image's carrier page, or you can view them all by visiting the Canon 5D III Gallery page and scrolling down until you see images with "11-24mm" in the title.

1/160s / f/11 / ISO 100 / 11mm
f/11 f/16 f/22

We have an additional 25 or so images shot with this combination in our 5D III gallery, including more in the middle focal lengths.

*Update 4-17-2015: Our full technical review is now complete!

Canon 5D III GalleryEF 11-24mm f/4 L Review

1/160s / f/16 / ISO 125 / 11mm