There is a new king of the 35mm f/1.4 lens lineup. With its introduction, the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM Lens raises the bar on image quality delivered at this focal length and aperture. This lens is not small, light or inexpensive, but it is an impressive performer, delivering remarkable image quality at an extreme wide aperture that begs for torturous low light conditions.
The Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM Lens replaces the 1998-era Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Lens, a lens that Chuck Westfall (Canon U.S.A.) referred to as a “mainstay with a lot of photographers” and a “tough act to follow”. With the popularity enjoyed by the very useful 35 L version I, success to an improved version of this lens was nearly assured.
The original 24 L and 35 L version “I” lenses appeared similar in not just max aperture, but also in design. When the 24 L II was introduced, many expected the 35 L II to be close following. “Close” didn’t happen and it took another 7 years for the now 17 year old 35 L to be retired.
Introducing a new lens without solid improvements does not often make good business sense. Canon generally makes lens upgrades worthwhile, has been delivering some amazing new lenses recently and has brand new innovative technology (Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics) implemented in this lens. The 35 L II promised to be as outstanding as it was certain to be useful.