Comparing Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 mark one and mark two

Further from my conversation with Chip, I decided to take the plunge and purchase a Canon 24mm f/1.4 USM L mark II version of my 24 prime. These two test shots were made at the location where I bought the lens. My camera – Canon 5D2 mounted on a tripod. Setting – f/4 iso 800 for both lenses. Both images have very little processing in terms of sharpening. No noise reduction has been applied.

Test shot with Canon 24mm
Test shot with Mark I
Test shot with Canon 24mm mark II
Test shot with Mark II

Of course they look identical so far, but let’s go in for a closer inspection…

Centre detail

These crops are 100% and are taken from the center of the photos.

Canon 24mm Mark I centre frame
Mark I centre frame
Canon 24mm Mark II centre frame
Mark II centre frame

This is a nice lens comparison because there lots of elements such as contrast, Chromatic Aberration(CA) and sharpness of detail. The detail in the shop window behind is probably the best indicator of a sharpness improvement (although at iso 800 it is hard to tell). Where the rock meets the yellow door frame is the best indicator of CA improvement.

Chromatic Aberration(CA)

Next we will look at Chromatic Aberration because this was the main reason for the upgrade.  Chromatic Aberration indicates where parts of the lens are not perfectly in tune with the sensor (or film).  This can be corrected in Adobe Lightroom, but the adjustment will still degrade the image sharpness.

Canon 24mm Mark I Chromatic Aberration
Mark I Chromatic Aberration
Canon 24mm Mark II Chromatic Aberration
Mark II Chromatic Aberration

This clip is taken from left centre of the image. CA is usually worse at the edge of the scene at high contrast areas (Look at the purple and green fringing on the edge of the white vertical). Both images has CA, but it is noticeably less on the Mark II. These comparison images indicate a flaw in my test because the Mark II is focussing closer than the Mark I.

Flare

Next we compare the ability to control flare from the blazing shop lights.

Canon 24mm Mark II Lens flare
Mark II flare
Canon 24mm Mark I Lens flare
Mark I flare 

It is easy to see that the Mark II controlled the flare in this high key area much better than the Mark I. There is also better sharpness and contrast.

Colour Contrast

The next clip looks at colour contrast for both lenses.

Canon 24mm Mark I L colour contrast[
Mark I colour contrast
Canon 24mm Mark II L colour contrast
Mark II colour contrast

There is much better contrast on the Mark II and the colours are much brighter. They look a bit washed out on the Mark I.

Conclusion

The improvements are definitely noticeable although further comparisons are required with different conditions and better focussing controls.  Overall I am happy with my upgrade and excited to take it into the Landscapes of Iceland.

My Lenses

Most of the photographs on Iceland Aurora were taken with these 3 prime lenses. 90% were taken with the Canon 24mm f/1.4 USM L Prime.

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 l

Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM
ZEISS Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZE

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By Tony Prower

Tony Prower spent over 15 years photographing the landscapes of Iceland. Tony Prower is a pioneer of the Magic Cloth Technique and ran thousands of photo tours in Iceland over 10 years.

2 comments

  1. Great review! Thanks! Im thinking about getting this lens, but Im still not sure if getting the I or the II. Could you comment a bit on the differences at f1.4? Is the I usable wide open?

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