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on January 28, 2006
I am going start by saying that I rate this lens as five stars _except_ for vignetting on full frame digital sensors at wide open apertures. I use this lens as my standard lens on a 5d. I find this angle of view to be perfect for general all around photography where I will "step in" to the subject to get the shot. This lens requires more interaction with the subject, but I think it results in more dynamic pictures. This lens is razor sharp, visibly sharper than my mainstay 24-70 f2.8 L zoom. On the 5d, I can shoot at f1.4 ISO 400 indoors without a flash which is pretty cool.

Now the downside. All wide angles at wide open aperture have light falloff and even this lens demonstrates this tendency. You may not even notice this on many shots, but under some conditions it is very obvious and this condition is more noticeable on digital than film. You can fix this using the distortion filter in PhotoshopCS. If you shoot at f4 or better, the light falloff is not noticeable even under the worse of conditions. The falloff is not visible when you use this lens on an APS digital sensor like the 20d where it has a "normal" angle of view.
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on August 15, 2009
I have this lens for very long time, and it is still one of the most frequently used L Prime for my assignment.
Indeed, this lens has been very popular among commercial photographer who are doing full body portrait, in the particular market, this lens is often considered as premier portrait lens.

I will not go into the wisdom of using 35mm as a portrait lens since it is really up to the judgment of individual photographer.

In general, there are two type of people using this lens for professional purpose.

Former is people who are shooting architecture/landscape and latter is people shooting portrait.

While I do not use this lens much for commercial landscape photography purpose, I used this lens a lot for commercial portrait purpose.

For the particular type of model...very often female model, I often do the model interview with this lens alone to determine how well this model will work with my project.

This lens works really well with particular type of model. And since I worked with Far East market frequently on commercial/magazine assignment, this type of lens work out very well and indeed became workhorse of my production.
You have to be mindful, 35mm focal length is bit tricky to do portrait. So, you have to be careful with type of model you are using.

It is also very useful for low available light situation, so I see some wedding photographer used them.
Some of events photographer also love to use this for similar reason, and it seemed to work well with capturing child etc.

However, I only see limited satisfied amateur user of this lens... while I am teaching photography lesson.

It is may be because it makes very little economic sense for amateur user who are shooting landscape or family portrait.
This 35mm lens focal length are well covered by many reputable L zoom lens including 16-35, 17-40, 24-105, 24-70 and other. All of them are excellent L lens, and will do wonder for the most of landscape or portrait project. Zoom lens actually makes better economic argument in many occasion.

As far as difference from L zoom lens concern, you won't notice much until you started to enlarge to considerable size.

To be honest, not all of my 35mm focal length shoot on commercial assignment used this prime lens either... and that is even for the people who shoot staged subject in studio. So, you can guess how often prime lens is used for journalistic type of photography.

So, be sure you need this particular lens or you will be disappointed.

Faster Aperture alone normally won't justify this lens.

But if you know you need this lens, and your assignment or project demand this lens. Why wait.

You really have to look at its performance when it is stop down to f2.8~f4 where many of money shot using this lens are created.
For people who are not sure about taking plunge to the L prime lens, I strongly suggest to rent this lens for a week or more, so you will be sure you needed this lens for your particular style.

Major Advantage are:

1. F1.4 Aperture really help for low available light portrait situation, and ideal for indoor use.
2. Very nice portrait lens for particular type of production.
3. Work wonderfully on both full size sensor camera as well as 1.6x body.
4. Build quality is excellent
5. Very sharp, sharp enough to convince you that your L lens prime is worth the price. Very useful for spread or any other large assignment.

Major Disadvantage are:

1.Cost as much as L zoom lens that does not sit well for many people.
2.Prime lens is inherently limited as a workaround lens, so I wold go for L zoom lens if I have to choose lens on the travel.
3.35mm is not going to work well with particular type of people as head portrait lens, so if you are going to buy your first L prime lens for portrait purpose, it is might be safer to buy 50/f1.2 or 85/f1.2
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on March 8, 2009
I have both a Canon 5D MarkII and a Canon 50D...so I wanted a high-quality prime lens that would be a good primary lens for both cameras (taking into consideration the magnification factor on the 50D). And this lens is perfect. When I put it on the 50D, it's more like a 50mm, and when I put it on my 5D, it give the perfect amount of extra angle. I love this lens! If I go somewhere and don't want to take all of my equipment, I will strap this baby on without hesitation. I notice that it's a little less sharp at f/1.4, so I mostly shoot with it at f/1.8 or f/2.0 and that gives me amazing bokeh and subject sharpness.
I am primarily a wedding portrait photographer and love to get different angles and styles...this lens provides me with the most creative power.
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on May 31, 2007
It is as expensive as a 24-70L, and costs 4 times more than a 35/2. It is fixed length and "only" 2 stops faster. It is not noticably sharper at f4 and higher.

But I find I fall in love with it. I used a 85/1.8 and 135/2L for portrait. I also have a 24-70L, 50/1.8II and a 18-55 kit lens. But I found that I need a wide and FAST lens to shoot my kid/baby. I prefer to shoot with natural indoor light. I read reviews and browsed pictures and decided that 35/1.4L is the one I need. Based on reviews and my experience with 50/1.8II, 35/2 is NOT usable untill you stop it to f4. That is too slow.

I made the right decision. At f/1.4 it is soft, but at f2.0, picture is pretty sharp. And most importantly, it maintains very good and natural color saturation which you won't get from Photoshop, as well good contrast ratio. It is not very shart at f2.0, but color and contrast make pictures beautiful. Set ISO200 and 1/40th shutter speed, I can shoot without flash at f2.0. Wider angle also means you can shoot in about 4~5 feet away so you can have eye contact with your kids or babies. You won't worry they are not looking at you/lens. This is priceless to me.

Originally I thought this would be a indoor lens as I have a 24-70L. But now I also find it is a very good outdoor portrait/landscape lens. It captures very good details and color for shadow area and takes very nice portrait pictures even with back light. After a trip with this lens, I decide to use 24-70L for indoor studio light shoot only (with flexible zoom/frame).

It is not a great anti-flare performer, but still better than most other lenses. Bokeh is very good with no sign of distraction at all. It may not be as beautiful as a 135/2L but much better than I expected.

It is expensive, but it is a prime L. I cannot say it worth more than a grand, but if you need a fast lens, with good color and saturation at wide open, wide angle and still with beautiful bokeh. It is the one for you. It also provides good shadow details with no sign of wash out. No need to say DOV control. If you have the money, I highly recommend this lens.

Body used: Canon Rebel.

Lenses used: 18-55mm, 24-70L, 50/1.8II, 85/1.8, 135/2L.

Cons:

Expensive. Cost as much as a 16-35L, a 24-70L or a 70-200/2.8L.

Back focus for 0.5 inch at f/1.4 with Rebel/300D boday but I can live with it.

Anti-flare is not the best.

Pros:

FAST with very usable f2.

Very shallow DOV.

Very beautiful bokeh.

Very good color saturation and good contrast even at wide open.

Good shadow detail with good color/contrast (good for back light).

Beautiful L color.

Fast focus speed as expected from a L lens with Ring USM.

L build quality.
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on September 26, 2012
I purchased this lens to replace my 24-70 f/2.8 as a walkaround lens due to it's weight. I found myself leaving the camrea at home if I was going to be carrying it with me for an extended period of time and I didn't like missing photo oppurtunities. I also have the 50mm 1.4 but for me it was never quite wide enough for my use, especially indoors.

This lens is incredible. The pictures are extraordinary and the focal length is perfect for almost any use. I have used it for portraits of my son and also landscapes and it has excelled at everything. The 1.4 maximum aperture allows me to use this lens in almost any situation when combined with my 5D mark iii. I have found that shooting with prime lenses makes me think more about the pictures I take and I am finding myself in better positions to take better pictures the more I use primes. I am able to previsualize the picture before I take it and very rarely have to move very much after I am in position. I don't miss the zoom at all. My only regret is that I didn't buy this lens sooner. You can keep waiting for the rumored version ii or do yourself a favor and enjoy using this lens now.

As for a previous reviwer commenting about the packaging from Amazon I did not have any issues. Everything was included in the box and it arrived very quickly with no damages.
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on October 13, 2011
For news, event, and wedding photographers, this lens is a jewel. It shines at capturing a very natural perspective with unique clarity and bokeh. I own both the 50/1.2L and 24/1.4L II and have had the chance to use a friend's 35L for a couple weeks. It really seems to shine at capturing groups of people in natural environments. It has just enough of a wide angle perspective to feel natural while at the same time providing sufficient subject isolation through it's fast aperture. The subject isolation of the 50/1.2 is much greater while that of the 24/1.4 is much less.

It is generally a bit wide for single person portraits, but is excellent for two person portraits or smaller group shots. This lens pairs very well with a fast 85mm lens. The 35/85/135 L primes are referred to as the "holy trinity" in Canon circles due to the excellent spacing of focal lengths and the unique rendering characteristics of each lens.

Technically this lens is about on par with the 24/1.4II maybe slightly better than the 50/1.2L. All lenses are sharp near the center of the frame, but this lens seems to hold onto its sharpness towards the edges a little better than the other two at large apertures. Stopped down they are all excellent across the frame. The bokeh of this lens has a bit more character than the stronger, more uniform bokeh of 50mm and 85mm lenses. Images from the 35L seems very atmospheric compared to longer, more isolating focal lengths.

I have found focusing on my 5DII bodies to be fast, smooth, and very accurate. The lens is generally built very well, but still sports the smooth plastic finish of older L lenses. The updated finish of my 24/1.4 II is more substantial and feels far better in-hand. I'm half expecting Canon to come out with a version II soon with a host of updates, including the newer textured finish. The lens hood fits nicely and does its job - which is primarily to protect the front element since this lens flares very little.

My #1 advice to people looking to purchase an L prime in this range is to buy for the focal length you want. Having owned or used most all of the short L primes I can tell you confidently they are all the best lenses you can buy in their respective focal lengths. The only real difference among them is the focal length. The perspective, rendering, and general "feel" of the images from each of the L primes is going to be different and special. Buy the lens which suits your style the best instead of which one is perceived to be "sharper".

As it stands, this lens is a wedding and photojournalistic juggernaut and by far the best 35mm lens you can buy for Canon. Some would even argue that it's also better than all of the Canon 50s, but that's another debate. Even if Canon does replace this lens soon, it will still be a heck of a good lens at this price.
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on November 9, 2006
The 35mm f/1.4L lens has slight back focus at the beginning so I sent it to Canon Factory Service for focus calibration. After that, the lens is just perfect! Sharpness, saturation, contrast are brilliant and in line with other Canon L-class prime lens. Even at f/1.4, image quality is far better than the 16-35mm at f/2.8. At f/2.8, image quality is way better than the 16-35mm at f/2.8. This lens is thus one of the legendary lens from Canon, besides the 85mm f/1.2L and 135mm f/2L. Even though I alredy have the 16-35mm f/2.8L, I'm very happy to purchase the 35mm f/1.4L.

Highly recommended lens, espcially for 1.6X crop body (such as 20D, 30D, 350D, 400D).

:)
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VINE VOICEon January 16, 2008
Some of you may know about the 35mm Leica lens that was dubbed the "Bokeh King" for the wonderfully pleasant quality of bokeh that it created. This lens very much reminds me of it. Achieving bokeh is done with many lenses. Achieving that special "wow" bokeh is only achieved with an elite few. I believe this lens is a member of that elite few. It is professional looking and artistic looking at once. Easily controllable; automatically just the right amount and character in every shot. Just purely brilliant bokeh. I also own the 135mm f/2L which also receives high praise for its bokeh but in my opinion it is not as good as this lens. More bokeh doesn't necessarily mean best bokeh. It is the quality of the bokeh. This lens truly possesses that special quality. Alright, enough about the bokeh.

Sharpness? Of course it is razor sharp. It better be for this price. I just expected that. If your's isn't then you need to return it for another one.

Low-light performance? The best I have experienced from any Canon lens, and I have owned several professional and/or low-light Canon lenses.

I sold my awesome 24-70mm lens to get this lens and I took a leap of faith in doing so. It looks as if I made a good decision. I do so because the 24-70 is too heavy and unwieldy and the f/2.8 of the lens is not good for indoors without a flash. Plus, 35mm was the focal length I was using most. Again I am very happy I did so. This lens was everything I hoped it would be and more. I don't see it coming off the 5D for a long while.

This is one of the best kept secrets in Canon "L" lenses. I can't understand why this lens gets so little attention. I guess it is because everyone favors the convenience of Zoom lenses. This is bar none the best Canon lens I have ever owned. I can't wait for it's first wedding which is in a few weeks.
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on January 9, 2012
i have gone through numerous L series zooms... but after following the advice of many professional photographers, i took a big leap of faith and sold my prized 24-70 to get this 35mm. i have not regretted it one bit, best move i have made! this is by far the best lens i own, and is now my walkaround lens. you cannot beat the color, contrast, and sharpness (even wide open) of canon L primes. there is just something very special about the photos this 35L takes. i shoot it wide open 90% of the time, love the paper thin depth of field the f1.4 produces, even as wide as 35mm. also 35mm is wide enough to take pictures of large scenes, and produces little to no barrel distortion. i have learned to live without zoom... i just zoom with my fee these days. allows me to interact more with my subjects this way. if you have the money, and want only the best image quality you can get, i highly recommend this lens. it is one of the best lenses canon makes and is very highly regarded. i originally wanted a 50mm f1.2, but all of the mixed reviews scared me away. i am glad i went with the 35 though, as i tend to prefer wider focal lengths. i use this lens on my canon 5D classic. the images are breathtakingly awesome! it rarely leaves my camera.
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VINE VOICEon December 17, 2008
I have been switching between a Canon 17-40 f/4 and a 50 f/1.4 for the everyday lens on my EOS 40D and I couldn't seem to find the sweet spot. The 50mm which is an effective 80mm on this body is always too limiting in interior situations such as birthday parties or small groups where its narrow field of view forces me to back away or take tighter crops than I would like. The 17-40 f/4 isn't fast enough for low light.
After procrastinating over the price of the 35mm f/1.4L for some time, I finally took the leap. I am not disappointed - I now have a real standard lens and a fast one at that. It has a pleasant heft and is built with solid materials and a quality finish. It seems to focus much faster than the 50 f/1.4 and early test results are fantastic. It produces lovely warm colors, the bokeh is very pleasing and images have excellent sharpness. I have had the 35mm f/2 and that lens just is not in the same league though it is a good value choice. If you can afford this lens (even at the cost of dumping some of your others) and want a standard focal length on a non-full frame body, I strongly recommend it.
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