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Customer Review

210 of 231 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite L Prime Lens, August 15, 2009
This review is from: Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Wide Angle Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed (Electronics)
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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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 1, 2011 7:10:28 AM PDT
M. Simms says:
This is a great review, helped me to determine whether the lens is for me or not.

For portraits it can produce great results but you have to really get very close to your subject and that (more often than not) distracts the subject or makes them uncomfortable. The 85 f1.2 L, 135mm F2 L (best IMO for portraits) or even non-L primes like the 100 f2.8 macro or 85 1.8 are great for portraits.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2011 3:41:04 AM PDT
35mm, in my opinion is picky lens for portrait that choose subjects. It is not safe lens... need to get used to with how lens act first, and you also need to get uncomfortably close if you need head shot or upper torso portrait. For the most people, 50mm or 85mm will be better entry points for prime lens. personally I liked 100 f2.8 macro a lot too :)

Posted on Feb 13, 2012 3:12:54 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 13, 2012 3:14:05 PM PST
Mobius Strip says:
For portraiture with this lens, there's a big difference between a full-frame camera and a 1.6X camera. I'd buy this as my 50mm equivalent on a 1.6X camera. I spent a weekend with friends at indoor locations, and tried to get by with only a 50mm. Not good; way too narrow.

I wouldn't use this for portraits on a full-frame camera. Nice review, though.

Posted on Sep 2, 2012 1:12:16 PM PDT
Thanks for your review. You mention this works for a very particular type of model - can you elaborate? I assume it has something to do with perspective distortion from getting closer, but perhaps it's something else?

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 11:47:55 AM PDT
Sunil says:
"35mm is not going to work well with particular type of people as head portrait lens"
Could you please elaborate more on this statement? I don't get it when you say particular type of people?
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