Samyang 24mm F1.4 lens review: Best 24mm lens for Canon full-frame EOS users?

By Kevin Carter - Wednesday March 12 2014

Lens Review
Introduction | 24mm: Typical use | Best performing 24mm for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III | Samyang 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC Canon | Conclusion

24mm: Typical use

Although the popularity of mirrorless cameras has flourished in Asia, the DSLR continues to be the camera design of choice with professionals and enthusiasts worldwide. Regardless of that, the highly refined design the cameras are only a part. By far the more important segment of the system to these users is the lens line up. 

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An expansive field of view combined with high imaging performance makes a 24mm ideal for dramatic and detailed landscapes. Copyright 2014, Beboy Photographies

With its expansive field of view, close focus capability and range of different speed models, the 24mm focal length is one of the most popular focal lengths, and has long since replaced the once common 28mm as the wide-angle of choice. Being only fractionally wider, it’s a simple case to frame and later crop to the 28mm field of view.

With high-resolution cameras this option has become routine, but there’s little doubt the resurgence in demand for the 24mm and can be attributed to the popularity and now accessibility of full-frame DSLRs. That’s not only because the sensor restored the intended field of view and image aesthetic but also because of the emergence of video capture. 

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High-speed 24mm lenses are particularly suited to interiors where light levels may be low, such as these two photographs by Carlos Andrés Varela. Copyright 2014, Carlos Andrés Varela

The introduction coincided with a craze for shallow depth of field, but traditionally the ultra-fast models were designed exclusively for reportage and available light photography. Canon was the first to introduce a 24mm f1.4, back in 1975, an achievement that has only recently been matched by rivals. 

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A 24mm lens adds drama and presence to subjects when photographed up close. Copyright 2014, Benoit Courti

Models with more modest f2.8 maximum apertures were intended for architecture, interiors and landscapes. While that’s still true today, makers such as Canon are optimizing optical designs for highly detailed and descriptive imaging, and adding value with features such as stabilization. That particular option isn’t solely a benefit for the stills photographer; it’s now not uncommon to see handheld footage from DSLRs and the latest optical stabilization technology is very effective at minimizing the highly distracting movement. 

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A 24mm is less extreme than its ultra-wide counterparts and is capable of being both involving and dynamic. Used wide open, delicate blurring is achievable, not unlike longer focal lengths. Copyright 2014, Benoit Courti