Conclusion: The build quality and heritage of his lens is unquestionable and for full frame sensors or 35mm, it is still in the top flight. As a standard prime on a cropped sensor dSLR it will do a good job, but might just be out-performed by some of the younger opposition.
Pros: Excellent Build, Good low light performance, Consistent performance
Summary: Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM was supposed to be one of Canon's flagship lenses. It almost reaches that status, with outstanding performance on an APS-C camera, but falls a bit short on a full frame body. So where does this leave us? If you shoot an APS-C camera, then you will be hard pressed to find a better lens (image quality-wise that is).
Conclusion: The EF 35mm f/1.4 L lens has significantly better sharpness (resolution and MTF) from f/2 to f/4 than the EF 35mm f/2 lens. Corner sharpness is very good if stopped down. The EF 35mm f/1.4 L is an excellent fast lens for wide field astrophotography and performs optimally at f/2.8. It is also a fast focusing lens when used for general photographic purpose. Performance is excellent at f/2 for non-astro photography.
Excerpt: For an L lens, this lens is relatively small - 3.1" x 3.4" (79.0mm x 86.0mm)(DxL) - and light - 20.5 oz (580g). Even smaller than the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L USM Lens . You know there is something in your hand, but the weight is not bothersome. The lens handles very well on the camera.
Summary: Despite its age, this lens is still capable of producing excellent results. The resolution recorded in the centre is high, even at wide apertures. Although the resolution may fall off towards the edges, I find this acceptable in use with wide aperture lenses such as this.
Pros: Good centre resolution at wide apertures, Outstanding performance across the frame when stopped down, Build quality, Weather resistant, Resistance to flare
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM L - Full Format Lab Test Report / Review
21 December 2009
Conclusion: The Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM L is certainly an impressive piece of engineering but it struggles a bit on full format DSLRs - at least technically. The center resolution is excellent straight from f/1.4 but the borders and extreme corners are soft here. That said it is certainly capable of delivering images with a very shallow depth-of-field and that's the primary point of this lens after all.
Conclusion: Only the fact, that the cons list for a standard prime instrument, which costs 1240$, is five position long, should make you think twice. Two of these faults are possible to omit. Firstly, you can chose a lens without a defect, secondly, we can wait for a price reduction or for a significant cash-back from Canon. There are still three positions that can’t be changed. Can the advantages of this lens compensate the disadvantages?
Cons: high vignetting on the APS-C sensor and simply monstrous on full frame,, significant coma,, the frame corner picture quality on full frame at the maximum relative aperture should have been better,, an element defect which passed the factory quality control,, an exorbitant price.
Conclusion: The Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 USM L is highly regarded in the Canon community and it also shows in the lab. The resolution figures are exceptional and among the best tested so far. Typical for ultra-large aperture lenses vignetting is a little on the high side at wide-open aperture even on an APS-C DSLR but the issue remains correctable via imaging tools and stopping helps to resolves the issue if needed. CAs are a little on the high side unfortunately.