Resolution (f2.8)

Performance at f2.8 (Centre Frame)

24mm Full Frame
The following 100% crops are taken from the areas marked in red on the full frame image.

The Canon 24mm f1.4 enjoys a massive two stop advantage over its slower (f2.8) competitors who are crying ‘foul’ at this point. But the ref says play on . . .

CanonFlare2a
Canon 24mm f1.4 L at f2.8 (centre) Nikon 17-35mm at 24mm/f2.8 (centre) Olympus 24mm f2.8 at f2.8 (centre)
0 points
1 points
2 points

GOOOOOAAAL! Zuiko slams in a strike from the halfway line and the Canon L skies a penalty. Couple of points worth noting: the Olympus 24mm f2.8 did not perform anywhere near this well wide open with the oversized adaptor supplied; now it flies – though there is a distinct lack of contrast across the frame compared with the Nikon. However, it takes the points because its resolution advantage pulls more from the scene. Contrast is easily corrected.

So I fluffed the focus on the Canon shot, right? I thought so, too, at first . . .

Performance at f2.8 (Mid-Frame)

Note that the Canon 24L, away from the frame centre, is way sharper in front of – and behind – the steps in the previous shot.

CanonFlare2a
Canon 24mm f1.4 L at f2.8 (mid-frame) Nikon 17-35: 24mm/f2.8 (mid-frame) Olympus 24mm f2.8 at f2.8 (mid-frame)

Wow. It’s equally impressive right of centre, at the same distance from the centre frame . . .

CanonFlare2a nikon1735mm olympus24mm
Canon 24mm f1.4 L at f2.8 (mid-frame) Nikon 17-35: 24mm/f2.8 (mid-frame) Olympus 24mm f2.8 at f2.8 (mid-frame)
1 point bonus

What’s that about? Search me. Here’s an action replay: same aperture, different day. The corners on this shot aren’t quite as sharp as the ones you’re about to see, so maybe we’re seeing a waveform focal plane at this aperture. Or perhaps it was a rogue blob of moisture? At least we can’t blame the adaptor. Either way, the linesman has insisted on awarding the 24L an extra point. I have used this particular 24L at wide apertures in the field and not noticed any weirdness until I went looking for it here.

Performance at f2.8 (Corners)

Here we have to factor in a little sunlight to accommodate a rapidly moving British winter sky: the Nikon is somewhat disadvantaged by poorer light, but I resisted the temptation to re-shoot as it became evident that it wasn’t going to outperform either of its competitors’ corners, whatever the light.

CanonFlare2a
Canon 24mm f1.4 L at f2.8 (corner) Nikon 17-35: 24mm/f2.8 (corner) Olympus 24mm f2.8 at f2.8 (corner)
1 points
0 points
2 points

Look beyond the low contrast rendition of the Olympus wide open, and there’s a whole lot of captured information that – amazingly – neither lens can find.

What have we learned? Firstly – and for the first time in my testing – the Nikon zoom is being outplayed. At f2.8, the Canon 24L is very good when it’s good, but question marks linger over its Ronaldo-like behaviour. The Olympus 24/2.8 again exceeds expectations: wide open, it really delivers, across the frame, and requires only modest post-production perking to restore contrast – even if it can’t reach the dizzying heights of the Canon lens when it’s on form.