I first tried Canon's EF 11-24mm f/4.0L USM lens at the MotoGP a few years ago. Since then, I have been keeping an eye out for one at a reasonable price on the second hand market. Fast forward a few years and I have finally managed to find one. I took it out over the weekend on a shoot in Lamington National Park and these are some first impressions.
First up, this is a heavy lens and the front glass elements sticks out like a sore thumb. The bulbous front element is also not compatible with front filters, so I had to get myself a set of Kase slide in rear mounted neutral density filters to suit my landscape work. Not ideal when you have already invested in a sizeable collection of filters.
Out in the field, the lens produces some truly unique images. At 11mm, it provides a near 180 degree field of view (it is probably a bit less but it feels like it draws in the world in front of you). With this, you have to be careful and watch what you catch in the corners of your images or else it can be distracting the composition. The lens is also a little soft in the corners in terms of sharpness and it has a slight fisheye effect, but I find this aids in drawing the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. If you work in damp conditions, especially a rainforest, just be careful to ensure you don't catch any moisture on the front element, as this will ruin the image focal or light flare. Autofocusing is reasonably fast for a lens of this type but just be careful in selecting your focal points.
All in all, I am very happy with the lens. It lets you capture those shots which are impossible with other standard or wide angle lenses. It's a fantastic addition to the kitbag if you shoot landscapes, architecture or sports. Just be aware, its big, expensive and until an RF equivalent is released, increasingly hard to find on the used market.