Blog

How The Canon 11-24mm Super Wide Zoom Made It’s Way Into My ‘Top 3’

If there was ONE lens that “made the difference” for me this year, it was the Canon f4 11-24mm super wide zoom.

When I first got my hands on the lens early this year, I was intrigued as to what sort of images it would produce, but it’s 3.5+ lbs of weight and maximum aperture of f4 didn’t have me overly excited with it’s potential for shooting night time aerials.   I’m also (generally) not a fan of lenses wider than 24 mm as a general rule, and especially nothing wider than a 15mm due of distortion.   As they say, first impressions can be deceiving…

I certainly didn’t account for it becoming an absolutely ESSENTIAL piece of gear for me on Project AIR, which – as most of you know – was a project largely shot at night (where fast glass with wide apertures and lightweight gear design play essential roles in the gear that we chose to bring up in the air).   Since getting the lens, I must have shot somewhere in the region of 10,000+ images with it, a fairly decent amount to get a good sense of what it can do,  and I can quite honestly say it has easily become one of my favorite lenses Canon has ever made and most notably in terms of how detailed and sharp the images are that come off of this lens.

While I can’t share all the images I would like to that I shot with the lens now (many of them have made it into the upcoming book of the project so can’t be shared just yet), I want to break down why this lens became so useful to me this year.

The versatility of the lens is wonderful – you can get these beautiful, epic, wide establishing shots at 11mm, through to normal wide shots at 24mm – great for both stills photographers and filmmakers looking for excellent options in a single wide angle lens.    I think this lens will become EXTREMELY popular with filmmakers actually.

The build quality is also incredible and it’s extremely solid to handle and use. The zoom ring has excellent, consistent pressure throughout the range, focus is fast and accurate and the design of the optics is really impressive, avoiding barrel distortion which is typically seen in super wide zooms and with edge to edge sharpness and illumination with minimal chromatic aberration.

Here’s a few shots taken over New York earlier this year:
NYC_11-24_35A0463

NYC_11-24_nyc_35a0723

 

For Project Air, the 11-24mm focal range for my 5DS became a great pairing. Much of my stills work has been at high altitudes (sometimes as much as 11,000 ft above the ground), and capturing the vast, wide, open expanses of the cities below with this lens has been a true joy. Even at a maximum aperture of f4, I was still able to push ISO and keep shutter speeds high enough to get clean images like these (which were actually captured just at sunrise, so with not a great deal of ambient light) with no motion blur.   This lens allowed me to capture views of cities I’ve seldom seen before – in large part likely due to the fact that sharp 11 mm lens are extremely rare in the photography world.

Dave Geffin my BTS video / photo shooter on AIR often found using the 11-24mm at night on the C300 quite acceptable, pushing ISO to still get clean stills and video work with the lens at f4. A few example shots below of our flight at dusk over Barcelona, which he shot with a 5D Mk3.   You can see perspectives and field of views from inside the helicopter cockpit that are relatively rare, and truly “open up” a tight space.

 

VBL_5156

VBL_5175

 

The 11-24mm is great for filmmakers too. You can see the lens in action for most of the first 60 seconds of this GTech workflow video we shot where David used the 11-24mm inside the helicopter hangar in Barcelona to get a variety of shots I wanted to detail in our workflow process.

So is the lens worth the price? For me the answer is a clear “yes”. If build quality (and durability during travel) and outstanding optics are what you want, AND if the focal range of 11-24mm (on a full frame) is what you need, you simply can’t go wrong with it.    Action/Adventure, Sports, and Nature photographers will have little excuse to not have this lens as part of their kit.

For myself and my team, this lens literally delivered content for Project AIR that other lenses simple wouldn’t have been able to provide. The super wide focal range and notably the optical quality were what won me over immediately. With minimal barrel distortion and the edge to edge sharpness and great illumination in the corners, you’ll understand why this lens has made it’s way firmly into my go-to selection.

I used to say that the two “go to” lenses any photographer should have were the 24~70mm 2.8 II and 70~200mm 2.8 II – and that they could literally travel the world with JUST those two lenses and capture almost anything.    The 11-24mm is now the final piece to that puzzle, with those three zoom lenses you’re pretty much set to capture the world.

If you’re not sure, I highly recommend taking the lens for a test drive, and seeing what the fuss is about!

 

A few more tech specs and details below:

Canon 11-24mm f4

 

Canon11-24_1

 

PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

  • EF Mount L-Series Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Constant f/4 Maximum Aperture
  • Super UD, UD, and 4 Aspherical Elements
  • SWC, Air Sphere, and Fluorine Coatings
  • Ring-Type USM Autofocus Motor
  • Internal Focus; Full-Time Manual Focus
  • Weather-Resistant Design
  • Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm

From manufacturer:

A truly versatile wide-angle zoom featuring an advanced optical design and constant f/4 maximum aperture, the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens is a member of the esteemed L-series of lenses designed for full-frame EOS DSLRs. One Super UD element and one UD element offer a significant reduction in chromatic aberrations while four aspherical elements help to minimize distortions throughout the zoom range and provide consistent edge-to-edge sharpness and illumination. Both SWC and ASC coatings have been applied to the elements in order to reduce lens flare and ghosting for increased contrast and color accuracy. Ideally suited for landscape and architectural photography, this lens covers ultra-wide to wide-angle perspectives and backs up its versatile zoom range with sophisticated optical components and intuitive handling.

Rent from Lens Pro To Go

Price – $2,999 from B&H  

 

 

Project AIR – COMPLETED!

Project AIR is officially COMPLETE (for now, at least!) and the book has been finalized and signed off!

It has been an intense, incredible, whirlwind year for me on this project (certainly one of the most satisfying and also most challenging of my entire career!). While I’m not ruling out further opportunities to shoot more cities, with the hard deadline for the book (which we successfully hit last month) and with commercial project commitments, I simply had to draw a line under this chapter of the project.

It has been an amazing journey – from the project’s initial inception after the New York images from the Men’s Health editorial published last year went viral, to those of you who followed and (literally) helped give birth and life to what the project became, it’s fair to say this was a complete first for me. The support for the project took the team across North America, Europe and even Sydney, Australia, and it’s been an incredible ride.

5

I’m excited to get the book out and into everyone’s hands now, and see what you all think of the images – it’s one thing to see them on a screen but it’s completely different to see and experience them on the printed page.

The book will be out in time for the November Holiday Season here in the US – don’t miss out and pre-order here to ensure you get your copy: http://www.laforetair.com/pre-order-book/laforet-air-book

BookAIR

Once again – thank you to each and every one of you who has followed, supported and provided positive feedback on the project – it has, without doubt, been a source of inspiration and motivation for myself and the project team through the year as we worked to bring more images from more cities to be able to share with you all.

VBL_4998

More updates to come in the coming weeks and months. For now, feel free to check out the project site here where you can see more images, behind the scenes videos, buy prints and check out the store!

V

 

 

 

 

Tenba – The Bags I’ve Trusted To Transport $250k+ Of Gear Across The Globe

The Importance Of Traveling Light And Secure

When you travel as often as I do, with as much gear as we often are transporting, you really start to value both lightweight and versatile designs for gear bags, and those that that don’t compromise protection and quality.  We’ve flown 150,000 miles this year on Project AIR which is scary.

For me, Tenba XL attaché roller cases have become incredibly useful on the AIR project. I’ve used two to 3 of them throughout the Air Tour, one contains all of our BTS video gear, including C300, lenses and audio gear as well as back up drives. The other contains our Kenyon gyros for stabilized shooting at night.

 

Vincentlaforet_Tenba_Shootout_Attache_BHVincentlaforet_Tenba_Shootout_Attache_BH1

Vincentlaforet_Tenba_Shootout_Attache8

Vincentlaforet_Tenba_Shootout_Attache6

Vincentlaforet_Tenba_Shootout_Attache7

Vincentlaforet_Tenba_Shootout_Attache5

Vincentlaforet_Tenba_Shootout_Attache4

Vincentlaforet_Tenba_Shootout_Attache2

Vincentlaforet_Tenba_Attache_4

 

I have another two of these Attache rollers at home, one housing my RED Epic and the other containing my dedicated time lapse kit.

So – why Tenba? Two main reasons:

– Protection – these attaches are absolutely rock solid. We’ve had our Project Air BTS video case go through 8 legs so far, in the hold each time. The BTS case contains lots of glass and camera gear and it’s all been transported without issue.    The sturdy handle, solid wheels, and Fedex label pouch on the exterior are also perfect editions to an otherwise stellar case.

– Weight – we have 10 pieces of hold luggage for each leg of this journey. We have weighed each item to make sure it’s within weight limits because after paying up to $1000 a leg for excess baggage, you really don’t want to pay the excess weight too! These gear bags are being lifted for transport into vans and often carried, so a lighter starting point is always better.

Tenba also make a fantastic, low profile backpack called the Shootout. It’s a 14L sized pack that can hold up to 4 Go Pros (we currently are using 3 GoPro 4s as main BTS cameras for internal aircraft shots, as well as 1 Go Pro 3+ which is a back up). I’ve been using this not just for Go Pros but also for a low profile and sturdy solution to transporting my cameras and  lenses and accessories when I’m traveling and doing some shooting in cities on the ground.

Like Tenba’s HDDSLR bag which Dave my BTS video guy is using, it’s incredibly comfortable and fantastically designed so that everything stays where it should and provides easy access to the gear I need when I need it.  In fact – this backpack has become my GO TO BAG for almost all of 2015 – I carry my 12″ MacBook in it, and hard drives and/or a basic DSLR kit or Leica / Fuji X100 kit, and even a Hasselblad 503 with 2-3 lenses.  This is an EXTREMELY versatile bag due to the enclosed pouches that you can VELCRO inside and create natural partitions.

 

Vincentlaforet_Tenba_Shootout_BH1

Vincentlaforet_Tenba_Shootout_BH2

 

 

Vincentlaforet_Tenba_Shootout_1

 

 

From the manufacturer:

Tenba has been building industry-leading hard cases for rental houses, studios and professionals for over 35 years, and the cases are still made the same way today, using ballistic and cordura nylon, YKK® zippers, seatbelt-grade webbing, welded-steel D-rings, and the most reinforced stitching that any bag has ever seen.

The Transport collection includes Air Case, Tenba’s patented shipping case that provides the protection of a hard case at a fraction of the weight. Air Cases are available in sizes and configurations to fit Apple Mac Pro Towers, 27-inch iMacs and Cinema Displays, Eizo monitors, Profoto, Broncolor and similar professional lighting systems, and every conceivable camera system in the world. They can be shipped, checked as luggage, flown, driven, sat on and stood on, and they will continue to protect the world’s greatest equipment.

TENBA SHOOTOUT is a comprehensive collection of sling bags and backpacks designed from the ground up for serious outdoor imaging. Each bag is built with the absolute best materials and hardware for all-season protection under the most extreme weather conditions. And innovative features throughout give you fast access to your equipment so you never miss a shot.

Shootout backpacks feature unique side pods that allow access to cameras and lenses without removing the shoulder harness, plus they include Tenba’s exclusive Multi-stage tripod carrier. And the sling bag offers the industry’s only rear access panel to maximize the interior layout and organization of camera equipment.

Each bag is made with water-repellant nylon, weather-sealed and rubberized YKK® zippers, Duraflex® clips, heavily reinforced stitching and expedition-grade harnesses and shoulder straps.

 

On another note, I’m EXTREMELY excited to announce that we just sent the final files to the printer for the  AIR book!   We’re looking at shipping the books in very early November – to find out more about the book or lithographs,visit LaforetAir.com

BookAIR