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Technische Daten

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Frits van Eldik: a wide weekend with the new EF11-24mm

Frits van Eldik: a wide weekend with the new EF11-24mm

© Frits van Eldik

April 2015

Canon Ambassador Frits van Eldik took the new EF11-24mm f/4L USM zoom to the first Grand Prix weekend of the 2015 F1 season in Melbourne, Australia, to discover exactly how it performed. The lens was mainly trained on a very important debutant, 17-year-old Max Verstappen – the youngest-ever driver in F1 history. In an exclusive interview CPN’s Steve Fairclough spoke to Frits about his first impressions of working with the new ultra-wide zoom...

Frits van Eldik is certainly no stranger to photographing F1 weekends – he began shooting F1 Grands Prix back in 1989 – but during the 2015 Australian Grand Prix he had a new experience… “I use super wide-angles a lot, more the 8-15mm, but the problem is that the pictures from that lens are very easy to recognise as everything gets very round [in the frame] and very characteristic of a fisheye lens. The good thing about this new product is that as long as you are able to keep it level the edges do not change that much, so you still keep all of your picture.”

The EF11-24mm f/4L USM lens is Canon’s widest ever full-frame ultra-wide zoom, with four aspherical glass elements to reduce distortion throughout the zoom range.

He adds: “It’s such a nice lens to have a proper wide-angle, especially on the full-frame [EOS-1D X] camera. As long as you take a little bit of time for your picture and you try to move up and down with your lens a bit, so you see what’s happening in the picture; as long as you have the horizontal line at the place where you want to have it, it’s a perfect picture – so that’s what so special about this lens.”

The EF11-24mm f/4L USM boasts a completely new optical design with 16 lens elements in 11 groups, with a three group zoom and rear focus, but Frits admits: “To be honest I am not that interested in what technically is behind it. I like to know [technical information] but for me the main thing, in the end, is the picture. The first time you pick up this lens, it’s very heavy but you feel that you are holding a very solid piece of glass. You forget the weight as soon as you start playing with it.”

Weight and build quality

This substantial lens weighs in at 1.18 kilogrammes but Frits reveals: “I prefer to carry one kilo extra to have something good, which gives you an amazing new kind of picture, which we haven’t had before. For me, the 8-15mm is a very lightweight lens compared to the 11-24mm but I would consider swapping them as the 11-24mm is such a good piece of glass.”

© Frits van Eldik

Toro Rosso F1 driver Max Verstappen (right) pictured signing autographs for fans during the 2015 Australian Grand Prix weekend at Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF11-24mm f/4L USM lens at 12mm; the exposure was 1/1000sec at f/4, ISO 400.

He adds: “You [effectively] have an 11mm, a 14mm, a 20mm and a 24mm lens in a zoom, so it’s a lot of weight but it’s only one lens and you can do so many different things with it. Normally with an 8-15mm you might decide not to use it [for certain pictures] because it’s a fisheye, which can dramatically change the picture, but you can use this lens for reportage or portraits when following people [during events].”

So does this lens allow Frits to take pictures he couldn’t have before? “To have the flexibility to go from 11mm to 24mm with this quality is amazing. I do a lot of rig shots as well; fixing cameras on cars and you always have in mind that you need to go wider [in focal length] and would normally think ‘OK, I have to use a fisheye because I have to go further away from the car visually’, which was almost impossible, but with this lens it is possible. The only problem is [with rigs] you try to keep the weight as low as possible because every gram you put on a rig makes it more difficult. I would have to adjust my rigs a little bit to make sure it would hold this lens, but the picture you would get out of it I’ve never had before, not on any camera system.”

Of the overall build quality of the lens, Frits notes: “It was very solid. As soon as you pick it up you are impressed by the weight and how the quality [of the build] feels. In some ways it gives you some thirst [to take pictures] as soon as you hold it – it’s one of the best experiences I have had in just holding a lens. Wow! As soon as you take the lens cap off and you look at the glass it’s amazing how much glass you see and how solid the lens feels.”

Image quality

When quizzed on his thoughts on image quality of the optic, Frits replies: “When you just look at the pictures everything looks normal and there are no surprises. But then you realise that with this piece of glass in front of your camera, and all of the strange light that comes in, there’s no lens flare in the pictures, which you would [normally] expect in a lens like this. So, even shooting against the light or against the sun there’s nothing happening in your picture.”

He admits: “Sometimes I do like to have lens flare in there [the pictures] because it gives some atmosphere. I didn't really think about it during shooting but when I looked at the pictures, it all looked amazing. Sometimes you get a little green spot or yellow spot, or things like that, because you shoot against the sun with a very wide-angle lens and a lot of things are happening inside the lens but this is, I think, almost a perfect product.”

“It’s just [delivering] almost perfect pictures, so it’s difficult to say ‘Wow, the quality is amazing’ because you almost expect that from a Canon professional lens. But to have it [image quality] like this in a zoom I think that’s a very complicated thing to do for the [Canon] technical guys in Japan,” ponders Frits. “What they achieved is they made a product that you don’t have to think about – you can just rely on it. It looks very normal when you start using it and then you think ‘Wow! That’s a nice lens’. But when you think about what it technically must do to give you, in all circumstances, these brilliant pictures… I think they did a wonderful job.”

But did the f/4 aperture throughout the 11-24mm zoom range make any difference to Frits? He fires back: “No, because the end sharpness, even on f/4, is very nice. You normally always like to have a maximum aperture of f/2.8, or lower, but I don't think you need it in this lens and then, if you want to create something like that [faster aperture] you can easily go back to a 24mm f/1.4 lens or a lens like that. A lot of guys came to me saying ‘it’s only f/4’, but when you start using it I don't think there’s any problem. The problem would be if you want to have an f/2.8 [aperture], or lower, it gives you one more kilo of glass extra, so it’s a compromise between the way you can handle this lens and what are the possibilities. But, for me, f/4 is fine in this case.”

Lens choices and working situations

During a normal F1 weekend Frits works with two EOS-1D X DSLRs, with a third camera body as a back-up, and reveals: “Normally I have two lenses on my bodies – that’s the way I work because that’s the quickest. You don't have much time to work around… every time you have to change a lens it costs time, so you think a bit in advance and make sure ‘OK, what do I think I will use for the next five minutes?’ and you have these [lenses] ready. When you go on-track you normally have your 70-200mm and a 400mm or a 200-400mm prepared with a body on there. When I am working in the garage most of the time it’s now the 11-24mm and most of the time normally a 50mm or a 35mm [lens].”

© Frits van Eldik

Mechanics from the Toro Rosso team pictured working on the car of F1’s youngest-ever driver, 17-year-old Max Verstappen, in the pitlane during the 2015 Australian Grand Prix weekend at Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF11-24mm f/4L USM lens at 14mm; the exposure was 1/250sec at f/4, ISO 1000.

He explains: “I always have all my lenses with me because you never know what conditions you’ll be working in. So, even when I am at the trackside and think ‘I’ll only shoot with a 400mm and a 2x extender’, because the places where I go I [often] shoot with 800mm, but if a car crashes or stops they pull it from the track or if a driver climbs over the guard rail just in front of you, you like to have a wide-angle lens with you. It depends on the situation you get in if you have nice clouds and you think ‘Ah, maybe I can create a nice, atmospheric picture’, so most of the time I carry all of my lenses with me.”

Frits adds: “Working in a garage, I shot a lot of pictures with this 11-24mm lens because the place is very small and narrow. What I see now through the lens is a lot more than I normally see myself but, again, you have all the lenses with you because as soon as the driver gets in the car you move outside and you take a 400mm lens to make some nice details. The fact that I work in a lot of places where there’s not much space makes this lens - for me - perfect; ideal.”

Picture taking possibilities

Interestingly, Frits also has some thoughts on other uses for the 11-24mm: “I think this lens gives you a completely new view, even if you are a landscape photographer; so even when you are shooting city life, buildings or other things – to have an 11mm [focal length] like this where you can play around, I think it gives you a lot of different views on places you’ve been before and you can shoot it now and it will dramatically change your view on things.”

© Frits van Eldik

F1 driver Max Verstappen climbs into his car in the Toro Rosso garage during the 2015 Australian Grand Prix weekend at Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF11-24mm f/4L USM lens at 22mm; the exposure was 1/500sec at f/5.6, ISO 2000.

When CPN spoke to Frits he was due to go out with the Dutch Royal Navy, on a boat, to shoot a story about life in the marines. He explains: “It is a completely different thing than I’m used to as a motorsports photographer. I need to have an 11-24mm when I am in a place where you have very small and narrow spaces in which, in the past, you would use the 8-15mm, but then it all looks a bit strange when you're using a fisheye. With this lens you can still show a little place where people are at work so, I think, for a lot of photographers this lens will almost be a ‘must-have’ for their kitbags.”

He adds: “A lot of them may be afraid, because of the expense, but when you look at what you have – basically three or four lenses in one zoom – I think this is the ideal tool for a lot of photographers. Even when you shoot soccer and you have a camera on remote behind the goal on 11mm you get a new view; you see the complete stadium with the goal in front of you and you just hope that somebody will score in the net very close to your camera. It will give a lot of photographers another view on their normal daily [shooting] situations.”


  • World’s widest angle ultra-wide zoom with 11-24mm focal length.*
  • f/4 fixed aperture, high-performance, standard zoom, L-series lens.
  • Uses four aspherical lens elements and a UD and Super UD lens elements, ensuring the highest image quality.
  • Canon unique SWC and new ASC anti-reflective coatings.
  • Fluorine coating on the lens surfaces to prevents dirt sticking to lens elements.
  • Silent, fast autofocus, using a ring type USM.
  • The 9-blade circular aperture creates beautiful out of focus highlights (bokeh).
  • Full-time manual focusing.
  • Minimum focusing distance 0.28m (at 24mm zoom position).
  • Highly resistant to dust and water allowing shooting in the harshest conditions.

* Excluding fisheye lenses.

Biografie: Frits van Eldik

Frits van Eldik

Born in the Netherlands, the son of a garage owner, Frits van Eldik grew up surrounded by cars. He took up photography as a hobby but it quickly became a passion and career. He worked for a specialist automotive picture agency and, after seven years, decided to go it alone. Frits started his own company and photographed his first Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1989. By 1994 he was shooting all the F1 races throughout the season on a regular basis. In the past few years Frits has shot different kinds of motorsports, including F1, the Le Mans races, MotoGP and “everything else that moves fast.” His working schedule now includes commercial projects and he still shoots over half of the F1 Grand Prix season all over the world.


F1’s youngest-ever driver, 17-year-old Max Verstappen of the Toro Rosso team, being interviewed for TV during the 2015 Australian Grand Prix weekend at Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF11-24mm f/4L USM lens at 18mm; the exposure was 1/400sec at f/7.1, ISO 200.