Late last week a huge box arrived beside my desk. Would this be the review sample of Canon’s latest wide-angle zoom I’d been longing to get my hands on again since my hands-on first look at Canon’s official launch two weeks ago?

Just as I’d hoped, inside was a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and beside it a pristine box holding the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM. Without any shilly-shallying it was soon coupled to the full-frame DSLR  and I began firing off a few shots to find out how much of the office I could squeeze in the frame.

This turned heads in the AP office and soon had every member of the team wanting to find out what it was like to compose an image using the world’s widest rectilinear zoom lens. An office environment is no place for lens testing however, so a quick look at the weather forecast suggested next week would be the best time to get out and test it to find out how it performs in the landscape.

My chosen location for testing the EF 11-24mm f/4L USM was Bodiam Castle in East Sussex – a National Trust property where a wide-angle zoom is one of the best lenses for capturing the long drawbridge that leads out across the mote.

Early impressions reveal the lens is incredibly fast at locking focus, which it does so quietly with little fuss. The zoom and focus rings are quick to find from behind the camera and both offer just the right level of rotational resistance.

Rattling out frames through the aperture range revealed some signs of vignetting on the camera’s LCD at the corners from f/4 to around f/6.3, but we’ll have to study our images more closely before we can reveal our final judgement on image quality.

The build quality of the lens is nothing short of sublime. It’s a weighty beast at 1180g, which did make the camera and lens combination feel rather front-heavy when used handheld, but for the majority of shots where the shutter speeds dropped below 1/100sec, a tripod was used.

Having used only used the lens for a couple of hours, I’m yet to inspect the image quality closely – something you can look forward to in our full review where we’ll also divulge our lab results in great detail.

As for the initial performance out in the field, the EF 11-24mm f/4L USM is certainly living up to my expectations of being one of the finest wide-angle zooms Canon has ever created but, regrettably, at £2799 it’s going to remain out of reach of my budget for quite some time.