Customer Reviews: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras
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on July 29, 2006
I think it very well could be so I'm not going to differ with those who say it is.I bought this to use with a new 5D and itt's simply outstanding in every regard. So far, I've kept it on the 5D and can't bring myself to take it off.

I considered a couple of lenses, including the IS 24-105 f/4 which has a lot of appeal and the price is about the same. But this was the lens I chose in part because I already have a the 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS Lens and the overlap seemed a waste while the extra stop helps. I have no regrets about it. sharp as a tack and quick.

I note that this is not compact lens, especially with the hood on and it can stretch out a lot when you widen the field. It is also not light. This lens and the 5D will give your neck and back a pain, assuming you work with more than one camera. But the focal lengths covered are just about ideal and require none of the compromises that a longer zoom range require. For that, I've got an 18-200 on a 20D. The 70-300 DO, while not an L, specs out in that range and has the virtue of real compactness, but it' not a lightweight. These two lenses cover just about everything for me. And I can keep the 10-22mm on the 20D for the extra-wide shots.

Since writing the initial review, I've since traveled for several weeks with this lens and it fully lived up to expectations. Given the difficulties of travel these days, I am concerned about the problem of not being able to carry it with me -- not a problem to date except for Britain. But always possible. And, despite the weight, I might favor the 70-200 F/2.8L IS USM as a second travel lens- I like the brightness of the focus.

One suggestion. There's a temptation to use this lens wide open a lot of the time. It's very good and sometimes that's the best thing. But I've also found this lens makes beautiful images stopped down a good deal for short night time exposures on a tripod and a remote release. The effect with lights, etc. is considerably different along with the extended depth of field.
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on October 18, 2006
After using both lenses I think this is much better. Here are my reasons:

1- f 2.8 makes the autofocus much faster and accurate.

2- Bokeh is much better in this one.

3- Macro is slightly better on this one.

4- 105 mm does make a very little difference in image size.

5- IS is not very crucial in 24-50 range.
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on March 21, 2007
The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM Lens is an impressively high performing zoom lens. I regard it as one of the best general purpose lens available. It's very sharp for a zoom lens. The 24-70 L is sharp in the center at f/2.8 at all focal lengths. A fixed f/2.8 minimum aperture makes this lens as fast as any Canon EF zoom lens made. The wide 8-blade aperture produces a nice background blur. The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM Lens' 77mm filter diameter makes sharing filters (such as a circular polarizer filter) with most of Canon's other L-Series zoom lenses easy and, obviously, more affordable. This lens is ideal for weddings, photojournalism, portraits and macro too.
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Please don't take the Amazon star rating too serious - every lens has its pros and cons that I wouldn't want to squeeze into a single one-dimensional figure...
A quick note about me: I have been into SLR cameras and lenses for more than 20 years - as a hobby in the beginning and professionally later. Maybe because of my technical background I started testing my own lenses quite a while ago. I have a (no longer so) little test lab of my own where I do 6 different image quality tests (after taking a lens out for a while).

The EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is considered THE standard general purpose lens for professional use. I hardly know any (Canon) wedding photographer that doesn't own one (or hasn't owned one). It's solidly built, features a rugged metal lens mount and comes with a weather seal that allows shooting in (light) rain. It's a heavy (909 g / 32 oz) and bulky piece of equipment and the lens hood Canon supply with the lens is of massive size as well. But that's all for a good reason because the lens offers a great maximum aperture of f/2.8 throughout its focal range. This allows for narrow in-focus ranges ("depth-of-field") that give your images a nice look and it also enables shooting in low light conditions with fairly fast shutter speeds. Of course the lens also needs faster shutter speeds because it lacks an image stabilizer.

The EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is equipped with a modern, fast, acurate and silent ring-type ultra sound focus motor. In the higher end Canon cameras the lens's maximum aperture enables additional focus sensors which enhance the accuracy of the focus further.

The resolution of the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is quite good for longer focal lengths but - to be honest - a little disappointing for 24 mm (which I use often with this lens). The cheaper EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is sharper at this focal length! On the other hand distortion is very well under control with the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM (for a zoom lens) and corner shadow / vignetting (though very intense at the wide angle) is pretty good at most focal lengths. But curvature of the focal plane ("field curvature") is a real issue with this lens. If you are shooting a straight subject like a group of people in a line-up and want everybody to be in perfect focus you will have to use high f-stops or avoid the wide end of the focal range. Whether this bothers you in real life photography really depends on what you are doing.

Color fringes ("chromatic abberrations") both in focused ("transverse CA") and in out-of-focus ("axial CA") parts of the image are visible as well but they are not very intense. On the good side the circular aperture shape produces nicely even out-of-focus blur. Overall I would say that there are quite a couple of issues with the image quality of this lens and it seems like many of them have been addressed in the successor (the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM) which - at the time of this review - had been announced but not released.

I doubt that the good reputation of the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM comes from its image quality. If you are a pro you just need the fastest available lenses (and you usually can afford them) and for photo journalism or wedding photography image quality is really not all that important (in my opinion). But if you don't need f/2.8 you should take a close look at the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM which is cheaper, lighter, smaller, has an image stabilizer, a better zoom range and outperforms the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM in some of the image quality tests. But of course it's just not an f/2.8 lens.

I have used both for several years and I still switch back and forth. I wouldn't recommend either of them for use with an APS-C camera though because the resulting effective focal range is just not as useful. Check out the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM and the EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM if you are not shooting full frame.

There are good reasons for buying the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM but whether it's the right lens for you really depends on what you are doing and on what's most important to you.

A much more detailed review of this lens together with all test shots, sample images and technical data is available on my website LensTests_com.
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on June 18, 2010
First impression: I was expecting this lens to be heavy because of all the whining about how heavy it is. It's not heavy. It's not even close to heavy. What's heavy is this lens, with a 5d-II body, a battery grip, a 580-EX and a light sphere. And a second 5D-Mark II body with all that, plus a 70-200 2.8. That's heavy.

If you are not prepared to do whatever it takes to get the best image possible, perhaps you should rent this lens first and see what you think of it's weight. If you're a pro, you know that pro level equipment is heavy because it is done right, and you're used to dealing with that fact in the quest for image quality.

I'd like to address another point I see in the previous reviews. If you are a hobbyist or an amateur who is only thinking about buying this lens because you can afford it... don't complain when you can't use it with your on camera flash. It's not designed for use with an on camera flash. It's a professional lens, and professionals rarely if ever use an on camera flash. Why? Besides being sorely underpowered, an on camera flash is too close to the lens and gives horrid lighting and shadows. So if you get this lens, expect that you'll be either using available light, or a real flash.

Okay, on to my review.

Well, it's surprisingly light for all the complaining I read about it being heavy. I'm not a very big guy, either.

It feels solid, but don't equate that with "heavy". Focus ring and zoom ring are very smooth on mine, but the 24-28mm range seems a bit more resistant. I am finding that it's confusing to me which ring is which after using the 28-135 for so long because the focus ring is where the zoom ring used to be, and the zoom ring is significantly smaller. Now the zoom ring is close to the camera and smaller, and it's slightly awkward to zoom. I used to be able to hold the camera body with my right hand and hold the lens with my left, and zoom from this position. Now I cannot zoom from a lens holding position (beneath the lens) and must switch to an overhand position to zoom, which defeats the support and puts added stress on my right wrist and forearm. I'm sure I'll get used to it, but that's probably going to smart once I start shooing weddings again.

Indoors, I was getting shots I simply could not believe using my standard wedding photography settings - not because it was so sharp (more on that in a bit) but because these settings produced EXACTLY what I saw with my own eyes, in camera, regardless of light. I mean EXACTLY... even when I was shooting a window in a dark room. Even when I was shooting in the dark room with nothing bright in the scene. I was stunned, because usually I have to constantly fiddle with the exposure compensation to get this result. Somehow, this lens paired with this camera body seems to be more intelligent with regards to this consideration. It does require some fiddling occasionally, but a standard -2/3rds compensation seems to work wonders indoors with no flash -- perhaps it's just that this lens isn't struggling, as my 28-135 used to.

It quickly became apparent that I have a sharp copy because even magnified as much as my camera can magnify, the results are noticeably sharper than my best day with the 28-135. I can count blades of grass across the street, see power lines in the distance that escape my eyes, differentiate the stones in a wall a mile and a quarter away, and read the labels of small bottles across the room, by ambient light.

Testing showed that this lens resolves such fine detail that ISO really affects the sharpness of the results. I'm shooting at 2.8/ISO 2000 in this dim room, and it's bringing the IQ down to about the level of my 28-135. However, when I use my 580-EX II with a light sphere attached, I can see the pores on people's faces clearly in the resulting images shot from several feet away. Individual eyebrow hairs are also clearly present and separated from each other.

Out in the garden, shooting in overcast conditions, I set my camera to 1/80th, Tv, auto-ISO and a -1 exposure compensation. The resulting images are so vibrant that I can't believe my eyes. Saturation, contrast and color accuracy are insane. It chose an aperture of f/4, though, which didn't give me much DOF to work with... but wow. I then turned my attention to a car a block over, and was able to read 4/6ths of the license plate letters in the magnified image. I could not even see the license plate with my naked eyes (and with glasses, I have 20/20 vision)!

I spent many years wishing I could afford an L lens. Now that I have one, I have absolutely no regrets spending that kind of money on this lens. If I didn't want the best, I'd have bought something else. Now I can rest assured that any mistakes are mine, and not the camera or the lens. It's going be good for keeping me on my toes.

Auto focus is very fast and very accurate, nearly instant but not necessarily dead-on. What I mean by that is, it jumps to the focus point and then makes one minor adjustment. This all takes about a fifth of a second in most lighting conditions. Focus is very accurate as far as I can tell so far. It managed to find focus in about half a second in a room that was darker than I have ever been able to focus in by ambient light, on a dark subject. I'm impressed!

Image stabilization: It would be nice, but I'm not missing it. I only used it on my 28-135 when the lens was unable to keep up with lighting conditions, an I don't see myself having too much trouble with that. I shot some portraits by ambient light in a dimly lit restaurant and was doing spot on exposure at f/3.2, 1/80, ISO 2000-3200. Not the largest DOF, and not the least possible noise, but the shots are quite usable. It seems that this will allow me to work in most situations without having to use a flash, as long as I am careful about the plane of focus and the DOF.

So far, I am very impressed overall, and I can feel myself falling in love. The real test will come when I have more time to hammer this baby and see what she's really capable of, and when I have had some time to do that, I'll update my review here.

So far: 4.9 out of 5 stars. (I'm finding the zoom ring placement isn't quite as easily accessed as I would like right now.)

Update 08-21-2010:

I am now noticing a recurring theme to my night time photographic outings. I can get the shot, usually hand held, and my uncle has trouble even on a tripod. He shoots Nikon, but the killer is that he's using mid range lenses that are 3.5-5.6. I'm using 2.8 constant. For instance, last night we went to shoot a train and a bridge at night. Both using tripods, both shooting at 3200 ISO, both using 1/40th of a second shutter speed and both using full manual. I got usable shots (slight motion blur), and he didn't. It's all about that 2.8.

I was shooting at a rest stop on the Interstate with him the other day, shooting semis, and I was getting clear shots (no motion blur) at an incredible 1/13th of a second hand held (!) at 24 to 50 mm, while he was struggling to get the shot on a tripod. Still having a hard time believing that!

So far, there has been no reason at all to take this thing off my camera. The 16-35 L and the 70-200 L II are going to be its only competition, when I get them.

Update 12-08-2010

So I have had six months now to use this lens, and I have had the 70-200 2.8 L II lens for a few months as well. This lens is a tad less sharp than the 70-200 when I am shooting at ISO 100-640 on my 5D-Mark II, and above that noise equalizes them. But while I love the concept of the 70-200 more than I like the "boring" 24-70, it is this lens, my beloved 24-70, who stays on my camera 98% of the time. I try and I try to find use for the 70-200, but... well... in most situations, I have to return to this lens within 5 minutes of shooting.

The only thing I can think of to knock this lens on is that while it makes a wonderful portrait lens, it's a bit too sharp for that sometimes... and, I have noticed that if you try to make a panorama with it set at 50mm, you'll get a little too much edge distortion to do so without compensating in software.

Since using this lens to shoot models, my keeper rate has jumped from 1 to 5% (with the 28-135) to 25% and up. It's getting to the point that I end up with several times as many awesome images as I need from every shoot... I'm sure part of that is me getting more skilled, but this lens certainly contributes it's share.

I can't tell you how much I love this lens, and my work has dramatically improved since I got it. It took me a few days to get used to the difference from the 28-135, and now I use this like it's a part of me. If you only ever get one lens... you should make it either this one, or the 50/1.2, depending on whether you need zoom more or speed more. Awesome lens, and one I suspect that will be thrilled to use forever. If you don't have one, and you prefer zooms to primes, get one. If you prefer primes, get the 50/1.2.

Update 11-07-2011: After returning from eight weeks wandering the country doing photography, I can say that this lens was the one I used more than the 16-35 or the 70-200. It is sharper than the 16-35, but not as sharp as the 70-200, and in most cases during the day it's just what the doctor ordered for focal length, especially for landscapes. But I am now seriously noticing a real need for this lens to have IS when I can get a shot with the 70-200 that I can't get with this lens, both hand held, same settings, same light, and there is no time to change lenses or no way to frame the same image with 70-200 mm focal length. Tripods aren't always an option, although I do prefer to use them when possible. Based on that... I think this lens goes from 5 stars to 4 stars. Still a great lens, but starting to show the age of the design, without including IS.
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on November 28, 2008
The lens can be found on my camera 80% of the time. As a wedding photographer the range is great for tight spaces where brides get ready and reception shots. The 2.8 aperture is great and where I keep it most of the time.

Why a 4 instead of 5? Does need to be serviced at least once a year to keep focusing sharp. Canon factory repair can service it no problem and then it focus' beautifully. Before I send it in I notice it back focusing.
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on May 6, 2008
I bought this lens for my Canon DSLR camera about 3 weeks ago, and since then I've been using it for many projects and under different conditions. Let's see all the different aspects of the lens:

1- Build: Really professional and strong build, and that's what you would expect from an L-series lens. Hard plastic construction with rigid rubber on the focusing and zoom rings. It's manufactured to be dust and moisture proof (but I personally didn't test this, and I hope I won't).

2- Mount: The EF mount for Canon systems that comes with this lens is a perfect fit, once mounted on the camera, it will feel like it was built with the camera.

3- Aperture: With a maximum aperture of 2.8 you would be able to shoot in really dim conditions with no blurry results. Also at this aperture one can achieve really great depth of field effects (great in macro and portrait shooting).

4- Focal Lenght: 24-70mm means a good range for all purposes (check out the lens' offical link from Canon to see the MTF charts).

5- Weight: It's a bit heavy, and with a big camera the overall weight would be relatively heavy. But it's not a big deal when you achieve great imaging results.

6- Included Accessories: Deep hood that will prevent any sun flares, front and rear caps, soft leather bag.

7- Overall: Amazing lens for all purposes and under any situation. A great lens for anyone searching for a one-show lens.

I hope this review was useful.
Ahmed Safer.
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on January 30, 2005
After tens years of "pro-sumer" photography with the Canon family of 35mm cameras and inexpensive lenses, this lens was my first BIG L-series purchase. My "problem" was I receiving inferior results with my existing lenses. I cut my teeth on slide film. After switching from slide and to a lesser extent print film, I discovered that digital is just as unforgiving.) To me the difference in the digital realm is the "glass."

TIP: Always look for and purchase the second generation of Image Stabilization and the most wide open f-stop you can get when investing in lenses. I'm shooting with a 300D (Digital

Rebel), my first foray into digital SLR's, but will probably upgrade the body in 1-2 years. As for the lenses, the L-series and DO formulated glass will not depreciate in value. (There is quite a strong secondary market for used L-series lenses.)

As for this particular lense: shot with it for the first time today and found the responsiveness, crisp focus and color saturation excellent in the digital domain. I required only minimal Photoshop to the pictures. I plan to purchase the 70-200 mm f2.8 IS tomorrow before the rebates expire. FYI: Canon usually runs the rebate program twice a year.

Canon is aggressively pursuing what the competition can't deliver; high quality lenses and ever evolving 35mm digital bodies.

Get in the zone and get the shot!
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on August 16, 2007
I finally took the plunge and invested in my first L lens. Out of the box, it's impressive. Very high quality feel. The images, however, left me with mixed emotions.

The 2.8 is great for low light situations - I found myself shooting without a flash in incredibly dark situations, and the background blur was fantastic. The problem was the images were just not sharp. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get crisp images. I ended up mounting it on a tripod and shooting with a shutter release, and comparing that to my friends Nikon D80 with the kit lens under the same setup. The Nikon easily outperformed the L lens in terms of sharpness. (I was shooting on a 30D).

I did some research and hear that Canon has been having some quality control issues, it looks like I might have gotten a bad copy.

don't let this stop you from getting the lens, as based on it's other abilities I'm sure that it's 100% fantastic. Just keep your receipt and start testing it soon so you can replace it if necessary.

I will be sending mine in for recalibration. If that doesn't fix it, then I might have to switch to Nikon just out of principal...
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on August 17, 2006
This is a great lens. The pictures I take are very sharp and alive with color, and the brokeh is excellent. I am a big fan of keeping a shallow depth of field when shooting people or animals, so the f/2.8 helps out. Also dim wedding receptions are no problem with even the weak built in flash on my Rebel XT. The autofocus is practically silent, accurate and very fast.

If you don't think you need f/2.8, go for the 24-105mm f/4 L IS. It has an extra 35mm on the telephoto end, image stabilization, and is lighter and smaller.
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