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Customer Review

730 of 749 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great general-purpose lens, December 15, 2005
This review is from: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Standard Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras (Camera)
I've owned the 24-70mm for almost a year now. This lens has been a favorite of many since it replaced its well-regarded predecessor, the 28-70mm. It shoots images that are very sharp and have excellent contrast and saturation. It's sharp wide open and only gets better when stopping down. The USM (Ultrasonic Motor) focuses very fast, and full-time manual focusing is allowed. I've thought about buying a 50mm f/1.4, but the results from this lens are so good, I'm having a hard time justifying the purchase. I've been nothing but pleased with the pictures I get from the 24-70mm. The constant f/2.8 aperture is great for shooting indoors and produces a very nice bokeh (background blur) when shooting portraits. This lens is much heavier than comparable consumer-grade zooms, but I don't object to the weight. I actually like the heft and feel of this lens on my 20D. The only feature I wish it had is IS (image stabilization).

The one thing preventing an unqualified recommendation is the recent release of the Canon 24-105mm f/4.0L IS. The latter lens costs about the same and has some noteworthy advantages. It is .7" shorter, .2mm narrower and .6 lbs. lighter. It has 3rd generation IS that gives you a 3-stop shutter speed advantage when shooting handheld. I know from my 70-200mm f/2.8L IS that image stabilization is a very welcome feature when shooting handheld at slow shutter speeds. And, obviously, the 24-105mm adds an extra 35mm of focal length on the long end.

The 24-70mm bests the 24-105mm in one way: It's a faster lens. That translates into the following advantages: At f/4.0, the 24-105mm cannot stop subject motion blur as well in low-light situations where the 24-70mm's f/2.8 can give you a shutter speed that is twice as fast. Note that IS does not have any impact at all on subject motion blur, only on camera shake on your end. If bokeh (background blur) is important to you, the 24-70mm will have a slight advantage over the 24-105mm given its wider aperture. A wider aperture also helps a camera focus a little better in low light.

The first run of the 24-105mm had a flare problem (see Canon's Web site for more info), and the early production models have been recalled. But the problem has now been fixed. You'll have to consider your photography priorities when deciding which of these two excellent lenses best suits your needs. You would be well served by either.

Update 2-12-12: It's been over six years since I wrote this review, and I continue to use and enjoy my 24-70mm, which is now paired with a Canon 7D. Anyone considering buying this lens today, however, should know that Canon announced on 2-7-12 the successor to this lens: The 24-70mm f/2.8L II. Contrary to rumors that had been circulating for years, the mark II version does not add image stabilization. Canon's USA website lists the MSRP for the new lens at $2,299.00.
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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 33 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 24, 2009 10:40:53 PM PST
Wade says:
I am really into your reviews. Just bought a Nissin Di866 Flash, which I feel it's a good compatitor to Canon 580EX II. But I am decideing to buy the Canon 24-70 instead of Canon 24-105 or the new Sigma 24-70 F2.8 lens.
Thank you very much for your post.

Posted on Nov 30, 2009 5:57:08 PM PST
Robert Stone says:
A very nice review answering many questions regarding differences between the 24-105 4.0 IS and 24-70 2.8. Thanks!

Posted on Jan 5, 2010 11:23:21 PM PST
GG Gawain says:
That was an awesome review. Great job comparing the two lenses and using examples. I was actually juggling the two lenses for purchase and settled on the 24-70 for better low light and faster shutter speed. Your review helped.

Posted on Jan 22, 2010 2:51:19 PM PST
Jose L. says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Jan 22, 2010 2:51:38 PM PST
Jose L. says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Mar 19, 2010 11:45:53 AM PDT
C. Haswell says:
Thank you for writing such a thoughtful review. It helped me decide between the two lenses. I ended up purchasing the 24-105mm lens, for what it's worth.

Posted on May 5, 2010 5:14:19 AM PDT
J. Silberman says:
Funny, I've got a bag full of awesome primes, including the 50mm 1.4. I just bought the 24-70 because it is the only lens that can come close to the quality of my primes. But close is not really close enough. It can't match low light performance of the 1.4's or even the slightly longer 85mm 1.8's crispness wide open. It just struck me that you couldn't justify the minimal cost (300-400) of the 50mm 1.4 that will produce better shots, even when cropped (except for corner sharpness, especially when someone's face is in it). Having the 35, to 85 range covered nicely, the only issues I run into are the few times I have to compete for clear shooting space with other shooters who think nothing of stepping into my frame, and change out a lens is inconvenient at best. The cost of this lens is more than I spent on all of my lenses combined. Oddly, I just got a sign from above to keep it after almost dropping my 50, (minor heart attack!) I rethought the concept of switching out lenses with people standing too close. In short, the 24-70 is good general purpose lens. Greatness comes from primes. The question is a matter of quality cost vs. opportunity cost. A great shot lost vs. a good shot captured. If you never tried a 50mm 1.4, you are missing out on a real low light treat. As for specs, check out Brian Carnathan's massive collection of detailed comparisons. This guy has done a lot for guys like us trying to figure out what fits our shooting, and budget needs. Check out the ISO chart specs. http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=115&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLIComp=3&APIComp=0&LensComp=101&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLI=0&API=4
Thanks for your review. It's nice to be able to help each other out.

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2010 12:54:00 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 17, 2010 1:37:27 AM PDT
erugifog says:
Thanks for the info. I still have my 24-70mm and continue to use it for most of my shooting, although these days it's paired with a Canon 7D. I still feel, as I said in my review, that this is a great general-purpose lens. I don't doubt that a bag of fast, high-quality primes can outperform the 24-70mm for absolute sharpness at f/2.8, but stopped down a little, I'll bet anyone would be hard-pressed to tell the difference. The obvious advantage of a zoom is in not having to lug around and swap out multiple lenses. But your point is well taken that if sharpness is a higher priority than bulk and convenience, then primes have the edge.

I've been tempted a few times over the years to buy a fast 50 for low-light shooting, but if I were to do so today, I would get Sigma's newer 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM, which is more impressive than Canon's offering. (Unfortunately, the Sigma is also about 50% more money.) Rumor has it Canon will be updating their 50mm f/1.4 in the not-too-distant future.

BTW, anyone considering buying the 24-70mm today should know that a major Canon rumors site is reporting Canon is getting ready to update this lens in 2010, and the new version is rumored to have image stabilization. There are even reports that the mark II is being field tested now. No doubt, a mark II with IS would cost significantly more than the current version. FWIW, Canon updated their 70-200mm f/2.8 IS earlier this year; the mark II version of that lens brought improved optics and the latest generation of IS, but it was priced $500 (MSRP) more than the mark I. A mark II version of the 24-70mm would be adding IS to a lens that doesn't currently have it, so the increase in price of a mark II could be much more than $500.

In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2010 12:27:50 PM PDT
Great Review, thank you!!

Posted on Jun 2, 2010 12:47:34 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 2, 2010 12:48:56 AM PDT
Do you get ghosting when you use the built in flash from the 7D? The hood is freaking huge, it's just an awesome lens though just gonna have to fork out for 580EXII.
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