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on April 6, 2014
Review originally written in April 2014, updated March 2017.

This is just an incredible lens that, provided you can afford it, will deliver in spectacular fashion.

My first standard range zoom for full frame was the 24-105 f/4L IS. I found myself using it only when I absolutely had to. Generally, the photographs taken with it lacked sharpness, contrast and depth of color. For any situation that mattered, I ended up using primes - the 35L, 35 f/2 IS, 135L, or the 50/1.4.

All this changed when I rented this lens in December 2013 for a trip to Utah. Looking at the photographs after my trip, I was stunned by the sharpness and color rendition in the landscapes captured with this lens. I could not see any meaningful difference between the shots taken with this lens and those with the 135L or the 35 f/2 IS which I had also taken with me. Here at last was a standard range lens that offered the convenience of a zoom with little or no sacrifice in image quality compared to a prime. Very quickly, my 24-105 and a couple other lenses went on sale to finance the purchase of this lens.

Since my purchase, I have used this lens for portraits, low light events, and landscapes, and it has never failed to deliver. Focusing, even at f/2.8 and in AI Servo mode is quick, accurate, and decisive. Stopped down when used for landscape photography, it shows excellent corner to corner sharpness - for a recent project, I shot identical photographs with this and the 35mm f/2 IS and could not, even at 100% magnification, see any difference in sharpness, color, and contrast between the two. The lower weight compared to the old version, new hood design and center pinch cap are all very nice features which add to the pleasure of using this lens. I continue to use the 35mm when I need the extra stop or IS - such as for hand held late evening street shots - or just some thing small and light; and of course nothing I have shot with can approach the pure magic of portraits taken with the 135L. The bulk of the time though, this and the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II are the lenses I reach for. Both are lenses that, apart from maximum aperture, can mix it up with the best primes I have shot with. Both focus faster and more accurately than primes I've used (but see addendum).

If, like me, you do not make money from photography, it is rational to ask whether a lens like this is worth it, and I will offer this perspective. This lens, much like its equally accomplished big brother, ranks among a select few that you can mount on your camera and walk into practically any situation with complete confidence that you will return with great pictures. If you love photography as I do, if getting the shot matters to you, that is worth the price of purchase.

Image Notes: The Milky Way panorama arcing over Glacier Point, and the Fall color photographs were both taken with a 5D Mark IV. The photograph of Mt. Rainier, Seattle from the Bainbridge Ferry, and the core of the Milky Way above Paradise Visitor Center were taken with a 5D Mark III. The excellent corner sharpness makes this lens a great choice for landscape photography; the fast aperture makes it a good choice for astrophotography, although faster primes will yield better results.

Addendum: The one lens in this range I've used recently that does out resolve this is the new 35mm f/1.4L II. That wonderfully sharp lens resolves visibly more detail in the landscape photos I've taken with my 5D Mark IV and focuses just as quickly and accurately as this zoom. If you're looking for absolute sharpness, and can make do with a 35mm focal length, that is the lens to use. For me, this 24-70 is plenty sharp, particularly at its wide end where I use it a lot, and I value the versatility more than the increase in sharpness and two stop advantage the new 35mm has. For specific applications such as astrophotography, this calculus will change, but for me, those needs are infrequent enough to where renting the 35mm when I need it makes more sense. Your needs could well lead you to a different choice.

If you have a question that I have not covered in the review, or if you notice something inaccurate in what I've written, please leave a comment. I will try and answer to the best of my ability. If you found this or any other review published here helpful, please take a moment to click "Yes". This encourages us to continue to contribute and also goes towards making the overall rating of this lens more representative. Thank you for reading!
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1414 comments| 276 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 5, 2015
I Upgraded from the first version and have noticed a difference (slightly) in several areas. Faster, sharper and quieter. The first version was and is a great lens. And with most electronics these days, if the quality was good when it came out, it is still good today, there just is a product on the market that is better. So the big question that most ask is "is it worth the upgrade" (expense). Well for me it was. Considering I was able to sell my v1 and add a bit more money to that amount to get the v2. I also did have to buy a couple new 82 mm filters. I always keep a quality filter on my glass (this is something that some people just don't agree with). Their argument (and it is a good argument with valid considerations) goes something like this - why would you spend thousands of dollars on glass and then put a lesser or cheap plain of glass in front of it. I totally agree with that conceptually. However, I would rather have the protection (insurance) than be a purist trying to find less clarity in an image because it had a filter on the lens. In theory they are correct. In the real world, you'll never see the difference. So I spend more good money to buy the best filters I can get to go along with that expensive lens. I had to buy a UV filter and a Clear filter. Funny, I forget to change them out for different scenes and never see it in post. And in today's images, we use tons of Photoshop tricks and Plug-ins to create an entirely different image than the photo we started with, so in my opinion, putting a filter on the front is a moot issue.

If I could only have 1 lens, this would be the one. It is the lens I attach to my camera the most often.

If you are on a budget and don't own any version of this lens, then perhaps you should just get the version 1. Both are excellent lenses.

Also, I have seen reviews on the Tamron 24-70 VC, and they are really really close cousins with the Tamron adding a stabilizer and coming in significantly lower in price.

I write reviews because I want to help other people make decisions. I do not write reviews of items that I have personally not used.

[...]. Thank you. <><
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on June 7, 2015
I'm not a pro photog and I don't make money from my images. I do, however, love to take photos and have a blast doing so. My images are used in marketing collateral and make the rounds on social media. For my needs, this lens is fantastic - it's an ideal walk-around lens that is both fast and easy to use. While I do prefer my 50-1.2L prime, this zoom is often friendlier to use.
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on September 17, 2017
I have not removed this from my camera since I got it.

This is the lens to have. Then you can think about the rest.

Yes it is pricey however if you are going to do serious photography this should be the lens to get.
Followed by the 70-200mm.
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on February 23, 2016
The lens is as good as described. I have used every available lens for a Canon DSLR camera body and this lens is tied with only one other lens for being the sharpest lens available in my experience. But that other lens is only available for crop sensor camera bodies. I know the price is high but if you want to produce the best images, this lens will help you make them. If you are fine with less, there are certainly other nice options out there.
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on August 23, 2016
Have used this just a few times with my 70D, but the images are sharp and beautiful.
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on February 25, 2016
Using a Canon Mark III, I used the Tamron 28-75 for years. I upgraded to this one and am amazed by the clarity and quality difference. I was spoiled with the Canon 70-200M 2.8 L-lens, where eyelashes and everything are crisp and and in focus, and I wanted a high quality everyday lens that could match the quality. This did not disappoint.
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on August 5, 2013
This lens is an upgrade in quality from its predecessor. It is sharp at f/2.8 throughout the zoom range, corner-to-corner.

Since it uses 82mm filters, you'll need to buy new filters, if you use them.
Also because of the larger glass, don't expect this lens to be light, but it isn't as heavy as the previous model.

Build quality is excellent. Feels really nice and sturdy in my hands. I've shot several weddings and events with this lens since I've got it and LOVE IT!
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on August 22, 2013
Pros:

GREAT COLORS!
VERY sharp at all but 70mm, even then it's still really good, just not AS good.
Fast.
Great build quality

Cons:

None. I don't regret this lens in the slightest.

I just wanted to add my two cents. This is a great lens and I use as my go-to indoor lens. It took the place of my 35mm f/2.0 and 85mm f/1.8 for everything except the darkest of situations. Paired with my 5D mkIII it performs superbly. I can definetly recommend this lens.
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on June 18, 2014
Love this lens. The images are nice and crisp and the build quality is exceptional. It's my lens of choice for when I need a good all-around zoom. Highly recommended.
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