Our today’s featured lens does not need a special introduction: this is ‘Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM’ lens famous among all professionals and amateurs of photography for the fastest performance. This lens is from the Canon L series, the second version. I’m sure any (almost every) owner of a full-frame Canon camera has tried to buy it. Light, moderately versatile standard zoom for reportage, travel and almost any occasion. Let’s see how this lens lives up to the expectations of photographers.
This universal lens for the Canon cameras with EF mounts and full frame sensors has the focal length range of 24-70 mm, while the aperture is unchanged throughout the range and is f/2.8. It’s auto focus drive is through an ultrasonic motor. The aperture has 9 blades, and its minimum value is 22.
|Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
|Angle of View:
|Lens Construction (elements/groups):
|18 Elements in 13 Groups.
|Closest Focusing Distance:
|0.38 m (macro)
|0.21 × (at 70 mm)
|Ring Ultrasonic Actuator (USM)
|Maximum Diameter and Length:
|∅88.5 × 113 mm
Construction and Design
The optical design of the lens consists of 18 elements in 13 groups and includes as many as 3 aspherical lenses and 3 UD lenses, which should bring the image quality to a high level that does not know chromatic aberrations and reflected light. At the same time, the lens is more compact and lighter than its predecessors, developed from scratch.
- The traditional standard high-aperture zoom is light enough for its category at 805 gm, and compact at 113 mm.
- The lens is made of materials familiar to users of the L-series, but you can find fault with the result: the lens is pretty “vacuum cleaner” – when you scroll the zoom ring, you feel a breeze.
- The mount ring is made of metal.
- The diameter of the thread for the filter is 82 mm.
- The focusing ring is mechanical, but has, perhaps, too easy movement.
- At maximum size, the lens has a slight backlash.
- The body has a zoom lock, focusing window and an auto-focus switch.
- All elements are used easily and flawlessly.
High-quality and very well made zoom lens, which convinces with brilliant sharpness even with open aperture and continuous light intensity of f/2.8. When looking for a high-quality standard zoom lens for the EOS, one comes across the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM quite quickly. The high quality of workmanship is very clearly indicated when you then have to loosen around $1269 at the amazon checkout.
This zoom lens impresses above all with its excellent sharpness even at open aperture. You will get an even better result if you stop fading out slightly. Many users especially praise the balanced bokeh. Due to the design, however, you have to expect decreasing performance towards the corners of this lens, at least with an open aperture.
The continuous aperture of f/2.8 is something special for a zoom lens. As an always-on lens, it is therefore suitable for portraits as well as for concerts with poor lighting conditions. It can’t compete with a prime lens, but if you’re looking for a good compromise, this lens is a good choice.
Thanks to its almost silent appearance, the ultrasonic motor consistently receives very good ratings. The very precise and, above all, quick focus delights buyers and trade magazines.
Due to the lack of an image stabilizer, you should be careful to use a tripod, especially in the telephoto range. According to the rule of thumb, you can expose a maximum of 1/125 s at 70 mm. Depending on the design of the motif, this could be a bit too short.
This lens is not predestined for macro shots, but with a reproduction ratio of 1:4.8 and a close focus limit of 38 cm you can already take impressive close-ups of flowers and insects.
The plastic construction is in no way inferior to its metallic predecessor. According to buyers, everything feels very high quality and is clean and precisely processed. The lens also impresses with its weather resistance.
The assessment of the weight is of course different depending on the user. Users of the previous model in particular praise the lower weight. Otherwise, the lens is around 1 kg on average.
Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM Review
Here we get to the fun part. The first 24-70 mm is a very high quality zoom lens. The second 24-70 mm is a zoom lens that shoots like fixed in all respects. The color rendition is juicy, rich and contrasting. Photos with Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM do not want to be twisted in lightroom. They are already ready in fact (if you exactly hit the white balance and exposure). With the first version, it used to be desirable to tighten the contrast or increase whites for brightness. In the case of this lens, everything is already very good and juicy.
The lens has a 24-70mm higher t-stop, which naturally affects the colors, brightness and saturation of the images.
Let’s see how the lens will perform in the laboratory at extreme and average focal lengths.
Focal Length 24 mm
With a wide angle of view, the center of the frame behaves great: starting at open aperture, the values do not drop below 0.8 lines per pixel all the way up to f/11, peaking at medium values. The edge of the frame has a noticeable gap in terms of performance, but it is also at a good level for a zoom lens. Only after f/10 the resolution drops rapidly.
Focal Length 50 mm
At 50 mm, the center of the image retains a high resolution – the graph almost completely repeats what we saw at 24 mm, and this is good news. But the periphery has increased its lag behind the central region and cannot boast of high numbers. Only in the range of f/8 – f/10 do the indicators reach 0.7 lines per pixel.
The chromaticity at this focal length continues to delight. It is present only slightly, and only in the corners of the image with a wide aperture.
Focal Length 70 mm
And in tele-position the picture is very similar. The “center” remains at high levels throughout the entire aperture range, and the edge lags noticeably, although not as dramatically as by 50 mm.
Chromatic aberrations at this focal length did not bring any unpleasant surprises, the image is clear across the entire field of the frame.
Results of Laboratory Tests
In bench tests, the lens has demonstrated consistent image quality regardless of the selected focal length. Chromatic aberrations do not appear, the center of the image is comparable in resolution to a picture from good prime lenses. If the region had the same indicators, then it would already be magic. Unfortunately, in the harsh reality, the periphery has a more modest resolution.
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Ground Test – Practical Shooting
In search of pitfalls and subjective impressions about the technique, I took the lens to report from the filming of a movie and took a number of photographs for the purposes of this review.
Now let’s take a closer look at examples of images at different values of the relative aperture, made at 24, 50 and 70 mm focal lengths. We start with a wide angle. The sharpness of the image in the center of the frame is at a decent level from the widest aperture, although it does not knock out on the spot. In the corner of the frame, the image is expectedly softer, but not so much as to spoil the impression. But chromatic aberrations along the edges are visible on all apertures, without exception, which is somewhat frustrating. Vignetting with the naked eye can only be clearly seen at f/2.8, and by closing the aperture a little, we get rid of this distortion.
At 50 mm, the center of the image is quite sharp even at open aperture. The edges are slightly softer, darkening at the edges is noticeable with the naked eye, but it is easy to “heal”. Relative softness around the edges remains at f/5.6, but at this focal length everything is fine with chromaticity: it is not observed. Overall, the 50 mm lens makes a better impression.
At 70mm, the “optimal mode” of use also starts at f/4, but the widest aperture shows very decent sharpness. Vignetting is present on a small scale, chromatic aberration, unfortunately, appears at all apertures.
But I would like to remind you that these are not three different prime lenses, but one. And no matter how great the temptation to compare it with fixes, this is not entirely correct. Even though I cannot give this lens the highest rating at any focal length, it has no failures. Image quality is good average to near-excellent, and that’s at open aperture. For the highest quality then please purchase a set of prime lenses.
By using this lens, the photographer gets the opportunity to tangibly separate the subject from the background – however, if we are talking about objects of smaller sizes. The blur is homogeneous, as neutral as possible.
Bright light sources in the frame turn into neat multi-beam stars that can be used to decorate landscape photos. At the same time, the lens itself holds the backlight very well, the contrast practically does not decrease. Sun hares are weak, subtle, but blurry.
The quiet auto focus drive is really fast, keeping up with the movement of the subject with the correct mode setting in the camera.
During practical shooting, the lens was easy to use, nothing disturbed or annoyed, the only concern is the noticeable “vacuum cleaner” effect when zooming.
The main question that gnaws at every photographer is to buy or not to buy? The lens is definitely cool and well worth the money. At the time of release in 2012, it cost $2,200, now in 2020 it can be bought for $1269. It is the ideal lens with focal lengths from 24mm to 70mm and a constant f/2.8 aperture.
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is an excellent versatile lens for shooting in any lighting conditions. It is suitable for reportage, weddings, small portraits, landscapes, and travel. The pictures taken with this lens can be considered professional in quality. With the expensive purchase it seems a bit like a gamble with high stakes to buy the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM. Here it means: check for yourself whether your own requirements are met.