Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Review

4.5
January 16, 2014 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is a professional standard zoom lens for full-frame DSLR cameras. Officially retailing for a whopping £2299.99 / $2299.99, does the Canon 24-700mm f/2.8 offer good enough image quality to justify its price-tag? Read our in-depth Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM review, complete with full-size sample images, to find out...

The EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM is the professional-grade standard zoom lens for Canon’s full-frame and APS-C DSLRs. Featuring a fast f/2.8 maximum aperture throughout its zoom range, Super Spectra coatings, an ultrasonic focus motor, a nine-blade circular aperture, silent high-speed AF performance, full-time manual focusing and dust/moisture resistance, the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 is ideally suited to wedding and reportage photography. The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM officially retails for £2299.99 / $2299.99 in the UK and the USA respectively.

Ease of Use

As a professional L-series standard zoom, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is big and bulky, weighing in at a hefty 805g and measuring over 11cms in length at 24mm. While you can use it on a smaller APS-C body for a 38-112mm equivalent angle of view, it won't balance very well - as demonstrated by the images below, it's a much better match for a professional-grade full-frame camera like the 5D Mark III.

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USMThe Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USMSide of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USMSide of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens

As you would expect from a lens that costs this much, build quality is excellent, certainly up to the "L" moniker that denotes Canon's premium lenses. The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM feels very solid in your hand, even if the outer barrel and the filter thread appear to be made from plastic. The focusing ring is just as wide as it needs to be, and has a ridged, rubberised grip band. It has no aperture ring, which is no big deal unless you wanted to use it on a very old film body. The lens also features a clear distance scale.

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USMThe Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens alongside the Canon EOS 5D Mk III

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USMThe Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens in-hand

Note that the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM doesn't have image stabilisation, something which the much cheaper but slightly slower EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM offers.

The Lock switch activates the Lock function - set the focal length to 24mm and move it backwards to the Lock position to prevent the zoom mechanism from creeping when the camera is pointed down or in storage.

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USMFront of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USMFront of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USMRear of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens

The final control on the lens barrel is a focus mode switch with the usual AF/MF settings. Note that this lens usefully offers full-time manual focusing even when AF is selected.

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is sealed against dust and moisture thanks to being fitted with a rubber ring on the lens mount.

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USMSide of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USMSide of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens

The lens ships with a petal-shaped lens hood (EW-88C) and a protective drawstring lens case.

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USMThe Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens with the lens hood fitted

Focal Range

At the 24mm focal length the angle of view is 74 degrees.

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSMField of view at 24mm

At the 70mm focal length the angle of view is 29 degrees.

 Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSMField of view at 70mm

Focusing

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens has a wide-enough focus ring. There are hard stops at both ends of the range, making it easier to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 82mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM zoom is a quick performer, taking about 0.15 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III that we tested it with.

We didn't experience much "hunting", either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time. It's also a fairly quiet performer, thanks to the built-in USM (Ultra Sonic Motor), which makes this lens quite well-suited to video recording.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are impressively well controlled with this lens - the examples below show the worst-case scenario.

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM

Light Fall-off

With the lens wide open at f/2.8, you can see some slight light fall-off in the corners. Stopping down helps, although to completely get rid of this phenomenon, you will need to use an f-stop of f/5.6 or smaller.

Barrel distortion isn't too bad at all at the 24mm wide-angle focal length, disappearing completely at 35mm.

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USMVignetting at 24mm

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USMVignetting at 70mm

Macro

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM isn't claimed to be a macro lens, but it delivers quite good performance nonetheless if you zoom to 70mm, where the close-focus point is at 38cm from the film/sensor plane and Canon quotes a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.21x. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject.

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM Close-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. Canon have employed an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades in the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM for a pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus highlights. Based on what we have seen, we can say that they largely succeeded. Below you'll find some examples, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM
   
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.

Entry Tags

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