Camera Lens 24-70mm Claim

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The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM was announced a year ago, in February 2012, as an update to the venerable EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM of 2002. It features an all-new optical design, designed to provide improved imaging performance right across the frame and reduced distortion compared to its predecessor. The lens also features a smaller, lighter design and weather-sealed construction, and Canon promises improved robustness due to revised internal construction. It’s designed primarily for Canon’s high-end full frame bodies (with a price tag to match), but can of course also be used on APS-C SLRs such as the EOS 7D, on which it offers a 38-112mm equivalent angle of view.

The 24-70mm f/2.8 II is intended to be a workhorse lens for professional photographers that has to deliver the best possible results in a wide range of conditions. It uses a suitably exotic optical design for this purpose, with 18 elements in 13 groups, including two 2 ultra-low dispersion (UD) glass elements and one Super UD aspheric element to minimize aberrations. Naturally it uses Canon’s ring-type ultrasonic motor for fast, silent focus with full-time manual override, along with a circular aperture diaphragm for attractive background blur.

One feature the lens doesn’t offer, though, is image stabilization – Canon says this would require too great a compromise in either image quality or size. This makes for an interesting comparison with the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD that was announced at about the same time, and incorporates image stabilization into a lens that’s almost exactly the same size (and of course, rather cheaper). Users who need IS and prefer to stick with Canon’s own lenses will have to make to with a stop slower aperture, from either the EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM or the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. In this review we’ll compare how all of these lenses measure up against each other in the lab, and assess the 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM’s specific strengths and weaknesses.

Headline features

  • 24-70mm focal length
  • Fast F2.8 constant maximum aperture; F22 minimum
  • Ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM) focusing with full-time manual override
  • 0.38m closest focus, offering 0.19x magnification
  • For Canon SLRs of all formats (full frame, APS-H and APS-C)