This lens, very popular among professionals, was introduced in 2002. A few weeks ago, the successor, Canon 24-70 mm MK2, was announced. Anticipating the introduction of the Canon 24-70 mm MK2, we test the old Canon 24-70 mm. With that, we already set the bar for the Canon 24-70 mm MK2, because we assume that this lens will be even better than the ‘good old’ Canon 24-70 mm, which we address in this test.
On a camera with an APS-C sensor, such as the Canon 7D, the Canon 24-70 mm has a 3 x zoom range that in terms of angle corresponds to the zoom range of a 38-112 mm zoom lens.
Construction and autofocus
The Canon 24-70 mm is built like a tank and is additionally sealed against water and dust. This lens is relatively large and weighs almost a kilo. Many amateur photographers will therefore give preference to the Canon 24-105 mm instead of the Canon 24-70 mm. Partly thanks to the high luminosity of this lens, the autofocus also works well in low light in combination with the Canon 7D.
This lens is carried out without image stabilization. Not everyone will be bothered to the same extent, but it remains a drawback.
On a camera with a full-frame sensor, there is vignetting, but in combination with the Canon 7D, the Canon 24-70 mm scores much better in terms of vignetting. Yet in some situations vignetting is still somewhat visible, as you can see in this practice shot.
The distortion is clearly visible at both 24 and 70 mm. Using software, such as Canon’s DPP that comes free with the purchase of a Canon SLR camera or the lens profiles in Photoshop for this, it can be corrected.
On a camera with an APS-C sensor, the Canon 24-70 mm has a reasonably nice bokeh. On the right, you see a 100% image cropping of the bokeh at the place of the green dot in the left image. The difference in bokeh of this lens at 70 mm and maximum aperture between a camera with a full-frame sensor (Canon 5D MK2) and a camera with an APS-C sensor (Canon 7D) is surprisingly small.
With a design of 16 elements in combination with a 77 mm front lens, you may expect flare or ghosting. Compared with a telephoto lens, the Canon 24-70 mm indeed has more problems with flare, but for a 24 mm lens, it is not too bad.
Here a practical example of a secondary image that emerges at a backlight image, taken with the Canon 24-70 mm on the Canon 7D.
With the Canon 24-70 mm, you reach the highest possible resolution for a lens on a Canon camera with an APS-C sensor, such as the Canon 7D used in this test. By combining the lens with a full-frame Canon camera like the Canon 5D MK2 – which is what this lens is designed for – you still win considerably in resolution.
At most focal lengths, you win some resolution by stopping down once. At 24 mm, there is a visible difference between the resolution at the edges.
At 24 mm, there is a chance for visible chromatic aberration when using the Canon 24-70 mm. At the other focal lengths, the chromatic aberration is very well under control. Chromatic aberration is easy to correct by the way, for example with the DPP software supplied for free with the purchase of a Canon SLR.
Conclusion Canon 24-70 mm 2.8 L USM review
- Large (2.8) fixed aperture
- Extra sealed against dust and water
- high price
- Heavy and large
- No image stabilization
- Visible distortion at 24 mm and 70 mm
- Resolution at 24 mm lower at the edges
- Chromatic aberration at 24mm
The Canon 24-70 mm is built like a tank: big and heavy. Owners of a Canon camera with an APS-C sensor get the highest resolution from their camera with this lens. However, many amateur photographers will probably prefer the cheaper, lighter and more compact Canon 24-105 mm, which has a larger zoom range in addition.