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The best 4 star lens I have ever seen.
Written: Mar 6, 2008 (Updated Mar 9, 2008)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Tack sharp, excellent results. Great "normal" range of focal length.
Cons:No hyperfocal scale, potential for lens creep, and heavy for the size.
The Bottom Line: Even though I have given this lens a 4-star rating, I would not hesitate to recommend this lens to anyone. It's a fast lens that covers the "normal" focal lengths.
Twelve hundred dollars for a lens with a focal range of only 24-70mm???? That sounds like an awful lot of money doesnt it? The question is
Is the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L USM worth it? You betcha! Even though this lens has a relatively short zoom compared to the mondo zooms that are being sold that reach from 18-200mm, or even 300mm, this lens is incredibly useful in various situations and much sharper than the mega zooms. With a 35mm equivalent zoom of 38-112mm on a cropped frame camera this makes for an excellent normal lens for either a cropped frame or full frame/35mm camera.
What exactly is meant by normal you ask? Well, the human eye actually sees a clear picture at an equivalent of 50mm, or close to it. Regardless of the size sensor/film in your Canon DSLR/SLR, this lens will cover that range very nicely which means that this lens will see things with the same perspective as your eyes do. You do have the ability to widen the field of view, or narrow it to change the framing or perspective in an image. For those who have a full framed/film Canon body, this might be a really good all around lens for you. The cropped bodies will not be as happy because of the reduction in the wide end due to the sensor size conversion (1.6x).
So why is the 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens worth the premium price tag that Canon has assigned to it? Is this lens so perfect that they can charge whatever they like? Not hardly, it does have its flaws which we will get to shortly. Lets start off by looking at the positives, of which there are many
I hate to keep saying it, but this lens is typical L quality. Of course, I couldnt say typical if they werent all high quality. This has a lot to do with the price of this lens. The lens mount is metal, which is a pretty standard "L" feature. The actual barrel is a very heavy duty plastic, with a nice textured finish. This lens feels solid, and indestructible, although I have not tested that part out. The zoom and focus rings are rubber, and feel silky smooth, and well dampened. Auto focus is facilitated by Canons USM (Ultra Sonic Motor), and is extremely quiet, and faster than you would think.
Being an f/2.8, this is a fast lens that allows a lot of light into the camera. All of this light makes it that much easier for the AF sensors to work. As with other Canon lenses, you can fine tune the AF with the focus ring at any time. There is also a switch that allows you to toggle between manual and auto focus at will. The focusing is all internal, so the front element doesnt rotate during focusing
a great thing for those that like to shoot with polarizing filters and graduated filters.
To me, the zoom of this lens is backwards from what I am used to. At 70mm the lens is fully seated in the barrel, but when racked out to 24mm, the front element protrudes several inches. My past experience has been the opposite, and the longer the focal length, the longer the barrel is extended. This is neither a positive nor a negative, just an observation and something that I have had to get used to. The zoom is smooth throughout most of the range. There is a slight catch in the mechanism when you get to about 25mm, but this is minor. As with the AF facility, the zoom feature does not rotate the front element.
Another nice feature of the Canon lens is a rubber gasket that is fixed to the mounting flange of the lens. This is designed to keep out dust and moisture when it is fitted to the camera body. Canon stands behind this part and offers a lifetime warranty on the part. If it ever wears out, or tears
just take it to a Canon authorized repair facility and they will replace the gasket free of charge. I hope to never have to use this service, but it is nice knowing that it is available.
In the field
Like I mentioned, this lens is a great normal lens, covering the standard 50mm range as well as a good amount on either side of that focal length. This makes this lens quite useful for a variety of tasks where you want to keep the perspective in line with what the human eye is used to. This is especially useful in portrait work to avoid perspective distortion (Its not the camera that adds 10 pounds, its the lens and position of the photographer that do). This lens is also suited to portrait work due to its maximum aperture of f/2.8. This will add a pleasant blurring to the background which is great for soft focus portrait work.
The maximum aperture also helps this camera in low light. Even with the current group of digitals that shoot clean images up to ISO 1600, even up to ISO 3200, an extra stop or two of light could mean the difference between a sharp or blurry image. Now, this lens doesnt have any image stabilization, so the wide aperture is especially useful here. The lack of image stabilization is not a problem for me, as I prefer to use a tripod, and would much rather my money go to quality glass than a motor that senses lens motion. That being said, this lens would be a useful lens when shooting inside in dim light. The maximum aperture will allow the body to focus much quicker than say an f/4 lens.
A consideration with this lens is storage. It is a long lens at 4.9, and might not fit in smaller camera bags unless laid on its side. I have this lens stored in a Tamrac Expedition 5 and it stands up without issue, but there is no growing room at all. If you dont have room in a bag for storage, a nice lens bag is included with this L lens.
How does this lens perform?
In a word
wonderfully. It is incredibly sharp, with a crazy fast auto focus. You can read all the Subjective Quality Tests at various locations online. However, they all pretty much say the same thing, and this lens comes highly recommended by all that review it, or so it seems to me. I never once read a bad review on this lens, and my personal use has justified why I only read positive reviews. This is a great lens that will work on all current Canon SLR/DSLR bodies.
Time for the bad
or maybe compromises would be a better term
I said early on that this lens is not perfect. While being an excellent lens that produces outstanding results, it does have a few quirks that are worth being mentioned. The first and probably the most obvious is the weight. This thing is heavy, weighing in at a bit over two pounds (nearly twice that of the 17-40mm f/4L). This is to be expected from a fast (f/2.8) lens, but will take you by surprise when you first pick it up based on its size. The weight will obviously make your camera bag heavier, and it will also make holding your camera a bit more cumbersome. However, you might just realize that the extra weight will actually steady your hands when hand holding the camera. I use this lens on a Canon 40D and it is perfectly balanced here. It feels like this lens was molded right into the camera body and is a perfect match. I imagine a heavier body would feel equally at home with this lens. However, if you are using a Rebel body, you might feel a bit nose heavy when using this lens. I think the weight is a fair tradeoff for the quality of the lens, and the wide aperture it provides. Before purchasing this lens, be sure you can overlook the weight as well.
The other minor quibble of this lens is the way the zoom works. I would prefer this function be handled internally as it is on other lenses. Im sure that Canon has their reasons for doing this through an extension of the barrel. Im not so much worried about the extra few inches that it adds as much as I am worried about lens creep in the future (barrel moving in or out on its own when the camera is pointed up or down). I have not experienced any lens creep as of yet though, but with age and use it is a real possibility. If you use filters as I do, there is even more of a chance you will experience this at some point. Should this be a deal breaker? Absolutely not, as lens creep is merely an aggravation and the price you sometimes pay for good quality (read heavy) glass. Dont let this prevent you from owning one of the better quality lenses out there.
My final gripe is that there is no hyperfocal scale on the body of the lens. There is a nice window that shows the focusing distance, but no scale to determine your depth of field for a given aperture. This would be nice on this lens because you could potentially be dealing with a very narrow depth of field on the longer end of this lens, at the wider apertures. For the price, I would expect this lens to have this feature, but it is easy enough to do the math in your head, or set your focus point approximately 1/3 into the area you want in sharp focus. It is this omission that prevents me from giving this lens a full five stars. However, this is the best four star lens you will ever find.
Whats included in the box?
As with all Canon L lenses, this lens comes with a lens hood and a storage bag. The hood fits to the front element by way of a bayonet mount which leaves the filter threads open for any screw on filters you may want to use. Keep in mind that the hood is fairly deep so you wont be able to adjust any of the filters with the hood attached, but it is easy enough to take off, adjust, and replace the hood.
You have probably read the other opinions on this lens here at epinions and have seen constant five star reviews. Do I disagree with these reviewers? Not at all. I think this is an excellent lens, and for most buyers, it will be a five star product. However, for the landscape photographer, that hyperfocal scale is a handy thing to have on a lens with this focal length coverage. This lens is a great choice for more than just the landscape photographer, so a good chunk of the buyers wont even notice the omission. Regardless of the quirks of this lens, I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone using a Canon body, whether film or digital. It is just a stellar lens that makes itself right at home in the Canon L stables, as well as my camera bag.
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