Thoughts: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

I’ve been weighing up for a while whether to get a general purpose zoom in this range, but I chose to wait and make a considered decision. I originally looked at the 24-105 f/4.0 L IS USM, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I would probably really miss that extra stop of light. I see this as a factor that will become less important over time as ISO performance increases on newer cameras, but right here and now I have a camera body that tops out at 3200 ISO and an extra stop indoors can mean the difference between a sharp and blurry shot if you’re down to 1/60 or 1/120. I was leaning more and more towards the 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM. 

But, of course, as soon as you think about buying something the rumours come out of the woodwork about a successor. Knowing that an update was likely, and not being desperate to buy, encouraged me to wait for the new lens to surface – and here it is: the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM.

Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM. Picture from Canon UK.

Let’s just start off by saying this is probably a good lens. A really good lens. The problem is, while reading through the spec sheet, I found myself feeling either disappointed or just plain indifferent…

Indifferent

The new lens is slightly shorter, slightly fatter and weights 145g less than its predecessor. For such a heavy lens any sort of weight saving was going to be an improvement, but I wonder if anyone is going to really feel a difference going from 950g to 805g? Even less so when you attach it to the best part of 1kg camera body. It’s better than nothing I suppose. We also have a minimum focusing distance of 0.38m – this is the same as the old version. Yawn.

Disappointed

I kid you not, the first thing that jumped off the page when I read the spec sheet – Filter Thread Size: 82mm. Oh man! That means a new polarizing filter! The old 24-70mm has a 77mm thread size which means I can share filters with my 17-40mm. 77mm is a pretty common thread size for a lot of the popular Canon professional lenses, so it’s not just me who is going to roll their eyes at this one.

Lastly, and perhaps the biggest disappointment of all considering the dose of apathy this lens has given us so far, is the price – £2299 I’ve seen it listed for! Now, this is probably the price from Canon which is always higher than what the lens typically retails for, but even taking that into account the new version is going to be a lot more expensive than the old one.

Closing Thoughts

For me, the only ace in the hole left for this lens is going to be whether it delivers a big improvement in image sharpness. There are no shortage of people who will fork over cash for that alone. But to me that kind of side-steps the point of zooms – this one in particular – as they’re about versatility. If you’re that bothered about sharpness then buy a couple of primes. I can’t say for sure that an improvement in image quality is going to be enough of a motivator for people to part with that amount of cash to upgrade.

I hope they do though, because guess who’s going to be in line to pick up a used 24-70 mark 1.

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2 Comments

Filed under Equipment, Opinions

2 responses to “Thoughts: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

  1. May be time to go for a Cokin or Lee filter system? That way you only need to change the filter holder adaptor ring. Part of the reason I went for the 24-105 was the 77mm thread to keep it in line with my 17-40 & 100-400. I’m also predominately a landscaper and therefore a tripod user, so I extra stop doesn’t make a great deal of difference to me anyway. 😉

  2. I have thought about some of the drop-in filters, but I’ve yet to actually buy some for a couple of reasons. The first was I didn’t really know what I was buying(!) and the second was that once I started shooting RAW I found that Lightroom was surprisingly good at bringing back (almost) blown details so the urgency went away somewhat. I know it’s no substitution for a real filter setup though! Would you particularly recommend either Cokin or Lee filters or are they as good as each other?

    It’s funny you should mention the 24-105 and tripods. One of the reasons I took a strong look at that lens was the IS which meant I could hand-hold at a pretty slow shutter and get good shots without a tripod, which I figured would give me a couple of creative options those times I’m just on walkabout and haven’t planned a shot in particular. As much as I like my Manfrotto it’s such a heavy thing to carry without a good reason!

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