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Canon EF 24-70mm f.2.8L USM Review


  • Proven pedigree


  • Showing its age in the face of fierce competition

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £1449

Canon EF 24-70mm f.2.8L USM review

Canon’s original EF 28-70mm f/2.8L USM was an immediate hit when it was introduced more than ten years ago: such was its fame that it went on to set the standard to which other manufacturers aspired. The 24-70mm version is an update of the 28mm design with an extended close-focusing capability that is marked by a ‘macro’ range on the distance scale.

The lens has Canon’s traditional pro-spec feel: it nestles in the hand comfortably so that the rearmost zoom ring and the forward manual-focusing ring are both within easy reach. There is no movement of the focusing ring in AF mode and the front element is similarly static. Nevertheless, the manual-focusing ring can be employed at any time for adjustment if so desired.

Automatic focusing is brisk and distortion is virtually non-existent. MTF performance is held above 0.3 cycles per pixel from f/5.6 to f/11 at all focal lengths and only falls below the crucial 0.25 figure when the lens is used wide-open or fully stopped-down.

Given that the 0.29x maximum magnification falls a long way short of a 1:1 ratio needed for true macro photography, Canon has been slightly cheeky in specifically designating the closest focusing distances as a ‘macro’ range (with orange markings on the focusing scale). That said, Canon has used this same tactic on other lenses and many buyers will simply interpret ‘macro’ as indicating an extended close-focusing range.

The EF 24-70mm is by no means cheap, but Canon’s clear intention was to produce a high-spec lens that will appeal to professionals who can off-set equipment purchases against both tax and clients’ invoices. Given this ambition it is worth noting that the 24-70mm has also been weatherproofed to the extent that it is described as being ‘highly resistant’ to dust and water.

Overall, there is little to fault about Canon’s EF 24-70mm in isolation but when compared against the brand-new Nikkor design it perhaps falls slightly behind in terms of both focusing speed and image quality.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM review – MTF graph (with Canon EOS 1Ds Mk III)

Trusted Score

Score in detail

  • Value 10
  • Design 9
  • Image Quality 9
  • Features 9