A Quick Review of Canon EF 24-70 mm f/2.8L USM Lens

Posted: March 1, 2012 in Blog
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First of all I’d like to point out that results were given by only one lens and because I cannot believe what I saw I’ll have to get a new one and do this review again.

I was quite excited to have this lens for test and review purposes. A workhorse lens for many photographers out there with fast f/2.8 aperture, great build and image quality. And from results I got? How can this terrible performing lens be a workhorse? Image quality is bad, corners are so blurred and also center of image is soft (click on a post to read and see more).

Let’s talk about build quality. When I took it into my hands it was a nice feeling. A bit heavier but on the other hand you’re holding a f/2.8 lens with some UD elements and other crazy stuff inside it. Any new lens looks and feels nice but I was using an older one and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Ladies and gentleman, the lens extends itself on its own. I was like are you kidding me!? A lens for $1,300 and extends when you have camera pointing down and walking? This was quite bad sign for me. Also lens hood could use a better lock mechanism. I was afraid I’ll loose it. This quality I’d expect from a $700 lens. But this isn’t the worst part.

We don’t judge lenses just by their build quality but also by image quality. And this lens was a big fail in my eyes. I’m OK with some distortion on 24 mm, a bit vignetting and chromatic aberration shooting wide open. Here is a sample photo of vignetting.

But photos captured by it were … bad. Sometimes even Sigma lenses might do a better job. Here is an image of blurry corners. I was dead on with focus and had fast enough shutter speed. As you can see, result is very bad for this lens.

 There are also some things I liked. I’m not all negative about this lens 😉 One of the things is bokeh. A lot of time I’m shooting wide open and using an advantage of f/1.8, f/2.8 and f/4 apertures. Bokeh is nice on 70mm but also on 24mm. Everything was creamy and soft. Here are two pictures, first is at 50 mm, second over at 70 mm. With the second one I tried to get a lot closer.

Another great thing is it doesn’t add any color cast to your image. If you set your WB right on you’ll get good colors in final image without adjusting it in Photoshop or Lightroom.

What was a big issue for me was sharpness. Not just corners were soft but also center. And for me this is a deal breaker when I should buy this lens to be my primary lens to go with. Having a blurry image is one of the worst things that can happen. It may be caused by you, it may be caused by your subject or it may be caused by camera and lens. Some of you might start pointing out that my camera wasn’t calibrated with this lens when I borrowed it and started shooting. Yes, you are right, it wasn’t calibrated right from start. I did the calibration at home and results were a bit better but not as good as my 70-200 f/4 is. Anyway calibration itself just moves the plain of focus to reduce front or back focus but it doesn’t affect your sharpness.

Just for comparison here are two images I took of one hotel in Prague. Second image was taken with my lens, not the 24-70 and it was made just for comparison purposes. But I like it more also because the light 🙂 Here are the images.

They were both taken different days with different lenses and different weather conditions and processing. But sharpness isn’t affected by weather or any of these stuff except processing. Believe me, I didn’t blur any image that came from this lens 😉 When I saw these photos side by side I couldn’t believe my eyes. The newer image was sharper! Why I was surprised? Because for both shots I used different camera settings. The first one is shot using 24-70 at f/8 which should be the sharpest aperture and the second one was shot with my 85mm at f/1.8 so wide open. I still cannot believe my eyes. This is a huge fail for this lens.

So here is my final thought. Would I buy this lens? No. Would I recommend this lens to anyone? Probably not. But you can still take good pictures with it if you are a good photographer 😉


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