Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II–the most useful general purpose lens

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Amongst with all the news happening in the house of Nikon (announcements of D4, D800), Canon draws the attention with their announcement of the new Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II replacing the nine year old 24-70mm f/2.8 L. Its optical elements have been improved, employing three aspherical lens elements, one super UD lens element, and two UD lens elements. Compare to the old 24-7-mm f/2.8 L which only has two aspherical lenses and one UD glass, the new Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II should achieve higher image quality in the entire zoom range and entire image area. Along with the announcement is a couple of new wide-angle primes: the 24mm f2.8 IS and the 28mm f2.8 IS.

You can pre-order your Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II here at B&H. Nikon users, get your Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 here. It is cheaper than the Canon !!!

A lot of photographers would like to see this lens to include Image Stabilizer IS, but this will make the lens way too big and and heavy The new Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II has a smaller footprint than its predecessor. It is 150g lighter, 1 cm shorter but 0.5cm fatter. See below for the size comparison with the predecessor and Nikon’s 24-70mm f/2.8. It is surprise to see Canon has chosen an 82mm filter thread for this lens.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II
Canon Zoom Wide Angle-Telephoto EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Autofocus Lens
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Autofocus Lens (Black)
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
Filter Thread 82 mm 77 mm 77 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 3.5 x 4.4″ (8.89 x 11.18 cm) Approx. 3.3 x 4.8″ (8.38 x 12.19 cm) Approx. 3.3 x 5.2″ (8.38 x 13.21 cm)
Weight 1.77 lb (803 g) 2.1 lb (953 g) 1.98 lb (900 g)


Here is a comparison  between the two Canon 24-70mm f/2.8. The front of new 24-70mm f/2.8 has much more glass and is fully extended at 70mm, as opposed to the current lens which is fully extended at 24mm. New users will need a bit of time to get use to it.

Extended at 70mm

Although I am not a Canon shooter, so I can’t  comment about it, but Nikon also has a 24-70mm f/2.8 which is my work horse lens. It is one of Nikon’s “Trinity” lens. It is a lens suitable for all purposes, covering  from wide angle to mid telephoto range. Its constant aperture of f/2.8 through the whole zoom range not only gives you a nice shallow DoF (especially at longer focal length) , it makes a huge different in low light condition. Its bokeh is not as famous as some fast prime lenses such as 85mm, but is very decent.

Nikon's New Holy Trinty

Nikon Trinity 14-24mm f/28, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII

images – mobile01 and dcfever

The 24-70mm f/2.8 is my most used lens last year 2011. Looking through all my images from 2011, 45.4% of them were shot with 24-70mm f/2.8. Second most used lens was the 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII. I used a lot of the pair for weddings because of their useful coverage from 24-200mm with constant aperture of 2.8 throughout.

This lens is also very useful for travel if you are doing some serious travel photography,  check out this post and this post for some tips on which lens to bring along to travel. But if it is for pure leisure, consider bringing a mirrorless camera, it is much lighter to carry and you will have more fun on your trip.

The 24-70mm f/2.8 has a very decent  maximum reproduction of ~ 0.3x, which is great for general purposes or getting those details in the shots.

                               Recently announced Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II (2011)                                                                Nikon’s version 24-70mm f/2.8 (2008)
Check out a variety of shots taken with the 24-70mm f/2.8 below.


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About Kent Yu

Kent is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He and his team specialise in modern and contemporary weddings. Kent has his work published in international magazines and is a regular author to a number of photographic publication. He is fascinated by photographic equipment and enjoys showcasing the gear used in creating his images. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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