Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

This review covers


» Image Quality «


» Sample Pictures «

» Conclusion «

» Further Information «

Table of contents

Shot with the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM:

Grape-vines in Germany's Odenwald range  (24mm, f/8.0, 1/60s, ISO 100, Full Frame)  © Gil De Sousa



EF 24-70mm
f/2.8L USM

The EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is considered THE standard general purpose lens for professional use. I hardly know any (Canon) wedding photographer that doesn't own one (or hasn't owned one). It's solidly built, features a rugged metal lens mount and comes with a weather seal that allows shooting in (light) rain. It's a heavy (32 oz) and bulky piece of equipment and the lens hood Canon supply with the lens is of massive size as well. But that's all for a good reason because the lens offers a great maximum aperture of f/2.8 throughout its focal range. This allows for narrow in-focus ranges that give your images a nice look and it also enables shooting in low light conditions with fairly fast shutter speeds. Of course the lens also needs faster shutter speeds because it lacks an image stabilizer.

The EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is equipped with a modern, fast, acurate and silent ring-type ultra sound focus motor. In the higher end Canon cameras the lens's maximum aperture enables additional focus sensors which enhance the accuracy of the focus further.

The resolution of the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM is quite good for longer focal lengths but - to be honest - a little disappointing for 24 mm (which I use often with this lens). The cheaper EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is sharper at this focal length! On the other hand distortion is very well under control with the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM (for a zoom lens) and corner shadow (though very intense at the wide angle) is pretty good at most focal lengths. But curvature of the focal plane is a real issue with this lens. If you are shooting a straight subject like a group of people in a line-up and want everybody to be in perfect focus you will have to use high f-stops or avoid the wide end of the focal range. Whether this bothers you in real life photography really depends on what you are doing.

Color fringes both in focused and in out-of-focus parts of the image are visible as well but they are not very intense. On the good side the circular aperture shape produces nicely even out-of-focus blur. Overall I would say that there are quite a couple of issues with the image quality of this lens and it seems like many of them have been addressed in the successor (the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM).

I doubt that the good reputation of the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM comes from its image quality. If you are a pro you just need the fastest available lenses (and you usually can afford them) and for photo journalism or wedding photography image quality is really not all that important (in my opinion). But if you don't need f/2.8 you should take a close look at the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM which is cheaper, lighter, smaller, has an image stabilizer, a better zoom range and outperforms the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM in some of the image quality tests. But of course it's just not an f/2.8 lens.

I have used both for several years and I still switch back and forth. I wouldn't recommend either of them for use with an APS-C camera though because the resulting effective focal range is just not as useful. Check out the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM and the EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM if you are not shooting full frame.

There are good reasons for buying the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM but whether it's the right lens for you really depends on what you are doing and on what's most important to you.

-Did you like this review? Show your appreciation

Thanks for supporting LENSTESTS. See how you can help:
  • Go to our Facebook-Page and "Like" it
  • A summary of this review is available on You can rate it as "helpful" if you are one of their users/customers
  • Next time you shop at (no matter for what) use this link to have Amazon pay a small comission to us. Of course you won't pay more  (Details)
Thank you very much for your support!

Further Information

Note: this lens has a successor - the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM


-Data table

NameCanon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
Model year2002
Market price (Germany)€ 1,050
Market price (USA)$ 1,320
CompatibilityCompatible with full frame cameras
Lens typeZoom
Aperture range at shortest focal lengthf/2.8 to f/22
Aperture range at longest focal lengthf/2.8 to f/22
Model No.?
Number of aperture blades8
Aperture blades are circular?Yes
Has image stabilization?No
F-stop gain of image stabilizern.a.
Number of image stabilizer modesn.a.
Allows manual override during autofocus?Yes
Has filter thread?Yes
Filter size77 mm
Officially compatible with extenders?No
Has a metal lens mount?Yes
Weight32 oz
Diameter3.3 "
Length (mount surface to front end)5 "
Length - fully extended6 "
Length - fully extended with hood7 "
Shortest focal length24 mm
Longest focal length70 mm
Effective shortest focal length on cameras with APS-C sensor38 mm
Effective longest focal length on cameras with APS-C sensor112 mm
Minimum focus distance1.25 '
Maximum magnification0.29 x
Front element rotates when focusing?No
Front element rotates when zooming?No
Extends when focusing?No
Extends when zooming?Yes
Zoom lockable?No
Number of AF ranges1
Number of AF presets0
Length of AF preset recall ringn.a.
Sealed against dust and moisture?Yes
Seal requires filter to be present?Yes
Has AF stop switch?Yes
Has AF stop button?No
Has distance indicator?Yes
Distance information is in EXIF data??
Uses drop-in type filters?No
Drop-in filter sizen.a.
Length of zoom ring0.7 "
Length of focus ring0.7 "
Number of lenses16
Number of optical groups13
Lens Hood
Weight2.4 oz
Maximum diameter4 "
Length3.3 "
Model No.EW-83F
Lens Cap
Weight0.7 oz
Length0.2 "
Model No.E-77
Tripod Mount
Maximum diameter?
Model No.?
Case / Pouch
Weight1.9 oz
Model No.LP1219



Image Quality