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

March 2013 | By Andy Westlake

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM was announced a year ago, in February 2012, as an update to the venerable EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM of 2002. It features an all-new optical design, designed to provide improved imaging performance right across the frame and reduced distortion compared to its predecessor. The lens also features a smaller, lighter design and weather-sealed construction, and Canon promises improved robustness due to revised internal construction. It's designed primarily for Canon's high-end full frame bodies (with a price tag to match), but can of course also be used on APS-C SLRs such as the EOS 7D, on which it offers a 38-112mm equivalent angle of view.

The 24-70mm f/2.8 II is intended to be a workhorse lens for professional photographers that has to deliver the best possible results in a wide range of conditions. It uses a suitably exotic optical design for this purpose, with 18 elements in 13 groups, including two 2 ultra-low dispersion (UD) glass elements and one Super UD aspheric element to minimize aberrations. Naturally it uses Canon's ring-type ultrasonic motor for fast, silent focus with full-time manual override, along with a circular aperture diaphragm for attractive background blur.

One feature the lens doesn't offer, though, is image stabilization - Canon says this would require too great a compromise in either image quality or size. This makes for an interesting comparison with the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD that was announced at about the same time, and incorporates image stabilization into a lens that's almost exactly the same size (and of course, rather cheaper). Users who need IS and prefer to stick with Canon's own lenses will have to make to with a stop slower aperture, from either the EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM or the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. In this review we'll compare how all of these lenses measure up against each other in the lab, and assess the 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM's specific strengths and weaknesses.

Headline features

  • 24-70mm focal length
  • Fast F2.8 constant maximum aperture; F22 minimum
  • Ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM) focusing with full-time manual override
  • 0.38m closest focus, offering 0.19x magnification
  • For Canon SLRs of all formats (full frame, APS-H and APS-C)

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the angle of view, on both full frame and APS-C cameras, shot from our standard position:

24mm, full frame 70mm, full frame
24mm, APS-C (38mm equivalent) 70mm, APS-C (112mm equivalent)

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

 Price  • $2200 (US)
 • £1700 (UK)
 Date introduced  February 2012
 Maximum format size  35mm full frame
 Focal length  24-70mm
 35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C)
 Diagonal Angle of view  • 84-34º (full frame)
 Maximum aperture  F2.8
 Minimum aperture  F22
 Lens Construction  • 18 elements / 13 groups
 • 2 UD glass element
 • 1 Super UD aspheric element
 Number of diaphragm blades  9, rounded
 Minimum focus  0.38m
 Maximum magnification  0.21x
 AF motor type  • Ring-type Ultrasonic Motor
 • Full-time manual focus
 Zoom method  Rotary, extending
 Focus method  Internal
 Image stabilization  • No
 Filter thread  • 82mm
 • Does not rotate on focus
 Supplied accessories*  • Front and rear caps
 • Petal-type Hood EW-88C
 • Soft lens case
 Weight  805 g (28.4 oz)
 Dimensions  88.5 mm diameter x 113 mm length
 (3.0 x 3.7 in)
 Lens Mount  Canon EF

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

This article is Copyright 1998 - 2015 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Total comments: 9
Kirk Sunglieng

I just bought the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II for my 5D MK II. I agreed with the comment about the price of this lens without the IS. I am disagree with Canon on the claim that IS will compromise the image quality and the size of the lens, but I am a dedicate Canon user so I spent the money. I think there is something else along the way Canon has plan in the future for this focal length.

Miguel Rodríguez

I've just got my new 24-70 f2.8L II USM and so far looks incredible, performs much better than my 17-40 and Siggy 35 f1.4 @f4. It is comparable to my 70-200 f2.8 at 70mm. So it is an impressive piece of glass. I upgraded from my 24-105 after more than a year hesitating to do it, the reason is the 24-105 at the end of the day was not a lens I trusted 100% of the time, in my experience sometimes I managed to get good results, something not so good.


I agree, this lens is absolute amazing and you'll see pictures quality differences taken with this lens or another one. They will not be identical even at first look. Now that price had dropped with some regular promotions, it's worth. I don't have any trouble with my 24-105 but of course clearly below the quality of this 24-70/2.8 II which was marked by a wellknown photo magazine in France as "the best 24-70" ever seen among all lens providers. At 50mm the only which could compete is the new Sigma 50/f1.4 ART (it's a prime at 900 €) !

1 upvote

Hold on, the Canon 24-70mm F2.8 L USM is weather proof. :|


Just a hobbyist, I bought the 24-70 f2.8L ii usm abt a yr ago happy with the overall performance but man oh man the 70-200 ii is usm just acquired last wk was beyond my expectations! At 70mm the later lens is certainly way better! Honestly, both lenses are pricy hope canon could lower their overall pricing to enable more users to join the rank of satisfied customers.

1 upvote

Yes this 70-200/2.8 II is amazing too and a little bit better at 70mm as the 24-70. You're right. BUT : until now no lens provider was able to offer such a lens with best results on both sides, 24 and 70 mm. Nikon has same results and is additionally under quality of the Canon offer and not cheaper !


This is the go-to lens for those wanting flawless image quality, but with the price tag of around $2,000 one would expect IS as an option. If you don't have this kind of money, I recommend the Canon 24-105mm F4L IS USM as an alternative.

1 upvote

I was a little reluctant to dive in and make the switch to the new 24-70.I have the old version and I am pretty happy with it. But the reviews have been so good .And after talking to a couple of different photographers and I have upgraded to the new 70-200 IS ll and noticed the difference between the old version and the new version so I said I would give it a try . It was well worth the money . I am glad that I upgraded. The images are crisp and very sharp all across the frame.I am very impressed.


I just received the new 70-200 2.8 IS vII. Wow, what a lens. I was expecting some improvement, but the level of improvement was beyond any of my expectations. So much so, that I am now considering the 24-70 vII.

As just a hobbyist, I am reluctant to dish out this amount of money, just a week or so after buying the 70-200 II, but oh that performance of the 70-200 was beyond my expectations! I shot a volleyball tournament last weekend, shot a similar tournament two weeks prior with the version I. My keeper rate was so much higher - and I can attribute my non-keepers to my own errors vs. that of the lens.

Just a hobbyist, but man am I addicted!

1 upvote
Total comments: 9