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.

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