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