Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 USM L II - Full Format Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published September 2012


The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 USM L (I) was a bit of a nightmare for us here at OpticalLimits. We experienced centering defects in several tested samples and up to a degree where we almost considered it to be enough. Now the new Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 USM L II has entered the market and according to the Canon press release things look a little more promising in this respect: "The mechanical structure of the lens has been improved to offer enhanced zoom durability and greater shake and shock resistance within the lens barrel". Good and I can positively report that the tested sample had a decent centering quality this time.

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 USM L II is certainly one of the more mainstream professional grade lenses in the Canon line up and it surely continues the sales success story of its predecessor. On full format DSLRs it's a fast standard zoom lens covering everything from moderate ultra-wide angles up to short tele settings. Unfortunately Canon felt the need to increase the price substantially with a current street price beyond 2100EUR. As such it is the most expensive standard zoom lens among the conventional DSLR manufacturers.

The build quality of this lens is exceptional thanks to a tightly assembled combination of metal and - mostly - high quality plastic parts. Both zoom and focus ring operate smoothly. The lens is designed to survive in harsh conditions due to sealings against dust and moisture. The weight has been substantially reduced from 950g to now 805g and it's also 10mm shorter than its predecessor.
The zoom mechanism has also been changed. It has no longer a "reverse" characteristic so the lens is shortest at 24mm and extends towards 70mm. While I prefer this approach from a handling perspective, the petal-shaped lens hood is now much smaller thus less efficient. The front element does not rotate, of course.

The lens has an internal focusing system driven by a ring-type USM drive offering extremely fast and near-silent AF operations. Typical for modern ring-type USM lenses, full-time manual focusing remains possible in one-shot AF mode.

Here’s how its specs compare against its direct predecessor and its more serious rival - the Tamron AF SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di USD VC.

Canon EF
24-70mm f/2.8 USM L
Canon EF
24-70mm f/2.8 USM L II
Tamron AF SP
24-70mm f/2.8 Di USD VC
Elements/Groups 16/13 23/18 17/12
Special Elements 2x aspherical, 1x UD 3x aspherical, 2x UD, 1x SUD 3x aspherical, 3x LD, 2xXR
Image Stabilizer Efficiency none none 4 f-stops
Aperture blades 8 (circular) 9 (circular) 9 (circular)
Min. focus (magnification) 0.39m (1:3.4) 0.38m (1:4.75) 0.38m (1:5)
AF motor ultrasonic with FTM ultrasonic with FTM ultrasonic with FTM
Size 83x123mm 88x113mm 88x117mm
Weight 950g 805g 825g
Filter size 77mm 82mm 82mm
water/dust protection yes yes yes
approx. Price (EUR) discontinued ~2150€ ~1000€

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