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Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens Review

John Riley has been putting the Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM lens to the test with the Canon EOS R3 mirrorless camera.

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Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens Review: Canon RF 24 70mm F2,8L Front Oblique View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100

Mirrorless camera systems are now seriously coming of age, with professional camera bodies of the highest level now appearing and the lenses that can match them arriving alongside. Canon now offers an updated 24-70mm f/2.8L zoom lens, the most obvious extra feature being the addition of IS (Image Stabilisation). IS in itself can be a game-changer, enabling the tripod to be put aside in so many situations, where critical sharpness could previously not be achieved in any other way. A new freedom and mobility has become available. Let's couple the new lens with the also new 24MP top of the line Canon EOS R3and see what the pinnacle of Canon mirrorless can achieve.


Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM Handling and Features

Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens Review: Canon RF 24 70mm F2,8L Without Hood On Canon R3 | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 53.0 mm | ISO 100
The lens is heavy and chunky, weighing in at a solid 900g. Nonetheless, it does balance well with the hefty R3 body, the two making an ergonomically sound combination. There is a supplied bayonet fit lens hood that clips cleanly into place, and for added security, a locking catch is provided. Within the bayonet fit is a standard 82mm filter thread. 

First up is the slim lens control ring, complete with light click stops. A Canon service centre can de-click this ring if desired, but there is a charge for this service. As default, a half-press on the shutter release activates the ring and it can be used to adjust exposure compensation. There are various other control options available via the camera menus.

The slightly wider manual focus ring is activated when the lens is switched to MF. This also shows an electronic distance scale in the viewfinder. Focusing is down to 0.21m (0.69') at the wide end and 0.38m (1.25') at the tele end. Maximum magnification is 0.30x, or 1:3, which is closer than average and adds to the versatility of the lens. The AF system is driven by a Nano USM motor and this is fast, accurate and virtually silent.

The wide zoom ring is clearly and accurately maked at 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 70mm. It does change the length of the lens as we zoom in towards 70mm, but the balance of the lens/camera combination is not unduly altered.

Optical construction is 21 elements in 15 groups, including 3 glass moulded aspherical and 3 UD (Ultra Low Dispersion) elements. The front and rear elements have Fluorine coatings to repel dust, grease and moisture. Canon's Air Sphere Coating is used throughout to reduce flare and improve contrast. The diaphragm comprises 9 blades, the aim being to provide smoother bokeh. The inclusion of weather sealing is welcome and although the lens is not waterproof it is moisture and dust resistant, so poor weather should be taken care of.

Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens Review: Canon RF 24 70mm F2,8L Rear Oblique View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100


Closer to the camera body there are switches for Stabiliser on/off, AF/MF and a catch to lock the lens at 24mm for transit. This latter switch stops the lens extending whilst being carried, although there is no evidence with this new lens that it is likely to do so.

Finally, the metal lens mount is of the usual high Canon quality and there is also a rectangular baffle over the rear element as further protection from flare and reflections. The lens is not compatible with extenders.

In use, operation is simple and utterly reliable. There is no doubting the usefulness of a 24-70mm zoom and the closer focus than average is an added bonus. 

Finally, the IS (Image Stabilisation) system is claimed to have a 5 stop advantage, and even more when used in conjunction with any in-camera IBIS. This can of course vary from photographer to photographer and from day to day, as we are more or less steady in our use of the camera. The result today for this reviewer is an advantage of at least 5 and sometimes 6 stops. The advantage of this is clear and although tripods are still necessary for some areas of photography, the option of composing images without their constraint is a powerful advantage indeed.

Let's have a close look now at the technical performance.


Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens Review: Canon RF 24 70mm F2,8L Front Element View | 0.6 sec | f/16.0 | 40.0 mm | ISO 100

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ChrisDelroy Avatar
8 Jun 2022 10:47PM
It's 2022, I don't really understand how you can test a lens sharpness with only 24 megapixels. It's like holding it to standards of lenses from 8 years ago. I'm someone that loves vintage glass but if I want to compare new glass then it needs to be pushed to its limits, lenses have progressed on the sharpness side of things a lot in 8 years.
johnriley1uk Avatar
8 Jun 2022 11:56PM
There are plenty of high end top of the range cameras that "only" have 20MP or 24MP and they are capable of superb results. As for lenses, we are measuring their performance in relation to the theoretical maximum for the system as a whole. When we used film the sharpest film (Kodak Technical Pan, ISO 16) could be used in all 35mm format cameras, but there isn't a universal sensor for digital.

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