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

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The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM is the first bright standard zoom from Canon with image stabilization. That alone makes this zoom much more interesting than the EF version for the SLR cameras. It is clear that the R system has a future.

Click on the lens for specifications, prices and test results.

TEST RESULTS: Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM:

PROS

CONS

  • High image quality

  • Image stabilization

  • Good build quality

  • High brightness

  • No smaller or lighter than EF version

The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM is the first bright standard zoom from Canon with image stabilization. That makes it extra attractive.

The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM is the central lens in what is a logical trinity for many photographers: wide-angle zoom, standard zoom, telephoto zoom. In combination with the Canon RF 15-35 mm f/2.8 L IS USM and the Canon RF 70-200 mm f/2.8 L IS USM, you have a complete set with which you can photograph almost everything. The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM is perhaps the most popular of these. With a range of 24mm wide-angle to 70mm telephoto, this is the most versatile. That versatility has become even greater due to image stabilization. Until the arrival of the Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8L IS USM, you always had to choose between an f/2.8 version without image stabilization or an f/4 version with. That’s no longer necessary. That not only makes this lens very attractive but the whole Canon EOS R system as well. It’s an option that you don’t have for Canon SLR cameras.

A lens like the Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM is normally the best choice if you are looking for the best standard zoom. However, that doesn’t apply for the Canon EOS R system. Canon also previously released Canon RF 28-70 mm f/2L USM. However, that lens has a slightly smaller range and no image stabilization. But the 28-70 mm f/2L USM is one stop brighter. In terms of image quality, the two do not differ much from each other. Those who shoot a lot in low light with fast shutter speeds or who prefer to work with little depth of field may be better off with the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM. As an all-round lens, the Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM is the better choice due to the slightly larger range and the image stabilization. The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM is also slightly smaller and lighter, and that’s nice if you want to walk around with it all day.

BUILD AND autofocus

The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM is very solidly built, and we wouldn’t have expected any less from Canon. The lens is almost the same size as the RF 15-35 mm f/2.8 L IS USM and feels almost the same. The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM is of course completely weather-resistant, with an additional gasket at the mount and a fluorine coating on the front lens to prevent moisture and dirt. The lens is just as big around as the Canon EF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L II USM for the SLR system, but a bit longer. It is even a bit heavier, and you don’t expect that from a lens for mirrorless cameras. If you already have an EOS R, then the new RF 24-70 mm f/2.8L IS USM is of course smaller and more compact, because you don’t need an adapter to be able to use the EF 24-70 mm f/2.8L II USM. And you have image stabilization, and that’s a real plus. The optical design consists of no fewer than 21 elements in 15 groups with 3 aspherical and 3 UD elements. The aperture has nine blades, giving you a nice round opening at f/2.8 and sun stars with 18 points at f/16 or f/22.

The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM has, just like the previously released Canon RF 28-70 mm f/2 L USM and the Canon RF 15-35 mm f/2.8 L IS USM, a programmable ring at the front. With this you can, for example, set the aperture, the shutter speed or the exposure compensation. That brings the total number of rings to three. Behind the Lens Control Ring is the focus ring and the wide, curved zoom ring. The rings are all different in texture and shape. But they are close together, and it takes some getting used to not to accidentally change your exposure when you actually wanted to adjust your focus slightly. The lens has a Nano-USM focusing motor. This ensures fast and precise focus that is also virtually silent.

IMAGE QUALITY

The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM achieved beautiful values in the test lab. Unfortunately, there is no camera in the R system without an anti-alias filter and with more than 30 megapixels. As a result, the scores are slightly lower than lenses than what we can find on cameras with much more resolution. What we at least expect from a top-quality lens is a score that is pretty even, and the Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM does not disappoint on that point. Already at full aperture, we see nice center sharpness with little gradient to the corners. The quality is so good that stopping down makes little sense. Although there is a measurable increase in sharpness, in practice, it is so small that you won’t see much of it. Perhaps that will be different on an R camera with more than 50 megapixels, but on the current EOS R, you choose the aperture mainly for the depth of field.

We see the same evenness in the vignetting. In the jpegs, it’s low, with the highest scores naturally at the wide-angle position and lower values when you zoom in. You see the same image in the RAWs, although the vignetting at 24 mm is slightly higher than we would like, with almost two stops there. That means that at 24mm in the corners, you lose more than a stop in dynamic range due to the correction. That will not always be a problem, but it can be something to take into account.

In the jpegs, the distortion is very low, just like the vignetting. For that you have to use the lens corrections, because in the RAW files, we see up to one and a half percent pincushion-shaped distortion at 70 mm. Most lenses today are designed for system cameras with these corrections as a starting point. And after many of those lenses, we now know that modern lenses with all those corrections ultimately perform better than many of the older designs where everything had to be arranged optically. And the Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM is certainly one of those cases.

The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM is the first bright standard zoom from Canon with image stabilization. Almost all system cameras from the competition currently offer image stabilization, which means that every lens is stabilized. Canon, on the other hand, still keeps stabilization in the lenses. They have mastered that technology very well. But it was about time that some of the most important lenses, such as this 24-70 mm standard zoom and the f/2.8 wide-angle zoom, were finally stabilized. And that time has come. The stabilization of the Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM works as promised, and a five-stop profit is certainly achievable.

The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM on the whole performs excellently and seems to be another step ahead of the EF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L II USM. The background sharpness is nice at full aperture, although there is a bit of restlessness in the soft areas. Lens errors such as chromatic aberration are well suppressed, and little can be seen of color errors.

Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM SAMPLE IMAGES

Curious about the performance of the Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM in practice? Click on the button below and visit our renewed web gallery with sample images. The images can be downloaded in full resolution to be viewed at 100%.

ConclusiON: Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM oN Canon EOS R

The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM is the best standard zoom from Canon.

The Canon RF 24-70 mm f/2.8 L IS USM is the best standard zoom that Canon makes. Not only is the image quality certainly as good, if not better than, the EF version, it is also more versatile thanks to the excellent image quality and the extra multifunctional ring. Along with the 15-35 mm wide-angle zoom and the compact 70-200 mm telephoto zoom, Canon now offers image stabilization in all f/2.8 zooms in the R-system. That is something that Canon SLR users have been waiting for in vain, and it certainly justifies switching to the R system.