Thursday, September 21, 2017

Canon EF 24-70mm F/4L IS USM Review

Canon EF 24-70mm F/4L IS USM Review
September 2017, Carl Garrard

Canon EF 24-70mm F/4L IS USM Review- Not many DSLR lenses encourage me these days as much as the affordable, weather resistant, macro capable, excellently built Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM. From the quality of the boxing to my pixel peeping scrutinized shots, this zoom lens is very impressive and versatile for its price. Built quality is L level phenomenal, speed of focus is fast, its macro capability is a big bonus and nearly unheard of in this category. It seems to pair nearly perfectly with the Canon EOS 6D- it's size, weight, weatherproofing, and handling is dynamite on this body. It may not have the mid telephoto range of the older/newer 24-105 f/4L (II), but, image quality is better (especially distortions). It's also more compact, has much better macro capability, and it's nearly the same price as the older 24-105 f/4L model at about $749.00-$899.00 USD. Used copies are available for a bit lower, but there aren't too many of those yet. Read on to hear what my thoughts are on this lens. These days I'm shooting less with DSLR's, but this lens needed to be reviewed here for my readers.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0L BEST CURRENT PRICE

Canon EF 24-70mm F/4L IS USM Review: Overview
Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0L BEST CURRENT PRICE 

Canon EF 24-70mm F/4L IS USM Review: My Sales Pitch

A standard wide to medium zoom lens that pairs well with the 5/D and 6D series DSLRS with high quality build, weather sealing, excellent optics, and a versatile zoom range sporting a constant f/4 aperture. Bonus benefits are the smaller size and excellent macro capability when you need it. Comes with a real printed manual, a nice lens hood, pinch style lens cap, and Canon's excellent warranty and service.

Canon EF 24-70mm F/4L IS USM Review: Versatility

I think the versatility is exceptional for a DSLR lens. Zoom lenses are usually a set of optical or other compromises you agree too for various reasons, because of the convenience of using them. I tend to prefer a fast wide angle zoom with a constant f/stop, weather sealing,and sharp as possible in the corners at wide angle and telephoto. Normally that's a very tall order for a zoom lens and it will weigh a ton and cost a quite a lot- usually pricing me out. And usually a lens of this quality is so large or cumbersome I don't want to lug it around anywhere.

Makes a great landscape lens, sharp and fast enough for low light situations too. 24mm here.
Great for macro. So much so that I find it difficult to recommend a macro lens. At .7x, it's not 1:1, but come on, close enough.
A great landscape lens. Does all you can ask for. Shot at f/8 50mm.
Again, an excellent macro lens. Hard to argue with results.

But, with the Canon 24-70mm f/4L IS USM, you get all of the good optical stuff, plus excellent macro capability, easy handling, smaller size, and build quality for a price that does not break a wallet in two. Granted, it's not small or light by any means, but it is for this category of lens and this is often a trade off worthy of shooting with full frame. This lens just performs when you need it too, without fuss or worry, and with top notch results.

Canon EF 24-70mm F/4L IS USM Review: Handling
Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0L BEST CURRENT PRICE

Canon's L series lenses have a loyal following for a reason. I've used many, but recent advances in lens and body construction, optics, and features make them so much better. They leverage the advantage of higher resolution sensors. Since this lens is a relatively new design, it's a great choice for newer Canon DSLR's with higher resolution, and balances very well on a 6D for example. The focus and zoom rings feel smooth and properly resistant, and there is no lens creep due to gravity either (and I doubt even broken in there ever would be). Regardless it has a zoom creeep lock if you want to use it.

The macro switch is easily engaged with the right hand pinky, push forward and zoom and you are shooting macro. Remember that you have to take it out of macro if you want to return to normal use. Controls on both sides of the lens are very easy to engage and easy to remember without taking your eye away from the camera..

Focus throw is quick, about 1/4 of a full turn on the zoom ring and you can focus with one finger with ease. It's a good balance between fast manual focusing and whilst retaining the ability to accurately fine tune focus when every detail counts (think of being zoomed in on live view 10x for astro or macro photography for example). The zoom ring also operates very smoothly and precisely and even though grip surface area isn't that large- it's not a problem. All of the switches for focusing, image stabilization, and macro/zoom lock are right there at your fingertips where they ought to be. This makes it easy to keep the camera at eye level whilst making adjustments at the same time. This lens is a pleasure to use in every way.

Manual fine tuning of focus is available when auto focus is engaged, and all focusing is done internally of course. The front element does not rotate during zoom or focusing, as expected on a lens of this caliber. Again, the IS/AF-MF/MACRO-LOCK switches are all at fingertips reach, even with smaller hands. The macro switch can be engaged using the pinky finger easily, a very nice touch that helps you engage the lens into macro mode quickly when need be (can be invaluable at times).

Never have any issue using this lens in low light, for any situation. F/4 70mm. Focus on the marshmallow.

Canon EF 24-70mm F/4L IS USM Review: Image Quality
Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0L BEST CURRENT PRICE 

Superb image quality for a zoom. The quality through the range is nearly (I use that term loosely) prime lens like at all focal lengths. Barrel and pincushion distortion is minimal, even in uncorrected raw files. Color fringing is a non issue at f/5.6 onward, ignorable at f/4. Vignetting is well controlled  wide open, stop down to f/5.6 and its pretty much gone. Bokeh is nice for a zoom, with a 9 blade aperture keeping out of focus circles fairly uniform. It's really how creamy you can get the background though. At the 70mm f/4 setting, it's very nice indeed.

Nice creamy fore/backgrounds. Professional results. Settings: 70mm f/4.

Sharpness is very good at all focal lengths and f-stops, in the center to the corners. Wide open you'll notice some softness in the extreme corners but this to be expected, it normal, and often welcome. If you want tack sharp corner to corner, just stop down a bit.

Colorado Street Bridge, Pasadena CA. Shot at 42mm, f/8

Either way, perceivable distortions or aberrations aren't going to make much if any difference even to the most picky shooter. This lens is sharp and nearly distortion free at all focal lengths and f/stops. Keep your expectations in line with using a zoom lens, and you'll come away getting more than you bargained for.

Close up, nice out of focus areas. Good for low light, you don't have to stop down past f/4, and why would you want too? Shot at 70mm f/4.

Canon EF 24-70mm F/4L IS USM Review: Conclusion
Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0L BEST CURRENT PRICE

I've got no realistic optical quality complaints, no versatility complaints, and zero price complaints for what Canon offers in this lens. Simply, its a lens with excellent value for the dollar and gives professional standard results. This lens stands up to serious scrutiny on prints which is nice to have in the convenience of a zoom. Weather sealing and macro capabilities add to it's allure.

You can scrutinize charts till your eyebrows fuse together, or you can use the lens to make beautiful images. Nothing is more satisfying than using a lens like this in real life. Practically speaking, handling is superb- the lens design will not frustrate you when relying on it counts the most. Image stabilization is very effective if you prefer to rely on it. If you don't mind a constant f/4 aperture like me, you should try one out, but  just be prepared to part with your money. This lens has consistently put a smile on my face, before, during, and after the exposure process.

Use it on an APS-C sensor DSLR like the 7D/II or 70D if you like, as it will give you a 38.5-112mm equivalent field of view. I can't say you'll get much more practical sharpness in the corners, but because of the 1.6x magnification factor, you will get closer macro images, and into medium telephoto range. So either way, it's a lens that will work with whatever format you choose.

Some may prefer to have a faster constant f/2.8 aperture, but I personally feel Canon's f/4 L glass is the way to go. You just get a better overall value for the dollar, less weight and bulk, and you aren't trading off much loss of light at all. Since Canon's DSLRS are so good at higher ISO's, I can't really justify spending more for the f/2.8 L glass when you can just bump up your sensitivity a notch. Don't shop for a lens to impress your friends, shop for a lens that will deliver what you need. Then smile knowing  you saved your money.

Not only is the Canon 6D become my most favorite DSLR of all time, but for the money, I'd say the Canon 24-70mm f/4 is my favorite Canon zoom lens as well. It might as well be welded to my 6D. I definitely recommend it without reservations. It comes with a soft case, lens hood, and both caps in the better than average packaging.

Stay focused.

-Carl Garrard

P.S. I'll take any donations for my work. I'm not asking, only providing a means should you have the urge to donate. Thank you in advance :) The paypalme link is below, and a permanent fixture on my home page.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/4.0L BEST CURRENT PRICE 

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