The first thing that popped into my mind, when I opened my Amazon box and saw the familiar white Canon box with the red border, was “wow, this lens is big, and I haven’t even taken it out of the box yet!”
Inside the box, there’s the lens, the large lens hood, the user manual CD, serial number card, and a soft felt sack with drawstring closure. My only small issue is that I’m surprised, at this price point; Canon went with a sack bag and not something sturdier. My comparison is Sigma’s hard, formed pouches that come with their higher-line of lenses, such as their 50mm F1.4 lens, which is protected by a nice tough nylon pouch, inside with hard foam that really protects your investment, and is also about a third the price of the 24-70mm, but yet comes in a better protected pouch. Not a deal breaker, of course; at the end of the day, it’s the lens quality that matters, but just an interesting observation.
Build quality is superb with this L-series lens. I have always heard good things about the Canon L-series and this lens definitely did not let me down and lived up to all I’ve heard about it. Everything is designed with the smallest tolerances; there is absolutely no wobble in any of the parts, whether it be the attachment and fit of the lens hood to the lens, or the zoom and focus rings, or the attachment to the camera body. If the Canon 24-70mm F2.8 L series lens was a car, it would be the Mercedes Benz S550: large, luxurious, plenty of technology and HEAVY. Not to mention, expensive, but once you own one, you don’t regret it at all, for the quality pictures it can produce. Oh, and by the way, being an L-series lens (apparently, all the L-series have this feature) it is weather-proof and sealed from the elements, as long as you put a UV or similar filter on the front. The lens barrel that zooms out is made of metal, so therefore, so is the filter mount and threads on the front of the lens. The lens body is made of a tough, semi-matte plastic with a nice rough-texture feel to it. (So, compared to Sigma lenses, which are matte and completely non-reflective, this lens body has the tiniest bit of sheen to it). Another interesting not is that at the 24mm range, the lens is fully extended, and at the 70mm range, that is when the lens is fully retracted. Also, another design-difference from most lenses, the lens hood stays stationary, which the inner lens barrel extends and retracts inside the hood. The inner barrel also does not rotate upon focusing, that is another attribute of higher-line lenses, compared to cheaper ones, where the lens barrel rotates and extends and retracts. (in the L-series, the inner lens mechanism rotates, so the user does not experience the barrel rotating at all, upon focusing.) Also, with L-series lenses, the user can, at any time, manual focus, even with the focus switch set on Auto, without damaging the lens. That is a designed feature, called “focus override,” giving the user more control of their lens.
Performance-wise, this lens is by far my best, as long as you’re willing to lug around its 3lb weight. It is definitely not the most efficiently designed lens, when compared size-to-zoom ratio, but that’s because all those layers of glass elements inside this special lens are necessary to get the fantastic degree of picture sharpness, throughout the entire zoom range. Also, there is virtually no pin-cushioning throughout the entire zoom range. If the BMW 3-series is really the “standard” when it comes to that rare and hard-to-get-right “connection of driver to road” feel, this lens is really the “standard” when it comes to picture sharpness. With more “efficient” and lighter (cheaper) lenses, such as the kit Canon 18-55mm lenses, you are sacrificing the quality for smaller size and less weight. Another nice feature is the constant maximum aperture of 2.8, which makes for great blurred background effects. While the lens does not have image stabilization, the large light-gathering ability of the 2.8 aperture, combined with the large 77mm diameter front, really gives it the ability to take great shots, even in low light. Another strong suit of the lens is its ability to auto-focus, even in low lighting, where cheaper lens would struggle to find the focus point. The focusing action is completely quiet and very fast, by the way.
One thing to also note about the lenses, like other L-series, I have noticed, is there is not much value depreciation, which is great for the owner. The L-series lenses you have bought years ago, even if they have the “II” or “III” (third generation) version out by now, will still sell for close to the same that you bought it for, unlike a lot of things in life, like cars and computers, that become outdated. Currently, the lens is selling for about $2,200 USD on Amazon.com.
24-70mm F2.8L USM lens score:
Total score: 9.5/10