Review: Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM (This Lens Will Grow on You)

The Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM is the lens that will really help to make this camera system. 

Every camera system is made or broken by the quality of their 24-70mm lenses, and the Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM convinces us that the RF system is a solid system. Not only will photojournalists appreciate the autofocus speed and image quality, but they’ll also admire the build quality. The point of mirrorless was to be smaller and lighter, and the Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM does just that. At the same time, portrait photographers will really like the quality it renders. The lens is sharp, but not sharp to the point where clients will be problematic with the quality of their faces or anything like that. Both types of photographers will like how durable the lens is. Beyond that, everyone will like the image stabilization it offers and its pretty fair price point.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Fast-focusing abilities
  • Sharp image quality
  • Very lightweight
  • Built incredibly well
  • Well balanced and smaller than the Sony G Master
  • Image stabilization
  • Fairly priced

Cons

  • I don’t have one

Gear Used

The Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM was tested with the:

Tech Specs

Tech specs are taken from the Adorama listing

  • Lens Mount: Lens Mount: Canon EOS RF
  • Fixed Mirrorless FL: Focal Length: All Zooms
  • Mirrorless: Zoom: Focal Length: 24-70mm
  • Lens Format: Lens Format: Full-Frame
  • Maximum Aperture: Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
  • Lens Type: Wide Angle to Telephoto Zoom Lens
  • Special Features: Weather Resistant
  • Image Stabilization: Image Stabilization: Yes (IS)
  • Filter Size: Focal Length: 82mm

Ergonomics

With the Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM, photographers are getting something utilitarian. It’s portable, lightweight, and offers excellent quality. And that is reflected throughout the entire design of the lens.

The Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM has an 82mm filter thread. That’s useful for things like long exposures or if you want to use an ND filter for video shoots.

On one side, you’ve got the AF/MF switch and the image stabilization. There is also a direct view here of the rings. Towards the front is the multi-function ring, then the focus ring, and then the zoom ring. In the middle of the zoom ring, the lens becomes thinner. This is subtle unless you’re really paying attention.

On the other side of the Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM is the lock switch. This only locks at the widest position.

Like its cousins, the Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM doesn’t get very extensive when fully zoomed in.

 

Build Quality

Reviews Editor Paul Ip and I have a joke for whenever our gear takes bumps in the field. Instead of panicking because it took a hit, we say, “Durability test!” With that in mind, the Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM received many a durability test. During our testing, it went into the rain and took several hits, but no matter what, it kept working. Photographers typically rely on their 24-70mm lenses and need them to be durable. Luckily, we’ve done all that testing for you. Photographers and photojournalists especially can rest assured that the durability and build quality is exceptional.

Beyond this, also know that Canon’s 24-70mm f2.8 IS is very lightweight. Plus, it’s small enough to fit into most areas of a camera bag that you’d typically store a camera. I can’t find a single fault with the build quality of the Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM.

 

Autofocus

The Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM autofocuses very well in conjunction with the EOS R on the latest firmware. You can see that, even though I tried to photograph the man in the image above that was closest to me, it focuses instead on his friend. It didn’t detect a face on the man in the foreground. Luckily, misses like this are relatively rare.

As these veterans walked past me, I was able to get them all in focus. That was amazing to me.

As this guy was making noodles, the Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM and the Canon EOS R kept his face in focus. I was delighted with the results. It’s not as fast and not always as accurate as Sony’s system, but it’s still terrific.

 

Ease of Use

The Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM is a mixed-use case. There are six controls on this lens; the multi-function ring, the focusing ring, the zooming ring, the zoom lock, the AF/MF switch, and the IS control. While that sounds like a lot, it’s not that bad. I think photographers need to use the lens control ring to make the most of the camera system. To that end, with this being an L lens, it’s targeted to those who know what they’re doing. So with that in mind, photographers who have a lot of experience will be able to work well with the Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM. Others may get frustrated and probably won’t be able to wrap their heads around the idea that there is a ring around the lens.

 

Image Quality

The Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM is a great lens through and through. It’s sharp, has beautiful bokeh, great colors, and is incredibly versatile. What’s holding it back is the lack of a higher resolution sensor and, in some ways, an even better autofocus system. During my testing, I rarely wanted to stop using the Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM. As a current EOS R owner, I really enjoyed using it. I most often work with the RF 50mm f1.2 L USM lens, but this lens is much more versatile.

Bokeh

While the Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM has beautiful bokeh, it isn’t as good as some other lenses in the Canon lineup. This is because of the nature of what this lens is. The bokeh is sweet enough for most uses. Portrait photographers will surely appreciate it, and photojournalists will be more than happy with it. The bokeh is creamy at the longer end but hazier at the shorter end.

Chromatic Aberration

In our tests, we found no chromatic aberration. Even when we thought there might be fringing, we found there not to be.

Color Rendition

The Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM has gorgeous colors. Combined with the EOS R’s sensor, it’s very capable too. We found the best colors to come with a flash and high-speed sync. But that’s pretty typical for Canon cameras and lenses. The colors right out of the camera are also beautiful, but something about their prime lenses and faster lenses is more appealing when it comes to color rendition.

Sharpness

What I’m super satisfied with is the sharpness from this lens. It’s positively fantastic. When the output from a flash is added, the sharpness gets even better. Any photo editor will be happy with these images, and any wedding client is bound to be satisfied. In the case of a wedding client, you’re not going to get bleeding sharp results, and quite honestly, that’s fine. I don’t know of a single bride who wants to see her pores vs. retouching and smoothing her own skin like crazy before posting to Instagram.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Portable size
  • Image stabilization
  • Versatile
  • Lightweight
  • Balanced to the camera body
  • Weather sealing
  • Fair price point

Dislikes

  • I don’t have any issues with this lens.

The Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM is an excellent lens for the Canon photographer. It makes the system more usable and sensible. It’s a lens targeted to professional photographers. Those photographers will be able to justify the investment not only because of the image stabilization but also because of the lightweight and small size. The lens is portable when working on location. Beyond that, the image quality is outstanding. While it’s such, it’s still not going to outdo Nikon’s 24-70mm lens. Canon’s zoom lenses have typically been their best, and to me, this isn’t comparing to the 28-70mm f2 that much. If I were to compare the Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM and their RF 28-70mm f2 L USM, I’d say the f2 lens is designed for the photographer who really demands the highest-end image quality and the most innovation. The Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM is more of a lens that helps it catch up to the rest while also providing image stabilization. To that end, it’s a lens I’m considering purchasing because of how satisfied I am with the results (while also balancing the fact that I need a zoom lens these days).

The Canon RF 24-70mm f2.8 L IS USM receives five out of five stars. Want one? Check out Amazon’s prices.