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Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II Announced

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Canon finally announced the 24-70 f/2.8L update in the form of the 24-70 f/2.8L II [canon.com press release]. The one feature not included in this refresh is Image Stabilization, which is what all the rumors were speculating on.

The MSRP is the immediate shocker for this lens: $2299.

The current street price for the 24-70 f/2.8L is $1299. That means a $1000 price bump to go from the I to the II. That is very significant. When the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II was released, it was $700 more than the version I model. Although, the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II was a significant optical improvement over the 70-200 f/2.8L IS by most accounts (see my own personal comparison of the two 70-200 f/2.8L IS lenses) which did justify that $700 price difference.

But will this $1000 price difference between the 24-70 f/2.8L versions be justified? We won’t know until people get their hands on production retail copies and can do comparisons. When I saw the initial announcement finally drop late last night, I wasn’t too impressed. But after I got to the office this morning and re-read the press release and looked at the specifications, I realized there are a few significant updates.

  1. The original 24-70 f/2.8L has two aspherical elements and one UD (ultra-low dispersion) element. The 24-70 f/2.8L II has one ‘Super’ UD element and two UD elements. The Super UD element is Canon’s own improvement on standard UD glass. So basically three UD elements compared to a single UD element in the original. For comparison, the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II added another UD element bringing it from four (in the 70-200 f/2.8L IS) to five total. Two more UD elements in the 24-70 f/2.8L II should result in significant image quality improvements.
  2. The number of aperture blades in the 24-70 f/2.8L II went from eight to nine total. The number of aperture blades directly affects the quality and look of bokeh.
  3. The 24-70 f/2.8L zooms out as opposed to zooming in. This is more intuitive for traditional zoom rings.
  4. The weight of the lens was trimmed down from 950g to 805g. That 2.09lbs down to 1.77lbs. 16% weight reduction is pretty significant.

I do see one drawback with the new 24-70 f/2.8L II: It has an 82mm filter thread as opposed to the 77mm filter thread on the original. The drawback is more of a personal one because my only two lens filters (Singh-Ray Vari-ND and B+W Kaesemann Circular Polarizer) are both 77mm filters which crossover fine between my 24-70 and 70-200 (and 85mm f/1.2L II with a step ring). If and when I acquire the 24-70 f/2.8L II, I may have to repurchase an 82mm version of my CP and ND filters (which will also cost more than the 77mm sizes) and sell off my 77mm filters to help offset cost.

I am seriously considering getting the 24-70 f/2.8L II. The MTF charts for this lens look incredible and blow away the original 24-70. Obviously, MTF doesn’t mean anything. Photos do. But the MTF charts indicate that the 24-70 f/2.8L II will be a great performing lens.

You can view the MTF charts for the two 24-70 f/2.8L versions on the Canon EOS product pages:

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