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REVIEW: Canon RF 24-70mm F/2.8 L USM

CANON RF 24-70MM F/2.8 L IS USM LENS: A fast standard zoom lens for Canon’s EOS R cameras with integrated 5-stop stabilisation and weatherproof construction. The high price tag on this lens (RRP $4499, though street prices are lower) will deter many potential buyers. Nonetheless, its superior performance and versatility should make it a ‘must have’ lens for many professionals who use Canon’s EOS R cameras.
RRP: $4499

Canon RF lens
The 24-70mm Canon RF lens is resistant to ghosting and flare, thanks to a well-designed lens hood, supplied with the lens.

The RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens is the first to be released of a trio of fast L-series f2.8 lenses announced back in August. It’s a step up from the second-generation EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM in both build quality and price, and slightly larger and heavier, too. It’s also technologically more sophisticated and, therefore, better suited for shooting video than the equivalent EF lens, as well as capitalising on the wider ‘throat’ and shorter flange- back distance of the RF mount to deliver better edge-to-edge sharpness. It also boasts a high standard of dust- and water-resistant sealing, along with vibration shock resistance and up to five stops of built-in shake correction.

Specifications-wise, it’s an impressive general-purpose lens that will suit many photographic applications but is particularly suitable for wedding and event photography, although it could also be used for landscapes and group portraiture. The nine-bladed iris diaphragm closes to a circular aperture to create attractive background blurring, while the 12-pin communication system allows data to be transferred automatically to support in-camera corrections for common aberrations.

Imatest (software) testing showed this lens to be a superior performer, particularly when shooting raw files, where resolution consistently exceeded expectations across all focal length settings from wide open to around f11, where diffraction began to kick in. Edge resolution was surprisingly close to central resolution, showing edge and corner softening are very slight, compared with many other lenses. Vignetting and distortion, while present, were relatively minor and automatically corrected in-camera in JPEG files. Backlighting seldom produced flare and the lens delivered smooth and attractive bokeh.

Purchasing Points:
1. Designed to match Canon’s EOS R camera bodies and provide the stabilisation these camera bodies lack, which is useful across the standard zoom range.
2. The high price of this lens is justified by superior build quality and imaging performance and constant f2.8 lens speed. This lens is also comprehensively sealed against dust and moisture, making it usable in challenging environments.
3. The Nano USM delivers fast, accurate and very quiet autofocusing, making it ideal for both stills and video shooting. It claims minimal focus breathing when shooting movie clips.
4. Highly resistant to ghosting and flare, thanks to a well-designed lens hood, which is supplied with the lens.
5. The lens comes with front and end caps plus a petal-shaped lens hood with a locking button and a soft carrying pouch.
6. This lens accepts 82mm diameter filters and can be used with graduates and polarisers without requiring adjustments when focusing and/or zooming.
7. The proprietary control ring, a characteristic of RF lenses, can be assigned to operate functions like aperture and shutter speed settings. Its cross-hatched texture makes it easy to identify by touch since the other rings are clad with ribbing.
8. There are no depth-of-field or zoom scales, although they’re not really needed in a modern lens. A zoom lock is provided, although it’s also largely unnecessary thanks to tight build quality.

 

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