Sunday, September 18, 2011

Review: Canon 24-70mm 2.8L

What to say about this lens? It’s on that list that’s floating around the Internet somewhere. The one that has the essentials for DSLR filmmaking on it. The end all be all list. I can’t tell you the countless hours I spent lusting over this magical piece of kit. I dreamt of how it would make my pictures worthy of a magazine.
But it would be about 9 months before I’d be able to purchase it. And once I did and found it unpackaged, sitting next to my camera and I sitting on the floor… feeling it sink into the grooves of my 7d and lock into place… it stayed there (With the exception of my weekend with a 70-200mm 2.8L IS lens). Since then, I’ve been grabbing every excuse to use my new glass. You can see some examples from my trip to sublimity, and my recent shoot with Tim Lundy.
The glass is top of the line. So sharp, my subjects complain about getting cut (ok I might be lying about them getting cut…). The autofocus is fast. And accurate. I don’t mind letting the AF do the work during sports photography. I’ll focus on the target; flip to manual to trap the focus where I want it. Wait for my subject to pass through and fire away.
Sorry, maybe I’m a little too enthralled with this lens to a do a proper review. I’ll get to the cons in a moment. But first let me gush a bit more.
This lens is built like a tank. Built to last. I have no lack of confidence in it’s durability. You can feel it the moment you pick it up. Feel the smooth pull of the focus. I do feel the telescoping, while smooth isn’t as solid as the focus ring.
The lens includes a really nice leather case (never used… like I said, I don’t take off the lens) and a really nice lens hood. I’ve had a few lens hoods for other lenses, and this one beats them. The black velvet inside is a nice touch. However sometimes I feel like I would like it to feel sturdier. And adding that extra size to the lens makes it hard to place in my bag. Usually it stays home unless I really think it’s going to be needed.
I guess my biggest complaint is that this $1400 lens doesn’t magically make me a phenomenal photographer with its incredible color representation, solid build or sharp focus. Instead it revealed my weaknesses as a photographer. Don’t expect miracles. Expect to work hard to get sharper and faster with your equipment. This lens is a professional lens. If you’re just starting out, you don’t need this lens. The kit lens will be fine until you can save up for this one.
For film work, this is hands down the best lens I’ve used (so far). If you use a Canon DSLR for filmmaking and you’re only getting one lens… try to make it this one. Save up, pick up extra shifts at McBurger Bell. Whatever you have to do (for me, it was selling an all original Black Faced 1964 fender reverb tube amp… I regret nothing.).

So… I wrote this review before I had a minor accident, which placed my lens in some sand. I decided to hold off on this review until it was fixed (by canon_ and returned to me. About $250 later, she’s back and working better than she did before the accident. My complaint about the loose ring? Fixed. In fact… I almost feel like they just replaced the lens. It feels like a completely different lens (in a good way.)

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