Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM review: The ideal standard zoom?

By David Newton - Thursday, February 07, 2013

Lens Review
Introduction | Canon EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens performance | Canon EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM versus competition | Conclusion

Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM vs Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM vs Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM mounted on Canon EOS 5D Mark II

The standard zoom focal range is one of the most popular areas for lens development, so the fact that Canon now have three L-series models is no real surprise. Their overall DxOMark performance shows that in this case, price is quite a good indicator.

The EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM is far an away the best of the three, scoring 25, with the EF24-70mm f/4L IS UMS and EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM only separated by a single point scoring 19 and 18 respectively.

In the sharpness scores, the results are the same, the EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM is clearly the superior lens again followed by the f/4 version and very closely behind that, the 24-105mm.

Canon EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM
In the sharpness test, price is a good indicator of both overall sharpness and optical performance across the frame, with the most expensive lens, the EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM, taking top honors.

Interestingly, in both the transmission test and the distortion test, the EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM outperformed the other two models. In the case of transmission, this is relative result to its stated maximum aperture, but for distortion, it is an absolute result.

In vignetting, both the EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM and EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lenses score a rather poor -1.3EV, but the more expensive f/2.8 model is even worse, surprisingly only scoring -1.7EV.

The chromatic aberration comparison is also interesting, with once again the most expensive lens coming at the bottom of the pile, while the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM comes out on top with a score of 6µm.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Vs Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 IF EX DG HSM Canon

Looking outside the Canon stable, the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM Canon mount lens is very worthwhile contender, out-scoring the EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens in sharpness and transmission, and being very close in the distortion tests too. It’s only really the vignetting and chromatic aberration tests where this lens falls down (a score of 29µm for chromatic aberration is really quite poor), but the price is substantially lower than the Canon model, which may help you overlook its shortcomings.