Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Tuesday March 13 2012

Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Today we take a look at a versatile old lens, the low-price trans-standard Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, which first appeared in 1996. Despite its age, this full-field lens is still very useful and will allow you to take many different kinds of shots, from landscape to portrait.

So far no manufacturer has produced any more lenses for full frame in this low-cost, trans-standard category, which is a real shame, because despite a significant loss of brightness with respect to 24-70mm f/2.8, these lenses have provided an interesting focal range at a reasonable price.

Let’s first look at the DxOMark scores for this Canon lens

Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
The  plusesThe  minuses
Its resolution (46lp/mm)Poor transmission (4.9Tstop)
Its quality-to-price ratioSignificant distortion (0.7%)
Its multi-purpose [versatile] focal rangeSignificant vignetting (–1.8EV)
 Very strong chromatic aberrations


Let’s take a look at how this lens does against equivalent zooms that we can find coupled with APS-C sensors.

Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR vs Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR vs Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
  • An identical score for resolution (47lp/mm), but the Nikon remains slightly superior in the field.
  • The Canon is slightly brighter (4.9 T-stop vs 5.2 T-stop for the Nikon).
  • There is very little vignetting for either of these 2 lenses, but the Canon takes the lead with only –0.4EV. As for the Nikon, be aware that vignetting is significant at 16mm f/3.5.
  • Both lenses control chromatic aberrations fairly well: 7µm for the Nikon vs 10µm for the Canon.

For more results, follow this link: Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR


The Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens is still a good choice for amateur photographers who want to pamper themselves with a lens having a focal range close to 24-70mm … and who don’t want to spend what it would take to buy a famous L-series lens.

With its versatile focal range and reasonable resolution, this lens will attract photographers desiring a low-cost, trans-standard zoom. (Note, however, that this lens is no longer commercially available, but may be found for sale or trade on various photo equipment and other websites.)