In this article, I will talk about new Canon lenses – the 24-70mm f/4L IS and 35mm f/2 IS – and compare them both to most direct alternatives within Canon lens lineup. Both lenses have been very recently introduced and are best on full-frame cameras, such as the 5D series and the 6D, but will work well with APS-C sized sensors, too. By further implementing IS into new lenses, Canon is making them very tempting for photographers and aspiring videographers, but are advantages of new optics and IS worth the high asking price? A difficult question to answer, as Sigma and Tamron are now offering very well priced and high quality alternatives for both lenses. Lets see what Canon has released for its DSLR customers.
1) 24-70mm f/4L IS Lens
This lens was a huge surprise for me. The first thing I thought when it was announced – would I like a 24-105mm f/4L IS lens, but with a shorter focal length at the long end and for a lot more money? $1499, to be precise. I doubt first answer to come to your mind is “Yes, please!”. Obviously, it will have stellar optical performance with Canon’s latest Hybrid IS on top, but the old 24-105mm F/4L IS is no slouch, either. It is also a very popular lens and can be had for about $850 in the used market, brand new. Professionals use it for PJ work, as well as weddings. It’s also great for street photography and as a very versatile, lightweight travel lens. So what exactly does this new and, I must say, expensive addition to Canon L optics lineup offer? In a word – macro.
With a very impressive magnification of 0.7x, this lens can get you closer to your subject than a superb Carl Zeiss 100mm f/2 Macro lens. Compact and lightweight, Canon 24-70mm f/4L IS can really be worth it for certain photographers as a two-in-one solution, in particular wedding photographers, as they tend to require a very broad spectrum of lenses for their work. The Hybrid IS, previously found on the great and expensive Canon 100mm f/2.8L I, should be somewhat effective even at very close focus distances, and provide up to 4 stops advantage at normal focus distances.
Many recent new Canon and Nikon lenses have been launched with much higher prices than their predecessors. It is rather likely that the (due) replacement for the highly acclaimed Canon 24-105mm f/4L will come with a similar price tag. In that case, Canon users will have a choice – versatility with a broader zoom range, or versatility with macro in mind. Choice is a good thing, especially when neither comes with optical compromises. Also, one can see this lens as a lower-cost alternative to the pricey 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens. While it doesn’t offer the same aperture size, IS and macro function may be of a bigger priority for plenty of photographers. Both Canon lenses will face competition from the great and also stabilized Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC lens (read the review).
Other highlights include two low dispertion lenses, aspherical elements and special coating to reduce flare. The lens is dust and moisture sealed and, understandably, packs a snappy USM autofocus. Front and rear lens elements feature special coating for easier cleaning. Here is the list of official specifications:
- Lens Construction: 15 elements in 12 groups
- Aperture range: f/4-22
- Filter size: 77mm
- Image stabilization: Hybrid IS up to 4 stops
- Minimum focusing distance: 38cm / 14.96in
- Dimensions (Diameter x Length): 83mm x 93mm / 3.27in x 3.66in
- Weight: 600g / 1.32lb
- Number of diaphragm blades: 9 (Rounded diaphragm)
- Maximum magnification ratio: 0.7x
2) 35mm f/2 IS Lens
And here’s the second surprise, albeit possibly somewhat less of an unexpected niche. In recent months, Canon has been working hard on updating its non-L prime lenses. Nikon, Canon’s main rival, has been doing the same, but from a different end. Nikon now offers the relatively up-to-date 50mm f/1.4G, as well as very new 50mm f/1.8G, 85mm f/1.8G and most recent of all, 28mm f/1.8G. Canon decided to start with the new 24mm f/2.8 IS and 28mm f/2.8 IS. Now, the time has come for the next focal length update, and so they introduce 35mm f/2 IS lens.
One of the main highlights, as with the two previous prime updates, is of course the 4-stop IS system. But with it comes a rather high price tag of $849, similar to the other two lenses. For this reason, it is difficult to see this lens as a direct replacement for the 22-year-old micro-motor AF based EF 35mm f/2, which now sells for $319. After all, it was meant as an affordable, fast, lightweight option for the budget-minded buyers, similarly to 50mm f/1.8 class lenses. This new addition to Canon lineup is far from being budget-minded. 35mm focal length is not a difficult one to design, nor is an aperture of f/2 in any way extreme for such a prime lens. IS systems are implemented even in the cheapest kit zooms and adding it to an increasing amount of new lenses is only logical. Everything about this lens says it should be at least twice cheaper than it is. And yet, $849.
On the up side – mind you, I did need a few minutes to figure this out – you may see the new 35mm f/2 IS lens as a cheaper alternative to the 35mm f/1.4L. While you do lose a stop in light gathering and the build quality, you regain advantages with lower price and image stabilizer. Also, many videographers will find IS to be very welcome for any kind of hand-held work. Finally, the lens is likely to perform very well optically.
I wish I’d find these points more convincing myself. The new 35mm f/2 IS will probably be a very good lens and tempt many, but the price of the old EF 35mm f/2 would’ve suited this lens much, much better. Remember – Sigma is now offering a likely great 35mm f/1.4 lens for $899. In any case, we hope to get it for a review as soon as we can!
- Lens Construction: 10 elements in 8 groups
- Aperture range: f/2-22
- Filter size: 67mm
- Image stabilization: up to 4 stops
- Minimum focusing distance: 24cm / 9.45in
- Dimensions (Diameter x Length): 78mm x 63mm / 3.07in x 2.48in
- Weight: 335g / 0.74lb
- Number of diaphragm blades: 8 (Rounded diaphragm)
- Maximum magnification ratio: 0.24x
You can pre-order this lens from B&H for $849 by following this link.
3) Official Press Release
Here is the official Canon press release for both lenses:
Canon launches the new EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM and EF 35mm f/2 IS USM
London, UK, 6 November 2012 – Canon today adds to its world-famous EF lens series with the launch of two models designed for enthusiasts and professionals – the EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM and EF 35mm f/2 IS USM. Offering first-class optical technologies alongside highly compact designs, the new lenses are perfect for a range of creative purposes, including reportage, landscape, portrait, and travel photography.
Ideal for use alongside DSLRs like the new EOS 6D, both new lenses utilise the latest Canon technologies to consistently deliver superb results. Both include aspherical lenses and Super Spectra Coatings optimised for each individual element, Canon’s industry-leading Image Stabilizer (IS) technology and Ultrasonic Motors for superfast Auto Focus (AF) – providing outstanding optical performance. The EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM is also the latest lens to feature Hybrid IS, delivering shakefree shots at any distance, including at macro focal lengths.
EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM – high performance, high flexibility, Hybrid IS
The EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM is the latest addition to Canon’s elite L-series, and expands the range of standard zoom EF lenses available for both professional and amateur photographers. Ideal for reportage and wedding photography, it combines an essential everyday focal range with a premium quality L-series construction, delivering consistently sharp, professional-quality stills in a range of different situations. A new macro function also optimizes the placement of lens groups during macro photography, allowing shooting at a maximum magnification of 0.7x – reducing the need for photographers to carry a dedicated macro lens.
Its first-class optical system includes two aspherical elements alongside two Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) lenses, each with optimised Super Spectra Coatings to minimise chromatic aberration, colour blurring and flare. A constant f/4 aperture throughout the zoom range provides photographers with exceptional creative control, allowing blurring of the background of a scene at all focal lengths. A nine-blade circular iris also assists photographers in making their subjects stand out, delivering beautiful out of focus highlights (bokeh) in the background blur to add atmosphere to a shot.
The EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM also features a newly designed IS system, delivering blur-free images throughout the zoom range. Canon’s advanced optical IS offers a 4-stop light advantage, while Hybrid IS effectively compensates for angular and shift shake during macro shooting for stable close ups.
Superfast AF performance is provided by a small, ring-type Ultrasonic Motor (USM). Working in combination with a high-performance CPU and advanced AF algorithms, USM technology enables accurate, silent and ultra-responsive autofocusing. Full-time manual focusing also ensures adjustments can be made even when AF is engaged.
The EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM features a high grade, usability-focused design – both inside and out. The exterior features a high quality leather-texture coating, a revised shape ensures ease-of-use, and the focusing and zoom rings have been designed for optimal operation. Additionally, a dust and drip-proof construction is resistant to dust and moisture, a lock function protects lenses from knocks when travelling, while fluorine coating minimises the amount of dust, dirt and fingerprints that adhere to the front and rear lenses – helping to maintain superior image quality and reduce the need for cleaning.
EF 35mm f/2 IS USM – take a wider look at the world
The new EF 35mm f/2 IS USM is designed to offer outstanding flexibility – allowing photographers to capture an even broader range of scenes and subjects in wide-angle. The lens is Canon’s first-ever 35mm prime to feature optical Image Stabilizer technology, which combines with high quality optics to offer outstanding performance from a lightweight, compact body. The 35mm focal length also provides the ability to capture everything from close-up portraits to wide-angle landscapes, making it an ideal companion for travel or general reportage photography.
Its advanced specification offers photographers great flexibility to shoot a wider-range of scenes and subjects. A bright, fixed f/2 aperture also allows photographers to employ a shallow depth of field, and optical IS offers users a 4-stop light advantage, allowing the capture of blur-free images in low light conditions when shooting handheld. Intelligent detection of panning motion is also supported, with Panning IS mode automatically engaged to enable photographers to capture movement with greater accuracy.
Designed to deliver exceptional image quality, the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM features an aspherical glass-moulded (GMo) element positioned at the rear of the optical path to correct aberration for the entire optical system. Additionally, each individual element features optimised Super Spectra coatings to reduce ghosting and flare – ensuring excellent colour balance with minimal need for post processing. A combination of a ring-type USM and high performance CPU also provides rapid AF performance, with full-time manual focus also available for users who want to retain maximum control.
New lens caps – designed for greater ease and convenience
Both new lenses also come with newly-designed Mark II lens caps, which incorporate a hook mechanism in the centre of the cover, as opposed to the sides. Simply pinching the hook allows users to quickly remove and replace caps mid-shoot, especially when using lens hoods. The re-designed lens caps will start to be rolled out across Canon’s entire EF lens range from the beginning of January 2013, and will also be available to buy separately.
EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM key features:
- High image quality 24-70mm lens with f/4 aperture
- Light weight design
- Built in IS
- Macro function
- Dust / moisture resistant
EF 35mm f/2 IS USM key features:
- Fixed prime 35mm wide angle lens
- 4 stop Image Stabilizer
- Fast f/2 minimum aperture
- Compact size and design
- Circular aperture