Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 Lenses Compared
The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM and its newer counterpart the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM II are among two of the most popular lenses we rent. We are often asked what exactly the difference is between these two lenses. Today, we do a quick comparison of the two and find out some of the differences.
Size & Weight
As you can see from the initial picture, the Version II is a little bit smaller compared to the original lens. It is also slightly lighter, but only by a few ounces. From the front however, the Version II is larger due to the 82mm filter ring compared to the Verson I's 77mm filter ring.
Handling & Design
The EF 24-70mm f/2.8L is different from most modern zoom lenses because the barrel is "reversed" - meaning it is fully extended at 24mm and retracted at 70mm. What's nice about this design is the hood always stays in the same place during use, but as a result the lens hood is much bigger. The Version II behaves like a traditional zoom lens and has a much smaller hood as a result.
This is what most people are interested in, the resolution. We use Imatest to test all of our lenses when they come back from customers to make sure they are performing within the specification of our other copies. We have a chart that we shoot and run through the Imatest software. The software measures the resolution of the lens at various points through the frame. In the most simplistic terms, the higher the resolution - the "sharper" that an image appears. Here's what the two lenses look like compared on an EOS 5D Mark III.
As you can see looking at the comparison above, both lenses are very strong performers. The biggest difference is the Version II is sharper in the center of the frame and more consistent across the frame into the edges compared to the Version I. For most lenses, the corners and edges of the frame are usually where it performs the weakest. Canon has clearly improved the edge performance in the Version II compared to the Version I. You will get much better edge to edge performance on a full-frame camera with the newer lens.
Both lenses are great contenders, but which one is best suited for your camera? If you have an APS-C Sensor camera like the Rebel T5i, EOS 7D Mark II, or EOS 70D - these lenses only "see" the center portion of the frame so the improved edge performance is not as noticeable and the Version I still performs very well in the center on these cameras. With Full-Frame cameras like the EOS 5D Mark III, EOS 6D, and EOS 5DsR - there is a clear improvement with the Version II if it fits in your budget. We still rent both so you can try them for yourself!