Not Your Everyday Banana

by Bart Arondson

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I'm considering buying a Canon 24-70 L Mk I.

There is one thing that scares me a bit, though: reading reviews around the intertubes it appears that a fair number of people had to send their copy back to the seller to get another one because of sharpness issues.

Now, I'm always more inclined to blame the photographer before I blame the tools, so I think those reviews are to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

Nevertheless, I have to wonder: is it true that the quality of copies of the 24-70 can vary that much? What is the experience of people around here?

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This is a professional grade lens. People do expect miracles out of something at this cost, and with this "prestige". I am not aware of any particular issues with the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L MkI that would cause more copies then the average to have issues. One way of dealing with said "issues" is to send in your camera bodies along with the lenses that you want to match to it to Canon. They actually can perform a series of adjustments to match the lenses that you have to the bodies that you wish. You can do some of this by using the Micro-adjust feature of some of the current Canon DSLR bodies.

I think you would benefit from reading an article from the LensRentals.com CEO - Roger Cicala. He is very experienced in the sense that he gets a very wide perspective into a huge range of lenses. His article "This Lens Is Soft" And Other Myths provides a great deal of information on the topic and really helps to dispel the myths that you commonly can see in internet forums.

While considering all of the above, you can still perform tests on your equipment to make sure they are fairly accurate to begin with. The existing question that I asked goes into great detail on this: How can I test a new lens to make sure it is operating correctly?

This question also gives more information on micro-adjusting: What is the best way to micro-adjust a lens?

Overall, I would just pick up a copy, and give it a few quick tests - if the quality is up to your standards, there is no reason why you should worry about what others have complained about. Canon doesn't produce many lenses that have common issues(but a few do exist), and this isn't one of them.

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Funny you point to Lensrentals as an example of dispelling the myth, they actually posted a very in depth article on the horrible variation in the Canon 24-70L: lensrentals.com/blog/2011/10/the-limits-of-variation –  Shizam Mar 1 '12 at 4:58
    
@Shizam - That is a great article. I was trying to generalize the question so we didn't see the same one for every lens out there. As I'm sure you know, people say this about nearly every lens out there for one reason or another. It looks like the 24-70 does have some issues becoming soft at 70mm with long term heavy use. At least that article doesn't suggest that new copies typically have any issues. I don't think most users will ever use a lens as hard as one in the rental business though. Also - if you do have the issue with an old lens, a trip to Canon will probably solve the problem. –  dpollitt Mar 1 '12 at 13:59
    
Yea, I generally agree that people tend to just 'feel' their lens is soft, but in our office 6 of us had 24-70L lenses and they all performed differently and overall poorly compared to what we expected. I'm glad they're refreshing the lens, wish it wasn't so friggn' expensive. –  Shizam Mar 1 '12 at 17:36
    
Thank you both, dpollitt and @Shizam. It looks like the lens is not so bad after all, and if I end up receiving a bad copy I can just send it back to amazon... hoping they will send another one that isn't as bad as—or even worse than—the first, of course :/ –  s.m. Mar 2 '12 at 19:01
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