There definitely aren't any Canon or Nikon lenses. I also have not seen any third party lenses. I can think of two reasons for this:

  • There is some technical limitation (which I tend to doubt since IS/VR is in a variety of lenses)
  • The companies feel the cost of the lens would be prohibitively higher and at f/2.8 it does not buy you much unless you're shooting in low light

Are either of these reasons correct or is there some other reason?

  • Of course, if you have in-body stabilization, lenses in that range are covered too.
    – mattdm
    Jan 11, 2011 at 21:42
  • Although it did not exist at the time this question was asked, there is now available the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC. VC stands for Vibration Compensation.
    – Michael C
    Aug 11, 2016 at 20:45

7 Answers 7


I offer up the following reason, which is pure conjecture on my part:

  • It's not all that effective at those focal lengths and people with FF cameras know this and don't feel they need IS in any case.

FF owners are more likely to have fast primes for the sort of situation when you need IS.

I doubt it's a technical limitation given the existence of the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f2.8 IS. My gut feeling is the plethora of IS lenses designed for crop cameras are partially gimicks, or to placate those who are upgrading from compacts with IS who don't want to lose the feature as they would see it as a "downgrade".

The other option is the manufacturers simply haven't got round to it yet as full frame lens development isn't a priority. Time will tell if this is a the case.

  • 11
    I have that lens and the IS is not a gimmick. Dec 27, 2010 at 23:30
  • 4
    I have Canon 24-70 f/2.8 and when my low-light pictures are blurred it's either because of subject movement or because AF does not catch up. Therefore I guess IS would be of little use, not to mention that the lens is expensive and heavy enough even without the IS.
    – che
    Dec 28, 2010 at 0:53
  • 1
    I have to agree, I doubt that IS will make much difference for such a lens, if at all.
    – Joanne C
    Dec 28, 2010 at 1:05
  • 6
    I'll go ahead and disagree and say that IS helps a lot with my shakey hands at those focal lengths. Even for my ultrawides if I want to handhold with smaller apertures/low ISO with slow shutter speeds.
    – eruditass
    Dec 28, 2010 at 2:08
  • 1
    +1 because I do like this answer -- but I do have a hard time with such a general statement that IS is a gimmick. Do you mean that in general or just for this particular lens? Then again, I really have 0 practical experience :-o. But it just doesn't seem consistent with what I've read on the web and this site.
    – Tom
    Dec 28, 2010 at 2:25

My theory, based on nothing other than my conjecture, is that we'll see IS/VR the next time that Canon and Nikon update their 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses. IS/VR was not a widely-seen feature at the time those lenses were last updated... the rumor mill is that Canon will be updating the 24-70 soon and I wouldn't be shocked to see IS at that point.

  • 1
    I was going to post a similar answer... While IS (I'm less familiar with VR, but I presume the story is similar) has certainly been around for a while (e.g. the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM got it in 2001), the 24-70 was only a year later, and probably considered to be not worth it to add IS... then. In the next release, I would guess it to be likely. And so say the rumors, as well: e.g. dentonimages.com/…
    – lindes
    Dec 28, 2010 at 3:30
  • I did post a similar answer ;)
    – Leonidas
    Dec 28, 2010 at 22:47
  • The recently released canon 24-70mm f2.8 II which was released only a few months ago doesnt have IS either. It confused me as well why it didnt. I shoot almost exclusively in low light so it would be beneficial i think.
    – NULLZ
    Feb 22, 2013 at 22:51
  • But the Tamron AF 24-70mm f/2.8 VC does have IS, and is sharper than the original EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L at the same price as that lens was.
    – Michael C
    Jun 23, 2013 at 10:58

The general notion is that at wider focal lengths, IS is not necessary as the effects of vibration of the lens itself are barely registered unless the movement is significant (i.e. a significant bump, vs. what is caused by hand-holding or manual focusing). This is because the amount of information captured by a lens at a wide focal length is quite tremendous, and magnification is lower. The magnification factor affects vibration as much as it does detail.

Given that, I do find it a bit odd that the 24-70mm lenses do not have some kind of image stabilization. While 24mm is pretty wide, 70mm is close to the point (100mm) where IS is certainly useful. I think it is only stranger that lenses in the 24-105mm range do seem to regularly include IS. In contrast, I am not surprised at all that ultra-wide zooms like the Nikon 14-24mm lens or the Canon 16-35mm/17-40mm lenses do not contain IS, as their widest focal lengths are still well within the range where IS would provide minimal improvement at best, and otherwise be rather useless and pointlessly costly.

It may simply be that the benefit of IS at 70mm is just not enough to justify the additional complexity and cost. It is also possible that adding IS to such a lens would also reduce optical quality, again for minimal gain. I general, I think that brand-name 24-70mm lenses are some of the best quality zoom lenses money can buy.

  • Yea, it sounds like I shouldn't be worried that there is no IS/VR. I'm looking at this lens as my very first lens for my very first dslr. I've been doing the research and 24-70 just seems like an awesome, practical range to deal with. My gut tells me that at 18-55 I'll be yearning for a little extra zoom and that since this is my first camera I won't be missing much at the wide end of the spectrum. I am however, a bit concerned about camera-shake -- but I guess I should look forward to learning how to keep steady :-).
    – Tom
    Dec 28, 2010 at 2:21
  • I think my second lens will be either a 100mm macro or 70-200 telephoto. But I'm not ready for another lens for a while :-). I'm just trying to think ahead so it will help me pick my first camera.
    – Tom
    Dec 28, 2010 at 2:22
  • It should be noted that cameras with cropped sensors (which is most) have a multiplying effect on lens focal length. Effectively speaking, 18-55mm on APS-C behaves like a 28-88mm lens on full frame cameras. So, if you get a Canon 550D, 60D, or 7D, the 18-55mm kit lens will pretty much be like the 24-70mm on a Canon 1Ds III or 5D II. The key differences will be build quality, weather sealing, and optical quality. It should also be noted that using the 24-70mm lens on an APS-C body would be like using a 38mm-112mm lens on a full-frame body. The 70-200 on APS-C is like 112-320mm on full-frame.
    – jrista
    Dec 28, 2010 at 6:46
  • Another rather confusing facet of lenses is that despite the effective multiplier for focal length, using a lens on an APS-C camera will not introduce additional vibration. Using a 24-70mm on APS-C should incur the same amount of vibration as if it was used on full frame. This is due to the fact that APS-C is simply cropping the image circle projected by the lens...the image circle is identical regardless of the sensor format.
    – jrista
    Dec 28, 2010 at 6:49
  • Thanks for the info. I've actually already accounted for the fact that I am going to get an APS-C body. I've only ever tried APS-C bodies so I only know what an 18-55mm looks like on them and think that I prefer 24-70 with a cropped sensor. It's true that if I ever upgrade the body to a full frame that my lenses will seem different. But that's ok and I'll cross that bridge when I get there :-).
    – Tom
    Dec 28, 2010 at 16:26

I utilize the Nikkor 24-70mm F2.8 as well as the Nikkor 70-200MM F2.8 VR extensively and can say that the 24-70 does not need the VR as it would not make much difference at that low a focal length. The VR on the 70-200 does come in use at the longer focal lengths but I rarely use it for the following reason ...

Photographers who buy the Nikkor F2.8 zoom lenses tend to be more on the serious to professional end of the industry as they have far superior optics as well as the wider apertures, hence the much higher prices. Pros tend to do the vast majority of their work as tripod based to ensure maximum good results, hence when using tripod the VR is extremely rarely needed.

On the consumer lenses, the ones starting around F3.5 or F4 the VR is more useful as the lens needs a slower shutter speed to operate and is often used handheld.

  • 5
    Not all pros use tripods. 24-70mm is useful for journalists for example. Dec 28, 2010 at 13:01

This thread ended a while ago, but now, years later, there is a 24-70 f2.8 lens with VR:

Tamron 24-70 F2.8 VC

I've been wondering how it compares with the Nikon 24-70 f2.8

  • 1
    Your answer has an incomplete sentence. Feb 22, 2013 at 21:50
  • I'm not sure about how it compares to the Nikon, but the new Tamron AF 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC is sharper than the original Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L. Now the new Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II is probably the sharpest zoom lens in the world.
    – Michael C
    Jun 23, 2013 at 11:05

I've been frustrated by the absence of a 24-70 VR lens as well, since it's my main working range and I've lost a few irreplaceable shots to camera shake.

For what it's worth, I've been looking at the Nikon 24-120mm f4 G AF-S ED VR lens, but on balance I think I'd just as well hold extra-still than sacrifice that extra bit of aperture.

  • Yes, I'm particularly interested in the f/2.8, I was thinking about the f/4 you mentioned as well...
    – Tom
    Dec 28, 2010 at 2:13

The last Nikon 24-70 has been added 2007. The one before is from 1999. I guess you fell into the tech-gap: Nikon does not feel it is worth the cost to update a lens this soon again and IS was not this much en vogue during its development up to 2007

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