As the title says, I'm shooting a canon 7d (mi) with the newly acquired Canon L 24-70 ii. I can't tell if I've suddenly forgotten how to shoot, or if both Green and Av mode are messing with me. I've taken around 100 shots. Outdoor, indoor, dogs, plants, clouds, and I simply can't get a shot that says "this lens is worth $1200 more than your kit lens." I'm using to shooting the 18-135 kit lens - so maybe - there's something I'm overlooking. Am I not using the lens in the proper setting? I'm outdoors, shooting water, horses, flowers...

I'm shooting Manual Select: Spot AF, with the center point being the focal zone, with evaluative metering.

The shots are over 2mb - how do people generally attach them?


  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you shooting the 24-70L II wide open all the time at f/2.8? Have you done an microadjustment setting for the lens? \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 21:21
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ You can post scaled-down full versions and then crops of details. Your can then also put the originals on Flickr or somewhere if you like \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 21:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm shooting at multiple ranges between 24-70, and from 2.8 - 5.6. \$\endgroup\$
    – Seth
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 21:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelClark, just my opinion, but someone asking about a 24-70Lii+7D, combo after be fine with an 18-135, is more liable to be at an intermediate technique stage, than a dRebel shooter with an 18-55 kit. \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Without examples and the EXIF info for them both viewpoints are pure conjecture. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 20:46

3 Answers 3


If you buy a $2,200 lens expecting it to instantly improve your photographs by a factor of five over your $450 kit lens you're going to be severely disappointed every time. It is the photographer that takes pictures, not lenses. A better lens will only allow a photographer to take a better picture if the photographer's experience and skill level can take advantage of the higher capabilities of the better lens.

Lenses are a lot like other tools: the higher performance ones cost a LOT more compared to the basic ones that can do 80% of what the most expensive ones can do. But when you need (and know how to use) that extra 20% there's usually no other way to get there.

Think of it like putting a new teenage driver in the driver's seat of a Ferrari race car! Will the kid be able to drive faster than in the Toyota they've been learning to drive? Maybe (if they can figure out how to shift the transmission), at least until the first tight corner. But will they be able to control that extra speed enough to make them competitive in a sports car race against professional drivers in the same car? Not a chance.

When moving from a stabilized kit lens to a faster, non-stabilized lens such as the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II you are throwing a couple of new things at yourself at once.

  • Camera stabilization now rests entirely in your hands. Or better yet, on your tripod's legs. There's no 4-stop IS to compensate for very minor movements of the camera during exposures. You either need to use faster shutter speeds (by a factor of 3 to 4 stops) or stabilize the camera better than you did before just to get the same amount of blur from camera movement that you've been getting in the past. You'll need to go even further than that to see any improvements.
  • Shallower Depth of Field means the margin for focusing errors is much greater at the lens' widest apertures. This means learning the 7D's complex AF system in greater detail. You can start by turning off "Spot AF" that is notoriously inconsistent with the 7D and just use "Single Point" instead. It probably also means doing AFMA calibration in a controlled environment to adjust the camera and lens to each other and account for the manufacturing tolerances of each.

Additionally, in the case of the Canon 7D there is the issue of a fairly strong Anti-Aliasing Filter. In-camera sharpening settings should probably be raised from 0 or 1 to 2 or 3. Bryan Carnathan at The-Digital-Picture even addresses this in his review for the 7D.

Does that mean you can't get Wow images with a 7D? No, it doesn't. It just means you must understand the tool you are using and use it effectively.

Shot with a 7D and EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II set at 200mm, ISO 3200, f/2.8, 1/1600 second. The EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II has been tested to be just a tad sharper than the 70-200 that preceded it as the forerunner of Canon's new f/2.8 zoom lens designs.

7D + EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II

If you decide to pixel peep, however, even the best of images will break down. 100% crop of a section of the same photo:

100% crop


I can guess at two things that might be causing you to see less IQ with the new lens. 1) The widest aperture on your kit lens was 3.5, and you are not quite used to shooting at 2.8. The wider 2.8 aperture will definitely give you a "softer" look with the narrower depth of field. 2) The kit lens had IS and the new 24-70 MkII does not.

Without seeing some sample photos, my guess is that the problem is not with the new lens itself .. but rather you needing to get more practice with using the new lens. You've got a wider max aperture and you lost IS. You'll have to go back to the basics and really focus on your camera holding/stability techniques, etc. to get the most out of you new lens. I suggest you remove as many "skake and bake" variables as you can (use tripod, increase shutter speed, use f/8) and get the sharpest picture you can make - just to make sure the lens is performing and providing a sharp picture in the best scenario. Then move on from there, changing the variables individually, to see where you start to lose your IQ. Hopefully, something will reveal itself and show you what handling technique you may need to focus on to get the IQ you were expecting. I wish you much success!


Exposure, well, if you're using green-box Auto, that's a risk you take, but if you're spot metering, as well as spot AF, chances could be you didn't aim where you thought you aimed.

The lack of IS could be another issue, if you were used to having it on the 18-135. Increasing your shutter speed to at least 1/focal_length is a given, and you may want to consider doubling that, if you don't have good handholding technique. The additional weight of the 24-70L may be something that's throwing you off if you've still got the newb cupped left-hand around the side of the lens hold, rather than a proper SLR grip, with your left hand, palm up, beneath the lens/body, forefinger and thumb wrapped around the lens. Timing your breathing, watching your posture, elbows, and feet are all part of good handholding technique. Tripods are great, too.

Suggest you test in good light, on a tripod, at a perpendicular target, with manual focus to see if your lens has issues. It's highly unlikely, but possible. What you'd look for would be an image softer on one side than the other (decentered element), or other huge issue. If that checks out, then you need to consider autofocus technique, settings, and calibration.

The reason the Canon prosumer bodies have the ability to do autofocus microadjustment is that lenses and bodies can be out of calibration to each other. While each is calibrated to a specification at the factory, there is an acceptable margin of error. So your body might be +2, and your lens might be -2, and when you put them together, you get a difference of 4, which is then noticeable and not acceptable. Consider learning how to calibrate your camera/lens combination.

Also, L lenses, particularly first L lenses, nearly always come with a helping of buy's remorse because of the pricetag, and because you've mentally built it up into this perfect thing: perfectly sharp, perfectly beautiful, perfectly whatever. It's not. It's still a lens. It's still made of glass that obeys the laws of optics. You have partially paid for performance you can't use (full-frame corner coverage); and you've paid for heavier build quality, and a larger max. aperture.

But Ls aren't necessarily better than their EF-S counterparts, which have several design advantages from the smaller image circle they project. Just because EF-S lenses aren't Ls doesn't mean they're not as sharp--or sharper--remember, too, some of the Ls are film-era design, while all the EF-S lenses are digital-era. Consider, too, that 24mm is basically 35e on a crop body, and that you can't really use this lens for wide-angle shooting. This can all add up to a heaping helping of buyer's remorse, and could make an EF-S 17-55/2.8 more attractive if you aren't planning on moving to full frame in the near future.

Just a thought.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I want to thank everyone for the replies. The lens was returned today due to it being defective. In addition to focus issues, unless I was shooting in bright daylight, the photos came out so dark that people couldn't really be seen. When a flash was attached - this SOMETIMES solved the problem. I lent the lens to someone with a 5D Miii and the same problems were present. I'm not sure what i'll do next - perhaps something more forgiving, with IS. Thank you all for your answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Seth
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 20:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Seth, you may want to delete this comment, and edit it into your question. When you comment on an answer, only the person who wrote the answer is notified. Glad you found the cause! \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 22:12

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