The market for 24-70mm lenses is increasing exponentially and price points are falling with most brands like Canon, Nikon, and Sony announcing their products. In this article, we’re going to jump into the best 24-70mm lenses and give you our tips on the best 24-70mm lens.
Often called the 24 70 lens, the 24-70mm lens is a mainstay in all types of photography, videography and filmmaking.
If you ask a professional videographer what they would keep if they had to work with only one lens forever, many would answer “24-70mm lens is worth dying for.”
Yes, the fabled 24-70mm f/2.8 lens is a great starting place that covers a really useful range and the 2.8 aperture ensures that it is still fast and handy in low-light environments.
It’s arguable whether a 24-70mm lens benefits much from image stabilization, but for those who know they’re shaky shooters, there are now a couple of options to help. And we’ll discuss all those in this article.
The Best 24-70mm Lens
Let’s jump right into looking at some of our favorite 24-70mm lenses on the market right now.
This a new fast standard zoom lens for full-frame DSLR cameras. It will also work with APS-C sensors with an effective increase in focal length.
The Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM features a rounded 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas of the image.
It also offers built-in optical image stabilization, a Hyper Sonic Motor for fast and quiet autofocusing, and has a minimum focusing distance of 37cm / 15.0in and a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:4.8.
Ease of Use
It weighs 1,020 grams and measure nearly 11cm in length. The Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art is certainly a big and heavy lens given its focal length, and significantly heavier than some other lenses. When set to 70mm, the lens extends by an additional 4.5cms.
The build quality here is excellent. The lens has a plastic shell with a mixture of metallic parts and a compound material, TSC (Thermally Stable Composite), used inside. It also includes a brass bayonet mount that’s supposed to be more durable.
The optical elements are made of high-grade glass.
In terms of features, the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art offers everything that you need from a standard zoom lens. This very usefully includes built-in Vibration Reduction, activated by the OS switch on the lens barrel, which offers around 3 stops of compensation.
Focusing is usefully internal and manual focusing is possible when set via the Focus switch on the lens barrel. Full-time manual focus override is also available at any time simply by rotating the focus ring.
A clear distance scale in both feet and meters runs from the closest focusing distance of 37cm / 15.0in. to infinity.
The Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art ships with a good quality soft case and also a plastic petal-shaped lens hood (LH876-04). It accepts 82mm filters.
At the 24mm focal length the angle of view is 84.1 degrees.
At the 70mm focal length the angle of view is 34.3 degrees.
The Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens has quite a narrow focus ring, although it is ridged for easier grip. There are hard stops at both ends of the range, making it easier to set focus at infinity.
Polarizer users should be pleased that the 82mm filter thread doesn’t rotate on focus.
When it comes to auto-focusing, the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art is a quick performer, taking about 0.15 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Canon EOS 5DS R that we tested it with.
It is claimed not to be a macro lens, but it delivers quite good performance nonetheless if you zoom to 70mm.
It has a minimum focusing distance of 37cm / 15.0in. and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.8.
Bokeh is a term for the out-of-focus areas of a photo or video, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth, rough, harsh etc. Bokeh is a style choice in some kinds of filmmaking and video production projects.
In the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art lens, Sigma employed an iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades, which has resulted in very nice bokeh, in our view.
Nikon’s AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR Lens is a truly modified wide-angle to short telephoto lens, characterized by its constant f/2.8 maximum aperture and electromagnetic aperture mechanism.
There are many things to like about this camera, but here we’re going to focus on the Lens Build and Focusing of this piece of kit.
The Lens Build
A revised optical design incorporates a unique aspherical extra-low dispersion element. In addition to three aspherical, two extra-low dispersions, and one high refractive index elements, to help reduce chromatic aberrations and distortions throughout the zoom range in order to achieve high image sharpness and clarity.
The Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coatings further benefit image quality by reducing lens flare for improved contrast and color accuracy and fluorine coatings on the front and rear elements protect against dust, moisture, and smudging.
Complementing the imaging capabilities, a Silent Wave Motor AF system produces quick, quiet focusing performance that suits both stills shooting and movie recording which can instantly be manually overridden by simply turning the manual focus ring.
Further contributing to recording in fast-paced situations and difficult lighting, VR (Vibration Reduction) image stabilization compensates for the effects of camera shake by up to four shutter speed stops.
Additionally, an electromagnetic aperture mechanism is integrated into the lens design to provide greater exposure control stability that is especially beneficial when working with faster continuous shooting rates.
Full-time manual focus override allows instant switching between AF and MF focusing systems by just rotating the focus ring at any time.
Internal focusing design maintains the overall lens length during operation and contributes to a lighter overall weight.
Ah, yes, the much heralded Canon EF 24-70mm 2.8 II USM Lens!
We see this lens absolutely everywhere, from event videography work to indie film sets. And it’s not without good reason – this is amazing lens that packs a real punch!
With a focal range that extends from wide-angle to short telephoto and a relatively wide, constant maximum aperture, it’s a lens that can get the job done in the vast majority of shooting situations.
The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is perfect for anyone who needs a lens that will be effective in most everyday shooting situations, including dim lighting, and who needs to be ready to capture just about anything at the drop of a hat. And the image quality created with that Canon L glass is hard to beat!
It’s a fast normal zoom that is used by professionals all over the world and we’ve seen it used on all kinds of projects:
- Professional event videography work.
- Indie films.
- Documentary projects and news shooting.
But while it was designed for the rigors of professional use, this lens is also a favorite of enthusiasts who want a portable alternative to a bag full of prime lenses.
When used on a full-frame DSLR like the 5D Mark IV the ultrasonic autofocus motor (USM) is quick, quiet, and accurate. That combination of features makes it excellent for videographers who’ll want to capture both broad scenes as well as intimate details.
It’s also a surprisingly effective ‘interview lens’ in a pinch. The 70mm end of the zoom range, paired with the bright f/2.8 maximum aperture, can effectively blur away backgrounds, bringing your subject’s face into sharp relief.
The fast aperture is also good for shooting sports, where this lens is a frequent companion to a telephoto zoom like Canon’s 70-200mm f/2.8L.
The included zoom lock helps prevent zoom creep when you’re moving around a lot.
Like other Canon L-series lenses, it’s built to survive in all conditions, from hurricanes to sand storms and more. It’s fully weather sealed, built from durable materials, and will survive more than a few spills here and there.
The Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is widely regarded as one of the sharpest zooms around.
The corners of the frame are roughly half as sharp at f/2.8 (still a good result), but as soon as you select a smaller aperture they improve, hitting their stride between f/4 and f/5.6.
Like most zoom lenses, the 24-70mm’s performs differently at different points in the zoom range. In this case, 24mm delivers the strongest results, with sharpness slowly dropping away as you zoom out to 70mm. At that end, center sharpness is still excellent, but just barely.
Of course, an excellent result is still an excellent result, and most users will be very happy with this lens at any focal length. It’s hard to tell much of a difference, even for the extremely discerning eye.
Chromatic aberration (color fringing) is an issue. However, at 24mm, there’s moderate to severe fringing, especially at f/2.8.
It begins to fade away as you zoom in, and by 70mm it’s decidedly minimal. On the other hand, distortion is well controlled throughout. We recorded less than 1% barrel distortion at the wide end and slight pin-cushion distortion on the telephoto end.
The Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC is an incredible 24-70mm lens for Canon cameras, in particular. It’s also a cheaper alternative to the Canon EF 24-70mm 2.8 II USM Lens. It’s weight is approximately 29.1 oz. (825g), making it a pretty lightweight option compared to other models of 24-70mm lens.
The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 is a versatile professional lens designed for many different kinds of videography (and photography) needs from wide-angle landscapes and panoramas, to portraits and events.
Built with low-light in mind, the lens features a constant aperture of 2.8, fast autofocus and built-in image stabilization (which Tamron markets as “VC” or “Vibration Compensation”).
The next point is something that no other manufacturers today, including Nikon and Canon, can pride themselves on. This Tamron lens features 17 lens elements in 12 groups, 3 of which are aspherical and 3 with low-dispersion qualities.
Therefore, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 has a more complex design than the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G, which has 15 lens elements in 11 groups.
It incorporates Tamron’s Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD) motor, which provides both fast and ultra-quiet autofocus.
The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 has a larger 82mm filter diameter, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 delivers very excellent results. It starts out strong wide open at 24mm and weakens towards 70mm.
Focus Speed and Accuracy
The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 features the Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD) autofocus motor that is used in high-end Tamron lenses. It is very fast, accurate and produces very low noise during AF operation.
Vibration Compensation / Image Stabilization
The key advantage of the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 over all other 24-70mm lenses on the market today is its image stabilization feature, which Tamron calls “Vibration Compensation”. Tamron claims that the VC technology provides up to 4 stops of stabilization.
When we compared it against the Image Stabilization in a lens like Canon’s 24-70mm 2.8, we didn’t see much difference in the kind of stabilization abilities produced. Both lenses did their job very well in this area and there’s not much between them.
Lens Sharpness and Contrast
The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8, has a different optical design that is actually optimized for wide open performance at 24mm.
It is sharpest at 24mm and its performance deteriorates towards 70mm, with the worst performance at the longest zoom range.
When it comes to bokeh performance, the Tamron 24-70mm shows some interesting characteristics. It shows a thicker, non-uniform outline and an “onion-shaped” bokeh – a result of the different aspherical lens elements used in the lens.
The onion-shaped bokeh can be quite distracting on the Tamron 24-70mm
Vignetting on the Tamron 24-70mm is most pronounced wide open at 24mm. As the focal length increases and the lens is stopped down, the amount of vignetting is reduced substantially.
Similar to distortion, chromatic aberrations are also easy to deal with in post-production and this Tamron lens produces very little that would worry an experienced editor.
The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 handles ghosting and flares quite well
The Best 24-70mm Lens – Conclusion
We hope you’ve found this article on the best 24-70mm lens helpful. As always, your purchasing choice will largely be dedicated by your budget and overall needs. This never more true than when considering the best 24 70 lens.
Some consideration should certainly be paid to the lens manufacturer. When you’re choosing a lens, you need to be aware that each manufacturer has a proprietary lens mount and most manufacturers don’t play well with others.
For example, the Nikon lens we mention above (the AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR Lens) won’t work with a Canon or Sony camera without an attachment.
On the other hand, Tamron lenses (in general) play pretty well with Canon cameras.
We hope this article has been instructional and helps you make the right buying decision. Let us know how you got on in the comments below.