Review: Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM

Canon Rumors Guy

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
7,341
196
Canada
www.canonrumors.com
Bryan at The-Digital-Picture has completed his review of the brand new RF 28-70mm f/2L USM for the Canon EOS R. This lens was part of the initial launch of the EOS R system the new RF lens mount. It’s the fastest standard zoom lens ever made for full frame mirrorless cameras. It’s well built, and pretty great optically.
From The-Digital-Picture:
The Canon RF 28-70mm F2 L USM Lens is a large, heavy and expensive lens that is also awesome. Garnering a world’s first on its credit list, this lens brings the f/2 aperture to the extremely useful standard zoom lens. With the RF 28-70mm F2 L Lens in your hand, it is like having a large kit of prime lenses always mounted on the camera. That this single lens may be able to replace a kit of alternative prime lenses makes those three downsides much more tolerable. The image quality provided by this professional-grade, all-around-high-performing...
Continue reading...


 

Chaitanya

EOS 6D MK II
Jun 27, 2013
963
82
33
Pune
That lens is certainly made for paid pros. Atleast Canon convered decent lenses at start of new system.
 

YuengLinger

EOR R
Dec 20, 2012
2,232
252
Southeastern USA
Was Bryan also one of the first to say that the ef 24-70mm f/2.8L II was "like having a bag full of prime lenses"? In my opinion, that lens is so much better than its predecessor that the claim wasn't just marketing hype. On the other hand, for those hobbyists willing to spend on L series fast primes, would they select a bag full of f/2 lenses?

From a practical perspective, I think the rf 28-70mm f/2L lens is a hard sell for anything other than events involving low light (including weddings) and photojournalism. Of course this is a large part of the truly professional market. And there is also a significant market of photographers who don't think about practical matters. :sneaky:

Bryan might be going a bit out on a limb to say, "It's a good choice for landscape photography..." It's hard for me to imagine more than a few landscape scenarios where one extra stop, the loss of 4mm at the wide end, the weight, the 95mm filter ring, and the awkwardness on a tripod (due to weight and size) would make this superior to the ef 24-70mm f/2.8L II. Does it perform so much better with higher resolution sensors that at midrange f/stops it would prove its value? We might not know until an RF body has a sensor with more MP.

Does it seem to have a way to attach a tripod collar if desired?

Some active pros are going to work with the extra weight and accept the price, and they'll get a great, fast zoom. I'm glad Canon is serving this end of the market. But are many other photographers going to want this instead of the ef 24-70mm f/2.8 II?

I can see an argument for hearty travelers wanting to bring one or two large lenses, say the 28-70mm and a 70-200mm, and just leaving primes at home. Still, for many photographers, this will take some extra workouts to get used to as a walkaround lens. And, again, the lack of a tripod collar might be a concern.

Will the f/2 affect Canon's decision to put out an IS version of the f/2.8 on one mount or the other? I know Canon has overlapping lenses, but if a smaller, lighter rf 24-70mm f/2.8L IS were released, would the 28-70mm lose too much stature?

One other aspect of the review is interesting. Bryan says, "IS can also compromise image quality and durability." This seems to be tossed in as an apology, defending Canon's decision not to include the feature. Does IS actually "compromise image quality" when used properly, or if it is switched off? And how common are IS failures on L-series lenses? (I've been lucky, so far. I do my best to turn IS off when not using the lens.)

I hope this doesn't come off as chiding Canon for making a spectacular lens. I'm just mulling over the pros and cons in comparison to the ef 24-70mm f/2.8L II. (And I remember when that lens was released, some were commenting on its size and saying an IS version would simply be too big to be practical.)

Clearly this lens is turning heads and helping promote the new RF mount's potential.
 

canonmike

EOS T7i
Jan 5, 2013
82
35
Was Bryan also one of the first to say that the ef 24-70mm f/2.8L II was "like having a bag full of prime lenses"? In my opinion, that lens is so much better than its predecessor that the claim wasn't just marketing hype. On the other hand, for those hobbyists willing to spend on L series fast primes, would they select a bag full of f/2 lenses?

From a practical perspective, I think the rf 28-70mm f/2L lens is a hard sell for anything other than events involving low light (including weddings) and photojournalism. Of course this is a large part of the truly professional market. And there is also a significant market of photographers who don't think about practical matters. :sneaky:

Bryan might be going a bit out on a limb to say, "It's a good choice for landscape photography..." It's hard for me to imagine more than a few landscape scenarios where one extra stop, the loss of 4mm at the wide end, the weight, the 95mm filter ring, and the awkwardness on a tripod (due to weight and size) would make this superior to the ef 24-70mm f/2.8L II. Does it perform so much better with higher resolution sensors that at midrange f/stops it would prove its value? We might not know until an RF body has a sensor with more MP.

Does it seem to have a way to attach a tripod collar if desired?

Some active pros are going to work with the extra weight and accept the price, and they'll get a great, fast zoom. I'm glad Canon is serving this end of the market. But are many other photographers going to want this instead of the ef 24-70mm f/2.8 II?

I can see an argument for hearty travelers wanting to bring one or two large lenses, say the 28-70mm and a 70-200mm, and just leaving primes at home. Still, for many photographers, this will take some extra workouts to get used to as a walkaround lens. And, again, the lack of a tripod collar might be a concern.

Will the f/2 affect Canon's decision to put out an IS version of the f/2.8 on one mount or the other? I know Canon has overlapping lenses, but if a smaller, lighter rf 24-70mm f/2.8L IS were released, would the 28-70mm lose too much stature?

One other aspect of the review is interesting. Bryan says, "IS can also compromise image quality and durability." This seems to be tossed in as an apology, defending Canon's decision not to include the feature. Does IS actually "compromise image quality" when used properly, or if it is switched off? And how common are IS failures on L-series lenses? (I've been lucky, so far. I do my best to turn IS off when not using the lens.)

I hope this doesn't come off as chiding Canon for making a spectacular lens. I'm just mulling over the pros and cons in comparison to the ef 24-70mm f/2.8L II. (And I remember when that lens was released, some were commenting on its size and saying an IS version would simply be too big to be practical.)

Clearly this lens is turning heads and helping promote the new RF mount's potential.
Concur with your assessment of this lens vs IS 24-70mm variant. Without IS, I have a very difficult time justifying the price and/or size of this new RF lens, especially given the anticipated shortcomings for walk around video productions. I would have to rent or borrow this lens and try it out before any purchase of same. We eagerly anticipate an RF with IS wide zoom version in the upcoming months.
 

YuengLinger

EOR R
Dec 20, 2012
2,232
252
Southeastern USA
Concur with your assessment of this lens vs IS 24-70mm variant. Without IS, I have a very difficult time justifying the price and/or size of this new RF lens, especially given the anticipated shortcomings for walk around video productions. I would have to rent or borrow this lens and try it out before any purchase of same. We eagerly anticipate an RF with IS wide zoom version in the upcoming months.
I didn't consider video! Very important point.
 
Mar 14, 2012
2,227
124
...

From a practical perspective, I think the rf 28-70mm f/2L lens is a hard sell for anything other than events involving low light (including weddings) and photojournalism. Of course this is a large part of the truly professional market. And there is also a significant market of photographers who don't think about practical matters. :sneaky:

Bryan might be going a bit out on a limb to say, "It's a good choice for landscape photography..." It's hard for me to imagine more than a few landscape scenarios where one extra stop, the loss of 4mm at the wide end, the weight, the 95mm filter ring, and the awkwardness on a tripod (due to weight and size) would make this superior to the ef 24-70mm f/2.8L II. Does it perform so much better with higher resolution sensors that at midrange f/stops it would prove its value? We might not know until an RF body has a sensor with more MP.

Does it seem to have a way to attach a tripod collar if desired?

Some active pros are going to work with the extra weight and accept the price, and they'll get a great, fast zoom. I'm glad Canon is serving this end of the market. But are many other photographers going to want this instead of the ef 24-70mm f/2.8 II?

I can see an argument for hearty travelers wanting to bring one or two large lenses, say the 28-70mm and a 70-200mm, and just leaving primes at home. Still, for many photographers, this will take some extra workouts to get used to as a walkaround lens. And, again, the lack of a tripod collar might be a concern.

Will the f/2 affect Canon's decision to put out an IS version of the f/2.8 on one mount or the other? I know Canon has overlapping lenses, but if a smaller, lighter rf 24-70mm f/2.8L IS were released, would the 28-70mm lose too much stature?

One other aspect of the review is interesting. Bryan says, "IS can also compromise image quality and durability." This seems to be tossed in as an apology, defending Canon's decision not to include the feature. Does IS actually "compromise image quality" when used properly, or if it is switched off? And how common are IS failures on L-series lenses? (I've been lucky, so far. I do my best to turn IS off when not using the lens.)

I hope this doesn't come off as chiding Canon for making a spectacular lens. I'm just mulling over the pros and cons in comparison to the ef 24-70mm f/2.8L II. (And I remember when that lens was released, some were commenting on its size and saying an IS version would simply be too big to be practical.)

Clearly this lens is turning heads and helping promote the new RF mount's potential.
Totally agree that the RF 28-70 is designed for event shooters, and even those that use flash. For indoor gatherings, I often find my ISOs at 3200 or above to get the ambient right while using flash on the subject. The RF 28-70 is designed for this scenario to drop the ISO significantly, and with people, shutter speed should be faster than 1/60s anyway, so IS is not all that useful.

I fully expect Canon to release a RF 24-70 with or without IS, and I'd expect Canon to sell a lot more of those than the RF 28-70. Kind of like the 16-35 f/2.8 III or 16-35 f/4 IS vs. the 11-24L. The 11-24's killer app is the field of view, but the 16-35s are a lot more practical (filterable, smaller, lighter, cheaper, etc.). In this case, the RF 28-70's killer app is useful primarily for event shooters. That said, it could be used for other photography cases such as landscapes, but I'm guessing people that own this lens will probably have others in the bag (i.e. 24-70 f/2.8 or 24-70 f/4 or 24-105 f/4) for travel/landscape.

I love IS for the longer focal lengths, but I'm kind of torn at the shorter end. I've tried the 16-35 f/4L, 24 f/2.8 IS, 28 f/2.8 IS and 35 f/2 IS, and IS is useful when there aren't people in the shot and I can get sharp images after several attempts at something like 1/6s, but it's still not long enough to get water to blur effectively. However, I have lost images when I take shots before the IS has settled, and IS isn't all that effective (no big difference between on/off) at shorter focal lengths at shutter speeds appropriate for people, which is one reason why I traded in the 16-35L f/4 for the 16-35 f/2.8 III. Other people will have different priorities and will prefer different lenses, but it's good to have choices, and I'm hoping that Canon can make money on all of them, so that I can have the most choices possible!

Totally agree with your last statement. Without the RF 50 and 28-70 and with the so-so R, I think a lot more people will be waiting on the sideline if Canon had launches with consumer lenses first -- I would be waiting if I used Nikon with the lenses launched with the Zs. The R is good enough to kill off the 6DII, but not anything higher. But here we are... talking about the awesome RF glass and buying into the R system because of the glass... exactly as Canon wanted.

With the RF glass as good as it is, I'm just waiting for a 5D killer and then I'll have all mirrorless bodies. The EF/RF system is designed to be flexible if you have R bodies only because you can use both EF and RF lenses, but having a mix of bodies AND lenses is a pain (can't use RF lenses on EF bodies). Having all R bodies is the way to go to maximize flexibilty, and hopefully 2019 will solve that problem!
 

wockawocka

EOS 7D MK II
Sep 13, 2011
704
42
I can see a lot of photographers who have to travel light using this heavy lens. That's not a joke either. If I was shooting overseas and had the option of this or a 50, 35, 24-70 and 85 I'd use this instead. But I'd still have to take the 24-70 in case it developed a fault.

Then I'd miss having a 1.2 aperture though. BUT I CAN'T HAVE IT ALL.
 

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
Nov 7, 2013
2,327
185
Germany
Great that such a lens exists.
Great that it delivers an outstanding performance as well.
Great that I don't need or want it as I had to worry about funding it ;)
 
Reactions: canonmike and jd7

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
Nov 7, 2013
2,327
185
Germany
...
I'm glad Canon is serving this end of the market. But are many other photographers going to want this instead of the ef 24-70mm f/2.8 II?
...
Personally I'd take the extra 4 mm WA FL over the one stop of aperture. Esp. seeing weight, size and price difference. ;)
 
Reactions: stevelee

esimmons

I'm New Here
May 1, 2018
13
10
United States
nice lens but i want an RF 85mm prime much more than this lens, especially with a 24-70 2.8 RF lens in the pipeline for 2019, which will likely have IS. just my preference though...
 
Mar 14, 2012
2,227
124
nice lens but i want an RF 85mm prime much more than this lens, especially with a 24-70 2.8 RF lens in the pipeline for 2019, which will likely have IS. just my preference though...
With the EF 85 f/1.4L IS released as recently as it was, I'm guessing that RF versions of the 85 and to a lesser extent the 35 aren't high on the priority list, especially if the rumor of a RF 105 f/1.4 becomes a reality. So, maybe the RF 24L might be next? I'd also be curious when Canon creates a RF 85L if it would be a f/1.2 given that the 105 is f/1.4. Assuming that R bodies will eventually have IBIS, what would differentiate the 85 and 105? Price, size, weight... but maybe a larger max aperture...
 
Reactions: Larsskv

degos

EOS 80D
Mar 20, 2015
123
63
Yes very odd that he 'recommends' it for landscape and astro shooting. Landscapers usually want massive DoF which means either tilt-and-shift or well-stopped-down aperture - what a waste of an f/2.0 lens. Astro requires strong coma resistance, whereas this lens is merely satisfactory in that regard per his own results.

Certainly a useful tube'o'primes for event photographers or mobile portraiters, though. But not one I foresee in my dream kit bag.

Now, a twentysomething-100 f/2.8 would be an interesting thing and perhaps not much heavier, and would slot in nicely below a 100-400.
 
Last edited:
Reactions: peterzuehlke

aceflibble

EOS RP
May 8, 2015
294
56
Been using it myself for the last few weeks and I'd mostly agree with Bryan's assessment. By zoom standards it's phenomenal, and by prime standards it's sufficiently above-average that I don't feel I've really been missing out compared to using my usual primes in this range. f/2 looks about as good as most (not quite all) of my primes stopped down to f/2, and f/4 looks equally good if not better. Weight-wise it doesn't actually save me anything, but overall bulk is less than carrying multiple primes, so at least it's easier to fit in the bag, even if the weight is no different. That said, since I've ended up carrying a 100mm prime with me anyway, it's not like I've been able to use a smaller bag; just a less-cluttered one.

Still not entirely sure I'll be buying my own copy 'cause it's hard to justify when the primes I already use do more-or-less the same thing and the only real outright advantage is a few seconds saved instead of changing lenses. £3200 is a lot of money to spend for the sake of "a few seconds", if you're not a sports or wildlife photographer. It's extra-hard for me 'cause I need to use front filters quite often and the filter I use the most aren't made in a 95mm size; I'd have to special-order a couple to be made bespoke, which would cost another £400 or so. Three and a half grand to save me the time it takes to switch a 28mm lens for a 45mm? Yeah, doesn't make much sense.

Enjoyed having the loaner and once the R line is better-established with more practical bodies and prices have dropped a little, I may well end up picking one up. Or if my current prime kit was nicked or dropped off a tall building, I'd certainly go for the 28-70 to replace them. But just like the Sigma 24-35 f/2 (and their f/1.8 zooms for APS-C), I'm not seeing enough of an advantage to bother replacing existing lenses which still work just fine.
 

canonmike

EOS T7i
Jan 5, 2013
82
35
Totally agree that the RF 28-70 is designed for event shooters, and even those that use flash. For indoor gatherings, I often find my ISOs at 3200 or above to get the ambient right while using flash on the subject. The RF 28-70 is designed for this scenario to drop the ISO significantly, and with people, shutter speed should be faster than 1/60s anyway, so IS is not all that useful.

I fully expect Canon to release a RF 24-70 with or without IS, and I'd expect Canon to sell a lot more of those than the RF 28-70. Kind of like the 16-35 f/2.8 III or 16-35 f/4 IS vs. the 11-24L. The 11-24's killer app is the field of view, but the 16-35s are a lot more practical (filterable, smaller, lighter, cheaper, etc.). In this case, the RF 28-70's killer app is useful primarily for event shooters. That said, it could be used for other photography cases such as landscapes, but I'm guessing people that own this lens will probably have others in the bag (i.e. 24-70 f/2.8 or 24-70 f/4 or 24-105 f/4) for travel/landscape.

I love IS for the longer focal lengths, but I'm kind of torn at the shorter end. I've tried the 16-35 f/4L, 24 f/2.8 IS, 28 f/2.8 IS and 35 f/2 IS, and IS is useful when there aren't people in the shot and I can get sharp images after several attempts at something like 1/6s, but it's still not long enough to get water to blur effectively. However, I have lost images when I take shots before the IS has settled, and IS isn't all that effective (no big difference between on/off) at shorter focal lengths at shutter speeds appropriate for people, which is one reason why I traded in the 16-35L f/4 for the 16-35 f/2.8 III. Other people will have different priorities and will prefer different lenses, but it's good to have choices, and I'm hoping that Canon can make money on all of them, so that I can have the most choices possible!

Totally agree with your last statement. Without the RF 50 and 28-70 and with the so-so R, I think a lot more people will be waiting on the sideline if Canon had launches with consumer lenses first -- I would be waiting if I used Nikon with the lenses launched with the Zs. The R is good enough to kill off the 6DII, but not anything higher. But here we are... talking about the awesome RF glass and buying into the R system because of the glass... exactly as Canon wanted.

With the RF glass as good as it is, I'm just waiting for a 5D killer and then I'll have all mirrorless bodies. The EF/RF system is designed to be flexible if you have R bodies only because you can use both EF and RF lenses, but having a mix of bodies AND lenses is a pain (can't use RF lenses on EF bodies). Having all R bodies is the way to go to maximize flexibilty, and hopefully 2019 will solve that problem!
Interesting perspective and commentary. We are all beginning to feel the pressure of keeping or selling our DSLRs', in favor of mirrorless, before they may be rendered obsolete and lose most of their value, an experience I remember having with my EOS 3 SLR film bodies, after waiting too long to sell them. However, given the current price point of gen one R body and its shortcomings, I'm not ready just yet to part with my trusty 6DII, 7D, 5DIII etc. My drooling over the new RF lenses is mitigated by the fact that none of them can be used on my DSLRs', at least not yet and prob never.
 
Reactions: Maximilian

Maximilian

The dark side - I've been there
Nov 7, 2013
2,327
185
Germany
... My drooling over the new RF lenses is mitigated by the fact that none of them can be used on my DSLRs', at least not yet and prob never.
To make it short: never!

To make it clear:
Your Canon (D)SLR is designed for optical formulae with a flange distance of 44 mm (iIf I remember rightly).
The R system and RF lenses have a flange distance of 20 mm. so this will allways (!!!) be too short for a Canon (D)SLR.

But new boundary conditions allow new thinking and new (maybe even better) designs.
I am very curious on what the future brings.
 

AJ

EOS 7D MK II
Sep 11, 2010
605
10
This is a game-changing lens for pro wedding togs and pro photojournalists. I imagine a few rich doctors will pick one up for a walkaround lens. But it's big and heavy and expensive for a walkaround.

As for image quality comparisons, I find it hard to compare with EF lenses on TDP. An interesting comparison is with RF 24-105/4. At f/2 the 28-70 is slightly less sharp, at f/2.8 it is about equally sharp, and at f/4 it is slightly sharper than the 24-105/4 wide open.