3 Reasons the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 Is My Favorite Lens of All Time

For the longest time, my favorite lens on any camera system was a 35mm wide-aperture prime. The focal length forced me to get "in the action" for impactful portraits, yet it was wide enough to capture wide angle scenes. But a new lens has recently won my heart and assumed the top spot in my kit. In this video and article, I'll be walking through a photoshoot while demonstrating why the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 lens is my favorite lens of all time.

Today, we'll be shooting with my friend, Kiara. You can check her out on Instagram here. I'll be pairing the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L lens with the Canon EOS R5. Let's jump in.

Point #1: The Range of Focal Lengths

The 28-70mm focal range is popular in that most photography can be done within it. For portraits, 50-70mm is the way to go. For wide angles, 28-35mm is pretty ideal for most situations and can exaggerate depth and perspective. Having all those styles accessible through a single lens means less gear to carry around. Check out this scene I captured with Kiara using three different focal lengths: 70mm, 35mm, and 28mm.

Here are the final images edited with Visual Flow's Pastel Preset Pack.

Point #2: Capturing the Depth for Portraits

Most zoom lenses aren't able to produce bokeh and depth the way prime lenses do due to the f-stop usually capping out at f/2.8. However, with this lens going up to f/2, we get incredible bokeh that is comparable to some of my favorite prime lenses. Let's put it to the test at 70mm. I placed Kiara underneath a tree, where soft, shaded light was coming in from the side.

Captured at 70mm focal length.

I varied the distance to Kiara and used the tree as a foreground element. Notice the incredible softness in the bokeh as we shoot wide open at f/2.

Captured at 50mm focal length.

We checked out another location where I wanted to demonstrate the portrait capabilities but at 50mm this time. I used the brick pillars as a repeating pattern in the foreground and background. I was able to get tack-sharp focus on Kiara and let everything else fall into a nice, clean blur.

Point #3: Exaggerating Length at Wide Angles

Wide angles are great for exaggerating length, distance, or height. By placing the camera low and angling up, you can emphasize the height of objects such as trees. By leaning into the camera with a wide angle lens, you can exaggerate the distance between the camera and the subject.

At 28mm, I was able to get a great angle of view to capture the palm trees in this scene. With Kiara posing in the foreground, we got these great images that capture the Southern California vibe.


I hope you enjoyed this article and video. With so many photographers working on the go, versatility becomes a bigger factor in the gear that we choose. We no longer need five different lenses when one can do the job. Pair it with today's incredible camera bodies, and we have a workhorse for any gig or project. Of course, that lens will vary depending on the kind of work that you do. I'm excited to see what lens will come out in the future that may top the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 as my favorite lens. What's your favorite lens?

For complete courses on all things photography and business-related, check out the SLR Lounge Premium Library. In addition, be sure to check out Visual Flow for lighting-based presets as we used in this video. Don’t miss our next episode of "Mastering Your Craft" on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!

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Pye Jirsa's picture

Pye Jirsa is a director, photographer and educator. Founder and Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography, a boutique Southern California wedding and portrait photography studio, and SLR Lounge, a photography education website, Pye devotes his time to helping photographers develop their shooting and business skills.

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Unfortunately, as here, the size of the aperture is often not proportional to the quality of the images.

Precisely, and I don’t see anything in these images which highlights the f/2 aperture? Perhaps the author could explain why one would pay over $3000 for this f/2 lens over Canon’s less expensive and greater range 24-70 f/2.8?

Who cares? You can't buy this lens... I ordered mine on May 3rd and still don't have it... or even a date!. Canon Europe and/or Spain: this is almost a bad joke.

Pretty much worldwide. Canon lens supply chain is a freaking train wreck!

Great images and editing. Though, it would have been nice to see some low light stuff also.

I'm a wedding and editorial shooter for Biz Journals and this lens is used around 90% of what I shoot. I used to do the prime lens shuffle, 24, 35, 50 and 85. All of that glass is gone, one lens removed four. Laugh about the size and price but add all those numbers up on the primes and trust me you're carrying less and getting a lot more shots way faster. I used to do the S&M leather hipster dual strap camera setup for weddings and those days are a thing of the past. Not saying this is better than whatever you're comfortable shooting, I'm just saying my life is far less complicated and I absolutely love the setup and quality of this beautiful lens.

But the primes are f/1.4, so if f/2.0 is enough, f/2.8 is enough. If bokeh matters, stay with the primes.
That being said, the 4mm at the bottom do make a difference! And aside from needing a fast lens, there is virtually no reason to choose this lens over a 24-70mm f/2.8.

2.0 over 2.8 is noticeable. 4mm at the bottom doesn't matter(for me). As for your "virtually" argument, a little more light and a little more bokeh and not constantly changing glass are 3 reasons I choose to shoot this over the 28-70. *** are virtually 3 reasons

If it fits for you, fine. I bet for most, it does not. If it is about bokeh, there is a big and noticeable gap down to 1.4 or even 1.2 with the advantage of gaining 1 or more stops of light and thus gather more dynamic range. So no big win here for the 28-70 f/2. At the wider end, .8 stops do not matter and at 50-70mm it is barely noticeable in most situations. These two pictures show 1 stop difference from f/2.8 to f/4 (Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8). It is even less from f/2 to f/2.8.

Thanks. It fits me fine. And if others try it out, and possibly get away from wanting more of a bokeh look, they will not be disappointed. I got lucky and purchased it used for $2600. So that was a bonus.

It is sold for CHF 2700 here which equivalents to $2900, taxes included, and a 3 yeaar warranty. A pity it misses OIS and it is pretty heavy (f/2).

The in body stabilization is all I need not as heavy as 4 prime lenses. 😬

One of my close friends lives in Lucerne. I've done some editorial work for a Swiss mens magazine Bolero. Beautiful country man. I would live there in a heartbeat! Where are you located?

Bern. Yes, the country is beautiful, the politics less. - I thought Bolero is a women's magazine? Congrats for the job.

It seems you had to sacrifice 24 and 85? While it may not sound like a big deal - those millimeters at the wide and tele ends make some difference. 28 may not seem wide enough, and 70 could be too short for half-bodies. I rented this lens for a week but decided to settle with the 24-70/2.8 and the mighty 85 duo (1.2 & 1.2 DS). While the 28-70 is great for do-it-all lens, I feel it lacks the uniqueness you could get from a 1.2 lens. The DS offers even more character. I do not work as a photographer, so it's just a hobbyist perspective :) There is one more thing I like about the 24-70/2.8 - it's the AF motor. Very quiet focusing, and the integrated mic doesn't pick up its noise. Works well for a "quick video".

That's a good point but it's wide enough for the majority of what I shoot. If I need a wide shot, I have the 14-35 RF and I carry in my camera bag a 135mm that yields a unique look for portraits and for when I need to punch in.

It makes sense now. Love the 135mm look! I had a couple of 135mm lenses - the Sony 135/1.8ZA (A-mount, on my old A99) and the Zeiss 135/2 APO. Missing them now :) I hope Canon will introduce a fast 135 (1.8 or who knows... 1.4?) in the RF mount soon.

I've had the pleasure owning this lens for a few weeks now and I absolutely love it. Worth every penny.

When anther fast lens comes up next year or later, that will become a favorote glass. Thus goes on the endless game!

I see the appeal but it’s not for me. I will stick to my primes and carry two bodies if I really think switching lenses might cause problems on a shoot. Part of that comes wanting the very best tools I can have and primes are still faster, with better bokeh and light gathering capability. Plus, they show less distortion and are lighter in hand. Lastly, there’s something great about working within limitations. For me, using primes keeps me active, intentional and I feel a better connection to the perspective I’m shooting with. ..that said, I drive a manual transmission car, make stuff with my hands that I could buy for cheap and still work in a dark room ..so that last part might just be me and my silly ways.

It's obnoxiously huge and heavy, but it's not long, which would be harder to deal with.

I've been on the fence about keeping it vs getting the 24-70 instead, but it's growing on me, it does really change your outlook on prime lenses, I went from primes only, to not being willing to give up the flexibility, and for what, little to no depth of field where almost nothing is in focus.

Years ago I came to the realization that I had no desire to shoot below F1.8 for really any reason, so this lens has relegated all my f1.8 primes to merely lenses for when I want to pack light, optically there's nothing I want bokeh wise that this lens doesn't provide, I do miss 24mm indoors a little though.