Canon's new 24-70mm f/4 Lens is Perplexing

Canon's new 24-70mm f/4 Lens is Perplexing

When Canon released the upgraded 24-70mm f/2.8 II lens earlier this year, it was met with a serious mix of emotions. Why was it so expensive, and where the HECK was the image stabilization? And sure, the lens performs magnificently, but it left a lot to be desired. Last night, Canon announced a new member to the lens family, and many of us are confused as to where a 24-70mm f/4 IS fits into the picture between the 24-105 f/4 IS and the 24-70mm f/2.8 II.

I love Canon. I've shot on Canon nearly exclusively (except for one year where the studio I was in had an Olympus E-5 and when I was shooting film on my Nikon FTN) over the past twelve years. Up to this point, I've been the first person to stand up for Canon when I'm surrounded by a hoard of Nikon fanboys and girls. But this is one decision that I am just at a loss to defend. Sure, I can probably think of the strategy that went into this decision, but that doesn't mean the strategy makes any sense.

Canon's Strategy: Money. Sure, this is kind of everyone's strategy, but if you make it obvious that's all you're about, then you start to turn people off. I don't like it when companies make decisions based only on profitability. Customers notice, business dips, the company then tries to overcompensate and then things just end up getting worse. If you make a quality product, people will buy it. But if it looks like you're just trying to take people's money, then you run into issues. We all understand that these companies need to make money, but at least TRY and make it look like you care about us or the product a little bit. Aiming at the 24-70mm focal length was a direct strike at where the money is. 24-70mm f/2.8 is the most popular lens out there. We all should own one, because when you need one lens on your camera body, this one can do it all. But Canon's recent decisions with this focal length just baffle me. Why do we need two options at this focal length? Both L glass? It's especially perplexing given that the 24-105mm L lens, a really fantastic lens, costs less than this new 24-70mm f/4.

These two lenses appear to be a misshapen attempt to meet all the desires of photographers while actually attaining none. Yes we wanted IS in our 24-70mm focal length, but we didn't want to give up a stop to get there. We wanted the 24-70mm f/2.8 to be cheaper, but again we didn't want to give up a stop to have that either. It's like watching someone purposely try and infuriate a customer. Rather than just giving us what we want and have asked for, Canon has offered two less satisfying options. I don't want to have to pick- none of us do!

Here is what really gets me. I like the 24-105mm f/4 lens. It's actually really great for video. There are those who complain about it's sharpness for stills, but I never really saw it as an issue. It performs fine. In releasing this new 24-70 f/4 lens, Canon is telling us that the 24-105mm might not be around for much longer. Well that sucks. I like having that extra 35mm if I want it. Now to get what I want, I'll have to buy one lens for photo and one for video and spend three times as much and end up with less versatility. The only one who wins here is Canon, who gets to take my money. Speaking of cost...

Canon seems to be really pushing their pricing. They recently cracked down on MAP pricing on their camera bodies, and this new lens is not cheap either. The 24-70mm f/2.8 II is quite expensive, especially compared to the competition. Heck, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 with VC is only $1300 and it's awesome. The IS is far and away better than anything else on the market. So why would I buy this new Canon lens when it isn't as fast, and the IS is outperformed by Tamron's?

More expensive. Segmented features. Disregard for their core clients. Canon, slow down and think for a minute before you make another decision like this one. Tamron and Sigma are only getting better with their glass and unlike you are keeping their prices affordable. If you keep on this path, you're not going to end up making up for that loss of profit you experienced last quarter. You're going to end up like Sony: desperately trying to cling to dwindling profits. Sit down, take a deep breath, and just go back to what made you successful in the digital space originally: great product that we all loved.

Jaron Schneider's picture

Jaron Schneider is an Fstoppers Contributor and an internationally published writer and cinematographer from San Francisco, California. His clients include Maurice Lacroix, HD Supply, SmugMug, the USAF Thunderbirds and a host of industry professionals.

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Kinda confused by your OP isn't the exclusive domain of professionals. With the so-called high ISO of new camera bodies, lens speed isn't so huge an issue anymore. This lens will appeal to a very different segment of the photo market. I have owned the 24-105, 70-200 F4 and stand by the usefulness of both. This is extra gravy...right along with the updated 35 IS.

Canon still makes some of the best glass in the world but nobody is stopping you from switching ;-)

Don't know what is confusing.  Canon is offering less lens for more money.  Instead of value added it is value removed.  You have a 24-105.  Unless you hate the IQ, would you pay more for this new lens?  Would you recommend this new lens to anyone over the 24-105?  The image quality better be out-of-this-world.

Eight years ago Canon was besting the competition at every turn.  Not anymore.  It is as though Canon feels like, based on its prior dominance, it can kind of coast along without really competing.  Like Jaron, I believe this is a recipe for failure in the long term even if it boosts profits in the short term.

Think of it like the iPad Mini - expensive, fewer features, just smaller

I think they did it to flesh out the f/4 lineup. If the lens really can deliver "four stops" of IS performance, it could be a great lens. A few days ago I saw this lens was rumored to be $800~ish, at which point I was ready to buy on the spot. $1,500, however, is another matter - stick with the 24-105.

I do not think that f/2.8 is really all that fast, as I prefer fast primes in my work. I am very reluctant to admit how nice IS really is, even though it does not stop subject motion. I am also aware that carrying around 2.8 glass gets a bit heavy, and this lens may have a lot of appeal to landscape people who want low distortion (no 24-105) and shoot at ~F/8 (negating primes, 2.8 zooms) and have to hike out to the destinations (negating multiple primes, 2.8 zooms). 

Is it for everyone? No, and certainly not for $1500!

Omg, 24-70mm f/4's place in the trash 'cuz too high price.

not so much the trash but the shopping cart maybe. If price is important to you, then this lens is priced at the same point as a very very nice, used 24-70 f/2.8.

So I think will be better to buy used 24-40/2.8 instead new/4.

I feel your pain and agree with your rant.  But not sure what you mean about giving up two stops. f/2.8 => f/4 is one stop. Can you elaborate?

Sorry, wrote that late last night. One stop. 

And rant? I dunno... I feel like I kept it from being too ranty. Tried to stay away from mindless yelling ;)

When I see this I had the same reaction ! I am a Nikon shooter and got my 24-70 Nikkor at the same price new !
All my buddys shooting with Canon rather keep their 24-105 which is a great lens !!

The price of Canon lenses these days is too damn high!

at least canon makes products that you dont have to buy i you dont want to, like XQD cards.

Well, you don't have to use XQD, there's another card slot you know? Well, atleast Canon fools people with high prices...

miguel arango.... doooooooooh!

i own both the 24-70 2.8 and the 24-105(came with my 5dmk2) and they both are awesome lenses! this is as the author wrote, complete crap. i use the 24-70 for professional shoots when i need the extra stop, but when im on vacation or just grabbing some photos that extra reach of the 24-105 makes it the ideal lens. the great thing about the 24-105 is that when im on vacation i bring just one lens, for landscapes and tight shots. for close tight shots it gives great blur and is in my mind sharper than the 24-70. canon's prices have already driven me to sigma for my telephoto, the 70-200 version 2 macro is one of the most accurate and sharpest lenses i own, and it was a thousand dollars less than the canon. this lens is a gimmick, one that no pro will ever fall for.

damn you canon...

24-70 f/4 IS

and $850 for the 35 f/2 IS....

My $500 Sigma 35 1.4 MIGHT not be as sharp w/ no IS, but for the price difference, I'll stick with Sigma 

i'm thinking that this is aimed for those who want to upgrade their kit lens for something smaller and lighter. however, with the existence of the 25-105, i think this is superfluous. maybe canon should've release a, say, 17-70 L lens for those APS-C owners who want to upgrade their 18-55.

my first lens purchase after the dslr (with kit) was the 17-85 f/4-5.6. then i upgraded to the 24-105 though i always wish that it could have been wider. it would have made more sense if the new lens is wider.

oh, and it could've been cheaper also...

Canon will never make an EF-S L lens, they would prefer you to spend more on a new and shiny full frame body!

no, i didn't mean an EF-S lens, just something wider for APS-C users. maybe an upgraded 17-40, but instead longer. That's why I said 17-70.

I use the 17-40L on my T2i... and it's interesting for sure - obviously not terribly wide in the long end, but 17 is not _that_ wide when it comes to EF-S either. What kind of shooting do you do that you wish you could have 17-70 for? general travel? If you run the numbers, 17-70 x 1.6 comes very close to the 24-105L, so in a way they do indeed make your lens.

it sure does. but i'm not speaking for myself but for someone who only has an 18-55 and who wants to upgrade to an L lens and wants IS... 

well, 10-22 is EF-S. and the 8-15L fisheye and 16-35 are almost the same price as the new 24-70. so those are your only choices if you want to go wider. though as you said, 16 is almost 24 for APS-C...

I would recommend the 16-85 EF-S IS long before any L lens for someone looking to upgrade from an 18-55. I don't mean that in an elitest way at all, but I consider L lenses to be somewhat specialized, and a general purpose EF-S lens is not what they offer. I briefly had the 28-105 3.5-4.5 and it was a much better "walk around lens" for someone looking to upgrade.

that's exactly the path i took.

but you'll never know... i have seen people with a 5D mark III and a nikon D3 in full auto. no matter how we go back and forth here, people would still buy what they want regardless of what they'll use it for nor their level of expertise.

 A 17-70 that's a lens I would be interested in, assuming Canon could overcome the not insignificant design hurdles.  I'm not holding my breath...

i know! right? with IS, EF, L. can be used for both an EF-S and full frame.

The perplexing part is the price point. Canon 24-70L (non-IS) f2.8 $2299, 24-70L w/IS f4.0 $1499, 24-105L w/IS f4.0 $1149.... Which lens would you be buying if you were looking at the last two?

Your point, while buried in entertaining rant, is: There was NO need to build an 24-70 F4 IS when you have 24-104 F4 IS.  Especially, when what we all want and are begging for is a 24-70, 2.8 II IS L that looks just like the 70-200 2.8 II IS L.  Darn it!   This same stunt was pulled with the 17-55 2.8 IS (non L) lens, and great lens, but in cheap plastic case.

Therefore: I submit the following.

 A) 17-55, 2.8 IS is proof that Canon can build a 24-70 IS and yet refuse to do so.
 B) The 24-70 F4 is proof that Canon is aware that customer want and need and updated 24-70 2.8 IS.  

Know the forgoing to be true! We can then assert the following statement on good ground.  Canon is able to build a 24-70 2.8, they are able to build (IS), they are aware of market demand, and yet refuse to produce the one lens necessary.  And we ask why?  WHY?!  We the people are only left with one possible answer: Willful, yes Willful!  intent to milk the market for meager profits rather than service the loyal customer!  There can be no other answer ladies and gentlemen! NO!

We are being abused by the very company we champion with our sweat, toil, and creative talents! Shameful I say....Shameful!!

Why? Because an f/2.8 lens with the quality of the mk II 24-70/2.8, with the IS of the 24-70/4 would be even larger and heavier than the already large and heavy f/2.8 lens, and more expensive than the already extremely expensive f/2.8 lens.

Most likely Canon figured people prefer the choice. I personally value small size and light weight above the extra stop, especially with IS this good. To me, the new lens is a real winner.

I read that this might become the new FF 'kit' lens - which boosts the price of camera + lens up from the 24-105 lens. That does feel like they are just going for more money...

This lens is meant to be an upgrade, if you actually look at the specs there are actually some potential improvements:

-Macro Capabilities: you can see that the minimum focusing distance can reach 0.2m in the macro mode which looks like it might be at the 24mm end (to get the specified 0.7x maximum magnification ratio which is listed), and 0.38m on the 70mm end compared to 0.45m on the 24-105L. Its not the first lens to do this, I have a old Vivitar lens which macro focuses at the 24mm end and wide angle macros have a very distinct look which i quite like!

-Image Stabilizer: the 24-105L only claims to provide 3 stops of IS, while the new 24-70 f4L claims to provide 4, this could be a updated version of the IS which allow better stabilization capabilities
-Less Range, Less Glass : theres 3 less elements in the 24-70 f4L which leads to a 10% in weight saving and less distortion to compensate for-more UD elements : so theres potential to have less CA and sharper imagesand of course theres always inflation to consider, as more people have more cash the price of things will keep going up, I wouldn't count this lens out of the running yet, $1500 might just be the retail price, it might come cheaper as a kit lens, just saying you shouldn't really count this lens out until you've actually seen how it performs just yet instead of starting to complain about the price for the range

It is certainly a tradeoff, Shi, because there are some improvements vs the 24-105.  Maybe those improvements will have a huge effect on IQ.  If not, there is no way that an improved IS system and semi-macro capabilities are worth the loss in range and increase in price for me.

Like the author I'm the biggest Canon fangirl in the universe but this is just stupid first the 6D than the lying about the 5DIII clear HDMI output now this 24-70 f4 IS about this lens I always hate realy hate Tamron but theyr 24-70 is as amazing as the Canon 24-70II and if i had to make a choice than Tamron 24-70 is no brainer or secondhand 24-105 if the budget is tight and i will have to make this decision soon and the Tamron is my favorit now but will I buy Canon or Nikon mount thats the question...

"I don’t like it when companies make decisions based only on profitability"

Yes, Canon just did it, this is negligibly.But opposite you, I don't need IS 24-70 at all for reportage photo.
Canon 24-70/2.8 1st edition sucks - all lenses is not justified for precise focus :( I need to pay for justifying additionally.
Canon 24-70/2.8 2st edition is too expensive, don't think I will want to buy it as a professional photographer
Canon 24-105/4 it is too softy for L class lenses. So, I don;t like it too.
Canon 24-70/4 IS for the 24-70/2.8 1st edition price? :D why do I need to pay more for f4???

For future I see, if something happens with my 24-70/2.8 1st edition, I will buy Tamron :) and hope other photographer will strike announced 24-70/4

canon has made no loss...... they have made less profit.

read this on another forum.... zitat:

I've watched and waited for new Canon gear with anticipation for a couple years. When prices were released for the 5D3, 24-IS and 28-IS I was shocked, esp for standard EF prime lenses. Then the 24-70 f/2.8 II arrived. Well, compared to the overpriced 70-200 f/2.8 II not surprised but still disappointed with Canon. Now the new 24-70 f/4 arrives, huge shock. After the previous insane EF 24-IS and 28-IS (non L!) lens prices, the EF 35-IS price was no surprise either but all of these prices are a big disappointment and just stupid expensive. Most every photo product that Canon has released this year including the G1X, etc shows a consistent Canon pricing trend to heavily gouge the market. They are trying to re-establish the general base price line upward and train everyone to pay more across the board. Perhaps they are following Apple's practice of demanding 40% margins. The real suckers that Canon is aiming for are the enthusiasts that are willing to spend more than pros on whatever the coolest current thing is, over and over. Pros don't upgrade the tools of their trade at the drop of a hat, they have a business to run. They take pictures for profit and mostly buy what they need. It takes time/effort to upgrade to a new body and if the expense doesn't result in a better business, it can wait. Enthusiasts buy because they need another endorphin high that results from another cool toy to add to their collection. They equate better pictures with better hardware. Canon loves these folks and is taking marketing to them to a whole new level. Most experienced photographers, those folks that have taken thousands of pictures over the years, don't buy equipment as often because they already have gear that works for them.
Canon has lost me for quite a while until they WTFU and get past this insanity. I am running away from these prices. In fact, I'm considering selling a few things now, not buying more. Unfortunately, there are thousands of fans out there that simply MUST buy all this new gear right away at whatever price is asked which will delay the return to reasonable prices for at least a year or two instead of just a few months. If the market (enthusiasts) ran away at these prices, they would quickly drop. But Canon expects enough enthusiasts to accept and swallow this price point to demand it and rake in cash which is a real shame. In this case, Canon equates "Enthusiasts" to = "Suckers". Our society has become so impatient and demanding of instant gratification at any cost that most consumers have truly become sheep. Upgrade cycles for expensive luxury items have become months, not years. Sorry if this offends you but if it does, then think a minute about why it offends you. Then go shoot some pictures in a 3rd World Country or even just a poor part of town."

could not have said it better.
teach canon a lesson.. don´t buy overpriced stuff you don´t really need.

Nothing wrong with choices, look at the 70-200L range, 4 lenses there and all are brilliant and have their uses. Personally, I'd never pay the extra money for IS unless doing video work. It just isn't a justifiable expense.

As for dumb Canon decisions lately, I'd call putting wifi/gps gimmicks into the 6D, but not built in wireless flash triggers for the new 600ex range, a bigger WTF than an f4 lens in the most popular focal range.

I can't believe they did not do SD dual card slots. If you have SD cards, then you have eye-fi cards. The OEM, obviously, would like to sell you their wifi solution. 

This is a little off the the subject but I have a 24-105f4L that I rarely used. After sending it back 2 times for adjustment it has become one of my most used lenses. Same with my 70-200 2.8 IS. It came back way better than when I first bought it.

This is the worst decission Canon made. I wasn't expecting this from Canon. Really disappointed. 

Canon has made this lens to sell along the upcoming 6D. Its lighter than both the 2.8 and the 24-105, which will appeal to those who are buying the 6D for its size. Some people will also argue that if a lens has less zoom it is closer to prime and therefore better. The 24-105 has 4.37 X zoom while the 24-70 has 2.9 X

great points, I share your sentiments exactly and have been waiting on the sideline for years now (since the 5Dmk2) for a great new innovation + value _without_compromises_ from Canon in bodies and lenses, but have not seem much compared to what Nikon, Sony, Tamron, and others have put out. maybe only the 70-200 2.8 IS v2 has delivered imho. I wish they would have just released an updated 24-105 in image quality and IS, maybe even 2.8 if possible.

Canon's been irritating me too. After supporting it for 4 years, collecting FF lenses, they just kept disappointing. The 6D was the last straw with its stupid video features that has no audio mic port; if i wanted to pay more than a D700 or a used 5D mk2 for a camera, it better have proper video functions like an elementary audio mic port.
I hopped over to Nikon and got a D700 on a discount. Never regretted it.

If it drops to the same price as the 24-105L, it'll be a good deal, especially having better sharpness and of course, macro, in addition to the smaller and lighter design. 

While I understand all your concerns, I feel like I need to defend the lens a bit :)
I'm almost exclusively a landscape photographer - this means lugging a backpack on long hikes, using tripod for most of my shooting and often being in a bad weather. 24-105 is a great lens, but I do not need the 70-105 range - that's where the 70-200 f/4 L IS comes in ... so if I can get a smaller, lighter, better built lens that has even better image quality than the 24-105 with better stabilization for the times when I'm not using a tripod, I'm quite happy. And the added value of very short MFD and   high maximum magnification is also great - I can leave the 100mm macro home on the trips where I usually take in "just in case", and now that is some weight saving (yes, the image quality remains to be seen for macro application, but I'm an optimist :) )
I don't shoot video, so I can't comment on that, but if I were, I would use faster primes anyway, not the 24-105.
Yes, the price is steep, but for me, it's more than justified... Heck, I've spent money on Zeiss wideangle that has no AF, is slippery as hell, freezing cold in colder weather, and I still feel like its one of the best investments I made ... and I think this new 24-70 might be the next one ...

Canon seems to be applying the "underpants business" lately...

oh....... but its the red ring that captures my imagination.....

The 24-70mm ƒ/2.8 is now discontinued according to my B&H cart.

Do they not have 4 flavors of the 70-200? how is this any different?

I like this lens and already pre-ordered a copy from B&H. Leaving aside what other dislike is already evident. Less look at why I chose it. I don't have a lens in this range for my 5Dmk3 only Pancake, 100L and 70-300L. So have a lens in this range is very welcome for me. 2/ it sharper then the 24-105 and will probably have better contrast similar to the 24-70 ii. 3/ it has a macro mode I'm very curious to check since I love my 100L. plus by the discription of the Hybrid IS , could be the same as in the 100L. 4/ this has to be the best 24-70L for travel because of size and weight. 5/  the Tamron has focusing issues and soft at 70mm while this lens will be much sharper and evenly throught the entire range ( no uneven sharpness ). 6/ Even after trying Sigma's 50 f1.4 and 85 f1.4 I found so far only Canon lenses give all the full capabilities of the 5Dmk3's AF system, while all the others I have tried so far do not. 7/ I use a T4i as my back up for now and having a crop body only extends my range with all my lenses including this one. And last but not least I do agree this lens is over priced. Should be in the range of 1100-1200, not 1500 USD. 

I agree with vc_scorpion.  The lesser zoom ratio [than the 24-105] will likely also result in faster AF. And for those whose subjects include more DOF, the f4's sweet spot (f8-11) will provide more DOF than the f2.8's  f5.6-8. That, plus half a pound lighter, plus macro.  (I never see anyone complain about Canon's 70-200 f4 lens.)  I don't like the price either; perhaps I'll wait awhile until someone returns theirs in near-new condition and I can buy it "refurbished".  :) 

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