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.