Canon’s new 24-70mm zoom, 35mm stabilized prime are smaller, more affordable


posted Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 2:07 AM EDT

Canon shooters, take note: before the year is out, you'll have two new lenses to choose from, and both offer more portable and affordable alternatives to existing EF-mount lenses. One's a zoom, the other's a prime, and they both ship this December.

The zoom lens is the new EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM, which Canon is promoting as an ideal companion for the EOS 6D digital SLR. 

Sure, it's not as bright as the existing EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, but it's also significantly less expensive. Where that lens lists for US$2,300, the new lens has a list price of US$1,500, and you'll also find that its 77mm filter threads will save you some money over the 82mm threads of the existing lens. It's also about 0.7 inches (20 mm) shorter, with a 0.2 inch (5 mm) lesser diameter, and weighs a full 7.4 ounces (205 g) less. And if you're a fan of closeup photography, you'll find the maximum magnification of 0.7x to be more useful than the existing lens' 0.21x magnifications.

Canon's new EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM isn't as bright as the existing version, but it's smaller, lighter, and more affordable.

For prime shooters, the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM (US$850) offers an interesting proposition. It's barely more than half the cost and weight of the EF 35mm f/1.4L USM ($1,480), tipping the scales at just 11.8 ounces (335 g), where the existing lens weighs 20.5 ounces (580 g). It's also more compact, with the same diameter but a full 0.9 inches (23 mm) less length. Throw in the fact that it adds image stabilization, which isn't present in its brighter sibling, and you may be intrigued. Of course, there's not just a difference in brightness between the two lenses: the new EF 35mm f/2 also lacks Canon's L designation, which it reserves for its best glass.

A closer comparison though -- our apologies for missing this in the lineup yesterday -- is to the existing unstabilized 35mm f/2 . That lens is quite a lot less expensive than the new one, with a list price of US$320 list. While the new lens does add image stabilization and a silent ultrasonic autofocus motor, it's also quite a lot larger and heftier. It's 4.4 ounces (125 g) heavier, 0.8 inches (20 mm) longer, and has a 0.4 inches (10 mm) greater diameter. It also needs much larger 67mm filters, where the existing lens took a less expensive 52mm filter. That does make the new lens look rather less attractive versus its existing equivalent, unless image stabilization and silent autofocus is a must-have for you.

The EF 35mm f/2 IS USM adds stabilization, and yet it too is also more affordable, smaller, and lighter than its f/1.4L sibling.

More details on both lenses can be found on Canon's website.