Despite its girth, weight, and price, Canon’s original 24-70mm f/2.8L is a highly-regarded general-purposes lens. When the followup Mark II version was announced back in February, the higher-price tag, similar specs, and lack of IS had many photographers scratching their heads. Then the reviews started coming out.
I am not a reviewer. I don’t even play one on TV. There are already some in-depth reviews out on the new Canon EOS-M, and more coming daily. But I handle a lot of equipment and test a lot of equipment. When something new comes in I spend a day handling it and testing it. Hopefully this will give you a quick overview of the camera, and perhaps fill in some things that actual reviewers don’t get to tell you about. We recently got a bunch of EOS M cameras, a bunch of the 22mm lenses, a couple of 18-55 kit lenses, and a single EOS M EF adapter.
For those who don’t want to read this but do want to tell everyone what I said later, here’s the summary: it is the best of mirrorless, it is the worst of mirrorless, it is the camera of wise choices, it is the camera of foolishness, it is the epoch of accurate autofocus, and it is the epoch of slow autofocus. In other words, I’ve got mixed emotions.
We tend not to get too excited about sensor dust problems at LensRentals; we clean sensors on every camera after every rental, so it’s just routine. When we started carrying the Nikon D600, they all arrived with a fair amount of dust, but that’s pretty routine, too. Manufacturing and shipping can be a dusty experience.
“Corn Along a River” Marion Post Wolcott, 1940. Library of Congress.
My overview of American government goes generally like this: (1) Something happens. (2) The government passes some laws in response to it, adds on a few pork projects, and raises taxes to pay for the laws and the pork. (3) The laws (or pork) cause an entirely new problem. (4) Repeat.
The usual outcome of this cycle is that every year we have more laws and higher taxes. But every so often, some accidental side effect occurs and something awesomely good happens. So it was during the alphabet-soup days of New Deal government during the Great Depression. The accidental side effect was the Golden Age of American Photography. How it happened is rather interesting.
After being announced back in 2002 as a replacement to the 28-70mm, Canon’s 24-70mm f/2.8 (above right) quickly became an extremely popular and highly regarded lens due to its friendly all-around focal range and sharpness. When the Mark II version was unveiled back in February to succeed “The Brick”, as the Mark I version is called, photographers grumbled at its hefty $2,300 price tag, the fact that it uses an 82mm filter instead of 77mm, and the lack of Image Stabilization. Roger Cicala over at LensRentals tested out the new lens, and has extremely positive things to say about it:
This is short, sweet, and simple. The resolution absolutely, positively kicks butt and takes names. It is way better than the lens it replaces. It’s better at 70mm than the best Canon zoom I know of, the 70-200 f/2.8 IS II. It’s even better at 24mm than the sharpest 24mm prime we have, the Canon 24 TS-E. In the center, in the corners, it doesn’t care. We only had 5 copies to test, but they were all very similar with little copy-to-copy variation.
Resolution is not everything, of course. But it’s certainly an important thing. Unless the real lens reviewers find some dramatic problems with this lens, I’d have to lean towards worth-the-money on this one. I can’t believe I’m saying that a $2,300 standard zoom is worth the money. But then again, I can’t believe I’m seeing a zoom lens out resolve a $2,000 world-class prime, either.
Okay, okay. Time to sell a kidney.
Canon 24-70 f/2.8 II Resolution Tests [LensRentals]
Have you ever learned that you should autofocus on the same point twice in a row to achieve optimal focusing? Apparently it’s a tip that’s often taught to beginners. Roger Cicala over at LensRentals decided to run some tests to see if this theory has any merit:
[If communication between a camera and a lens is one-way], AF may be more accurate if you ‘double focus’, meaning you push the shutter button halfway down until the AF beeps, then release and push it halfway down again. The idea is that you’re providing the camera a ‘recheck’ of the AF point and a chance to fine tune focus. I was taught to do this when I started photography but I have no idea if it really helps. So I thought we’d look at that [...]
If the two click AF method works better than one click AF, that might give us some indication that the system is open and without feedback. Maybe. If it isn’t I’m not sure it means there is a feedback loop. Maybe AF is as accurate as it gets no matter how many times you pre-focus.
After a battery of tests, Cicala came to the conclusion that “pre-focusing” a camera does absolutely nothing for the accurate focusing of photos.
Autofocus Reality Part 2: 1 versus 2, old versus new (via Gizmodo)
Image credit: Lens by 14zawa
My mind is a strange and dangerous place. I shouldn’t go in there alone after dark. But the other night I was thinking, just me and myself, about all the new camera releases this year. Which had made the biggest impact? Was it the Canon 5D III with that world-class autofocus system? The Olympus OM-D bringing mirrorless cameras up a notch in image quality and usability? Should I mention the excellent Samsung NX20, just because no one knows it’s really good? Give the Fuji X-Pro an award for best concept most poorly carried out? Consider the Sony NEX-7 for putting full-frame resolution on an APS-C sensor?
Way back in the day, when the first mirrorless cameras were released, I was on them like white on rice. I desperately wanted to love, well, any of them: the Sigma DP-1, Panasonic G1, Olympus E-P1, Leica X-1, and more all passed through my hands. Many people loved having a small camera that delivered high image quality. I loved that idea, too, but I didn’t love those first cameras because of what they couldn’t do. They couldn’t shoot high ISO. There weren’t many lenses. Autofocus times reminded me of loading pages on dial-up Internet connections. But at the time (way back in 2009) I thought this was the future of consumer imaging. I predicted that by their third generation, mirrorless cameras would eventually take over the intro-level SLR slot.
Last week camera testing service DxOMark announced that the Nikon D800 had earned the highest sensor quality score ever awarded. Roger Cicala of LensRentals wanted to see for himself how much of an advantage the D800′s 36.3MP sensor had over its competition, so he did some sensor resolution tests on the camera, comparing it to the Canon 5D Mark III, 5D Mark II, and Nikon D700. His conclusion?
[...] there’s no question the D800 can actually get those pixels to show up in the final product (assuming your final product is a big print – they’re going to be wasted posting on your Facebook page). But you’d better have some really good glass in front of it. I don’t think the 28-300 superzooms are going to cut it with this camera.
In the real world, highest possible resolution is nice to know about and talk about, but usually not of critical importance compared to other factors. You’ll be able to make superb images with any decent lens for an 8 X 10 or even 11 X 16 print. But if you’re getting the camera because of the resolution, it makes sense to know which lenses will allow all of that resolution to be utilized. Just in case you get that job that needs billboard sized prints.
Ever wonder why camera manufacturers these days are describing often sensor sizes with fractions instead of millimeters? Roger Cicala of LensRentals explains:
[...] then we get into all of these fractional-inch-type-measurements for the smaller sensors. That measurement system originated in ancient times (the 1950s to 1980s) when vacuum tubes were used instead of CCD or CMOS sensors in video and television cameras. The image sensor was, in those days, referred to in terms of the outside diameter of the vacuum tube that contained it.
Why do manufacturers keep using such an archaic measurement? Because it helps them lie to you, of course. If you do the math 1/2.7 equals 0.37 inches, which equals 9.39 mm. But if you look at the chart above you’ll see that a 1/2.7″ sensor actually has a diagonal of 6.7 mm. Why? Because, of course, a thick glass tube used to surround the sensors. So they calculate the sensor size as if the glass tube was still included. Makes perfect sense to a marketing person who wants to make their sensor seem larger than it is. What sounds better: 1/2.7″ or ‘less than 10% the size of a full frame sensor’?
If you have a few minutes, give his entire post on sensor sizes a read — it’s quite illuminating.
Sensor Size Matters [LensRentals Blog]
Image credits: Photograph by Sphl