Canon announced a couple of days ago that it's introducing a refreshed "II" version of its best full-frame standard zoom, the wide-to-short-tele EF 24–70mm ƒ/2.8L II USM. The new lens is completely redesigned, optically and mechanically. It's 10mm shorter and 145 grams lighter than its predecessor, but has an 82mm filter size whereas the old one took 77mm filters.
Canon, which deserves to be ranked among the world's elite optical firms, has thrown every technology it knows into this product*. "Featuring the latest advances in optical lens design, it utilizes one Super UD lens element and two UD lens elements that help minimize chromatic aberration in the periphery at wide-angle as well as reduced color blurring around the edges of the subject. In addition, two types of aspherical lenses are combined to help reduce spherical aberration over the entire image area as well as through the full zoom range. Optimized lens coatings also help ensure exceptional color balance while minimizing ghosting. The lens is also equipped with a circular 9-blade diaphragm for beautiful, soft backgrounds. A ring-type USM and high-speed CPU with optimized AF algorithms enable silent and fast autofocusing." (That's from the U.K. press release.) As is becoming standard practice with top lenses, the outer elements have protective coatings to minimize damage and dirt, and it's said to have "improved" dust and water resistance.
While nothing substitutes for rigorous field tests, the MTF charts show a lens that approaches theoretical limits of perfection in the center of the field (and will probably be limited by focus accuracy in real-world situations) and that should be extraordinarily consistent throughout the zoom range for even the most demanding applications. It's slated to ship this coming April 17th (although you can pre-order it now) for a price of $2,299. While not a mid-range zoom for photographers looking to maximize value for money or luggability (Canon makes lenses for that, too), it's likely to set a new standard for Canon photographers who want the best of the best in terms of imaging accuracy.
*Except image stabilization.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Zlatko Batistich: "There's no way to please everyone. People complained about the quality/reliability of the original 24–70mm, which had some problems. So Canon pulled out all the stops and built a 24–70 to a higher standard. Now the complaints are all about the price, 'Oh the price, the price!' But you want more quality, you pay more. That's just a fact of life. Adding image stabilization would just make things worse (lower reliability, higher price). And for those who want a 24–70mm ƒ/2.0...almost no one would want to carry its weight or pay for it. It would be as portable and as popular as the discontinued 200/1.8."