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Why You Need A 24-70mm Lens & What’s Available For Each Budget

June 26th 2017 11:40 AM

If you ask an experienced photographer what they would keep if they had to work with only one lens forever, many would answer “my 24-70.” It may not be as budget friendly (ok, not anywhere close to as budget friendly) or as fast of a first lens as the ever-popular ‘normal’ 50mm f/1.8, but once a photographer is sure they’re ready to dive in with a monetary commitment, a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens is a great starting place that covers a really useful range and is still fast, though it can’t really compete with a prime in that arena.

Revisiting classic DigitalRev before they parted ways with their quirky mascot, Kai, this video sums up some great reasons to think about purchasing a 24-70mm lens if you haven’t got one already.

The 24-70mm marketplace is ever-expanding and price points are falling. Most major brands have one and you can find multiple offerings from Canon, Nikon, and Sony. The third party manufacturers are, of course, waiting in the wings, should you decide you’d like a lower-budget but still a high-quality option. Tamron, Tokina, and Sigma all have versions, with Sigma recently announcing a new 24-70 pony for their stable – an eagerly awaited addition to their coveted Art series that comes in much cheaper than Canon or Nikon.

[REWIND:] SIGMA ART LENS PRICE & AVAILABILITY RELEASED | 14MM F1.8 ART & 24-70MM F2.8 ART

It’s arguable whether a 24-70mm lens benefits much from image stabilization, but for those who know they’re shaky shooters, there are now a couple of options to help.

Nikon’s most recent 24-70 release, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR Lens, will set you back further than most, currently priced at $2,396.95 at B&H, but if you don’t want to spend as much and don’t mind third-party, Tamron has got you covered with their SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD Lens, priced at a more modest $1,299 (but catch it on sale at B&H now for $1,099 after a mail-in rebate!)Tamron-A007_24-70mmF2-8DiVCUSD

The problem with the Tamron listed above, however, is two-fold. First, Tamron will be releasing a new 24-70 2.8 this year, and then of course there’s the Sigma which is not only brand new, but is in the much-loved ART-line, and costs only $1,299.

However, if you want to stick with a first-party lens there are options that are also more budget friendly. If you’re a Canon shooter and can handle a little bit slower of a lens, look into Canon’s EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Lens for a scant $899. This is a particularly good deal if you’re one of the aforementioned photographers who could use a little help staying steady, as this lens offers image stabilization at a much lower price point than the two mentioned above.

Sony’s got a similar offering in their Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens, still swimming in the shallow end of the price pool as far as these lenses go at $1,198 (but grab $100 off in instant savings if you’re ready to pick one up now!)As you can see, many of the options available depend on what camera brand you use, but it will be interesting to see what Sigma’s new 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art Lens brings to the table for multiple brands once we’ve got it in our hands.

Lenses Mentioned In This Article

 

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About

Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

Comments [27]

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  1. Bill Briers

    Kishore Sawh I’m surprised that the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 wasn’t in the list, especially if we’re talking about budget friendly.  It’s a fantastic lens in the same focal range, no VR, but only $499.

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  2. Motti Bembaron

    Kishore Sawh, The Nikon 180mm f/2.8 is a remarkble lens. It is very sharp but most importantly, it is lighter than the 85mm f1.8 (a fairly light lens). I love it. When using the 80-200mm (don’t have it anymore), I almost always used it at its longest focal length or close to it anyway.

    This lens is better. Unfortunately, t is way over priced at around $1000 (MPO). I bought it for $250 used.

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  3. Zoltán Bese

    I used Canon 16-35 / 2.8 MKI for a long time. Now there is 24-70 f2.8 MKII. I would get a fixed 35 or 85 mm

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    • Kishore Sawh

      There’s something special about a prime, but a good 24-70, for many, is indispensable 

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  4. Dese Cirelli

    I have the Sigma 85mm Art lens for Canon.   It is sharper than my 100mm L series Portrait l/ Macro ens from  Canon.   I know several professionals that use the 35mm Art lens from Sigma with outstanding results.   It is a very worthwhile decision to move away from Canon and Nikkor primes.   As far as zooms go, I prefer the walk up zoom.    I have a 50mm, 85, 100mm, 180mm and 300mm.   16 and 35mm for larger group photos.

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  5. Jon Chan

    I have the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD and that is definitely my most used lense in my camera bag by far. I especially find the versatility of the 24-70mm focal length useful for shooting portraits and some landscape. 

    As a big fan of Tamron, I’m really excited to see Tamron’s new G2 version come out this year.

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  6. Richard Neal

    You forgot to mention the cheaper sigma, older lens. One for even lower budgets and still quite capable I think 

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  7. Black Z Eddie

    I’m waiting for the Sigma Art Sony mount….if ever they decide to make it.  I normally shoot with a 35 and  85.  But, you know, sometimes I think I just a zoom lens. 

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  8. Lenzy Ruffin

    Fuji’s 16-55 yields a 24-84 equivalent, which is my “if I could have only one zoom lens” choice. 24 is as wide as I can shoot responsibly and 84 lets me shoot Hurley headshots. I really enjoy this lens.

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    • jeff hudson

      Yes, Fuji lenses are not only great optically, but mirrorless bodies are so much lighter for carrying.

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  9. Michael Turk

    I am extremely satisfied with my Sony/Zeiss 16-70 mm f/4 lens on an A6000.  I do find the slightly wider quite useful on occasions (16- instead of 24-).

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Sounds like a nice travel lens. I haven’t used that one, but perhaps we’ll look into it. Cheer

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  10. Jonathan Brady

    I don’t even own a 24-70. I do have the 24-105 IS STM from Canon for video purposes, but I literally never use it as I just don’t enjoy video – I never use it for stills. I shot a wedding Saturday with the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II on the 5D Mark IV and the 35L II on the 5Ds. Other than macro shots (100L) and bouquet and garter tosses (16-35 f/4L IS), that’s all I needed. And I used the 35L II most of all. 

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I find a larger aperture range more useful than a zoom range. 

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Certainly varies on what you tend to shoot. But if I could onl have a single lens for life is would be a 24-70 2.8, no doubt.

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    • Dese Cirelli

      The 35mm is my most preferred lens for general photography.  

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  11. Brandon Mount

    What about for us aps-c shooters? I have been using a sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM, equiv to 27-52 35mm… like it

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    • Nick Viton

      24-70 works fine with APS-C

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    • jeff hudson

      24-70 with aps-c is only 36mm equivalent at the wide end. This is not sufficient for most users.

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    • Nick Viton

      I’ve never been limited when I shot with the 24-70 2.8 on a DX.  I’d never felt compelled to “equate” the field of view to FX while shooting.   Just compose and shoot.  No math required.  Guess I’m unlike most users.

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  12. Motti Bembaron

    I bought my current Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 two years ago. Until then I used the old (but amazing) Nikon 24-70 f/2.8.

    For a short while it was my main lens and I loved it. However, after purchasing the 24-120 f/4.0, I found myself almost never using the 24-70.

    The three lenses I use most are the Nikon 24-120 f/4, the Nikon 85mm f/1.8 and the Nikon 180mm f/2.8

    For me the 24-70 became redundant.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      The nikon 180 2.8… I’ve never used that but I’ve never really understood it given Nikon’s 80-200 2.8, and how good it is, for close to the same price. Maybe I should have a look.

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    • adam sanford

      Many Canonites similarly shake their fist at the 24-70s and gleefully snap away with their 24-105s.   Reach wins for so many people.

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  13. adam sanford

    Unless you must must must have f/2.8, I’d recommend the EF 24-70 f/4L IS all day for a Canon FF rig.  I cannot hype this lens enough for general purpose use:

    * A great great value for an L lens
    * Perfect first party AF speed/consistency/accuracy
    * Lighter and smaller than 24-70 f/2.8 or 24-105/120 f/4 lenses.
    * IS (the nice hybrid IS like the 100L Macro, btw)
    * Weather-sealed
    * And then, the secret weapon:  0.7x Macro — that’s nearly a 1:1 macro tucked inside of a standard zoom.  It’s a marvel.

    And IS isn’t just about shaky hands.  If you are shooting low light handheld, 3 stops of IS is three stops of speed.  A shot that requires ISO 6400 without IS needs only ISO 800 to get done with IS.  That’s pretty damn handy for those that aren’t packing a flash or tripod.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I’m with you, as you say, ‘all day’ on this. I think people need to drop the hang-up with shooting at 2.8 anyway. I mean, it’s great to have but.

      I’ll warn about the Sony 24-70 f/4 though. That thing has wicked distortion. Some of the worst I’ve ever come across actually. Case in point below. That dark area on the right is part of the sliding door fixture…it doe not bend like that in real.

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    • adam sanford

      K, that is reeeediculous.  Can you back that out with a LR or ACR lens correction profile?

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    • Kishore Sawh

      You can, but I have to go back in to check just to what extent, and how much work it is. I know for a fact that the auto modes were causing more subject distortion in my experience. I also dropped using the lens altogether after this shot – as casual as it was. 

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    • Dese Cirelli

      Agree on the F4 24-70.  Try a Sigma Art (rent one in 85mm).  Amazing.

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