Bye Bye Curls and Some Thoughts on the 24-70

Saturday we decided it was time for Jasper’s second haircut so that he wouldn’t look like a street urchin at his second birthday party! That morning, I decided to take some snapshots of him playing so that I could remember his golden locks.

Most of you know that I am madly in love with my Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS II, it doesn’t leave my camera when I’m shooting outdoors. But indoors, it can be too long so I decided to use my completely neglected 24-70mmL f/2.8.

Since buying it, I actually have reached for my Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 over the canon because I noticed that I seemed to have a harder time nailing focus with the Canon. But a recent session that I used the Tamron left me less than thrilled so I recommitted to “figuring out” the canon 24-70, which is why I pulled it out for these Jasper shots.

When it nails focus, it is EXCELLENT:


The key word is “when.”   There were a bunch of soft shots, and I think I know why, and why many people say they need to “learn to love” the 24-70.

It’s a strange thing, to need to “learn to love”  a $1000+ lens, shouldn’t it rock your world out of the box?

So, this is my theory with the lens..

Most of us that upgrade to the 24-70 are coming either from a cheaper zoom like the Tamron OR from a  prime like the 50mm or 30mm. Those lenses have one thing in common: they are FEATHER light compared to the 24-70.

What that means is that you can shoot at lower shutterspeeds  and not get much if any camera shake.  But enter the 24-70 (known in the industry as “the beast”) and whoa, it’s heavy and my test shots show that I need to crank the shutterspeed up to at least 250 to beat the shake!

Now, that is all well and good on a full frame camera, but on a crop sensor that kind of blows because you are already battling with noise at ISOs as low as 400, if you need to use a really high shutterspeed too you will need to crank that ISO even higher and introduce even more noise!

Which is why I think if you have a crop sensor camera, you’re better off sticking with the Tamron or primes and save the 24-70 for if/when you upgrade to full frame.

Now the 70-200 is so heavy it makes the 24-70 feel like a cream puff, but the difference is that the 70-200 is stabilized and I almost NEVER miss focus with it.  Rumor has it that canon will be introducing a stabilized version II of the 24-70 and I think THAT would be a lens worth owning on a crop or a full frame body!

As usual, these are merely my opinions based on my experiences with these different pieces of glass, if you have any opinions, thoughts or questions I’d love to hear them!

Oh, and here is a shot of  Jasper after his haircut:

After we chopped off all of his curls :(

Yep- missed focus with that one!  More importantly, I miss his curls!! :(

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Amy says:

Thanks for this post. I just got the 70-200 nine days ago and I have been sadly disappointed because pretty much every shot is out of focus. I think I will purchase the Tamron lens. I was curious, you mentioned at the beginning of this article you were having issues with the Tamron, can you share what you experienced with the Tamron? Do you still use the Tamron?

Drew says:

Hey Ariana! I use to hate my 24-70. Would only use it when I absolutely had to. It had horrible back focusing issues. About a year ago I took it into Canon and had it looked at. I’m not sure what they did, but it works perfectly now. Never have issues with back focusing!

ariana says:

Interesting Drew.. I know I need to send mine in too! I just don’t think it’s EVER nearly as sharp as say the 70-200.. and never will be until they come out with a version II (with IS!) but having it calibrated would help I’m sure!

Paula S. says:

I know I have read this post before, but it must not have stuck with me. I stumbled upon it again today and I am SO glad! I just got the Canon 100mm 2.8 L with IS and I was astounded with what I could get with it. Which made me wonder why I have never really felt that way with my 24-70L that I have had for a year now. It is the IS!!!! What a light bulb moment for me. After getting the L glass and not being impressed with my results in the past year I assumed that I just really stink at getting sharp pictures. Granted I do need to work on using my speedlite more so I can use the higher shutter speeds. However, I am so happy to see that some of the problem is likely due to the lack of IS on my 24-70L. Sorry I am probably not making much sense to anyone else, but THANK YOU so much for giving me some of my confidence back!

ariana says:

Barbara, I haven’t had any problems shooting at around 150th or so..though what I actually end up shooting at depends a ton on lighting obviously :)

Barbara says:

Thanks for this Ariana! I’m curious, how fast do you need to keep your SS on the 70-200mm (with the IS on)? I know they say 3-4 stops, but I want to hear what your experience is. I have trouble with even my lightweight 85mm due to shaky hands lol…I have to keep it around 1/250 sometimes faster. I really want the 70-200 f/2.8 IS, I hear it’s a great lens for outdoors.

Maggie says:

What a cute little guy-with and without the curls! My little boy just got his first haircut this summer and I was sad to see his hair go.

Thank you for the post on the lens. I use Nikon, but have been debating about the 24-70 over a prime lens. Does make me wonder if I might have the same issues. I need something that is great in low light as I photograph indoors a lot with available light. I don’t have a full frame camera yet either, but hopefully one day soon! Anyone use Nikkor lens have an opinion on the matter?

Sarah says:

Thanks for this post. I’m finding this too. Although I’ve managed to find that 1/100 is generally my minimum. But, then the other day I snagged a sharp shot at 1/60. Go figure. I’ve been working on my stance so that I’m as still as possible. Seems to be helping, but not helpful for shooting kids.

ariana says:

Wow Sarah, those are some steady hands you’ve got!! I’m jealous :)

KaiRayne says:

Oh my! He looks like a different child! He’s precious! Growing up WAY TOO FAST!

Kristy says:

No way! LOOK AT HIM! He’s a man already! I can’t believe how grown up he looks! So cute! JoJo got a second haircut too! Now he tells me that he’s not a baby, he’s a “big boy”. *Sniff*

ariana says:

Ava, that’s so sweet!! He was quite the mop top. It was hard for me Fiona, particularly because a) I wasn’t expecting it to be so drastic and b) I don’t really like the cut. It looks to me like a girl’s short haircut rather than a boy’s long one if that makes any sense!

Kristen says:

Yes! This is exactly why I’ve waited and stuck with my prime. Ooh, you’re making me feel good about my decision, but yet you’re making me want to upgrade. Right. now.

He is so handsome with his new haircut!

Fiona says:

Oh wow….what a big boy! it must have been hard for you!
Fiona x

Ava says:

He looks so grown up. Handsome kid, but I’m gonna miss his curls. Ironically though, I don’t really miss G’s curls when he gets his big-boy haircuts. I’ll just miss yours ;p

I have to keep mine at around 1/250 as well. But I love that lens as a walk around lens.

Lisa says:

Adorable! Looks like he’s still got plenty of curls left :)

Love the lens info! I just rented a wide angle and I’m amped to try out lots of different lenses now. I’ll have to look into those next.

Jessie says:

I was having the same problems. I bought the 24-70 so I could shoot in low light with no flash. When shooting indoors my 24-70 aperture is wide open at 2.8 and a 1/160 shutter to keep my ISO in a reasonable range. However almost ALL my photos turned were unfocused, at first I thought my kids were moving around too much. But then had the same issues on stationary objects. I’ve since learned that the 24-70 needs a tripod or a flash in low light to get that shutter speed faster. I will be first in line to buy the 24-70 if they ever put IS on it. It’s a great lens but it’s the 70-200 that I’m dreaming about at night…. :)

Claudia says:

He looks like such a big boy! How cute!

ariana says:

Oh wow. Yeah. Sometimes I wonder if I hold the camera properly LOL!

Georgia says:

SS was around 1/500 ;) well within limits. I set the camera up perfectly. The wind was blowing quite a bit though, but he isn’t used to the camera or how to hold it properly.

ariana says:

Oh GOOD Kari! I knew you’d love it :)

Georgia, what SS was your husband using?

kari says:

Jasper is adorable sans curls! Well, adorable both ways ;)
I love your lens-chat posts! And guess what – I did finally get the Tamron 28-75, and it hasn’t been off of my camera since. i love it! thx!

Georgia says:

I hate my 24-70L. I only use it if I’m going to do studio, because then I know I have flash to freeze any motion or potential shake. I am pretty good with it, but not as good as with my lighter, faster primes. I handed it to my husband to take shots of me with my daughter and he couldn’t handle the weight. Every shot was OOF because of camera shake. Very very sad and annoying. If they do upgrade it to have IS, I will trade up.