No, The 24-70mm is Not the Ideal Lens

Or, What is wrong with the 24-70mm lens?

The 24-70mm lens, especially an f/2.8 version is considered by some experts to be the most important lens in every photographer’s kit. It is also considered to be the middle lens in the so-called “Holy Trinity” of lenses, which is usually comprised of  a 12-24mm f/2.8 (or a 14-24mm f/2.8), a 24-70mm f/2.8, and a 70-200mm f/2.8. This, of course gives you all focal lengths from extreme wide angle to moderate telephoto in just three lenses. However the 24-70 is one of the most boring lenses out there and doesn’t offer any real advantages for most photographers. Even though most describe it as a “walk around” lens, implying that it should be your regular lens.

Everybody has their own personal taste in focal length and composition and I sort of touched on that in my last post. The camera companies however have, over time, settled on the 24-70 as being sort of standard, or possibly a 28-70 (18-50ish in APS-C). I think this is because it gives the new camera owner a chance to experiment with a variety of focal lengths.

However Most of the focal lengths in the 24-70, I rarely use. I tend to stick toward the wider end or the 40-60mm neighborhood. I think most photographers are the same to some extent. Most of what I have read online, from the photographers that use the Trinity lenses, most seem to spend the majority of their time with the 12(14)-24mm and 70-200.

My own, most often used, kit  (Sony) consists of 16-35 f/4 50mm f/1.8, and 70-200 f/4. Like a lot of people I stay at the wide end most of the time with the 16-35mm. Yes, for me, f/4 is fine for the type of shooting that I do, f/2.8 is not necessary enough to justify the added expense.

Now I do have the 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens that came with my Sony A7II, and did use it quite a bit, mainly because when I purchased the camera, the lens came with it and it (at the time) was the only full frame E-mount lens I had.

As I began to examine the EXIF data for some of those photos, I seemed to stay in either the 40-60 mm range or below 35mm.

Looking at the Sony lens library the only 24-70mm native offerings are the Zeiss f/4 and the G Master f/2.8. The Zeiss currently retails new for $799.00 USD and the G Master is $2198.00 USD. Talk About extremes. Of course as the Sony brand has matured, there are other, more budget friendly offerings from the aftermarket, most notably Sigma and Tamron. The Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 is $1298.00 USD and gives you wider focal lengths while still getting you into the commonly used 24mm and 35mm fields of view. For me, this lens hits the “sweet spot” in price, IQ, and focal range, and still stays in the native eco-system.

If I need a little bit longer, I can go to the “Nifty Fifty”. For portrait and some landscapes, I will break out the 85mm f/1.8, but I really don’t use it for that much and tend to view it (in my mind) as a strictly portrait lens. If I really need 70mm (or longer), I have the 70-200 f/4 that will cover it. Really, ultimately, I could leave the 50mm at home and be just fine with the 16-35mm and 70-200mm for 80%-90% of my photography. Remember, even if the lens zooms, you can still “zoom with your feet” to get the right composition.

Lets look at some images:

Sony A7II, 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 41mm, f/6, 1/500,ISO 100
Sony A7II, 50mm f/1.8, f/7.1, 1/200, ISO 100
Sony A7II, 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6, @ 62mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO 250
Sony A7II, 28-70 f/3.5-5.6 @ 28mm, F3.6, 1/60, ISO. 200
Sony A7II, 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 @31mm, f/4, 1/60, ISO 125

As you can see from the information, three of these could have been shot with the 50mm f1.8 and the remaining two, of course with the 16-35mm. Of course some will say that I could have captured all of them with a 24-70, and that is true but I couldn’t do this;

Sony A7II, Sony/Zeiss 16-35mm f/4, @ 16mm, f/4, 1/60, ISO 5000

So in the end, I and many others do not find the 24-70mm to be a necessity and the funds are better spent elsewhere.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Stay safe and see the world your own way.

Thanks for reading.