Canon's new 24-70 f/4 makes shooting handheld DSLR video a real possibility

The professional DSLR community has collectively yawned at the recent release of Canon’s 24-70 f/4 zoom. “Too slow for me,” is the conventional wisdom. So far, this lens is getting ignored. And that’s a real shame. Because it has the killer app: hybrid stabilization. For video shooters like me, this turns out to be huge. Game changing, even.

I rented this lens from Lensrentals to test it out (it’s not available at my local rental house, Glazers). Yesterday I took this lens along on a picnic with my wife to Seattle’s Carkeek Park. I shot this video entirely handheld, with my 5dmkiii (in Magic Lantern raw). Check it out:

This lens is a miracle. Forget everything else anybody is saying about it being slow. With a 5dmkiii, just boost your ISO a stop and forget about it. Only one thing matters: you can actually shoot great looking video handheld with it. Let me repeat that: You can shoot handheld with it.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned to NEVER handhold a dslr while shooting video. This is true for almost anyone, but me in particular. My hands are shaky. I wouldn’t even THINK of trying a camera move like the last shot, a tilt up and pan left.

One of my favorite lenses is the 100mm macro L glass from Canon. I like it because the IS on it is amazing. I’ve been wondering ever since why Canon hasn’t built hybrid IS into more lenses. So I was excited to try this new zoom when it was announced, to see if it was able to bring the same formidable stabilization to a general purpose lens. They have, and it rocks.

Stable shooting in 3x. There are two clips in my video that reveal how truly incredible this IS is. Noticing the extreme close up shot at 11:05, and the train approaching at 15:08. These were both shot handheld in Magic Lantern’s crop-sensor mode, which triples the effective focal length of the lens. In the case of the train approaching, I was shoot at 70mm, so x3 = 210mm. Ever try to handhold a 200mm lens while shooting video?

Other nice things about this glass:

1. The size is perfect (small). It feels “just right” on my 5dmkiii.
2. It has a 77mm filter size. Works with all my expensive filters.
3. The image stabilizer is SILENT. I put my ear right up against it, and it just doesn’t make a sound. All of my other Canon IS glass makes too much noise for use with on-camera mic.
4. It has macro, so you can use it in a pinch to grab extreme close up detail shots without reaching for specialty glass.
5. You can shoot stills with it! Zippy autofocus makes grabbing snaps like this easy:

For shooting video, I’m blown away by what this makes possible. I won’t be abandoning my tripod or shoulder rig any time soon, but this lens gives me a whole ‘nother option, one I never imagined I would have with a dslr. I want this lens.

20 thoughts on “Canon's new 24-70 f/4 makes shooting handheld DSLR video a real possibility

  1. Rob

    Dan Have you tried the new Tamrom 24-70 that also has VC? I hear that lens is quite good plus give you that extra stop.

    Reply
  2. William

    Hi, Dan – thanks very much for this review. So you do not hear ANY lens noise when shooting video while IS is switched on? The fan-type IS noise of the 24-105 has kept me from purchasing that lens. Thanks very much.

    Reply
  3. William Harless

    Hi, Dan – thanks very much. So from what you say, it is hardly noticeable, and definitely much quieter than the 24-105?

    Reply
  4. Shaun

    This is just what I’ve been looking for. I prefer hand held for most things except when a tripod is necessary of course (just personal preference). Picked up on A7S and new e mount Zeiss glass with the Zeiss 55mm 1.8 which is amazing but the damn focus system is just wack! with its speed oriented “digital” variable style focus you can hardly ever pull the same focus twice and just cant do any marked focus pulls. I was looking at the new e mount Zeiss 24-70 F4 with stabilization but the focus issues just removes it as an option. which is a shame cause i love the look the lenses give. F4 is slower but A7S wont even care with its crazy senor and hi ISO low noise ability and most other cameras can handle it or just need post noise removal later. So for me it just comes down to a DOP preference really with f4.

    Testing this lens this week. And its pretty affordable!

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hi Shaun,
      This lens would be awesome for the a7s, I think. Only question is: would the IS work with the adapter you purchase? Make sure you test it!

      Reply
  5. Jila

    Hi Dan, Thanks for posting this. It is very helpful…I will use this in my upcoming shoot …Where is the best site to download Lock & load for FCPX? Also do you recommend any kind of handle/bracket to suspend the camera while using it hand-held. Jila

    Reply
    1. Dan McComb Post author

      Here’s where to grab Lock and Load X: http://coremelt.com/products/lock-and-load-x.html
      A handle can help. Experiment with what works best for you. If you can find a way to have three points of body contact with your camera while shooting (such as two hands and leaning it against your cheek with help of some sort of shoulder stock) that will help. But really, the idea of handheld is that it’s freeing for you, and that’s why I like Canon hybrid stabilized lenses so much, because they really do allow you to shoot more freely.

      Reply
  6. korzican

    Interesting. How much better is this than the 24-105 IS lens for handheld video, very noticeable, or just slight? That is what I am shooting with now, but if IS works better for run and gun handheld, I am willing to lose the long end of this lens. I have been eyeing it for awhile, but I do like the 70-105 range (I don’t have a longer telephoto)… Might add an 85 Tamron VC or something if I get this.

    Reply
    1. Dan McComb Post author

      It’s dramatically better. Not sure how to quantify exactly, but Canon describes this lens as having 4-stop hybrid image stabilization. It’s not like you’re suddenly shooting with a steadicam, but the difference is immediately apparent.

      Reply

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