Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens Review

Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens Review

The Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens is light in weight and light on your wallet. If you want a Canon zoom lens and can't spend a lot of money, the 24-85 is a reasonable choice for a 1.6x FOVCF DSLR.

ModelWeightDimensions w/o HoodFilterYear 
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM Lens33.5 oz(950g)3.3 x 4.9"(83 x 124mm)77mm2002
Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens13.4 oz(380g)2.9 x 2.8"(73 x 70mm)67mm1996
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens23.7 oz(670g)3.3 x 4.2"(83.5 x 107mm)77mm2005
Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM Lens13.2 oz(375g)2.8 x 3.0"(72 x 75mm)58mm2000
Canon EF 28-105mm f/4.0-5.6 USM Lens7.4 oz(210g)2.6 x 2.7"(67 x 68mm)58mm2002
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens19.1 oz(540g)3.1 x 3.8"(78 x 97mm)72mm1998
Canon EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM Lens17.6 oz(500g)3.1 x 3.5"(78 x 90mm)72mm2000
Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens59 oz(1670g)3.6 x 7.6"(92 x 194mm)77mm2004

Weighing less than 1 lb (13.4 oz / 380g) and measuring (2.9" x 2.7" / 73.0mm x 69.5mm DxL) when retracted, the 24-85 is an easy-to-take-with-you lens.

Canon Lens Comparison


Pictured above from left to right are the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Lens, the Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens, the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens and the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM Lens.

The Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens' build quality is mid-level for Canon's zoom lenses - decent, but not great. The 24-85 extends a moderate amount during zooming - the extension has some wobble. The nicely-sized zoom ring is smooth but possibly too easy to rotate as this lens extends by itself (zoom creep) over time when pointed down. The small MF ring is not smooth, is not well damped and has some play in it. When manual focusing, the image moves around slightly in the viewfinder (you might need to re-frame slightly after focusing).

With a rear-focusing USM implementation, the 24-85 focuses fast and quietly. FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is enabled and the front element does not rotate (a very helpful feature when using certain filters).

Wide open results from the 24-85 are reasonably sharp in the center (soft at 24mm), but very soft in the corners - especially the wide end of the focal length range. Stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8 will give you better results - especially in the corners. This is not a great option for full-frame sensor cameras.

The Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens exhibits rather strong barrel distortion at 24mm. Beyond 30mm or so, pincushion distortion becomes strong through the balance of the focal length range. The 24-85 also shows very strong vignetting wide open on a full frame body at the widest focal lengths (over 3.5 stops in the corner) and rather strong vignetting over the upper focal length range. Mounted on a 1.6x body, vignetting is minor. CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very noticeable in the corners at both ends of the focal length range.

The wide open aperture on this lens varies from f/3.5 from 24mm until 35mm where f/4.0 becomes max. From 50mm on, f/4.5 is max. These values are mediocre - better than the worst, but not as good as the best. As always, variable max apertures can make getting a desired exposure more challenging - desired f/3.5 settings are going to change as longer focal lengths are selected. This is a 6-blade aperture.

ModelMFDMM
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM Lens15.0"(380mm).29x
Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens19.7"(500mm).16x
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens17.7"(450mm).23x
Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM Lens19.7"(500mm).19x
Canon EF 28-105mm f/4.0-5.6 USM Lens18.9"(480mm)
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens19.7"(500mm).19x
Canon EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM Lens17.7"(450mm).28x
Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens27.6"(700mm)

The Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens has a minimum focus distance of 19.7" (500mm). This is one of the longer MFDs for a Canon general purpose zoom lens. At MFD and MFL (Maximum Focal Length), the 24-85 turns in a MM (maximum magnification) of .16x. Adding an extension tube or tubes makes a dramatic MM difference - .59x and beyond life-size 1.23x for 12mm and 25mm tubes respectively.

The Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens accepts the optional Canon EW-73II lens hood. I recommend purchasing this relatively small, petal'd hood if this lens is going home with you. A Canon Lens Pouch is also not-included. The filter size is 67mm.

The 24-85 is a nice travel lens combining a nice general purpose focal length range in an easy-to-take-with-you package. Though 24mm is not real wide on a 1.6x body, it is noticeably wider than the 28mm some similar zoom lenses provide. The 24mm end is wide enough to take landscape shots and the 85mm end is long enough for portraits.

There are better lenses available (see my general purpose lens recommendations, but the Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens is a good value.

Bringing you this site is my full time job (typically 60-80 hours per week). Thus, I depend solely on the commissions received from you using the links on this site to make any purchase. I am grateful for your support! - Bryan

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