Can This Single Zoom Lens Replace an Entire Bag of Primes?

Traditionally, professional zoom lenses have filled the role of convenience, while primes have taken on more specific needs and creative pursuits. However, in recent years, we have seen some more extreme zoom lens designs that have approached the capabilities and image quality levels of primes, and this great video review takes a look at one of the most impressive of the bunch. 

Coming to you from Katelyn James, this excellent video review takes a look at the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM lens. The RF 28-70mm f/2L is one of the most impressive lenses we have ever seen, the first full frame standard zoom lens with a constant f/2 aperture ever made. On one hand, at $3,000 and 3.15 lbs, the 28-70mm f/2L is a behemoth and quite an expensive one at that, but on the other hand, when you consider the fact that it has the potential to replace a range of primes, its cost and weight suddenly seem much more reasonable; it could even come across as a bit of a bargain depending on what it is replacing in your bag. Check out the video above for James' full thoughts on the lens. 

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16 Comments

Tammie Lam's picture

The short answer - it cannot. It's not as sharp as modern primes, and it's not as fast, and it's not even long enough for decent half body portraits. The lack of 4mm on the wide side is also a deal breaker for some.
A gazillion of affiliate links and a comment "Looks like this lens is currently backordered everywhere BUT if you're interested in purchasing one you should place an order ASAP to get your spot in line for this amazing lens!" say it all ;)

derek j's picture

the answer to questions in headlines is almost always "no"

S Lejaune's picture

Yeah, like "Can iPhone 12 Pro replace pro-level DSLRs?"

Reginald Walton's picture

It definitely has replaced my 35 and 50 - so for me it's a "mostly yes", as I still have my 85. But it is very sharp and very fast, but heavy as heck. Doesn't need to be 24 for me b/c next on the list is the RF15-35 and that focal range will be covered.

Indy Thomas's picture

The answer you will get from most is no.

Not because it really can replace a number of primes but because so many define the use of a prime as meaning ultrafast for minimal DOF.

The fact is that for a working professional even the 24-105 f4 is the workhorse of choice.
Not every job is some Vogue magazine photo shoot with some anal AD looking at the image at 400%. Even many high budget projects are shot with this lens or the comparable product on other brands.

Many projects I have worked on were shot with FF DSLRs under 30MP with the 24-105. Today many still are.

Having used the 24-70 f2 on projects I can say it was a brilliant performer but for much commercial work you don't want f2.

It was brilliantly sharp but 28 at the short end is to long.

Kirk Darling's picture

For my retail portraiture, the 24-105 f/4 is certainly my "money" lens.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

If I were a Canon shooter, and had the equivalent primes that are in my bag, I think this lens could replace them:

1. Replace my 28 f2, 35 f1.4, 75 f1.8.
2. I typically shoot at least f2 to f2.5 anyways.
3. Allow me to primarily shoot with one body instead of 2.

John Kelsey's picture

Just another article fawning over the over priced Canon junk....

Keith Patrak's picture

I already have the perfect lens, the tiny Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens

Alex Zenzaburro's picture

of course it can't

Mike Ditz's picture

What is the "look of a prime"?

Asking for a friend. ;^)

Timothy Kieper's picture

I think the keyword here is, "replace". I would not spend $3000 to replace or duplicate what I already had?

Mike Ditz's picture

Is the plan to use the one zoom and dump the other 3 lenses?

Jason Savelsberg's picture

I used to be a prime lens only guy, but the new professional level zoom lenses have improved to the extent that the difference in image quality is negligible. So I recently replaced 6 of my prime lenses with the Nikon Z 14-24mm and the 24-70mm f/2.8 zooms.
I still have a few primes for background obliterating bokeh, macro and wildlife, but my zooms are all I need for most of what I do.

Charles Mercier's picture

I assume that he's calling this an extreme zoom because it's an f2?