Gear Talk # 1 – Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

SEPTEMBER 2021 – Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM with original box, hood, front cap, back cap, user guide and warranty card. This shot supported a listing on eBay. © Mark Zanzig/

The ultimate bread-and-butter lens

I purchased my first DSLR body in September 2005, a Canon 1Ds mark II. Back then this full frame body was the flagship of Canon’s DSLR product portfolio. To recover some of the expenses, I sold off my complete analog gear as I saw absolutely no future in this. I’ve never looked back at operating an analog camera again.

With the camera, I purchased three lenses, and this is one of them: the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM. It was expensive (just like the camera), but it promised to be extremely versatile, especially considering the 70-200mm lens that would seamlessly extend the focal length beyond 70 mm. Like many other photographers, I was coming from the analog world and was used to shooting ‘full frame’. I knew that this lens combo would cover wide angle to tele images, basically good for most (if not all) of the jobs to come.

And I was right.

I quickly fell in love with this lens, and it became a genuine bread-and-butter lens for me. It was sharp, fast, with little distortion. It had a rugged design. If everything else failed, I could expect to still survive most situations with just this lens on the camera.

Of course, it works slightly better on a full frame body than on an APS H body like the 1D mark IV which shifts the focal length from 24-70mm to 31-91mm, making the wide angle appear less dramatic. (This is where the 16-35mm comes in.)

This lens served me well for exactly 16 years. And then it died. Well, almost. In September 2021 I mounted the lens to my 1D Mark IV like I have done countless times before. And then the dreaded ‘ERR-01’ error message was displayed. (Read more about that day here.)

I sent it off to the friendly folks at CPS who returned it untouched as they did not have “spare parts” for it. I am still furious about this. There must be thousands of these lenses out there, all of them probably encountering the ERR-01 message at some point in time. It seems to be a consistent problem as the internet is full of reports showing this error message for this lens. And the lack of some spare parts has turned my otherwise perfect and valuable lens into a brick? Can this happen to my other lenses as well? I guess the answer is yes, but don’t want to think about it right now.

So, I ordered the successor of the lens, the likewise fabulous EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM from my Canon dealer and sold the old lens as “spare parts” on eBay.

And now for the punchline. Some time after having sold the old lens, I stumbled upon Exos Rework, a company based in Hamburg, Germany, that offers fixed-price repair services for exactly this lens type and this issue. And yes, should I get the ERR-01 message with any of my other lenses, I’ll give Exos Rework a try.

This marks the end of a story about a truly wonderful lens that I used with at least eight bodies since 2005. If you can get one, go for it! You won’t regret the purchase, even if it has to be repaired.

Please see some of the stunning photos I shot with this lens.


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