All three of these pro-spec lenses have street prices between £1,000 and £1,300, and all boast a very high level of build and image quality. Sony's Carl Zeiss lens is the best looking and is also the most compact while Canon's lens is a solid performer with an excellent pedigree and reputation that only years in the field can secure. Nikon's lens suffers from its greater barrel length but it is also the fastest to focus and delivers the best MTF results.

None of these lenses has any serious weaknesses but all could be improved in little ways. Sony's lens is just a bit too stiff to zoom comfortably; Canon's lens has the loosest MTF curves; Nikon's lens casts a shadow when it is used in conjunction with the D700's pop-up flashgun.

Nikon's Nano-Crystal Coating technology offers a theoretical advantage that was not investigated as part of this test. That said, the Nikkor produced the most exquisite images of the three lenses here. Despite its marginally higher price (at RRP) and slightly awkward size, Nikon's lens was easily my personal favourite.

Having said that, there can be no true winners and losers because if you are a

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM on Canon EOS IDs Mk-lll body

Variation of MTF50 with Aperture Setting

canon ef24-70mm f/2.8l usm

The shape of these curves shows the traditional aerofoil profile, with outstanding performance across the popular aperture range from f/5.6 and f/11

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