Boasting the superb build, mechanical and optical quality found in the Canon L-Series Lenses
and a widely used range of focal lengths, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens is one of the best
andmost popular Canon general purpose lenses
made. The 24-105 L Lens quickly became one of my favorite and most-used lenses. If I had only one lens, this would be the one.
One of the most important features in a lens is the focal length or focal length range - get it wrong and you might not be able to take the shots you want. And the use for a particular focal length or focal length range varies, of course, depending on the FOVCF
of the body being used. That said, this lens gives us a very nice general purpose focal range
to work with. On a full frame body, 24mm is very wide. On a 1.6x body, 24mm is only moderately wide (equivalent of 38.4mm). And the advantage or disadvantage - whichever it is for you personally - is the opposite on the other end as well.
Use the mouseover links under the above picture to compare the field of view at various focal lengths. The 24-105 L was used on a full frame body for these shots. A focal length comparison was not on my mind when shooting these pictures, but when reviewing them, I decided you might like to see them in this way. The composition jumps around some, but the mountain top can be seen in all of the frames and used as a reference. A B+W MRC Slim Circular Polarizer Filter
was used in these shots. As you can see, the difference between 24mm and 105 is quite large.
When you care about the pictures, you want a well-built lens with great optical quality
. The 24-105 L delivers in both of these regards. As you would expect from an L-Series Lens
, the 24-105 L is solidly built
. The zoom and focus rings are smooth and the entire lens feels nice and handles even better. I really like the size and weight of this lens in the field. Weather sealing seals the deal if you are going afield - note that Canon recommends a UV
filter for complete weather sealing on this lens. I can't tell you how much "weather" this lens can take, and don't condone the practice, but I've cleaned my 24-105 L under a gently-flowing kitchen faucet. Do note that this is not a "waterproof" lens.
Looking at the numbers ... The 24-105 is not the lightest/smallest or the heaviest/longest lens in this general purpose zoom lens class. But it is lighter than the 24-70mm L lens by a noticeable amount. I find the 77mm filter size to be an asset. This is not the least expensive filter size, but many of Canon's better lenses use this size. This makes sharing filters between lenses possible - which has various benefits including cost and travel size/space considerations. How does this size compare visually?
Pictured above from left to right are the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens
, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens
, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens
and Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Lens
. The same lenses are pictured below in their fully extended size.
Of note is that the 24-70mm L reverse extends - it becomes longest at 24mm as shown above. Most lenses including the 24-105 L become fully extended at their longest focal length setting and their lens hoods travel along with this extension. The 24-105 L's autofocus is driven by Canon's excellent Ring USM
(Ultrasonic Motor). It is internal, fast, quiet - and accurate
. The 24-105 L is deemed a parfocal lens - "There's a cam inside the 24-105mm lens that is designed to maintain an accurate focus when the lens is zoomed from tele towards wide." [Chuck Westfall, Canon USA] Though the image remains mostly in focus during focal length change, it is best to focus at the desired focal length. The 24-105 does not extend with focusing and the barrel does not rotate - which makes using circular polarizing and similar rotation-dependant filters much easier. FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is available. Good build and mechanical quality does not mean much to a lens without good optical quality to go along with it. In this regard, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens ranks at the top. The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens is quite sharp wide open
and shows only very slight improvement when stopped down. Corner sharpness is very good - Full frame DSLR users will see some softness in the far corners at the wider focal lengths until stopped down. As with most lenses, full frame users will also see some light fall-off with the 24-105 L wide open - especially at the far corners at the widest focal lengths. The light fall-off quickly improves as the lens is stopped down. Reduced field of view
Digital SLRs will avoid most of this effect. I see varying amounts of physical vignetting at 24mm when using a standard thickness circular polarizer filter - I recommend using a slim circular polarizer filter
for this lens. Also common with lenses in this focal length range is distortion. The 24-105 L shows noticeable barrel distortion from 24mm until disappearing near 40mm. Pincushion distortion begins at 80mm and becomes mild at 105mm. As usual, this distortion is most noticeable of a full-frame body. Flare? Well, flare is very well controlled
with one exception. In very early models of this lens, a very bright point-light source positioned precisely in the corner of a full frame viewfinder with the lens set to 24mm and not stopped down much will result in often beautiful but generally not wanted rays of flare. The rays gets smaller as the lens is stopped down. The rays fade away as the focal length is increased until completely disappearing at 35mm or so. Canon has posted a Service Notice acknowledging the flare problem and will repair any affected lenses (a Canon date code/control number
less than UT1000) at no charge (including shipping). Be aware of this issue if buying an old used lens as it may or may not have been repaired.
The above picture attempts to show the maximum rays-of-light flare I could produce at the tested focal lengths and apertures. I was shooting into a very bright spot light positioned just into the frame. The rays disappear by 35mm. I eventually sent my 24-105 L to Canon for repair - they promptly replaced the lens with a new one. The new copy does not exhibit the rays-of-light flare issue and works excellently.
Also very nice are the recessed switches for IS (on/off) and AF/MF (Autofocus/Manual Focus) as shown above. Canon's previous switches are nice, but raised and susceptible to being accidentally changed to a different setting. I have missed shots on occasion because I inadvertently turned IS off on other lenses. Although still easy to use, the recessed switches should eliminate this problem.
|Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
|| n/c - 0.62x
|| n/c - 1.11x
|Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens
||0.83 - 0.32x
||1.02 - 0.40x
|Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens
||0.45 - 0.23x
||0.71 - 0.51x
|Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens
||0.43 - 0.14x
||0.72 - 0.33x
|Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Lens
||0.63 - 0.18x
||1.25 - 0.40x
|Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0L IS USM Lens
||0.60 - 0.40x
|| n/c - 0.61x
|Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens
||0.53 - 0.09x
||1.09 - 0.21x
* IMAGE QUALITY
MID - FRAME
When all comes together, the rewards are worth every ounce of effort required to get the shot.