With superb build, mechanical and optical qualities, excellent Canon L-series lenses and a widely used focal length range, the Canon EF 24-105mm f / 4 L IS USM is one of the best and most popular made by Canon for general use. The Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM lens is quickly becoming one of the favorites. If there was only one lens to choose, that would be it.
One of the most important features in a lens is the focal length or focal length range - this is wrong and you could not take the pictures you would like to get. And for a given focal length or range of focal lengths, conditions change, of course, depending on the crop factor of the carcass on which it is used. However, this lens gives us a very pleasant general purpose focal range to work with. On a 24mm full frame body, it will be very wide. At a 1.6mm body, 24mm will only be moderately wide (38.4mm equivalent). And the advantage or disadvantage - depending on how this is for you personally - is the situation at the long end of the range.
If you care about photo quality, you want a solid, well-made lens with excellent optical performance - the 24-105 L performs well in both of these respects.
As you would expect from an L-series lens, the Canon EF 24-105mm f / 4 L IS USM is beautifully built. The zoom and focus rings are smooth and the entire lens fits nicely in the hand. The size and weight of this lens in the field is an overwhelmingly positive experience.
Gap seals guarantee protection from moisture and dust, but if you are going on a busy trip - please note that Canon recommends installing a UV filter on this lens for full protection from the weather. It is difficult to say how much this lens can withstand in practice, but in which case 24-105 L can be rinsed under the tap using a small stream.
The 77mm filter size can be attributed to the lens' merit. It's not the cheapest filter size, but many of Canon's best lenses use that size. This makes it possible to exchange filters between lenses - which is an advantage, including cost and space savings when traveling.
How do you compare its size visually?
Pictured from left to right is a Canon EF 28-135mm f / 3.5-5.6 IS USM lens, a Canon EF 17-40mm F / 4 L USM lens, a Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM lens, and a Canon EF 24 -70mm f lens. / 2.8 L USM. Below is the lens in the photo in a fully extended position.
It should be noted that the 24-70mm L is reversibly extended - the focal length becomes 24mm long when positioned as shown above. Most lenses, including the 24-105 L, have the longest focal length when fully extended, with the hood moving forward with the front lens.
The Canon EF 24-105mm f / 4 L IS lens with USM autofocus is superbly controlled by Canon's USM ring (ultrasonic motor). It's hidden inside, fast, quiet and accurate.
The 24-105 does not rotate when focusing - greatly simplifying the use of circular polarizing filters and similar rotation-dependent filters. FTM (full manual) focus is available.
Good build and mechanical qualities mean nothing to a lens without good optical quality, which must go hand in hand. In this parameter, the Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM is a cut above the rest.
The Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM is quite sharp at wide openings and shows only very little improvement when moving towards the long end. The field of focus is very good - users of full frame cameras will only notice some softness in the far corners at wide focal lengths.
As with most lenses, full-frame users will also see a reduction in light output with the Canon EF 24-105mm f / 4 L IS USM wide open - especially at the far corners at the widest focal length. Attenuation quickly fades away as you increase.
As with other lenses, distortion appears in this focal length range. The Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM exhibits noticeable barrel distortion from 24mm, which disappears around 40mm. Pincushion distortion starts at 80mm and softens at 105mm. As usual, this distortion is most noticeable on full-frame bodies.
Glare? Glare is very well controlled with one exception. In the earliest models of this lens, if a very bright point light was placed exactly in the corner of the full-frame viewfinder with the lens set to 24mm, the result was often beautiful but undesirable beams. Their brightness decreased with increasing focal length. The beams disappeared completely after 35 mm or so.
Canon issued an acknowledgment of the glare problem and repaired any damaged lenses at no cost (including shipping). Be aware of this issue when purchasing a used lens as it may or may not be repaired. Although Canon resolved this fixable issue in time before the release of a new revision of lenses, many frankly would be very happy with this lens, even if this "problem" was a constant 24-105 L. Although, having noticed glare in the viewfinder, you can easily save the frame by changing camera position (if you pay attention, of course).
The photo above shows clearly what it is about. Glare disappears 35 mm.
Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM reproduces colors beautifully and shows excellent contrast. The rectangular baffle (above) at the back is designed to increase contrast and reduce glare / ghosting. CA (chromatic aberration) is well controlled, but some distortion is noticeable in the area of sharp contrast primarily on full-frame bodies at both ends of the focal range.
The Canon EF 24-105mm f / 4 L IS USM lens has a fairly fast and wide aperture from f / 4, which remains at its maximum value throughout the zoom range.
Eight circular aperture blades provide excellent defocused image quality (bokeh - background blur). While f / 4 in this focal range is not the best option for creating diffusely blurred backgrounds, close objects at 105mm can have a pleasing effect.
Canon has installed the latest generation Image Stabilizer (IS) in the lens, which excels at freezing the camera when shooting handheld. Many people will love the reliable and discreet operation of this device. The gimbal is very quiet and very well behaved (does not jump on startup). IS allows you to use a narrow aperture to increase the depth of field when shooting handheld both stationary subjects and moving subjects (landscapes, sculptures, art). It allows you to use slower shutter speeds to create motion blur effects - for example, for running water. Or just shoot in low light conditions.
In theory, this lens can shoot handheld at a shutter speed of 1/3 second at 24mm on a full frame body. Your results will depend on how stable you are, but we can safely say that it is quite possible to make clear pictures at 1/3 of a second (and much more) at 24 mm and 1/6 of a second (or more) at 105 mm. Very good.
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 fine, but protrude from the body and are susceptible to accidental switching. Sometimes there are situations when you miss a good shot due to the fact that inadvertently turned off IS and hoped for it, setting the settings. While the lens is still easy to use overall, recessed switches should fix this problem.
The Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM's Quick MFD (Closest Focusing Distance) provides a very reasonable maximum magnification. Although not close to the 1: 1 aspect ratio of a macro lens, the 24-105 L can take good shots of flowers, products, etc. Although not compatible with Canon extensions, extension tubes will add 24-105 macro capability. Canon makes 12mm and 25mm tubes.
Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM comes with Canon EW-83H hood and soft case. If you want a more protective case, the Lowepro Lens Case 4S is a good choice. It can hold 24-105 L with a hood.
Prior to the introduction of the Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM, the Canon EF 24-70mm f / 2.8 L was by far the best general purpose zoom lens in Canon. The Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM has now taken over these responsibilities. Both lenses are great - and they complement each other well.
Since many people cannot afford both of these great lenses, they have to choose between the two. Canon EF 24-70mm F / 2.8 L has no stabilizer, ultrasonic motor. When choosing, you need to pay attention to these differences, for someone they can become key.
The big advantage of the Canon EF 24-70mm f / 2.8 L is its wider constant aperture. Going from f / 4 to f / 2.8 makes a big difference. This one-step change in aperture allows twice as much light to pass through the lens. And that, of course, gives a shutter speed that is twice as fast at the same ISO settings. When you need to stop the action (people are rarely stationary) - especially in low light conditions, the 24-70 L has a big advantage.
The aperture also creates a more diffusely blurred background at similar focal lengths due to shallow depth of field. However, a larger focal length of 24-105 L creates a more blurry background at 105mm and f / 4 (from compression) than at 70mm and f / 4 - so there is some balance in this difference. Perhaps more important is the ability of some cameras to make better use of the wider aperture. A slightly brighter viewfinder is also a consequence of the wider aperture.
The big advantage of the Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM is the triple stop. The stabilizer dramatically reduces camera shake that causes blur when shooting handheld at slow shutter speeds. The 24-105 can be operated handheld at about 1/4 the light level required for the 24-70.
The extra 35mm focal length at the long end of the range is a nice advantage of the Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM lens. This extra focal length is especially pleasing to use for full frame portraits on carcasses. At short distances, 24-105 L at 24 mm is wider than 24-70 L at 24 mm (lenses are rated at infinity, but conditions may change when framing at close focusing distances).
The Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM has good parameters in terms of size and weight, retaining the advantage over the 24-70 L - 16.5mm shorter and 280g lighter. And the 24-105 L hood is much smaller as seen in the picture below.
In the picture, from left to right, lenses with their hoods: Canon EF 24-70mm f / 2.8 L USM. As mentioned earlier, the 24-105 hood moves with the lens (most lenses behave this way), and the much larger 24-70 L hood is in one place. 24-70 L moves inside the hood. Since the 24-70 L hood is at a fixed position, the lens retracts deeper into the hood as the focal length increases. In other words, the 24-70 L hood is much further away from the lens elements at 70mm than at 24mm.
The 24-70 L focuses closer (0.38m versus 0.45m) and gives a higher maximum magnification (0.29x versus 0.23x).
Price, build quality, and image quality differences most likely don't affect the buying decision. Both lenses are very sharp. Both lenses have good color and contrast. The 24-105 L has less light roll-off at wide openings than the 24-70 L, but the 24-70 has a slight advantage in comparable apertures. The 24-105 L has slightly less chromatic aberration than the 24-70 L. Both are very good in this regard, distortion only appears in difficult situations at the wide end of the focal lengths.
Many owners of the Canon EF 24-70mm f / 2.8 L will also be happy to have a 24-105mm L included.Indoor event photographers will likely opt for the 24-70 L, while landscape, outdoor, travel and portrait photography may require the capability of the Canon EF 24-105mm F / 4 L IS USM lens.
If your needs require wider focal lengths and you are using a 1.6 body, you should also consider the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f / 2.8 IS USM lens. He is another great choice.