This is one of the most popular lenses, and with good reason -- you get a lot of bang for your buck. It has an ultrasonic motor drive (USM) for fast focusing, image stabilization (IS), and a very versatile focal range that covers wide angle to mid-telephoto on a Canon 5D and a respectable 38mm to 168mm (1.6*24 ~= 38, 1.6*105 = 168) focal lengths on cameras with crop sensors, like the Canon 7D, the Canon Rebel series, and cameras with APC-C sensors (1.6x crop factor).
Its only downside is its f/4 aperture limitation. On the upside, it has a constant f/4 aperture (i.e. the f/4 aperture setting can be maintained across all focal lengths).
This lens is sharp across all focal lengths. I haven't noticed any degradation in image sharpness on either the 24mm or the 105mm end. However, the lens is sharpest between f/8 to f/11. Outside of this "sweet-spot" (i.e. below f/8 or above f/11) shots of distant objects are *noticeably* blurrier. (See uploaded images on the product page for a comparison of images shot with different f-stops: f/5.6, f/11, and f/22. The descriptions for the images begin with "For the pixel peepers out there...")
For relatively close subjects, however, the difference in image quality across f-stops is a lot less perceptible - that's good news if you're using this lens for portrait shots and plan on opening up the aperture for a bokeh effect.
- Chromatic Aberration (CA)
The lens assembly uses Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) glass (reserved for Canon's best lenses), so chromatic aberration is minimal, even in bright light (where it's barely noticeable or imperceptible). In more even lighting, this lens shows absolutely no signs of chromatic aberration.
- Auto-Focus (AF)
The auto-focus is real snappy. Thanks to its ultrasonic motor (USM), it brings objects into focus in a fraction of a second. In the AI Servo mode, the focusing mechanism is very responsive for bringing even very fast-moving subjects into focus. However, as with all lenses, the auto-focus inevitably has a bit of trouble in (i) lowlight conditions and (ii) with surfaces that lack texture or contrast.
- Image Stabilization (IS)
The image stabilization is amazing. In my book, image stabilization is a must for a lens to be truly called a "walk-around" lens. For the times you don't have your tripod with you, the IS on this lens will prove very invaluable for helping you steady your shots, especially at the 105mm end! (It helps to bear in mind, too, the rule of thumb: the shutter speed should be at least as fast as the reciprocal of the focal length.)
- Internal Focus (IF)
The Internal Focus is a big plus, especially for landscape photographers who use a circular polarizer (also known as a polarizing filter). With Internal Focus, the barrel on which the polarizer is affixed doesn't turn and throw filter out of adjustment, so it saves you from having to readjust the filter after the subject is brought into focus.
This lens simply oozes quality. There's a good heft to it but it's not too heavy. Both the zoom ring and focusing ring turn very fluidly. The zoom ring is tight enough to prevent zoom creep.
- Alternatives You Might Be Considering
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM: The EF 24-70mm f/2.8 has a constant f/2.8 aperture, but alas, it has no image stabilization, which is a real shame. The lack of image stabilization is definitely a deal breaker for most people, including myself.
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM: The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 is an equally popular lens. (Note: it has an EF-S, not EF mount, so it's not compatible with the 5D. It's compatible all other bodies, such as the 7D, the Rebel series, and other Canon DSLR's with crop sensors.)
With the 1.6x crop factor taken into consideration, this lens has focal lengths of 27-88mm. In terms of image quality, the 17-55mm f/2.8 is on par with the 24-105mm . It, too, uses Ultra-Low Dispersion glass. The only downside is it's not weather sealed (which is not a concern for me). If you don't mind forgoing "reach," I would highly recommend the 17-55mm f/2.8, which is one of the best low-light lenses you can buy. I use it for landscape and portrait, and it's my walk-around lens of choice.
The quality of this lens is top-notch and definitely worth the money. It offers a very useful 24-105mm focal range without compromising on sharpness. The only limitation is the f/4 aperture. If this is not a concern for you, this lens is definitely worth consideration.
This lens is perfectly suited to full-frame DSLRs. It balances well on a 5D II, it's not too large, the zoom range is ideal for a walkaround, focus is fast and silent, the aperture is fixed, and the IS system provides at least three stops, perhaps even four.
Sharpness is generally good on full-frame. It's not a prime, but surprisingly close at 105mm f/4. At 24mm f/4, the extreme corners (roughly 800x800 pixels each on a 5D II) are blurry. They clean up by f/8. Contrast overall is not abnormally good or bad. Once you start beating on the file in a raw converter, some of these differences disappear. Distortion and vignetting, while not subtle, are literally an instant fix in ACR. On a crop body, this lens has very good sharpness.
Like all lenses with sophisticated optical designs, be wary of internal alignment problems. Some copies show uneven sharpness across the frame where one side will be slightly or significantly blurry. The major advantage of ordering from Amazon is that you can exchange defective copies at no shipping cost to you. Incidentally, my copy evidences no zoom creep. The zoom ring is not so stiff that it can't be worked with one finger.
This is a very good movie lens. It's partially parfocal in that if you zoom to 105mm and focus, you can zoom out to 24mm and retain focus, or at least adequate sharpness within the depth of field. The reverse isn't true. The IS system is top-drawer, just as good as the 70-200/4L IS and significantly better than earlier iterations, though it will be audible in quiet environments. There's also a constant drift that'll impact shutter speeds below about 1/10. It doesn't lock in place quite like Tamron's VC, though this has benefits with panning.
Canon 28-135/3.5-5.6 IS
+ lighter (540g vs. 670g)
+ much cheaper ($200 used)
+ slightly more telephoto range
-- 28mm vs. 24mm
-- older and less effective IS
-- variable aperture
-- zoom creep and looser build tolerances
-- f/5.6 on the long end
-- far inferior sharpness toward the edges with full-frame
Canon 24-70/2.8 L II
+ Prime-level sharpness, particularly in the corners at 24mm
-- no IS
-- 82mm filters
-- not the best portrait lens; 70mm is short
-- heavier (805g)
-- expensive ($2200)
Canon 24-70/2.8 L I
-- many copies are not as sharp at equivalent apertures
-- no IS
-- not the best portrait lens; 70mm is short
-- heavier (910g)
-- expensive (~$1200)
-- prone to misalignment with impacts
Canon 24-70/4 L IS
+ slightly sharper in the corners on full-frame
+ smaller and lighter (600g)
+ 0.7X macro mode
+ updated IS
-- not the best portrait lens; 70mm is short
-- expensive ($1500)
Tamron 24-70/2.8 VC
+ updated VC
-- 82mm filters
-- not the best portrait lens; 70mm is short
-- heavier (825g)
-- expensive ($1300)
-- slightly slower AF
+ lighter (510g)
-- no VC
-- lackluster build and haptics
-- 28mm vs. 24mm
-- noisier, slower, less accurate AF
-- only sharp in the center on full-frame
Because the 24-105/4 IS is the kit lens for the 5D II and 6D, it's very common to find mint used copies (often never opened and still under warranty) for around $700. It's the bargain of this set for full-frame shooters, just as the 28-135 and Tamron's 28-75/2.8 are for crop bodies. Tamron's 24-70/2.8 VC takes a close second on full-frame. Optics are on par with the 24-105/4 and 24-70/4. Canon's new 24-70/2.8 II is a class above everything else at f/2.8 and f/4, though you won't see much difference after f/5.6. Pricing is stratospheric. Likewise with the 24-70/4 IS; there's very little reason to prefer it to the 24-105/4, and certainly not at over twice the cost. Serious macro shooting will benefit from a 100/2.8 or 150/2.8 with a longer working range.
Introduced late 2005 along with the 5D, the EF 24-105 4L IS USM features Image Stabilization (IS), constant aperture, wide zoom range (4.4x), beefy construction and weather seals.
Build Like A Brick
For a normal zoom, it's on the beefy side, 670 g (23.6 oz), but lighter than the EF 24-70 2.8L USM. Build quality is first rate but uses more plastics than L series telephotos. This lens is weather sealed with gaskets at the lens mount, under the switches, and behind the zoom and focus rings. The manual states that a filter must be used for full weather proofing. And all that protects the exotic glass inside: one Super-UD glass element and three aspherical elements. Amazingly, there are 18 elements in that little barrel. I'm surprised light makes it to the other side!
Focus and Zoom
A ring-type USM (Ultrasonic Motor) achieves focus by driving an internal lens group. AF is fast and surefooted on my EOS 5D Mark II camera. The front element does not rotate and the barrel does not expand or contract during focusing. It is silent during AF. It has FTM, allowing you to manually focus without switching out of AF mode. The focus ring is large, smooth turning and covered with ribbed rubber. It's not as silky as a manual Nikkor but above average for an AF lens. Although not a macro lens, it focuses close enough for head shots and small details (.45 m/1.5 ft).
The twist zoom action is smooth, damped and does not creep. Zooming is accomplished by expanding and contracting a single nested barrel. The barrel nearly doubles in length when zoomed from 24mm to 105 mm. The manual focus ring is large and covered with a ribbed rubber surface. Oddly, zoom and focus rings are reversed from those in Canon consumer zooms.
The 77mm filter size makes for expensive filters, but I can share filters with my EF 17-40 4L USM. The manual recommends removing the hood while using a polarizing filter. However, it's easy to rotate the filter through the petal cutouts of the lens hood.
This is the best normal range zoom I have used. The center is sharp and contrasty wide open at all focal lengths, with a wee softening in corners on full frame cameras. Oddly, sharpness only improves slightly when stopped down and most improvement is in the corners. Nevertheless, it is sharper than my EF 50 1.4 USM at 50mm F4. And it's sharper than my EF 70-200 4L USM at 105mm F4. Images exhibit excellent contrast and snap.
The short end, like all wide zooms, suffers from noticeable barrel distortion. The long end has a slight amount of pincushion distortion. Nevertheless, distortion is less pronounced than my EF 28-135 3.5-5.6 IS USM and EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM. For most types of images, distortion isn't readily apparent. However, architectural and product photographers may want to stick with primes. Distortion may be easily removed prior to RAW conversion in DPP, Aperture, LR or ACR.
Flare is well controlled for a zoom and far less apparent than the EF 28-135 3.5-5.6 IS USM and EF-S 17-55 2.8 IS USM, so shooting sunsets is a possibility with this optic.
Chromatic aberration is well corrected and only rears it's head at the wide end when shooting a subject against an overexposed backlight. And even in extreme backlighting the chromatic aberration is mild compared to most other normal zooms. Chromatic aberration may be quickly and easily removed in DPP, Aperture or PhotoShop with the flick of a slider.
Like all wide zooms, the EF 24-105 4L IS USM suffers from light fall-off at the wide end when shot at maximum aperture. Stop down to F5.6 and light fall-off is reduced considerably. By F8 it is nominal. Although wide primes and zooms suffered light fall-off in the film era, most folks didn't notice because labs cropped their prints. Even slide mounts covered 10% of the frame. However, standard print sizes, e.g., 8 x 10 or 11 x 14, are cropped, so most light fall-off will be nixed. Plus, removing light fall-off in DPP or Photoshop involves all of a couple clicks. If you shoot with a APS-C body, e.g., Rebel, 60D or 7D, light fall-off is a moot point as 40% of the image circle is cropped out.
I use wide angle for sweeping vistas and stop down for maximum depth of field, so light fall-off hasn't reared its head, except, of course, in test shots of white walls. Light fall-off will only be a problem if you shoot bright skies or white walls wide open at 24mm F4.
This would be a nice lens without Image Stabilization (IS). However, IS propels this zoom into hog heaven. Small gyro sensors coupled to a CPU detect the degree and direction of camera shake and counteract this vibration by moving a compensating optical group. Subsequently, it is difficult to not get a sharp picture, even three stops below my normal hand held shutter speed. If I brace myself or shoot a volley of shots I can get away with another stop or two! IS does nothing for subject movement: it merely steadies your hand. However, IS also helps in any high vibration situation such as high wind, airplanes, automobiles or boats and t is a Godsend for general photography. I used to put away my camera when conditions got dark, now I keep on shooting.
This is the big Kahuna of normal zooms. It's well made and tack sharp. I love the range, AF speed, sharpness and feel of this lens. It balances well on larger bodies such as the EOS 3 or 5D Mark II but is front heavy on a Rebel. Yes, the largest aperture of F4 is slow, but the 3-stop IS almost makes up it. While not a small or light lens, it is my favorite optic for travel due to a near perfect balance of image quality, range and versatility.
on August 10, 2012
This lens was purchased after speaking with a professional photographer who stated it is used as an all purpose standard lens. He stated that this lens is used more than any other. After using it, I also can not go anywhere without it due to the amazing focus and clear quality photos. Highly recommend this lens to all who enjoy taking photos.
on July 7, 2013
I started shooting (both stills and a good deal of video work) with a DSLR (Canon 60D) a little over 2 years ago and felt my photography/videography skills had advanced to the point where I could justify upgrading to Canon's L-series lenses. I had previously been using the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens, a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 prime and a Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II telephoto lens. I wanted to cut back on the amount of gear I carried to just one main lens + my 50mm prime so I started looking for a good "everyday" lens that I could carry with me that would cover a decent range for the type of shooting I do (walking around the city, nature, people, events, vacations, short films, etc.)
I spent weeks scouring Amazon, YouTube, Flickr and many other sites looking at pictures/videos taken with and reading/watching reviews of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II USM and the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM. As much as I loved everything about the 24-70mm, I felt it didn't cover a large enough range for the type of shooting I do and although not as good as the 24-70mm, the 24-105mm still had pretty good low light and night time shooting capabilities. Also, the 24-70mm f/2.8 was ~$1,000 more expensive than the 24-105mm.
When I finally decided on the 24-105mm, I went to buy it on Amazon and came across two different versions available, with a $400 price difference between the two. I read through many of the reviews on both products to try and figure out the reason behind the price difference. Ultimately, the $749 version was shipped in a plane white box (not the original Canon box) and according many of the reviews, without a warranty; the $1,149 version was sold and shipped in the original Canon box with the lens warranty.
I was a little hesitant at first to buy the lens without the original Canon box and warranty due to fears of the lens being a counterfeit knock-off but I also couldn't justify paying $400 more for just an official Canon box and warranty (especially when a three year accident protection warranty from SquareTrade for the lens would only cost $150, bringing the total up to $900 with the lens).
I pulled the trigger and bought the $749 lens from Get it Digital (fulfilled by Amazon) and even though I am a Amazon Prime member and selected 2-day free Prime shipping, the lens arrived the NEXT DAY. Per the description from Get it Digital, the lens was a brand new lens that was removed from a Canon 5D Mark III kit. As other reviews had mentioned, it arrived in a plane white box; however, my lens arrived WITH the Canon limited warranty. The lens was brand new, not a single speck of dust or scratch could be found on it. I have been extremely satisfied with the superb quality of this lens, the photos/videos I have taken with it and I am even happier that I didn't spend an extra $400 just for a cardboard Canon box.
I know that if I go to sell the lens in the future, not having the official Canon box will hurt the resale value slightly. However, this has become my main lens that fits perfectly for all of my shooting needs and I don't foresee myself selling the lens in the near future, therefore having the original box seems nonsensical.
If you're like me and don't see the need to have the original Canon box and warranty (although if you buy it on Amazon from Get it Digital, chances are it might arrive with the Canon warranty like mine did), then I would suggest saving yourself $400 and buying the white-box version (likely brand new from a 5D Mark III kit box).
on June 13, 2013
Im posting this review for people like me that dont read the fine print (or in this case the couple of negative reviews). This lens comes in a plain white box with no paperwork whatsoever. There are no instructions (which you really dont need) no glossy Canon advert sheet (also dont need) and no warranty paperwork (which at some point you may need). Its disappointing that this is not made clear in the product description. "White box" does not always mean "no paperwork" as is the case with this lens. Very disappointed in Amazon and get it digital which is the vendor that supplied the lens to them for my purchase. I thought of sending it back but I figure the $350 I saved over buying it from a more reputable vendor will serve as insurance of sorts. I own or have owned 15 some odd Canon lenses and have never had to send one in for repair.
All that being said, i will not fault the lens itself for what I think is underhandedness and subterfuge on the part of Amazon and get it digital. The lens appears to be fine although i have not completely run it through its paces. Its not the sharpest lens in my bag but its not the most expensive one either. For the price it looks to be a solid performer and has a very useful range on my 5dII. You can look at the online reviews for the technical flaws of this lens but I will assure you that the average photo enthusiast would not notice them until told where to look. The short comings of this lens are common to most lenses in this range and are easily corrected in post processing.
on May 25, 2013
After many reviews, I had originally purchased the Canon 28-135 because of the price point, and good reviews; but I was very disappointed in the speed and optical quality of that lens. Because this focal length makes for a very good walk-around lens, I decided to bite the bullet and poney up the cash for this lens. From my experience with it so far, it's night and day compared to the 28-135 - the speed, the quality of picture (very sharp) and the build quality is excellent.
Yes I realize I'm comparing an "L" lens to one that isn't; but from my experience the 28-135 isn't even close to this 24-105. My expectations were definitely met with this lens, and would highly recommend you save up ($300 more) for this lens, rather than making the same mistake that I made and settle for the 28-135 only to be disappointed.
By the way, because of the price ~$800 I was expecting that it would not come with the bag, and hood, so I purchased a hood for $6.00, although it was a waste of money since my 24-105 came with both; the authentic Canon lens bag and hood (so don't bother buying a lens hood if you order this lens).
on September 28, 2012
Bought this gray market lens and cant tell you how satisfied I am with it. Just because its gray market doesn't mean its not a Canon lens... it is and man is this lens sharp and colorful! This is my first time to own a L lens and must say it is awesome. I am using it with my Canon 60D with a Meike grip and it feels nice. Gray market means Canon USA did not bring the lens into the country so getting warranty work done may or may not be an issue. I was able to register the serial number on Canon's website so it may not be an issue. Whether you buy the US version or gray market version you will be happy with it unless you receive a defective unit. I bought it to replace a EF-S 18-135mm and an anon 85mm prime... hoping after I sell those two lenses it will only cost me about $350 for the 24-105 L.
on June 5, 2013
I was happy with photos taken using the consumer kit lenses that came with my camera. I thought that they already gave me sharp and clear pictures. But I've been reading a lot of testaments saying that once you've tried an "L" lens you will never go back. I was curious to test this theory. So I decided to acquire this lens the moment I was able to save up enough for it. When I unpacked the lens from the box, I immediately noticed its build quality (it was solid and heavy), had ample weather-protection features (it had gasket-like seals), and smooth buttery operation (the focus and zoom rings glide smoothly). Once I tested it to take pictures, then I realized what a premium piece of equipment I got in my hands. I told myself, this must be what the pros have been talking about. This lens gave me tack sharp pictures, with good contrast, and great color resolution. They were simply magazine material quality photos..
Most of those who saw the pictures I took praised the quality. To me, the praises I received more than compensated for the price I paid for this lens. I am very happy about this purchase. I look forward to opportunities when I can use this lens again and again. I do highly recommend it.
on May 1, 2013
I'm using this lens on my 7D.
My previous experience with Canon L lens includes 28-70/2.8, 17-40/4 and 70-200/4 IS.
I also have the kit lens that came with 7D - 24-135 IS.
This lens seems to focus faster than my previous L lenses. Maybe it's just me. But it seems faster to me.
Image quality is superb.
Some people talk about vignetting on 5D, but on 7D, it's non-existent.
In terms of portability, it's bigger than 17-40. It's almost as big as my 28-70/2.8.
If you've been meaning to get one and can afford it, by all means, get one. You won't regret it.
For most people reading these reviews, hesitation is not whether or not it's a good product. Most of these L lens are great products. Debate is 1) does the item fit my need 2) should I go for L zoon or several non-L primes or L primes.
For average photogs, L primes are too much money for pictures that will most likely not earn you a single cent.
So the debate comes down to L-Zooms vs. Non-L primes.
For $900, you probably can get 3 great primes. You will definitely NOT go wrong with getting several Canon non-L primes.
You will also not go wrong with getting this 24-105 / 4 L zoom lens either.