Canon EF 24-105mm F4L USM – First Impressions

Last month in my blog Beauty & The Beast I wrote about putting up my mighty Canon 24-70mm F2.8 mk1 for sale & buying instead the Canon 24-105mm F4L.

As previously discussed, the decision between the two was one I’d never really cemented, both have pro’s and cons, discussed thousands of times on the forums. The F2.8 basically being it has 2.8, and looks the business, but is heavy, then the F4 that it has IS, more range, is lighter, and cheaper*. So much cheaper in fact, that even after eBay & paypal had raped me for £100 in fees on the £900 sale price, I had some change. On top of this, and the key to why I’d decided to make this decision, having paid £750 for the 24-105, Canon were also running a further £80 cashback promotion just to sweeten the deal. Oh and because both have 77mm filter threads, I also hung on to the protective filter off the 24-70 to use on the 24-105.

*Traditionally the 24-70 mk1 was about £200 more than the 24-105 (and still holding that & more used on eBay), the 24-70 mk2 is of course currently nearly £1300 more expensive than the 24-105, and so wouldn’t be subject to the same sort of comparisons.

On the downside, this must make the record for the soonest after I’d bought a Canon product a replacement was announced though, as the Canon 24-70 F4L IS was announced within the week. However I’m much happier with the choice of the 24-105.

First task out the bag, was a shoot for my day job, in a marquee by the Thames

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 60mm F5

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 60mm F5. ISO 800 1/60th

with no time to test,  as I sold the 24-70 quicker than expected, so the 24-105 was called straight into duty. It helped confirm it’s sharp though, I can’t publish the text on the back of that pass, but I assure you it is readable at 1:1! (I’ll admit it is a little pixelated out of the mk1 5D though)

The next few tasks for the lens were some quick impromptu living room shoots of my mates little lad Jake

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 70mm F5. ISO 800 1/100th

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 70mm F5. ISO 800 1/100th

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 58mm F5. ISO 640 1/80th

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 58mm F5. ISO 640 1/80th

and of course maintaining the Santa theme, it’s also been out on the annual British Heart Foundation Santa Jog

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 24mm F5. ISO 100 1/125th

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 24mm F5. ISO 100 1/125th

Today I’ve finally been out doing some landscape work with it, just a wander around the local Clumber Park, but, still first time out. The size difference has been really noticeable, and backs up my reasons for swapping. Whilst some pros said they wouldn’t swap, as personally I merely “cock about” at this photography lark, the F4 has been lovely. The lighter weight, and the smaller size have both been appreciated. Yes there’s times where OK I admit F2.8 would be nice, but I’m not a wedding photographer needing every bit of light, or studio photographer needing the absolute best. If I was I’d have kept the F2.8. Me, I generally muck about doing landscapes at F8, even if it appears every shot above has been done at F5…

Now I know this has been done a thousand times before, but to be thorough, Image Stabilisation:

Image Stabilisation Demo

Image Stabilisation Demo (click to view large)

In short, it works, superbly. For the demo I took three shots, two with IS on, one off, as you can see the second IS on shot isn’t ‘quite’ spot on, but it’s a million miles better than without. As highlighted by the cyclist entering the first IS on shot though on the left, just reminding you that it can’t freeze motion.

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 24mm F8. ISO 100 25sec

Clumber Bridge – Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 24mm F8. ISO 100 25sec

Of course shot with the B&W ND3.0 10 stop filter, but also I believe, stupidly, with IS still turned on, which you’re meant to turn off for tripod shots, but doesn’t appear to have had any negative effects this time.

Triffids? Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 80mm F4. ISO 250 1/1250th

Triffids? Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 80mm F4. ISO 250 1/1250th

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 105mm F4. ISO 250 1/200th

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 105mm F4. ISO 250 1/200th

Taking advantage of the additional range at last, this was buried deep in the undergrowth.

Is it as absolute bleeding sharp as the 24-70 F2.8? Somebody who spends all day looking at 100% crops may argue it’s not quite. But, for me, a keen amateur producing the odd bits of work it definitely appears plenty good enough as proved above. Before the Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8, I had the Tamron 28-75mm F2.8, which simply wasn’t good enough. That lens WAS letting me down, the focus wasn’t fast enough, didn’t nail it when you needed it to, was soft outside the centre. Particularly on faster paced events I was junking shots I desperately wanted, but the Tamron had failed to deliver. The Canon 24-105mm is helping to save my back, and delivering the results I need.

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 60mm F4.5. ISO 250 1/320th

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 60mm F4.5. ISO 250 1/320th

Shots like the above, usual terror shots for lenses, I know it’s desaturated, but you’ll have to trust me on this, there was virtually no chromatic aberration (CA) apparent in the 100% views of these shots.

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 47mm F7.1. ISO 100 25sec

Canon EOS 5D & Canon EF 24-105mm F4L @ 47mm F7.1. ISO 100 25sec

Conclusion:
The bones of it is, based on so far, I’m very happy with the decision to swap. The Canon 24-105mm F4L is a bloody good little allrounder lens for the full frame shooter, without being at a price that cripples you.

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