It amazes me sometimes about the plethora of camera and lens reviews out there. I certainly appreciate all of them, since local camera stores have all but disappeared. There are many reviews of the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM but I think many of them miss the big picture, so I am here to set the record straight.
The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM was introduced in 2005 and is offered as a kit lens and many wonder if they should get that lens or the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM or now the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM. I struggled with this decision back when I bought my 5D mark II and I am sure there are many new camera buyers wondering the same thing.
Sometimes all the reviews make it more complicated, and the passion of the 24-70 2.8 users can be overwhelming. After two years using this lens (and I have a boatload of other lenses to chose from) I think there will be many who could profit from my experience. For the most part I will be speaking of the 24-105 in relation to the 24-70.
The 24-105 is faster. Only on paper is the 24-105 one stop slower than the 24-70. Don’t let that get into your head. 1 stop can be a lot, but the image stabilization of the 24-105 really does make a difference and adds 3 stops of shutter speed. This is real. So in reality the 24-105 is faster.
Image stabilization is a big deal. I shoot lots of video, and the IS makes all the difference. So far I have 4 Canon IS lenses, this lens, the 70-200, the 24mm, and the Macro 100. I wish all my lenses had it. For video it is magical. For stills it adds up to 3 stops. Did I say I wish all my lenses had image stabilization?
It’s a zoom. Yes, I know the 24-70 is also, but the 24-70 is a vary narrow range. The 24-105 is the only Canon EF L Series lens that gives you wide, medium, and telephoto, and it stays at f/4 throughout the entire range. For video you can’t have the f-stop change from one end of the zoom to the other. This lens is great on the 5D, but even better on the C300 for this very reason.
It’s plenty sharp. The only lens in my bag that is noticeably sharper is the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. What is the payback for a HDSLR filmmaker for the 70-200’s sharpness? Moiré. I have had the 70-200 ruin lots of video because it was too sharp. In fact, for video, I am thinking that the L series lens series may be spending way too much money for sharpness that just comes back to bite you with moiré.
Looking back on it, I am amazed I made the right decision for a first lens. Will I ever buy the 24-70 in the future? I have one already, and on the barrel it says 24 35 70 105. So if you are in the market and trying to decide, my recommendation is not to let the 24-70 fanboy hype make you look past the obvious advantages of this workhorse lens. Seven years have gone by since the introduction of this lens and it still has not been bettered by any of the EF L lineup.