Review Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM

The Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS II USM is the successor to the exceptionally popular EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS USM. Thanks to the big zoom range, i’s one of the most versatile zoom lenses and an excellent all-rounder.

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Robust all-rounder: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM

The Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS II USM is the successor to one of the most popular zoom lenses in the Canon range. A lens with a zoom range of 24 to 105mm includes, for many photographers, almost all the focal points they need: wide angle, medium wide angle, standard lens, short telephoto, medium telephoto. The brightness is not very high, but it is constant over the entire range. Add to that good image stabilization and professional construction, and you have a lens with which you can photograph almost any imaginable subject under all circumstances. The new EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS II USM is slightly larger and heavier than the old one, but it also offers improved image stabilization, newer coatings and an updated optical design.

BUILD AND autofocus

EF 24 105mm f4L IS II USM FSL

The Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS II USM is an L-series lens. That means that it is well-built and well-sealed against weather conditions. According to Canon, the quality is at an even higher level. The EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS II USM is therefore more than an ounce heavier and an inch longer than its predecessor. That was to be expected, because that applies for virtually every new lens, and not only for Canon. It does mean some extra grams and extra space in the photo bag. Where the old 24-105 mm f/4L had two rings that each had a distinctly different structure, that is no longer the case with the new one. The zoom ring and focus ring have approximately the same structure. They have also become a good bit broader than on the old one, and the whole thing looks great. Of course, the window that indicates the set distance and the switches for AF/MF and the image stabilization are still there. What’s new is a switch to prevent the lens from extending when you are walking with it or transporting it. The aperture, which has no fewer than ten lamellae, is also unique. The aperture is therefore slightly rounder than with a nine-bladed aperture, and that should make for a slightly nicer bokeh. The lens has a now almost traditional ring USM motor. So no nano-USM yet. The focus is pretty fast, and you can easily adjust the sharpness manually. The magnification is the same as that of the previous model. That’s not a bad thing, since at 0.45x it’s quite respectable for a zoom lens. This allows you not only to photograph flowers and larger insects well, but also to make very close portraits easily.

Autofocus

The Canon EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS II USM has a USM motor. That works fast, reasonably quietly, and offers the advantage that you can easily adjust the focus by hand. On the EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS II USM, we did have some trouble with the accuracy of the focus in testing. For the tests, we were able to overcome that by focusing in live view. This focuses on the sensor, and then it’s always good. But that is of course less handy, and not what you buy a lens like this for. Take some time after purchasing the lens to test and correct it if necessary, so you can be sure that you get the most out of the sensor and the lens.

IMAGE STABILIZATION

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The design of the original 24-105 mm f/4 IS USM is more than ten years old. The image stabilization was good for that time. But a profit of 2 stops and maybe just a little more is no longer contemporary. The image stabilization of the new EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS II USM ensures that you have more than 3 stops’ profit. That’s really nice when you have to take pictures in low light. But it can also be useful if you use dark filters and small apertures during the day, for example to make the sky or water smoother. Thanks to the good image stabilization, you can still reasonably get these kinds of shots by hand.

VIGNETTING, FLARE AND DISTORTION

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The distortion is not exaggerated over most of the range except in the extreme zoom modes. Without lens corrections, this Canon zoom lens, with clear (1.5%) pincushion distortion at 105mm and 5% barrel distortion in the 24mm position, is not a lens for architectural photos. You can, of course, get rid of this in post-editing, but you have to take into account when taking the shot that you will lose some image quality then. The distortion also ensures that it’s more difficult to hold the camera straight, because the image in the viewfinder is curved. In the 24mm mode, you will see some vignetting at full aperture, but it is not excessive, and that is also easy to eliminate in the post-editing. Of course, it is also advisable to turn on lens corrections in the camera with these types of lenses. Then you have already eliminated many of these small problems in the jpegs.

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IMAGE QUALITY

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The image quality of the EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS II USM is good. But the difference from the old 24-105 mm f/4L is very small if we only look at the sharpness. The corners and edges are not perfect at full aperture, and you really need to stop down a bit if you want to get good sharpness over the entire image. Our test version also scored somewhat higher in the wide-angle mode than in the telephoto mode, but we see that pattern with a lot of zoom lenses. Where the new EF 24-105 mm f/4L does score slightly better is in lateral chromatic aberration. That’s not entirely gone, but a bit less than with the older 24-105mm. However, these kinds of aberrations are also easy to eliminate in image editing programs, so it’s not a real distinguishing factor. The new Air Sphere coatings do contribute to better image quality. You get almost no flare with the EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS II USM.

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CONCLUSION: REVIEW Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM

PROS

  • Great range
  • Image stabilization
  • Dust- and moisture-resistant
  • Solid build
  • Zoom lock
  • Fixed brightness

CONS

  • Bigger and heavier than the previous model
  • Image quality is not clearly improved
  • Price

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM is a robust all-rounder

The Canon EF 24-105 mm f / 4L IS II USM is and remains a good all-rounder, just like its predecessor. With its improved coatings and good image stabilization, this lens is contemporary again. Optically, however, this lens is not as much improved as some other lenses that Canon recently released a new version of. That may be a compliment to the old 24-105 mm f/4L. Those who have trouble with the higher price of the new EF 24-105 mm f/4L IS II USM, always have the option of going for the less expensive, old model. If you want this range and go for the best, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM is the ideal all-in-one lens for Canon full-frame cameras.

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