While I own the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II, I've never had the heart to get rid of my oldest and one of my most beloved lenses - the Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS. I always loved the extra focal length and image stabilization, so despite having a sharper 2.8 lens, when travelling I've always chosen the 24-105 over the 24-70.
Last year my friend Rick Sammon came to Seattle and I got my first glimpse of images taken with this new lens and I got excited because it appeared to be razor sharp. My cherished lens was definitely my softest lens, so I was way over due for a replacement.
Aside for a slightly different hood and lens cap, it's hard to tell the old lens from the new one apart at first glance. However, you only need to shoot a few handheld shots before you realize that Canon has another winner on its hands. The sharpness is like all of the new Canon L lenses - incredibly sharp - and the image stabilization performed as good as the best I've tested by any manufacturer.
To challenge myself, I decided to take this lens out for a walk on a rainy day in the Northwest without a tripod. I really wanted to see how it would work under tough conditions when mounted to my 1DX Mark II, and Mother Nature decided to toss in plenty of rain to allow me to experience the weather sealing too!
I'm pleased to report, it did great as I never had any leaks and the hood did a great job of keeping the rain off the front lens element.
Real World Shots
All outdoor images featured in this article are 100% unedited and taken from the in-camera JPEG's. Cloudy or Shade white balance was used with the Landscape creative style for most of the shots.
All images are copyright Ron Martinsen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may view the images while reading the article, but you may not print, edit, save, display or distribute these images in any way without an ink on paper signed written contract.
f/11 @ 27mm for 0.5 sec at ISO 160
While I did support part of the camera on solid surfaces for shots under 1/10 sec, I still had to hand hold it under conditions that would normally result in a blurry image.
While I naturally would have got better shots with a tripod, I was pleased that I could do long exposure shots of streams and still pull off a reasonably sharp shot. The IS did great and allowed me to pull off impressive hand held shots that were sharper than my tripod shots with my old 24-105.
Click the images to examine full-size originals to see what I mean!
f/4 @ 70mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 500
Auto Focus (AF) accuracy was great and the color and contrast
with this lens/body combo was excellent!
f/4 @ 95mm for 1/50 sec at ISO 640
You have to click and view screen to really appreciate the detail and sharpness of this shot, but at the time I was shooting I was pleased with the minimum focus distance (MFD) as I was closer than what B&H reports for the MFD
f/11 @ 46mm for 1/50 sec at ISO 3200
f/11 handheld in these conditions? That's something I'd normally never do without a tripod, but this lens begged me to say "why not, let's see"
f/6.3 @ 43mm for 1/30 sec at ISO 2500
I was pleased with the sharpness of the ferns while still getting a good look ahead down the trail and the brightness of this lens allowed my 1/30 sec handheld exposure to only need ISO 2500 on this dark dreary day. My previous 24-105 would have definitely need ISO 4000 or greater.
f/5.6 @ 42mm for 1/100 sec at ISO 2500
I found the corner sharpness even at f/5.6 to be consistently good
f/9 @ 56mm for 0.8 sec at ISO 200
By the end of my hike I was using flimsy objects for added support and holding my breath to see if I could pull off a sharp semi-hand held shot, and despite a few failures due to human error I always got at least one sharp one like this
f/5 @ 105mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 20,000
As I was putting my lens away (hence the odd camera settings and framing), I spotted this squirrel and did a quick point and shoot before he ran off. It's fast AF helped me lock on to the eye and get a shot before I was really ready. Since I was in One-Shot mode, I couldn't spray and pray, so I credit this lens for helping me capture this little guy
f/4 @ 24mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 640
24 isn't wide, but it's still wide enough to provide context like in this shot
f/4 @ 50mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 1000
At the nifty 50 range this lens is outstanding with no obvious real world distortion and crazy sharp - even wide open at f/4
Click here to check out the full gallery of unedited images
No tripods were used in this article and that's the real value this lens offers - especially for travel photographers like me. The fact that I can take this one lens out and get wide shots or long shots and push my shutter speeds down to ridiculous levels and still pull off a shot is a big deal. It keeps me out of the high ISO's for shots of static subjects and it does it with crisp sharpness edge to edge on every shot.
I love this lens and definitely will be upgrading my copy for my next trip to Asia.I highly recommend it for anyone who wants the versatility of this highly useful 24-105mm focal range in a lens that offers incredible sharpness and image stabilization for an incredible value for the quality and performance it offers.
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