Canon EF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM Lens
12/03/09This lens covers a wide range range of focal lengths while producing very high quality images. On a full frame camera such as an EOS 5D it provides a one lens solution for wide angle to short telephoto coverage with a reasonable and constant maximum aperture of f4. This is now my usual single lens walk around solution. On a 1.6x crop camera, such as an EOS 40D, it has a focal length equating to roughly 38-168mm which for many people may prove lacking at the wide end if you need to carry just one lens. Personally, I find I can use it as my main workhorse lens on a 1.6x crop camera without missing the wide end too much. When paired with a 10-22mm EF-S lens you have a versatile and very high quality two lens set up. Before making a decision on your standard zoom it's probably worth looking back at what focal lengths you actually use and your intended shooting style.
Being one of Canon's L range of 'professional' lenses it comes supplied with a lens hood and case. Build quality is excellent and inspires confidence with a solid feel, silky smooth zoom and focus rings and weather sealing when used with compatible cameras. The zoom ring is nearest the camera with the focus ring towards the front of the lens and both rings are of a good size. Annoyingly, on some of their other zooms Canon have the zoom ring towards the front of the lens and at first this can cause confusion. However, once you get to know your kit all the controls fall easily to hand. Canon do at least keep the set up the same within each of their three distinct price ranges - budget, mid-range and professional. The manual focus and image stabilisation (IS) switches are in the usual position on the left of the lens barrel.
In use I've been very happy with the results. For me this lens replaced a mid-price lens (28-135mm) as my standard zoom and it was a clear step up in quality. I lost a little scope at the long end but the improvements in the vibrancy, contrast and sharpness of the images were worth it. The 28-135 is a good lens but the 24-105 is much better. Additionally, the IS provides three stops improvement compared to a non-IS lens. This is much better than the 28-135 and is very useful in dimly lit situations such as at weddings. However, for really poor light with people in the frame I still prefer a faster prime lens in order to freeze motion. Focus is quick and accurate and flare is well under control. There is some distortion at the wide end but for me it is very reasonable and can be easily corrected in post-production if necessary. Bearing in mind that this lens has a range of 4.3x I think the performance is excellent.
This lens has proved to be robust and reliable with excellent results. If I was forced to have just one lens it would be this one.
Overall Rating: 5/5
Ease of use: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Build quality: 5/5