Sabyasachi Patra

Canon EF 24-105 F4 L IS USM lens review

Canon EF 24-105 F4 L IS USM lens review

The Canon EF 24-105 f4 L IS USM lens is often bundled with the Canon 5D III and other cameras as a kit lens. So some people feel that this lens is not good enough. People often ask me as to why do I have it in my bag all the time? Was it not launched in 2005? Infact it was launched on 22nd August, 2005 and in a few months will complete 9 years. So why do I use an old lens? These and many such questions, hopefully can be settled by this article, so that I need not spend time in individually responding to people again and again.

Canon EF 24-105 F4 L IS USM Lens Construction:

The first thing that I point out to people is the Red ring near the front of the lens which denotes that the lens is one of the L series lenses. L stands for Luxury and symbolises lenses that adheres to stringent set of standards.This lens has got 18 elements bunched together in 13 groups. It has got one Super UD and three aspherical elements in this lens.
Canon EF 24-105 f4 L IS USM
The Canon EF 24-105 f4 L IS USM lens was announced on 22nd Aug 2005 to fill a need as Canon felt that there was a need for a lightweight zoom lens with a such a range.

This lens weighs 670 grams. It is 107mm long and has a diameter of 83.5mm. It comes with the EW-83H lens hood. Like most of the other L series lenses it too comes with a 77mm filter dia.It feels compact and one can easily keep it in the jacket pocket the entire day and it wont weigh you down.

Impressions in the Field:

The 24-105 is a unique focal length and I know of many Nikon users who have specifically switched to Canon because of this lens. It is only this year, that Sigma decided to also offer a 24-105 f4 lens as the continued success of this lens meant that someone had to get into this lucrative segment.This focal length is long enough for people to move from wide angle to a medium tele of 105mm and hence it gets preferred over the 20-70 f2.8 L USM lens in run-n-gun shooting situations. If you are doing event photography/videos it becomes easier to zoom in from the middle of the hall and still get a relatively tight shot. The following shot was clicked with the EF 24-105 mm f4 L IS USM lens at 105mm, f9, 1/100sec, full frame image.

Wild Tigress in Ranthambhore

In wildlife, if you are in a safari situation then it helps to quickly shift from landscape shooting to shoot an elephant near a vehicle.

A wild asiatic elephant elephas maximus charging at a tourist bus that had come close to the herd in Bandipur Tiger Reserve. A few months back one elephant had fallen on a ditch in the same place and had died. It appeats that the elephants were more sensi

If you are shooting with an APS-H size sensor ( 1.3x crop of Canon 1D Mark IV), then the equivalent focal length is 31.2mm to 136.5mm

If you are shooting with a APS-C sized sensor (1.6x crop in cameras like Canon 70D, Canon 650D, Canon 7D, Canon 1100 series) then the equivalent focal length is 38.4 to 168mm. This size is also similar to the S-35 sensor size found in film/video cameras (as in Canon EOS C300). So even at the wide angle end the equivalent focal length of 38.4mm doesnt distort the face of a person and slightly increasing the focal length brings it close to the normal focal length of 50mm.

Image Stabilisation of Canon EF 24-105 F4 L IS USM:

The image stabilisation is a great help. So now I can move within the crowd and start filming without requiring a tripod. Shooting with a rig would have attracted attention. This lens is a life saver when I am shooting barebones with my C300 and this lens for my series exploring faith.

Along with the image stabilisation the fact that this lens is compact and lightweight helps. It once became a life-saver for me when I was shooting “Blood Betting” a film on the gory sport of cock fights. The fighting roosters have sharp steel knives attached to one of their legs and that can slash you badly. Since I was close to them and shooting barebones handheld without any rig in a crouched position, these roosters while fighting came very close to me and I had to jump back holding the camera on one hand. With a heavy setup this would have been impossible. Having said that I would be cautious the next time. Safety should always come first. The film “Blood Betting” shot with Canon C300 and Canon EF 24-105 F4 L IS USM lens can be seen here:

Infact the three stop image stabilisation is perhaps the single most important reason along with the zoom range which makes me carry this lens along with my 24-70 f2.8 L USM lens. When I am in tripod situations, I normally use the 24-70 f2.8 L USM lens. When I need greater zoom range and handholding, the 24-105 f4 L IS USM lens gets the nod. While shooting at 12000 feet high in Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, I had to choose either the 24-70 f2.8 or the 24-105 f4 L IS USM lens and I decided to only carry the 24-105 due to the light weigh, zoom range and of course IS.

When I am photographing, the 24-70 f2.8 L USM lens mostly gets the nod because I can dial in a higher shutter speed and arrest the shake. However, in one particular safari when the tigress was close to the jeep, with the jeep virtually starting and stopping, after a series of unsatisfactory images, I had to shift from the EF 24-70 f2.8 L USM lens to the EF 24-105 f4 L IS USM lens primarily due to the image stabilsation in the later. While filming, the shutter speeds are much lower and hence image stabilisation and/or use of a tripod is a must.The image stabilisations also removes micro-jitters and makes the image much more acceptable. These days since we are filming in higher resolutions, any micro-jitter becomes more pronounced. So the image stabilisation helps a lot and hence the 24-105 f4 L IS USM lens shines.

In documentary situations, I have been in places for eg. inside the house of a leopard attack victim, where the light levels were pretty low. In those situations and in certain situations when I didnt carry lights for interviews, the widest aperture of f4 in this lens would have proved to be a problem. However the high ISOs that one can use these days in the Canon Cinema C300 camera as well as in EOS 5D III etc, the f4 aperture is not always limiting. Having said that, when I am shooting in the night with very low light, at times even at 40,000 ISO, I prefer the EF 24-70 f2.8 L lens over the EF 24-105 lens due to the extra one stop advantage of the 2.8 aperture.


However you should be aware of the barrel distortion which is visible at the 24mm end, especially visible in full frame cameras like 5D III. When used with smaller sensors like S-35/APS-C and APS-H it is not so much noticeable.

However, it is the chromatic aberration on the edges at 24mm, which I am worried off. One can find the magenta/purple on high contrast edges like branches of a tree if you are pointing a lens at the sky. So I avoid pointing the lens against bright light and shooting backlight images/video footage. Infact, that is one of the main reasons for me to use the 24-70 f2.8 over this lens.
Though this lens is f4 lens throughout, if you zoom in while shooting video, you will notice that there is a light loss of close to half a stop when moving from wide to tele.

This lens is not a true parfocal lens ie. it doesnt hold focus when zoomed in. However, if you focus on a subject at 105mm and then zoom out, then this lens holds focus. So videographers can use this technique to quickly move from a close up and then can smoothly zoom out to show a wider perspective.


If you are shooting stills with this lens, then you would like the auto-focus as it is silent and fast. The USM motor works well. There is a full time manual focus override. The way Canon is improving the auto-focus in its video in some of its cameras like EOS 70D and soon to be implemented in EOS C100, I am sure it would be very nice.

Weather Sealing:

Canon had introduced this as dust and moisture resistant and has given it a L series branding. I have filmed in rain and the main issue was water running infront of the lens element. However, the lens didnt have any problems. I have shot in dusty conditions in desert and didnt have any problems as well.

Space saving:

While packing both the 24-70 f2.8 L USM lens and the 24-105 f4 L IS USM lenses, I have realised that the 24-105 takes much lesser space. If you are travelling in flight with the recent weight restrictions, the EF 24-105 F4 L IS USM lens is definitely a big help.

EF 24-105 f4 IS is an IdealWalk aroundLens:

Most often people also ask me about an ideal walk around lens. If you are in a trek, walking in the garden, shooting in an event or in a Safari vehicle this lens is going to come in handy. So it may be a good walk around lens when you choose to hang a camera and lens on your neck.
I came across the following scene early in the morning in the Western Ghats of India and shot it with Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, Canon EF 24-105 F4 L IS USM lens at 67mm, f4.5, 1/50, full frame image.

Morning sunlight in forest

The following image was clicked while I was on an evening stroll near the river in Chalakudy in the Western Ghats in India. Shot with Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, Canon EF 24-105 f4 L IS USM, f9, 1/50, ISO 800


I clicked the following image during an arduous full day trek in the Western Ghats. This image depicts the thoughtlessness of the forest department who had planted exotic Eucalyptus trees in shola forests. In such treks the lightweight of this lens helps your neck as the camera and lens hangs on the neck for long time. Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, Canon EF 24-105 F4 L IS USM at 47mm, ISO 400, f10, 1/320, full frame image

Eucaluptus in shola 24-105

I was waiting to shoot birds in the early morning light and suddenly decided to shoot the sunrise as well. Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, Canon EF 24-105 f4 L IS USM, ISO 200, f22, 1/50

Sunrise in Pulicat


Verdict on Canon EF 24-105 F4 L IS USM lens:

This lens is an allrounder and is very useful due to its zoom range, lower weight, compactness and image stabilisation. Highly recommended.

You can buy this lens from Amazon India by clicking the following link:

Sabyasachi Patra
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Sabyasachi Patra

Sabyasachi is an award winning Cinematographer and shoots for international broadcasters, feature films and corporates to make a living. He is a passionate wildlife filmmaker and photographer and has won awards and accolades for his documentary 'A Call in the Rainforest'. He has been striving to make his films and photographs full of life and emotion and write articles to educate and evangelise the need for conserving the last tracts of vanishing wilderness and wildlife in our country. He hopes that his wildlife films, photographs and writings force people to pause, look, ponder and ultimately take action.
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