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Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Gordon Laing, June 2006 / updated August 2007

Canon EF 24-105mm coverage, wide angle with Canon EOS 5D

Both the Canon EF 24-105mm and EF 24-70mm share the same wide angle specification, but as with all lenses, it's always worth putting this to the test. So to compare actual coverage we shot the same scene with each lens set to 24mm within a few moments of each other, and mounted on a tripod to ensure a consistent position.

With both images opened alongside each other in Photoshop, a tiny difference in coverage was visible: the EF 24-105mm captured a fractionally larger field than the EF 24-70mm, but it really is a case of splitting hairs.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
24-105mm at 24mm, f8 (24mm equivalent)  

24-70mm at 24mm, f8 (24mm equivalent)

Coverage, telephoto with Canon EOS 5D

Next up came the telephoto-end of each lens. Again to compare actual coverage we shot the same scene with each lens fully zoomed-in within a few moments of each other, and mounted on a tripod to ensure a consistent position.

Here the longer reach of the Canon EF 24-105mm is clear, and gives it a real advantage over the older EF 24-70mm model. It makes it a much more versatile lens to carry around, and indeed many photographers could find it satisfying most of their general requirements.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
24-105mm at 105mm, f8 (105mm equivalent)   24-70mm at 70mm, f8 (70mm equivalent)

Potential EF 24-105mm buyers may also be considering the cheaper EF 17-40mm lens. This clearly delivers a much wider range, but can be surprisingly usable as a general-purpose lens on full-frame bodies. To compare the coverage of it againbst the EF 24-105mm, see our Canon EF 17-40mm review.

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The unique selling point of the Canon EF 24-105mm over the EF 24-70mm is its Image Stabilisation (IS) technology to reduce camera-shake. Canon claims its latest IS system offers three stops of compensation, which should allow you to handhold shutter speeds eight times slower than normal. For example, if the slowest exposure you could confidently handhold at a certain focal length was, say, 1/60 of a second, three stops of compensation should enable you to enjoy the same result at 1/8 (or more accurately, 1/7.5).

Like other Canon wide zooms with IS, there’s only one mode available with a switch on the side of the lens to switch it on or off; there's no panning mode here. The IS system kicks in with a faint click when you depress the shutter halfway and stays on for a few seconds before deactivating to save power.

To test its effectiveness we shot the same scene zoomed-into 105mm with and without IS enabled. To place further strain on the system we performed this test using a Canon EOS 350D / Rebel XT, which effectively multiplied the 105mm focal length to 168mm.

Below are two examples of a handheld macro composition taken with and without IS, using a shutter speed of 1/13 of a second. We've cropped the original 350D images to 1728x1152, thereby showing one quarter of the original, then reduced them to 282x188 pixels for reproduction here. Viewed at 100%, the shot with IS is perfectly sharp.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM without IS
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM with IS
Canon EF 24-105mm at 105mm (168mm equivalent using 350D). IS disabled.
100 ISO, 1/13th second
  Canon EF 24-105mm at 105mm (168mm equivalent using 350D). IS enabled.
100 ISO, 1/13th second

Image Stabilisation may eat through your batteries faster, but its benefit is clear. It allows you to handhold at much slower shutter speeds than normal, in turn enabling you to shoot under dimmer conditions without having to increase the aperture or the camera's sensitivity to avoid shake.

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All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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