RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM

RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM

Canon RF 24-105mm F/4 L IS USM Review

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What We Love. The Canon RF 24-105mm F/4 L IS USM may just be the most impressive kit lens we've ever had the pleasure of using. It's easy to love, not only because it looks like a badass mounted on the EOS R system, but also because it boasts a performance you wouldn't expect from a "kit lens." But as one of the four lenses that Canon launched to complement its full-frame mirrorless line, being impressive does kind of come with the territory. At a little over $1K, this versatile piece of glass offers its users a wide focal length range so you're less likely to carry an extra lens or switch lenses, a constant aperture of F/4 so you can go wide even at the longest focal length, image stabilization for steady shots even at slower apertures, an extra control ring to use as an aperture or shutter speed ring, and a rugged construction as well as weather sealing so you can gallivant in the wilderness with it without worry about damaging it. And that's just to start.

What We'd Change. This kit lens is already amazing for what it is. It certainly exceeds our expectations so it's pretty hard to complain. We guess there's that itty-bittiest sign of barrel distortion or rounding in the center, very minimal chromatic aberration, and noticeable softening around the edges at its widest apertures. But you can easily fix those in post in no time at all. The one thing people might find hard to swallow is that price. If you're an enthusiast--and most folks who would want this lens would be enthusiasts as well as casual shooters who would prefer to stick to one lens--a $1099 kit lens might be a tad steep. But then again, if you're serious about taking your photos to the next level, you'll need to properly invest.

Pick This Up If... you need a versatile and rugged lens that captures great images. Whether you're a novice, an enthusiast, or a more experienced shooter, the Canon RF 24-105mm F/4 L IS USM is your new best friend if you're looking to travel light or take a break from having to constantly think about which lens to use for what situation.

INTRO 

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Whoever claims that a jack of all trades is a master of none clearly hasn't met the Canon RF 24-105mm F/4 L IS USM, one of Canon's earliest stabs at its RF line. Amazing on the inside and the outside, this lens was clearly designed for people who aren't very experienced at switching lenses for their different shooting needs. Its performance, however, proves it a worthy addition to a more experienced photographer's arsenal.

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It also breaks records on a couple of things. It boasts the longest reach in the native lens range, and it's the first L series lens to use Canon's NANO USM system, which pretty much makes it an important glass in what is already promising to be a very successful lens line.

We're obviously big fans, especially considering the fact that we tested this alongside Canon's practically perfect and stupendously sharp RF 50mm F/1.2 L USM. But don't just take our word for it. Read our review and see our sample photos below for proof.

GEAR USED

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Steve's Digicams tested the Canon RF 24-105mm F/4 L IS USM with both the Canon EOS R and the Canon EOS RP. However, for this review, we'll be focusing on its performance with the entry-level EOS RP. For the most part, our testing was done handheld and without tripods.

FEATURES

  • Fits: RF-mount cameras
  • Focal Length: 24-105mm
  • Maximum Aperture: 
  • Minimum Aperture: 
  • Angle of View (diagonal): 84°00'-23°20'
  • Lens Construction: 18 elements in 14 groups
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 1.48 ft. / 0.45m
  • Filter Size: 77mm
  • Max Length: 83.5 x 107.3mm
  • Weight: 1.54lbs (700g)
  • Aperture Blades: 9
  • Standard Accessories: Hood, front cap, rear cap

BUILD QUALITY

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There's something about Canon's new RF lens design that's very charismatic. We've pretty much said the same thing about the RF 50mm. The RF 24-105mm F/4 is big and bulky, especially in contrast with the EOS RP's small and compact body, with its large 55mm diameter. 

Yet, we'd be lying if we said we didn't like it. There's something about how hefty it is that makes it feel like it's a pro photographer's tool that mustn't be trifled with. It has a nice form factor as well, one that looks pretty yet legit with its black matte finish and textured rings.

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It also feels rugged enough to survive the elements if you take it out in the wild while backpacking... or at least during one of Los Angeles' very rare cold, rainy days. Thanks to its dust and water-resistance, this lens fared well in the rain when we took it out to shoot a fiery sunset. And while we didn't get to test this glass in a sandstorm (like we did the 50mm), it features the same fluorine coating on the front and rear surfaces as the 50mm so we're confident it will endure the desert just as well.

Rounding out its build quality is the vibration shock resistance feature it has in its barrel to keep its focus steady when dealing with harsh weather conditions that would typically affect it (i.e. heavy winds). 

ERGONOMICS

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Despite its big and bulky design, the Canon RF 24-105mm F/4 is easy to use and handle. At 83.5 x 107.3mm and 1.54lbs, it's big and heavy enough to give you a bit of stability when shooting, but not too much that it gets in the way of your comfort as a photographer. 

In fact, we took this thing out on a quick hike, and it wasn't in any way a burden. Combined with its focal length range, it's the perfect lens to take with you if you're planning a multi-day backpacking trip through the wilderness.

There are three switches positioned nearest the mount: the zoom lock switch, the image stabilization switch, and the AF/MF switch, all set within easy reach of your fingers. The lock switch is useful in preventing accidental zooming. The only thing is that it only works at 24mm, which makes it kind of unnecessary in the beginning since there is enough tension on the lens to keep it still. But we can definitely see with use and age how that tension might give a bit, and that lock will become necessary.

Besides the ridged focus and zoom rings, there's also the programmable control ring that you can set to any setting that works best for your creative process. Personally, we'd go for aperture, but you can also set it to control the shutter speed or exposure compensation, among other things.

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Finally, handholding with this lens is a breeze. Thanks to its 5-stop image stabilization, slower shutter speeds, and indoor shooting have nothing on this lens. We've spent some time with this lens at the California Science Center where there were some pretty dark sections, and it performed quite well.

SPEED & FOCUS

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Thank goodness we picked up the Canon RF 24-105mm F/4 before the 50mm, which allowed us to really appreciate the former's speed and autofocusing capabilities, as well as its image quality, without having to compare it with the latter. While the 50mm may be the more superior lens, the 24-105mm's performance is still very impressive.

As we mentioned earlier, this lens is the first L series lens to use Canon's NANO USM system, which means that it boasts speedy autofocusing that's very smooth and very precise. It also works beautifully with Canon EOS RP's EyeAF, which allowed us to take amazing portraits effortlessly.

It's also worth mentioning that it features a 12-pin communication system that accelerates its autofocusing as well as image stabilization, Digital Lens Optimizer, and other operations.

Canon24-105mm_SampleImage_40.jpgIt all looks good on paper, yes. However, in practice, the autofocusing is pretty freaking fantastic as well. We love how it performs in indoor situations just as much as we love how it fares in well-lit areas. As a plus, this NANO USM system also gives you near silent shooting that is useful in video recording and wildlife photography, to name a couple of things.

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This glass also offers a decent closest focusing distance of 1.48ft. It's not crazy close, and it does change as you zoom in, but you can still get pretty close to your subjects without compromising your focusing capabilities.

BOKEH

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With only 9 circular aperture blades and a maximum aperture of F/4, we weren't expecting this lens to yield perfectly rounded bokeh and super creamy backgrounds. We were, therefore, pleasantly surprised by the results. 

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At 50mm and longer, this lens rewards you with soft backgrounds, allowing your subjects to really stand out. But even at 24mm, it can still manage some decent blurring that makes for great for portraits. Finally, at its longest focal length, its bokeh gets closer to being perfectly round.

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IMAGE QUALITY

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(Shot at F/4)

We'd love to tell you that the Canon RF 24-105mm F/4 does what Canon promises on paper and delivers "sharp and dynamic images with excellent detail... across the image frame." Unfortunately, that isn't the case; at least, not quite.

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(Shot at F/5.6)

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(Shot at F/8)

Don't get us wrong; this lens delivers sharp images. However, there's some noticeable softening at the corners at its widest apertures. It does get sharper when you drop down to F/5.6 to F/8, but the more discerning eye can tell that there's still some softening there.

With three aspheric elements and one UD lens element, coupled with Canon's Air Sphere coating and Digital Lens Optimizer, it actually does a really good job to minimize chromatic aberrations, ghosting, and flare, as well as distortion. We've noticed some very small purple fringing here and there, especially in high contrast situations, and some ghosting and flare, but nothing you can quickly fix in post.

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Additionally, the more experienced eye will notice some miniscule curvature in the middle at 24mm. However, its level of barrel distortion isn't too bad and again, nothing quickly fixable in Lightroom.

At the end of the day, we're still more than happy with the Canon RF 24-105mm F/4's image quality. Sure, it isn't perfect; but it still delivers very sharp and very clean photos with beautiful, if a little subdued, colors. And it's more than good enough for experienced shooters, let alone novice ones.

PROS & CONS

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Pros
  • Great image quality
  • Excellent AF
  • Wide focal length range
  • Brilliant image stabilization
  • Constant aperture is a plus
  • Weather sealing
  • Rugged construction
  • Easy handling
  • Control ring available
  • Minimal ghosting and flare
  • Hardly any distortion
  • Minimal chromatic aberration

Cons
  • Pretty pricey for novices & enthusiasts
  • Some corner softening at widest apertures
  • Tiniest signs of barrel distortion

FINAL THOUGHTS

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Our verdict on the Canon RF 24-105mm F/4? We want this lens in our camera bag when we finally have the money to invest in the R/RF system. In fact, it'll probably be the first lens we'll buy, and not only because you can get it as a kit lens for both the EOS R and EOS RP bodies.

It may not be perfect, but this very versatile glass has many applications and boasts a number of useful features--from its constant aperture and its zoom range to its image stabilization. That makes this either a good starter lens if you get an R body, which you should because those mirrorless cameras are pretty amazing, or the one lens you should have if you're looking for an excellent general purpose, all-around performer to use for pretty much everything.

Its uses are boundless. As experienced shooters, we'll gladly take this lens with us on our hiking and backpacking trips if we want to travel light, as well as on our travels if we don't want to get bogged down with heavy gear or bother with switching lenses. It's also great for portraits, landscapes, architecture, and street photography.

Casual shooters and beginner photographers, on the other hand, will appreciate having an impressive lens to use for most of their shooting needs.

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MORE IMAGES

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