Santa Fe New Mexico Family and Children Photographer – David Moore» Blog Archive » On the road – learning to love the Canon 24mm-105mm f/4L

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This is the photography blog for photographer and writer David Moore. He's based in Santa Fe, New Mexico but speaks with a funny accent.


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    February 22nd, 2008

    On the road – learning to love the Canon 24mm-105mm f/4L

    While I was in LA visiting family recently I got my first real chance to explore the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM I’d got for Christmas.

    Our 2-year-old travels with more stuff than her parents put together, so there was only room for the camera, the nifty fifty and the 24-105.

    I’d not shot with it that much, but here was a chance to give it a real try. And I’m learning to love it, but I’ve still got a little way to go.This isn’t a full review, more a set of impressions from a couple of days of use while travelling round a damp Los Angeles (and a few weeks of light use at home).

    Depth issues

    One of the questions I was wrestling with before I bought the lens was what kind of depth of field I could get with the minimum aperture of f/4. With my primes, I live at f/2.8 and below, and I was obviously looking hard at the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L as a result.

    But everything’s a trade-off, so I went for the extra length, smaller size and image stabilization of the 24-105.

    So far I’ve not got that creamy bokeh with the zoom that a wide-open prime can give you. If I want to isolate the subject completely, I’d reach for something else, unless I was at the higher end of the zoom.

    Image quality

    That said, the 24-105 is sharp, contrasty and gives nice color rendition. There’s a depth to the images that’s as nice as my 70mm-200mm f/4L and better than my 28mm f/1.8 USM.

    This shot from the beach, for example, required only slight levels adjustments, and is very satisfying.Forgotten bucketI’ve certainly noticed the shots need less manipulation to produce excellent results – the sign of a good lens.


    The wide zoom range is of course one of the main reasons to look at a lens like this. And as a walkaround lens for daytime use, this range is a winner. Back at the beach, I could go from wide to pretty tight quickly, giving me a range of creative options instantly.

    No stealth factor

    With the lens hood in place (and even without), the 24mm-105mm is pretty obvious. The 77mm diameter at the front makes for expensive filters and a lot of attention. ‘Look at the size of that lens’, said my friend, when I first pulled out the camera.

    But it’s smaller and lighter than the 24mm-70mm f/2.8L it gets compared to, and it’s not a bother carrying it around all day. If you don’t mind looking like a pro, there’s no downside, but if you want something understated, stick with the primes.

    Horses for courses

    Even for a cool $1000, there’s no lens that’s going to do everything for you. Rationally I knew this going in, but I’m still not entirely delighted with the 24-105mm. That’s slightly unfair, but it’s my impression.

    I don’t moan that the 70-200mm is too long for a lot of situations, or the 28mm not zoomy enough, so I shouldn’t complain that the 24-105mm isn’t great in low-light with fast-moving subjects (aka children). That’s just not what it’s for.

    And when it’s in its element, the lens produces excellent results, so it’s worth its place in my bag (and is the lens most often on the camera, too).


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