Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 IS II USM Lens Review
The overall appearance is of a well made, chunky lens. It's relatively hefty weight of 795g is no surprise, nor is its filter thread diameter of 77mm. There is a substantial bayonet lens hood provided, as well made as the lens and fitting smoothly and precisely. A locking catch ensures the hood stays put.
The large focusing ring lies behind this, operating smoothly, with just the right amount of friction to avoid accidental changes in focus position. The lens is internal focusing, so the front element does not rotate and the length of the lens stays the same. Focusing is from infinity down to 0.45m, a maximum magnification of 0.24x. This is around 1:4, and typical for a lens of this type. Focusing is silent, ideal for videographers. AF can be overridden at any time via the manual focusing ring.
There is a focusing scale behind a clear plastic window, marked in feet and metres. Although there is no depth of field scale there are two infra-red focusing marks for 50mm and 24mm. Infra-red light focuses at a different point to visible light unless lenses are specially corrected for this. It is interesting that this implies that the lens is expected to be used for IR photography.
At the same point around the lens barrel we find the AF/MF and Stabiliser on/off switches. The IS system claims a 4 stop advantage, enabling much slower shutter speeds to be possible when handheld. On the other side of the lens is a lock switch. This lock will prevent the lens extending under its own weight whilst being carried and is operational when the focal length is set to 24mm.
Closest to the camera body we have the zoom ring, satisfyingly firm in action and very clearly marked. The marked settings are also very accurate, so, for example, setting 50mm will result in images shot exactly at 50mm.
The metal lens mount is solid and well machined, the finish being exemplary. The fit is perfect, lenses bayoneting firmly but smoothly and with no play whatsoever when mounted.
Lens construction is 17 elements in 12 groups, elements having Air Sphere Coating to minimise the chance of flare. There are 4 Aspherical glasses in the formulation, one, in fact, having a double spherical profile. The diaphragm has 10 blades, the rounded aperture improving the bokeh of a lens. Finally, we have dust and moisture resistance so the lens can be used with confidence in the field without being too limited by the conditions.
In use, the lens proves to be an ideal general purpose companion. It can be applied to a wide variety of subject matter, from landscape and architecture to portraits and street photography. There are no operational glitches, it focuses easily and very quickly and continues to operate well even as the light fails. Given the high potential ISO settings of most DSLR cameras, even the modest f/4 maximum aperture is not too much of a restriction in low light.
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