Products

EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Review: Testing Out Lens in Street Photography

Boasting overwhelming popularity ever since its debut in conjunction with the first-generation EOS 5D 11 years ago in 2005, the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM all-round standard zoom lens has undergone a full renewal. Its successor, the EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM, comes in a brand new design with enhancements made in all aspects. In this article, let us take a look at what this new lens has to offer. (Reported by: Kazuo Nakahara)

 

Long-awaited new zoom lens with enhanced versatility

Looking through the photos I have taken as a professional photographer, I noticed that the lens that I used most frequently was the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM. 

I take a lot of street photographs and this lens offers me the convenience of shooting at different locations with a single lens. Hearing about the upoming update to the lens, I could not wait to see what its successor had to offer. After taking photos with it paired with the 30.4-megapixel EOS 5D Mark IV, I was pleased to note that the EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM is capable of bringing out the depictive power of high-resolution DSLR cameras.

I had some reservations at first upon learning that this lens does not incorporate UD lens elements, which were used on its predecessor (the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM). However, through the test shots, I found that chromatic aberration has been improved, and the peripheral areas of the image are also well resolved thanks to an increase in the number of aspherical lens elements used. The image stabilization capabilities, now equivalent to approximately 4 stops, an improvement of 1.5 stops, provide smooth, seamless transitions in the previewed image on the viewfinder when the camera is moved—a pleasant feeling especially when panning. I’m delighted by this, as it shows that the improvements in the lens are not just in the specs alone.

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM/ FL: 24mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8, 1/320 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto
One of the strengths of this lens is that it offers satisfactory results at both the wide-angle end of 24mm as well as the telephoto end of 105mm. As illustrated in the example above, both the boat and the blue sky are captured with the huge building as the primary subject at the focal length of 24mm, while resolution is also clear throughout the image.


The AF speed is fast and flawless. Another noteworthy change is that the number of aperture blades is now 10, an even number. If we look at the standard zoom lenses available in the market, including those by other manufacturers, this is probably the only one that employs an even number for its aperture blades. For night photography shots where creating a starburst effect is often an important element, this lens comes in extremely handy as an even number reduces the number of light streaks produced, which allows for cleaner depiction of the starburst effect. The bokeh effect created by the lens also has a softer outline, which conveys a more natural feel.

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM/ FL: 24mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/4, 1/2,500 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto
The shooting conditions were harsh with the bright sun on a clear day included in the composition. Nonetheless, the lens was able to prevent significant ghosting while producing a smooth gradation of the sky from white to blue. Flare was minimised, and the colours of the cosmos blossoms were also beautifully reproduced.

 

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM/ FL: 105mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/4, 1/256 sec, EV+0.7)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto
In this shot, I set the focus on the flowers close to the camera, and blurred both the foreground and background with the aperture wide open. The outline of the bokeh effect in the background turns out natural and smooth, while the bokeh in the foreground at the bottom left corner of the image is soft and helps to accentuate the primary subject.

 

The new lens is more robust in build, which makes it feel more stable during use. I was concerned that the weight of the lens may make the lens barrel prone to lens creep. However, it was able to stop at the desired point while I was zooming, and a new zoom ring lock lever has also been added for greater ease of use. The torque of both the zoom and focusing rings is moderate and smooth. In addition to the dust- and water-resistant structure, the lens is also applied with a layer of fluorine coating to withstand harsher conditions of use.

Let us take a closer look at some key highlights of the lens.

 

#1: Ghosting and flare has been reduced with Canon’s new coating technology

The EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM comes with a new Air Sphere Coating (ASC) that is capable of reducing flare and ghosting considerably. While the predecessor, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, often produced unwanted coloured ghosting when shooting a bright light source, this is reduced by a large extent on the new lens. Flare resistance has also been enhanced, which prevents the contrast around the light source from deteriorating compared to its predecessor. Besides backlit shots with the sun in the background, you can also enjoy clear shots of nightscapes. The lens hood now comes with a new lock lever.

 

EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM

EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

While ghosting is observed around the sun in the shot taken with the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, the same problem does not occur when the EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM is used. Other than ghosting, flare is also seen near the centre of the image by the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, which reduces the contrast of the cosmos blossoms as a result.

 

#2: Details of the entire image are reproduced faithfully with well-defined lines

Compared to its predecessor, the EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM boasts a higher level of depictive power throughout the entire zoom range. In particular, astigmatism at the peripheral areas of the image as well as chromatic aberration (colour fringing) have been significantly reduced. In the current round of test shots, the depictive power of the lens has been found to improve dramatically from the standard to telephoto focal lengths with the details clearly resolved even at the maximum aperture. Also, while fine lines tend to be reproduced as thicker lines by the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, they are faithfully and clearly depicted with the EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM, thus allowing you to obtain a clear image when it is used with a high-resolution camera. This enhancement is attributable to the four aspherical lens elements, which help to eliminate aberrations effectively.

 

Effective placement of 4 aspherical lens elements

A: Large-diameter Double-sided GMo Aspherical Lens Elements
B: GMo Aspherical Lens Elements
Four aspherical lens elements, including a large-diameter double-sided GMo aspherical lens as the fourth element, are effectively arranged to reduce distortions. Doing so helps to enhance the image quality at the peripheral areas of the image throughout the entire zoom range.

 

Depiction at 24mm

All examples shot with: EOS 5D Mark IV/ FL: 24mm/ Aperture-priority AE (EV+0.3)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto

 

f/4 Centre
EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM


EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

f/4 Periphery
EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM


EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

f/8 Centre
EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM


EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

f/8 Periphery
EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM


EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

 

Depiction at 50mm

All examples shot with: EOS 5D Mark IV/ FL: 50mm/ Aperture-priority AE (EV+0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto

 

f/4 Centre
EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM


EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

f/4 Periphery
EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM


EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

f/8 Centre
EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM


EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

f/8 Periphery
EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM


EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

 

Depiction at 105mm

All examples shot with: EOS 5D Mark IV/ FL: 105mm/ Aperture-priority AE (EV-0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto

 

f/4 Centre
EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM


EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

f/4 Periphery
EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM


EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

f/8 Centre
EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM


EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

f/8 Periphery
EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM


EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

#3: Cleaner starburst effect with 10 aperture blades

EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM is one of the rare lenses that produce 10-rayed starbursts. The main trend in recent years is for lenses to adopt an odd number of aperture blades, which produce a number of light rays that is double the number of the blades. For example, a nine-blade aperture would produce 18 light rays, and this may sometimes cause the resulting image to turn out too cluttered in night photography. With the EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM, which has an even number of aperture blades (10), the number light rays produced is the same as the number of blades. At the same time, the starburst effect created is also cleaner and more beautiful compared to that by the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

 

EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM

EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

Compared to the starburst effect created by the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, the 10 light rays produced by each of the light source appear cleaner and more refined in the shot captured using the EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM. The starburst effect becomes clearer as you narrow the aperture further, but the range between f/13 and f/16 is recommended to avoid any deterioration in the image quality resulting from diffraction.

 

#4: Vignetting has been improved with the effective placement of lens elements

Although vignetting is a problem that occurs on all zoom lenses when maximum aperture is used at the wide-angle end, considerable improvements have been made on the EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM compared to the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM. It is usually hard to notice vignetting as corrections are automatically applied inside the camera. However, if we photograph at a high ISO speed and compensate the exposure to the brighter side, the image quality at the four corners may lower as a result. This issue of vignetting is addressed optically on the EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM with the effective placement of lens elements to minimise deterioration in the image quality.

 

EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM

EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM

 

By setting Peripheral illumination correction to “Disable”, we can easily tell the difference between the images produced by the two lenses. While vignetting is observed at the four corners of the image captured using the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, this is improved in the image by the EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM, so you can carry out your shoot at ease with the latter even when the aperture is widely open.

 

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM/ FL: 105mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/4, 1/200 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto
I took a close-up shot of the tiny blossoms on an October sakura tree. The maximum magnification has improved slightly, and there would be very few occasions where you may find difficulty in closing up on the subject as desired at the telephoto end with the EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM. Areas where the bokeh effect has a high contrast, such as the tree branches, also do not stand out excessively.

 

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM/ FL: 105mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/5.6, 1/320 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto
I set the lens at 105mm to create a perspective effect that compresses the distances between the guardrail in the foreground, the pedestrians and the buildings in the background. It would be difficult to achieve the desired effect with a 24-70mm lens, and I would have missed out on this photo opportunity if I had to change my lens. In this way, a lens that offers a telephoto focal length of up to 105mm offers many significant advantages.

 

EOS 5D Mark IV/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM/ FL: 24mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/8, 1/400 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 100/ WB: Auto
In this example, I tried to bring out the height of the skyscrapers with the lens set to the wide-angle end. It is also fun to play with the strong perspective exaggeration effect created by the wide angle of 24mm. The key here is to make good use of the perspective effect by moving as close to the subject as possible and capturing it at an angle.

 

A first impression of this lens in landscape photography is available here:
EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM: Optical Design of Standard Zoom Lens Revamped

 

Receive the latest updates on photography news, tips and tricks by signing up with us!

 

EOS 5D Mark IV (Body)

Click here for more details

 

EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM

Click here for more details

 

Kazuo Nakahara

 

Born in Hokkaido in 1982, Nakahara turned to photography after working at a chemical manufacturing company. He majored in photography at the Vantan Design Institute and is a lecturer for photography workshops and seminars, in addition to working in commercial photography. He is also a representative of the photography information website studio9.

http://photo-studio9.com/

 

Digital Camera Magazine

 

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.
Published by Impress Corporation

 

comments

Write a Comment

 

Login to comment

You have been logged off from your account.

An email with an activation link had been sent to your SNAPSHOT registered email.

After clicking the link, you will be able to login with your existing login detail.

Thank you for your continued support as a member of the CANON and SNAPSHOT Community. We will do our best to continue provide you with more exciting and meaningful content to help you in your everyday quest to bring out the best photographer within you!

Permission to continue

Your CANON ID will be MERGED with your SNAPSHOT ID.

An activation link will be sent to your email.

Please re-enter your password to give us permission to continue.

Type your password

By clicking this, you agree to merge your CANON ID to SNAPSHOT ID. Agreeing to this is subject to CANON AND SNAPSHOT’S TERMS & CONDITIONS.