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Thread: To "L" and back - Ploddy's review of the Canon 24-105 L

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    To "L" and back - Ploddy's review of the Canon 24-105 L

    Well, as promised, here is my take on this bit of kit. It's a bit of a deal for me, finally getting L glass after many years of unashamed, abject coveting. My thanks go to Canon, B&H and my exhausted bank balance, without whom none of this would be possible.

    Also, a disclaimer: All photos presented in this post are unedited, straight from RAW to Lightroom to JPEG to your screen. The only exception is a couple of crops to examine detail. I have also kept them pretty big so you can see the detail. So dont expect works of art, just 'reference shots'. For really good shots, click HERE.

    So, the lens arrived on Friday, after a bit of a customs hiccup (more of which you can read in my other thread HERE). I duly unpacked the box in my office at work, attached it to the front of my 350D and made use of my lunch break.

    I headed for Civic Park in Newcastle, for 2 reasons: a) I wanted to particuarly test it out in low light conditions and there is a lovely little grove of big old trees there, and b) I needed somewhere close to work, because I was on a lunch break .

    Anyhoo - the first test was a plaque in full shade on an overcast day to test the sharpness and effect of the IS.

    Both shots are:
    - Handheld
    - f/4
    - ISO100
    - 105mm

    1. Full frame


    2. 100% crop of image with IS off (1/60sec)


    3. 100% crop of image with IS on (1/50sec)


    So, straight away you can see the benefit of IS. At that focal length and shutter speed, it produces a razor sharp image.


    Next, a closeup of a tree to check detail and sharpness.

    4. IS on, 105mm, f/4, 1/80sec, ISO100, handheld


    The JPeg compression doesnt do this justice, but take my word for it this is pretty damn sharp, particularly in the middle where I focused. No evidence of front or back focusing, yay. Note though, the edges blur slightly with the curvature of the lens and the narrow focal plane.


    Over to you, bokeh...

    Righto, the standard bokeh test - get nice and close to your subject on full extension (105mm), aperture wide open, with the background a fair way in the back.

    5. IS on, 105mm, f/4, 1/100sec, ISO100, handheld


    So, not the most pleasing of look, actually quite rough, but then I am spoilt by my 2 primes that give off a silky smooth look. Cant beat primes at bokeh. Funnily enough the sharpness of the lens may work against it here?


    Next, Colour.

    This is the one and only flower I could find, but bird of prey's are pretty hard to beat anyway. Remember, no pp here, this is the real deal straight out of the lens.

    6. IS on, 85mm, f/8, 1/30sec, ISO100, handheld


    Wrap it up, I'll take it


    OK, now we look at the wide end. This shot isnt much to look at, but it demonstrates the distortion and contrast gradation fairly well. Note sharpness right to the edges, but some barrel distortion, eg a slight curvature to the light pole. I also like that it picks up detail in the light and shadow with no problems or noise. In fact, let's face it. There's zero noise.

    7. IS on, 24mm, f/8, 1/100sec, ISO100, handheld



    Last but not least for the Friday shoot, a shot in full light of a pale subject to check sharpness and detail. Again, the jpeg compression doesnt do it justice, but I am pretty happy that it gets the detail right across the spectrum.

    8. IS on, 35mm, f/6.3, 1/80sec, ISO 100, handheld


    For the record, I can zoom right in on this shot and see sharpness and detail throughout. It has blown out a bit above the archway on the walls, but that could be the crappy metering of the 350d? Not sure.




    OK, now for one of the main reasons I got the lens. I do a fair bit of work with a local theatre company, shooting their productions and staged shots for promo material etc. If anyone has done theatre work, you'll know just how challenging it is. HUGE variations in lighting in the one shot, very hard to get a decent shutter speed yet people are moving all the time.

    I am forced to use a high ISO (1600) to pull a shutter speed I need even with the lens wide open the whole time - on my old Sigma 17-70 I was getting horrible noise on most shots - yes there is Noise Ninja but that softens the shot dreadfully. And here's a picture from that lens's days...

    9. Sigma 17-70, no IS (obviously), 17mm, f/3.2, 1/40sec, ISO1600, handheld


    Notice the noise in the top and bottom left corners - this was a chronic problem. Also, notice the loss of detail in the faces. It really was a problem that no amount of pp could fix. Maybe on a better body, but that's another story...




    So I was hoping that an IS L lens would reduce the noise and at least get me shots at ISO800 - it wont stop motion blur but I could hopefully work with that by timing my shots well.

    Here's a couple of shots that tell the tale.

    10. IS on, 105mm, f/4, 1/100sec, ISO800, handheld


    Now we're talking! Noise is at least halved if not more, given the lens picks up less anyway. Really crisp detail in the clothing and the face. Much better.




    But she was standing pretty still. What about if they are moving?

    11. IS on, 35mm, f/4, 1/40sec, ISO800, handheld


    OK here is the perfect example of the limitaiton of IS, and what you really need to be aware of. Left and right people are still and sharp, even at 1/40sec. But middle person is on the move, hence the blur. So it's not a fix-all, but still much better.




    But when you do catch them all standing still...

    12. IS on, 65mm, f/4, 1/160sec, ISO800, handheld


    Super crisp and sharp. Yay me. I also like that the noise level is respectable and there is detail in the light and dark areas.




    So there you have it. My little review is nearly complete. Just some passing comments for you:
    1) Weight. I know a lot of people comment that L glass is heavy, but I honestly didnt notice any issues there. Maybe its because the 350d is so light - add the weight of a 1ds and I may think differently.
    2) Build quality. Well, it's an L, so... great. Really solid, metallic feel - not the plastic feel of pretty much all my other lenses.
    3) USM. Really quick focusing. Really quick.
    4) Zoom. THE most annoying feature. It is right up at the back of the lens, so much so your hand catches on the underside of the popup flash unit that overhangs the 350d. That is going to take some getting used to.


    All in all, a worthy purchase and one I highly recommend. Thanks for sticking with me and reading the whole thing. Now get off your behind and go buy one for yourself
    Last edited by Ploddy; 10-03-2010 at 10:12pm.
    Cheers,
    Chris.

    MY
    __________

    Canon EOS 7D w grip | Canon 17-40mm f/4L USM | Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS USM | Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM | Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM | Canon 580EX II speedlight | Cokin ND Grad system


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    Member Pinheadion's Avatar
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    Thanks for a really thorough and objective review of the 24-105L. You'd find most people would just be blindingly happy with it simply because they paid the cash, but you're able to see through that and point out a couple of it's very small but none the less 'flaws' (for lack of a better word).

    On the whole it looks like an awesome piece of glass. Perfect example of not needing the latest bodies to get beautiful results. Look forward to more shots

    Nicely done. Thanks again.

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    Cheers thanks for the review. I have a 17-70 also and I cant wait to get a 24-105 which is on my list
    Jase

    Comments and critique always welcome.

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    Great Review .. and looks like you are just as excited l was ... when l received my 24-105L IS Lens as well

    Great lens .. and welcome to the L Series Club

    Cheers

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    I like the review, the lens is a great buy, I was actually quite dissapointed with mine when I bought it a couple of years ago but wouldn't give it up for anything now!!!
    They are all a bit heavy...but then the camera bodys are "brick heavy" too, if you want performance you don't have much option (Nikon is just as bad), after all, at the $$$ you pay for them they aren't toys???
    Richard
    I've been wrong before!! Happy to have constructive criticism though.Gear used Canon 50D, 7D & 5DMkII plus expensive things hanging off their fronts and of course a "nifty fifty".

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    Member David's Avatar
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    Thanks for the very good review: I got this lens on the say so of people who are experienced togs and have not regretted the investment for one second: this is an A class, versatile and very reliable lens.
    Comments and CC welcome..

    Gear: Canon 6D & 1Ds Cameras l Canon EF 17-40mm F 4.0 L USM l Canon EF 24-105mm F4.0 L IS USM l Canon EF 70 - 200 F4.0 L USM Lenses I Manfrotto Tripods I Adobe Photoshop CS6 l Lightroom 3.0 I Lee Filters



    "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust 1871 - 1922

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    Thanks for the great review

    I've just bought 1 of these a day ago & have hardly had a chance to try it
    after reading this I feel confident about my purchase

    Cheers
    Bryan

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    It's also worth noting, especially to newcomers of DSLR photography, that this lens on a crop-factor body is equivalent to the field of view of a 38-168mm lens on a full frame camera.

    For mine, when I used it on the 40D, it wasn't wide enough at the 24mm end, but since using it on the 5DII, I've found it harder and harder to take off the camera. No wonder that Canon sell this as a (albeit very good) "kit" lens with the 5D Mark II.
    Osprey Photography

    Canon: 5D Mk II, 40D, 10D all gripped, 10-22 f3.5-4.5, 17-40 f4L, 24-70 f2.8L, 24-105 f4L IS, 70-200 f2.8L IS, 100-400 f4.5-5.6L IS, 50 f1.4, 100 f2.8 Macro and other assorted accessories.

    Some stalk, some chase and some pursue... but I hunt.


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    That's a really good point Helen,

    You can see in my one landscape shot the field of view at 'full wide' ie 24mm on a crop sensor camera - it's not that wide at all. For this reason I will still be carrying my Sigma 17-70 (and not selling it) because it actually performs very well as a wide angel landscape lens.

    And here's a picture so you can see the difference...

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    thanks for the review ploddy! i am really hopeing to get one of these not too far down the track, and its great to know what to expect. this matched to my 7d i hope will be good for almost all occasions that i intend to use it. (especially as my only other lens right now is a 10-22!)

    Great review and its interesting to note that you achieved less noise with this lens then your previous ones? is that just because of the quality of glass? i thought the sensor would effect that more?

    thanks for taking the time to review, and i cant wait to get hold of one!
    IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE AND HALFWAY TO EVERYWHERE
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    Yeah, its interesting about the noise issue. Right from the get-go with the 17-70 I noticed a bit of noise in all my shots (you can see it a bit in the top l&r of the jetty shot above, at the edge of the vignetting). I read somewhere that it can be a bit of a trick with cheaper lenses to achieve the look of sharpness. Then, when you bump up the ISO and hold it in your hand the problem really emerges.

    I shouldn't be too critical tho - I was able to get stunning results from that lens for a lot of years and it is well worth the money. It's just this new lens is on another planet altogether...

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Ploddy. I was looking into this lens just today. But how much was it? Am...

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    I love mine, I would never part with it. Best general carry round lens I have ever had.
    Odille

    “Can't keep my eyes from the circling sky”

    My Blog | Canon 1DsMkII | 60D | Tokina 20-35mm f/2.8 AF AT-X PRO | EF50mm f/1.8| Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM | Fujifilm X-T1 & X-M1 | Fujinon XC 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OIS | Fujinon XC 50-230mm F3.5-5.6 OIS | Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4R LM OIS | tripods, flashes, filters etc ||

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    Great review mate. I wanted something wide when i bought my 7D that i was looking at the 24-105 L but ended up with going something shorter and got the 17-55 2.8. Pretty much an L but an EF-S

    Cheers for the review mate. Pretty sure i will get teh 24-105 L or the 24-70 2.8 L when i upgrade to the 5D MK III or IV in the next 4 years or so haha.

    Mike
    Canon EOS 7D | EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM | EF 50mm f/1.4 USM | Speedlite 580EX II

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    nice job on the review,the 24-105mmL is a great lens,I love mine and will never regret buying it.Enjoy yours.
    Kev.
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    Good review, I still don't see how a lens can affect noise though? The only difference I'm seeing is that the shutter speed would be changing with and without IS between your lenses.

    As far as I'm aware the only circuitry the lens has is for the AF system and to share information about focal length and aperture etc.

    Noise is purely a sensor issue. So more information there would be great.

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    Thanks for the review. My first L lens was the 24-105mm but I sold it as I had the opportunity to get a cheap 24-70mm 2.8L. I must admit it was not an easy decision. I really liked that lens.

    Maybe in a few years they'll come out with an f/2.8 version. That would be nice.


    Cheers
    Alan
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    Ausphotography Veteran rwg717's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helen S View Post
    It's also worth noting, especially to newcomers of DSLR photography, that this lens on a crop-factor body is equivalent to the field of view of a 38-168mm lens on a full frame camera.

    For mine, when I used it on the 40D, it wasn't wide enough at the 24mm end, but since using it on the 5DII, I've found it harder and harder to take off the camera. No wonder that Canon sell this as a (albeit very good) "kit" lens with the 5D Mark II.
    Could not agree more with these comments
    Richard

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    Thanks Chris, great review mate. I've been considering the 24-105 with a 50D.. Maybe I'll stretch the budget to a 5D.. Oh the pain....
    Cheers,
    Scotty

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    All these review makes me want to get an 24-105L even more. just waiting for a good deal to come up on ebay for an 2nd hand copy.

    So general concensius is it is THE best walk around len Canon makes?

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