Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Review

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens
Verdict

The Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens's 24-105mm focal length range and f/2.8 aperture combination are game-changing. This full-featured lens produces excellent image quality and is an outstanding choice for general-purpose uses, including for low-light scenarios.

Pros
  • Ends the 24-70mm f/2.8 vs. 24-105mm f/4 debate
  • Excellent wedding and portrait lens
  • Wide aperture
  • Professional grade
  • Silent, smooth, and fast Dual Nano USM AF
  • Quiet optical image stabilization
  • Fixed size
  • Mid-sized
  • Lens Function buttons
  • Compatible with Canon Power Zoom Adapter
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Moderately heavy
  • Strong wide end barrel distortion requires correction
  • Strong lateral CA
  • Strong color blur at 105mm
In-Depth Review

Welcome to the world's first 24-105mm f/2.8 lens.

For many photographers, this lens ends the 24-70mm f/2.8 vs. 24-105mm f/4 debate. With the formerly available professional-grade standard zoom lens choices, 70mm on the Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens was not always long enough, and f/4 on the Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens was not always wide enough. With the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens, you can have the extended focal length range and the wider aperture, and that difference is big.

The RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z is a high-end, mid-sized, fixed-size lens that reliably delivers outstanding overall performance, including excellent image quality, fast and quiet Dual Nano USM AF, and 5.5-stop IS (8.0 stops with Coordinated IBIS).

Those familiar with Canon's lenses are asking what the "Z" is for, so let's get that question answered promptly. This lens is compatible with and provides attachment points and contacts for the Canon Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E2 and PZ-E2B. These devices provide motorized control of the Z lens's conventional zoom ring. Learn more about this feature below.

The designers targeted this lens to professional video content creators, video production individuals and firms, and serious enthusiasts for portraiture, events and weddings, photojournalism, and high-end YouTube and in-house productions.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Top View

Focal Length Range

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The focal length range (or the individual focal length for a prime lens) is a primary consideration for a lens purchase or selection for use. A specific angle of view is required to get a desired subject framing with the optimal perspective or from within a working distance limitation.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Running Baby Sample Picture

Hinting at the usefulness of the 24-105mm range is that Canon now has three RF 24-105mm lenses, representing nearly 8% of the current RF lens lineup.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Candid Portrait Sample Picture

The 24-105mm range considerably exceeds what I consider the optimal general-purpose range (about 28-70mm on a full-frame camera), especially reaching deeper into the portrait range.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Messy Face Headshot Sample Picture

Especially with the f/2.8 aperture, this lens is an outstanding choice for photographing people, including outdoor, indoor, and studio portraiture, weddings, parties, events, documentaries, interviews, lifestyle, fashion, sports (with close subjects or to capture the big picture), candids, groups, and environmental portraits.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Baby with Soccer Ball Sample Picture

This lens alone can handle most portrait shoots.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Baby Sample Picture

Baby pictures? Check.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Baby in Barn Sample Picture

This focal length range is a great choice for photojournalistic needs, it is ready to capture a wide range of product images, and it is well-suited for commercial photography in general.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens In Moms Arm Sample Picture

The 24-105mm range is an ideal choice for landscape photography. It is not difficult to create compelling landscape compositions using the 24mm perspective, while still providing emphasis on a foreground subject against an in-focus background, leaving the viewer feeling a sense of presence in the scene. At the other end of the range, 105mm works great for modestly compressed landscapes featuring distant subjects such as mountains remaining large in the frame.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Landscape Sample Picture

The f/2.8 aperture avails this lens for nightscape photography, and the wide end of this focal length range works well for this pursuit.

This lens is an excellent choice for video production, with uses mirroring those of stills.

Here are examples of this range (from another lens):

24-105mm Focal Length Range Example

24mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm | 85mm | 105mm
24mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm | 85mm | 105mm

Notice the 70mm vs 105mm comparisons, illustrating the difference between this lens's capability vs. the 24-70mm alternative. In use, I find this difference to be significant.

On an APS-C imaging sensor format camera, the 1.6x FOVCF (Field of View Crop Factor) provides an angle of view similar to a 38.4-168mm lens on a full-frame camera. This range is somewhat lacking from a wide-angle perspective, but it has a attractive long end, especially useful for portraits.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Front View

Max Aperture

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What is the second most important question to ask when selecting a lens? Usually, that answer is: How much light does the lens provide to the imaging sensor?

Few zoom lenses open wider than f/2.8, and no other lenses with this focal length range open wider than f/4.

The larger elements required to create this opening have a size, weight, and cost penalty, but the advantages are big. Vs. an f/4 alternative, an f/2.8 aperture provides a 1-stop lower ISO setting for the same shutter speed, low light AF is improved, and a stronger background blur can be created.

This lens is a great lens choice for low-light action and events.

These examples illustrate the wide range of maximum blur this lens can create:

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Maximum Blur Example

The background is a significant percentage of many compositions, and when the background is not complementary to the subject (or even distracting), blurring it away is highly advantageous. This lens has that capability.

Is the background blur difference between 105mm f/2.8 and f/4 substantial? With the f/2.8 lens focused to approximately 3m, here is a distant background rendering comparison showing full images reduced in size:

105mm f/2.8 vs. f/4 Background Blur Comparison

2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0

Reducing the image size tends to minimalize the background blur appearance, so here are 100% crops from the same images:

105mm f/2.8 vs. f/4 Background Blur Comparison

2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0

The answer: the background blur difference between 105mm f/2.8 and f/4 is substantial.

The RF 24-105 F2.8 has a smoothly integrated step-less manual aperture ring, a feature especially desired by videographers. With the ring in the A (Auto) position, the camera controls the aperture setting, and all other settings force the aperture to the selected opening. A spring-loaded Iris Lock switch holds the aperture ring in the A setting, avoiding inadvertent changes, or in the manual range, locking out the A option.

Note that camera compatibility is required for the manual aperture ring functionality, and an EOS R-series camera model introduced in 2024 or later (future models at review time) is required to use this ring for stills. The ring has no functionality on incompatible EOS R-series cameras.

Image Stabilization

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Image stabilization is another great feature of this lens. This IS system is rated for 5.5 stops of assistance, and with IBIS Coordinated IS, the rating jumps to 8.0 stops.

The RF 24-105 F2.8's IS system is quiet, only heard by an ear nearly against the lens, and it is well-behaved, providing a smooth view, including when moving the camera.

Three stabilization modes are provided, a first for a Canon RF standard zoom lens. Mode 1 (general-purpose), Mode 2 (for panning with a subject, one axis of stabilization is provided), and Mode 3. Mode 3 is useful for tracking erratic action. In this mode, image stabilization is active and ready for use the moment the shutter releases, but actual stabilization is not in effect until that precise time. As a result, the view seen through the viewfinder is not stabilized, which allows a moving subject to be tracked without fighting against IS trying to stabilize the view. Mode 3 is designed to detect panning motion, and when detected, the lens will only apply stabilization at right angles to the direction of the detected movement (like Mode 2).

With an increased ISO setting being the alternative, the noise difference IS enables for still subjects is huge, and stabilization dramatically improves video quality.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens on Tripod

Image Quality

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So, in the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens, we get a record-setting focal length range and aperture combination. The logical question is, what does pushing the boundaries do to image quality?

Canon's engineers targeted advanced photographers with this design, and they know that an optical performance less than excellent would not be acceptable.

The MTF charts provided our initial expectations. Here are the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens's MTF charts (A) along with the charts from the highly regarded Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens (B) for a comparison.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens MTF Chart Comparison

The black lines indicate contrast, and the blue lines show resolution. The solid lines are sagittal, and the dashed lines are meridional. The higher the lines, the better the optical performance.

At 24mm, the RF 24-105 F2.8 appears sharper than the RF 24-70 F2.8 in the center and midframe. The corner comparison shows the two lenses performing mostly similarly.

At the long end, the two lenses perform similarly. The 24-105 has a slight advantage in the center, and the 24-70 has a slight advantage in the corner. However, 105mm is not 70mm, and the 24-105 could outperform at that mid setting. We had to wait for the lens to arrive to learn that answer.

With the lens in the lab, the answers are in.

This lens, wide open at f/2.8, produces sharp center-of-the-frame details throughout the entire focal length range. Improvement is not needed, and stopping down to f/4 has a negligible effect on results at the wide end. F/4 creates a tiny improvement in the mid and long focal lengths.

Often, subjects are not placed in the center of a composition. In the periphery of the image circle, where light rays are refracted to a stronger angle than in the center, lenses typically show decreased sharpness, and this one shows a gradual decline from the center to the corner. Especially with this lens's strong barrel distortion at the wide end, the corrected corner sharpness is impressive even at f/4. The longer focal lengths perform better with a narrowed aperture, with the reduced vignetting being especially helpful in this regard.

The resolution chart is brutal/merciless on image quality, so let's take the testing outdoors, next looking at a series of center-of-the-frame 100% resolution crop examples. These images were captured using an ultra-high-resolution Canon EOS R5 with RAW files processed in Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) using the Standard Picture Style with sharpness set to 1 on a 0-10 scale. Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening, but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

24mm: 2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0
50mm: 2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0
105mm: 2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0   2.8 | 4.0

Be sure to find details in the plane of sharp focus for your evaluations, especially in the 105mm results where the depth of field is the shallowest. Again, the center of the frame results look great.

Next, we'll look at a series of comparisons showing 100% resolution extreme top left corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. The lens was manually focused in the corner of the frame to capture these images.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

24mm: 2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6
50mm: 2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6
105mm: 2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6   2.8 | 4.0 | 5.6

Samples taken from the outer extreme of the image circle, full-frame corners, can be counted on to show a lens's weakest performance. The 24mm corner samples look great at f/2.8 and look even better with the peripheral shading clearing at narrower apertures. The 50mm and 105mm corners are impressive by f/5.6.

Corner sharpness does not always matter, but it sometimes does, including when photographing landscapes and architecture. When photographing these subjects, f/8 or f/11 is likely selected for adequate depth of field in the scene, and this lens works extremely well for these purposes at these apertures. Out-of-focus corners are often desired when shooting at wide apertures, and typical wide-aspect ratio videos also avoid using corners.

This lens does not exhibit focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA).

A lens is expected to show peripheral shading at the widest aperture settings when used on a camera that utilizes its entire image circle. This lens shows wide-open aperture corner shading ranging from 3 stops at the wide end to 2 stops at the long end. Stopping down 1 stop brings one stop brighter corners, with peripheral shading ranging from 2 to 1 stop. Shading reduction ends at f/8, with a 1 to 0.45 stop range remaining.

APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, about 1/2 stop of corner shading showing at f/2.8 will seldom be visible.

One-stop of shading is often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting is correctable during post-processing, with increased noise in the brightened areas the penalty, or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. Study the pattern shown in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.

Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) refers to the unequal magnification of all colors in the spectrum. Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii), with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the most significant amount as this is where the most significant difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.

With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide. However, it is always better to avoid this aberration in the first place.

Color misalignment can be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples. The images below are 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of R5 frames showing diagonal black and white lines.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

24mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm | 85mm | 105mm

Only black and white colors should be present in these images, with the additional colors indicating the presence of lateral CA. The color separation is moderately strong at the wide end, slowly decreases to negligible around 35mm, and increases to strong at 70mm as the separated colors align and then reverse. The 105mm lateral CA is quite strong.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light. More simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration, along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to observe. Axial CA remains somewhat persistent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing. The spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused, and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation, with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.

The examples below look at the defocused specular highlights' fringing colors in the foreground vs. the background. The lens has introduced any fringing color differences from the neutrally colored subjects.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

24mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm | 85mm | 105mm

This lens shows excellent performance except at 105mm where strong color separation is present.

Bright light reflecting off lens elements' surfaces may cause flare and ghosting, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes interesting, usually destructive visual artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare and ghosting effects in an image are variable, dependent on the position and nature of the light source (or sources), selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades, and quantity and quality of the lens elements and their coatings. Additionally, flare and ghosting can impact AF performance.

This lens features Canon's SSC (Super Spectra Coating), and ASC (Air Sphere Coating), an ultra-low refractive index coating consisting of air and silicon dioxide, to combat flare and ghosting. The high 23-element count increases the challenge in this regard, but this lens shows a low amount of flare effects at f/2.8 in our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test. That performance is not unusual, and stopped down significantly, this lens does produce some noticeable flare effects.

Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted. Unfortunately, removal is sometimes challenging, and in some cases, flare effects can destroy image quality.

Two lens aberrations are particularly evident in images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light that can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma) or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). The coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). This aberration can produce stars appearing to have wings. Remember that Lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The images below are 100% crops taken from the top-left corner of EOS R5 images captured at the widest available aperture.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Coma Example

These results appear relatively good, lacking strong wing shapes but showing some stretching.

As mentioned, this lens has extreme barrel distortion at the wide end. The geometric distortion is so strong that Canon forces correction at all focal lengths in the camera (EVF, LCD, JPG images, movies) and in DPP, regardless of the lens corrections settings. Processing the distortion test images with software that permits processing with uncorrected distortion results in off-the-chart framing that shows the true image captured.

For reference, the squares in the test chart filled the viewfinder during capture. At 24mm, there is a lot of extra subject in the frame, and the straight line at the top of the chart is rendered as a strong curve. This lens's barrel distortion rapidly diminishes as the focal length is increased until transitioning into slight pincushion at 50mm and strong pincushion from 70mm through 105mm.

For reference, the pattern in the test chart filled the viewfinder during capture. At 24mm, this lens has an uncorrected angle of view considerably wider than a corrected 24mm lens, and the straight line at the top of the chart is rendered as a strong curve.

Reasons for designing a lens with uncorrected geometric distortion include lower cost, smaller size, lighter weight, reduced complexity, and improved correction of aberrations not software correctable. Despite the designer's intention and the capability of correction, the actual distortion must be reviewed to fully understand the characteristics of a lens. The distortion from all lenses can be corrected, and once properly corrected, distortion is no longer a differentiator. While severe distortion and the stretching or cropping required to correct it are detrimental image quality, the resulting image quality should be the final decision factor.

At review time, Adobe's ACR, including when used in Lightroom, appears to have a problem with the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens profile needed to correct the severe distortion, creating a border of streaked lines of various colors and widths in some images.

Adobe RAW Conversion Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Issue

That example is a 105mm f/8 100% top-left crop. I expect Adobe will promptly fix that issue but unchecking the "Enable Profile Corrections" in the Lens Corrections palette eliminates the lines (and the geometric distortion correction).

As seen earlier in the review, it is easy to illustrate the strongest blur a lens can create. Due to the infinite number of variables present among available scenes, assessing the blur quality, bokeh, is considerably more challenging. Here are some f/11 (for diaphragm blade interaction) examples.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Bokeh Example

24mm | 50mm | 105mm   24mm | 50mm | 105mm

The first examples are 100% crops showing defocused highlights. As usual from a wide-angle focal length, concentric circles fill the central portion of the 24mm highlights. The 50mm and 105mm highlights are nice, round and smoothly filled.

The second set of examples shows a 100% crop for the 24mm result and full images reduced in size for the rest. All look good.

Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the frame's corner does not produce round defocused highlights, with these effects taking on a cat's eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the frame's corner, the shape is not round. That is the shape we're looking at here.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

24mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm | 85mm | 105mm

Some shape truncation shows deep in the image periphery. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting diminishes, making the corner shapes rounder.

An 11-blade count diaphragm will create 22-point sunstars (diffraction spikes) from point light sources captured with a narrow aperture. Generally, the more a lens diaphragm is stopped down, the larger and better shaped the sunstars tend to be. Wide aperture lenses tend to have an advantage in this regard, and this lens can produce beautiful stars, especially at the wide end where the diaphragm is physically closed the most.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Sunstar Effect Example

The examples above were captured at f/16.

The design of this lens is illustrated below.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Design

Twenty-three elements are packed into this lens, including advanced materials and shapes. There are 3 aspherical elements and 4 UD elements.

What is a "New Replica Aspheric element"?

"We’ve used "replica" aspheric elements before ... the concept is to apply an optical material (think of it as an easily moldable, almost thick liquid that can be joined to one surface of an element (it obviously is hardened in its final form). The point is that the complex aspherical shape can be applied to a specific element and allow it to do its task(s) more efficiently than a conventional glass-molded element could."

"The new aspect is that here, this applied "coating" (definitely not like traditional lens coatings!) can be thicker, contoured to an even greater aspherical shape, and in particular, Canon developed new surface measurement and production techniques, resulting in greater precision than as it was done previously." [Rudy Winston, Canon USA]

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Side View

Focusing

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Dual Nano USM powers the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens's AF. This system is fast, quiet (only a light shuffling is heard), internal, and smooth.

With the f/2.8 aperture, low-light AF performance is excellent. This lens focuses on strong contrast in light levels too dark to navigate in.

FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported in AF mode with the camera in One Shot Drive Mode, but the shutter release must be half-pressed for the focus ring to become active. Note that FTM does not work if electronic manual focusing after One Shot AF is disabled in the camera's menu. The lens's switch must be in the "MF" position and the camera meter must be on/awake for conventional manual focusing to be available.

This lens has a two-position focus distance range limit switch that, in addition to enabling the full focus distance range, allows distance selection to be limited to 3.3' (1.0m) - ∞, with the narrower range potentially decreasing focus lock times.

Two Lens Function buttons are provided at convenient positions for horizontal and vertical orientation use. By default, the buttons provide the AF stop function, locking focus at the currently selected distance, permitting a focus and recompose technique. However, they can be programmed for numerous other functions.

Here is a partial list of functions assignable to the Lens Function buttons:

  • AF Stop (default)
  • Metering/AF start
  • Switch to saved AF function
  • One-Shot AF / Servo AF
  • Eye detection
  • Switch to saved AF frame
  • AE lock
  • AE lock (hold)
  • Exposure compensation (turn main electronic dial while button is depressed)
  • Activate IS function
  • Aperture
  • Many more ...

This lens exhibits parfocal-like behavior, keeping subjects in focus during focal length changes.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Parfocal Example

105mm | 85mm | 70mm | 50mm | 35mm | 24mm

The large, rubber-ribbed, manual focusing ring is optimally positioned toward the front of the lens.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens on Tripod Side with Hood

This ring turns smoothly and is ideally damped.

With the camera's "RF lens MF focus ring sensitivity set to "Varies with rotation speed", this MF ring requires between about 80° and 180° of rotation for a full extent focus distance adjustment at 24mm and 150° to 460° of rotation to do the same at 105mm. With "Linked to rotation degree selected, the degree number is about 320. The focus distance adjustment is slower at close distances, where the depth of field is shallower.

Overall, the RF 24-105mm F2.8 provides a great manual focus experience.

It is normal for the scene to change size in the frame as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other. This effect is focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus (without movement to camouflage the effect), and anyone critically framing a scene while adjusting focus.

This lens produces a modest change in subject size through a full-extent (worst-case) focus distance adjustment.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Focus Magnification Example

24mm: Far | Close   105mm: Far | Close

This lens has a minimum focus distance of 17.7" (450mm) specs at all focal lengths (though it will manually focus about 2" (50mm) closer than this at 24mm), and at 105mm, it generates a significant 0.29x maximum magnification, especially useful for capturing details and other small subjects.

ModelMin Focus Distance "(mm)Max Magnification
Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens11.0(280)0.21x
Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens8.3(210)0.30x
Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens17.7(450)0.29x
Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens17.7(450)0.24x
Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens27.6(700)0.23x

At 24mm, a subject measuring approximately 16.0 x 10.7" (408 x 272mm) fills a full-frame imaging sensor at this lens's minimum MF distance, 0.08x maximum magnification. At 105mm, a subject measuring approximately 4.8 x 3.2 in. (121 x 80mm) does the same.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Maximum Magnification Example

The USPS love stamps shared above have an image area that measures 1.05 x 0.77" (26.67 x 19.558mm), and the overall individual stamp size is 1.19 x 0.91" (30.226 x 23.114mm).

This lens produces sharp center of the frame details at minimum focus distance with a wide-open aperture, but expect the image periphery to be quite soft due to field curvature. F/11 brings increased depth of field that provides a significant improvement in corner image quality.

Mount an extension tube behind this lens to significantly decrease the minimum focus distance and increase the magnification. As of review time, Canon does not offer RF mount-compatible extension tubes, but third-party options are available.

This lens is not compatible with Canon extenders.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Front View on Camera

Design & Features

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The RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z is Canon's largest black RF L-series lens. It looks sharp, and it is built for the rigors of professional use.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Product Images

MFD |    MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    MFD |    Rotated   Compare »

This lens has a mostly consistent exterior diameter. A small width increase starting in the middle of the focus ring makes that ring easy to tactilely locate.

The conventional mechanically geared zoom ring is large and features a normal, 90°, rotation amount.

Unlike most standard zoom lenses, this one does not change size, aiding in a stable balance across the available focal lengths.

The knurled control ring, located near the front of the lens, is configurable for fast access to camera settings including aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation. Note that the control ring is clicked by default. Expect this ring's clicks to be audible in camera-based audio recordings. Alternatively, Canon offers a click stop removal service (at a cost).

The four available switches feature Canon's current standard flush-mount design, with sufficient raised area for use with gloves. The two IS-related switches are on a slightly raised area of the lens. All switches firmly click into position, but the short throw on the IS mode switch makes selecting the center position slightly challenging.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Mount

This lens design features dust and moisture resistance, including seals at the Power Zoom Adapter contacts and connection points.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Weather Sealing

The front lens element has a fluorine coating applied to repel fingerprints, dust, water, oil, and other contaminants and make cleaning considerably easier.

Relative to the standard professional/general-purpose zoom lenses we are used to, and even compared to the RF 70-200 F2.8, the RF 24-105 F2.8 is a large and heavy lens. However, it is the same size as the EF 70-200mm F2.8 lenses that, for years, many of us used for hours at a time.

For many uses, the 24-105mm focal length range and f/2.8 aperture combination are worth the size and weight.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens29.7(840)3.5 x 5.0(88.5 x 126.8)822019
Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens31.8(900)3.5 x 4.9(88.5 x 125.7)822019
Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens46.9(1330)3.5 x 7.8(88.5 x 199.0)822023
Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens24.7(700)3.3 x 4.2(83.5 x 107.3)772018
Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens37.8(1070)3.5 x 5.7(89.9 x 146.0)772019
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens52.2(1480)3.5 x 7.8(88.8 x 199.0)772018

For many more comparisons, review the complete Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.

Here is a visual comparison:

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens
Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens
Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens
Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens to other lenses.

Despite its larger size, the RF 24-105 F2.8 has the same filter thread size as the RF 24-70 F2.8, 82mm. While 82mm filters are not small or inexpensive, 82mm is a common filter size, making effects filters shareable with many lenses.

A standard-thickness circular polarizer filter does not increase peripheral shading. Still, a slim model such as the Breakthrough Photography X4 is recommended.

You don't often see tripod rings on a standard zoom lens, but this lens's size and weight necessitate this feature to avoid tripod head and camera strain and sag (and to avoid tripod tipping). The collar also permits easy camera rotation.

The RF 24-105 F2.8's tripod ring is among Canon's best RF implementations. This ring is solidly constructed, and the rotation and lock knob are smooth. There are no 90° click stops, but small groves on the collar align with a small grove on top of the lens barrel to aid locking in these often-useful positions.

On Canon's to-do list is to resolve a slight amount of play in the foot where it attaches to the collar. The composition will shift side-to-side with pressure applied in three of the three lenses tested, as illustrated in the 105mm example below.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Tripod Foot Movement

A | B

The RF 24-105 F2.8's tripod ring is not removable, but it integrates smoothly into the lens's external dimensions.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Foot Removed

The tripod foot section can be removed by loosening the mount knob and holding the button in while sliding the foot forward.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Foot

The foot has standard 1/4" and 3/8" threaded inserts, along with an alignment hole.

While a lens plate with anti-twist nubs, such as the Wimberley P30 Lens Plate sufficiently locks onto this foot, another option is to utilize a dual bolt plate, such as the Wimberley P40. In that case, a 3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20 Reducer Bushing will be needed in the larger threaded insert. Some of the product images included in this review show the Really Right Stuff 40mm Sliding Multi-Purpose Rail under the RF 24-105 F2.8. This lens plate option features an anti-twist pin that locks into the alignment hole.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Angle View with Hood

The Canon EW-88E Lens Hood is included in the box. This petal-shaped hood is modest in size and adds important front element protection from impact and flare-inducing light.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z LZ1326B Lens Case

Canon also includes a case with their L-series lenses, and this lens comes with the nice dual-zippered, padded nylon Canon LZ1326B Lens Case.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Cap

Back to the "Z" designation. This lens has a standard mechanical zoom ring, but alignment holes, threaded inserts, and electrical contacts are provided for solid attachment of the Canon Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E2 and PZ-E2B (PZA).

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Right Side View

When used on supported cameras, a gear on the inside of the adapter drives a small-geared portion of the zoom ring at a selectable rate (3-90 sec. normal or 1.5-90 sec. high). The relatively light resistance of the zoom ring resistance reduces the motor's power requirements. Manual zoom can be selected while the PZA is attached.

Canon Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E2 Inside

Buttons on the outside of the adapter smoothly zoom the lens for operability approaching a cinema lens, easing the job of a single-person operator.

Canon Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E2

The PZA can be powered by the camera or externally via the USB port PD, which also provides faster zooming on some camera models. Remote control is available through the Camera Connect and EOS Utility apps.

The "B" version of the PZA includes a 20-pin connection, enabling control from other devices.

The PZAs are light, weighing about 5.5 and 5.8 oz (155 and 165g).

Lens Holder LH-E1

Another video-optimized accessory for this lens is the optional Lens Holder LH-E1 that mounts on the lens to provide balanced support in rigs, etc.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Side View with Hood

Price, Value, Wrap Up

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While the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens is expensive, its features and performance make it a great value to serious amateur and professional photographers and videographers. The Power Zoom compatibility alone may be worth the cost of this lens to the latter group.

As an "RF" lens, this lens is compatible with all Canon EOS R-series cameras, including full-frame and APS-C models. Canon USA provides a 1-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens was online retail sourced.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Angle View

Alternatives

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Let's first compare the RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z to the RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM, with the focal length range being a significant differentiator. 105mm frames considerably tighter than 70mm.

The image quality comparison shows the 24-105 to be sharper in the periphery at 24mm f/2.8, despite its much stronger barrel distortion being corrected. The 24-105 still holds a slight periphery advantage at 35mm f/2.8. Wide-open performance is similar over the balance of the shared range, and the differences at f/4 are minor.

The 24-105 shows slightly less flare effect, and it has significantly less peripheral shading, especially at the ends of the shared focal length range. As mentioned, the 24-105 has dramatically stronger barrel distortion at the wide end and slightly stronger pincushion distortion at 70mm.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Top View

The Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens vs. RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens comparison shows the 24-105 considerably larger and heavier – 46.9 vs. 31.8 oz (1330 vs. 900g). The 24-105 has 11 aperture blades vs 9 for improved bokeh, especially when stopped down. The 24-105 has Dual Nano USM (vs. single), a focus range limit switch, Lens Function buttons, 5.5-stop IS vs. 5.0, a tripod ring, a fixed size, compatibility with the PZA, and a much higher price.

The other lens we should compare is the Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens. This lens shares the focal length range but lacks the 2x wider f/2.8 aperture.

In the wide-open aperture image quality comparison, the two lenses perform similarly, with the f/4 lens producing slightly sharper peripheral image quality at 105mm. The f/2.8 lens does not get much sharper when stopped down, and the f/4 comparison advantage swings only slightly in its direction.

The f/2.8 lens has significantly less peripheral shading, even in the f/2.8 vs. f/4 comparison. The f/4 lens has dramatically less barrel distortion at the wide end and less pincushion distortion at 105mm.

The Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens vs. Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens comparison shows the f/2.8 is far larger and heavier. The f/2.8 lens has 11 aperture blades vs. 9 (its blades also need to close farther to create the same aperture) and 82mm filter threads vs. 77. The f/2.8 lens has Dual Nano USM (vs. single), a focus range limit switch, Lens Function buttons, 5.5-stop IS vs. 5.0, a tripod ring, a fixed size, compatibility with the PZA, and a far higher price.

Use the site's tools to create additional comparisons.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Top View with Hood

Summary

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Canon's initial trio of RF f/2.8 L IS zoom lenses covered the 15-35mm, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm ranges, similar to generations of lenses before them. With the Canon RF 100-300mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens and now the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens, serious amateur and professional photographers have extended range options.

The RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z is an extremely useful, high-end, mid-sized, fixed-size lens that reliably delivers outstanding overall performance, including excellent image quality, fast and quiet Dual Nano USM AF, and 5.5-stop IS (8.0 stops with Coordinated IBIS).

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Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens
Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens
Manufacturer ID: 6347C002
Review Date: 2024-01-01
Last Updated: 2022-01-22
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