Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Review

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens

Finally! Canon had affordable compact full-frame mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras on the market for well over a year before the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens was announced, but missing was an equally affordable, small, and light general-purpose lens. The RF lens lineup was full of incredible high-end models, but those looking for a compact, lightweight, economical RF mount general-purpose zoom lens were forced to adapt a lens such as the Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens.

Adapting is no longer necessary. The long-awaited Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM standard zoom lens is here.

For a very low price, this lens provides a generous zoom range and high-performing 5-stop image stabilization in a package that measures only 3.02 x 3.5" (76.6 x 88.8mm) and weighs only 13.9 oz (395g). The smooth, quiet STM AF system is especially welcomed for video use, and the 0.5x maximum magnification capability extends this lens's versatility.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Angle View

Focal Length Range

While subject framing can be adjusted by moving closer or farther away from the subject, it is far better to select subject distance based on the ideal perspective it provides, and that means the focal length is used to create the final subject framing. The versatility afforded by zooming directly to that desired framing, no lens change needed, is a big advantage that a zoom lens provides. Still, having the right focal lengths available in a zoom lens remains paramount.

While super-zoom lenses tend to rule in this regard, designers must make sacrifices to include extreme focal length ranges in a single lens, and those sacrifices typically negatively impact image quality. The 24-105mm focal length range is not considered extreme by most, but it is relatively long (an over 4x zoom range). Though this focal length range still traverses the designer-challenging wide-angle through telephoto range, the image quality capabilities of this range have, historically speaking, remained excellent.

While having an extended range of focal lengths is helpful, what those focal lengths are is even more important, situationally more important at least. This lens's 24-105mm range covers a solid superset of the heart of the general-purpose focal length range, which is roughly 28-70mm for a full-frame camera.

As the "general-purpose" term indicates, the usefulness of the 24-105mm range is exceedingly high, and the complete list of uses for this range is beyond my compilation abilities.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Horse Sample Picture

The horse was photographed at 24mm.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens Maroon Bells Sample Picture

This focal length range is an ideal choice for landscape photography, and landscape photographers will find compositions ideally captured using every focal length available in this lens. The above image of the Maroon Bells was captured at 65mm. The Maui sunset below was captured at 24mm. Note that, except for the horse in daisies, the photos shared in this section were from another 24-105mm lens, shared here to illustrate the focal lengths.

Canon EOS R Sunset Sample Picture

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 with 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.

Canon EOS R Waterfall Sample Picture

This focal length range is a great choice for photographing people, and it is ideal for studio portraiture, weddings, parties, events, documentaries, interviews, lifestyle, fashion, some sports (in bright light), candids, and group and environmental portraits. Use the longer end of the range for tightly-framed portraits and the shorter end for groups and environmental imagery.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens Focal Length Range Example

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

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.

Do you travel? If so, this lens (especially with its small size and light weight) is ideally suited for documenting your travels and capturing images that will look great adorning your walls. This lens is ready to capture interior and exterior architecture, cities, countrysides, flowers, etc.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens Tropical Flower Sample Picture

At review time, this lens is not compatible with any APS-C (1.6x FOVCF) format cameras. Should that fact change in the future or should an R-series cameras' 1.6 crop mode be used, the full-frame angle of view equivalent will be 36-157.5mm. This range is somewhat lacking from a wide-angle perspective, but it has a very attractive long end. If your focal length needs gravitate toward the long end, a 24-105mm lens with an APS-C angle of view will be especially useful to you.

Here is another example of what this focal length range looks like:

Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens Focal Length Range Example

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

Those are great angles of view and the range is a strong one. Pay specific attention to the 70mm vs 105mm comparison as that is the difference between what this lens offers and what the to-70mm alternative lenses provide.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Front View

Max Aperture

The f/4-7.1 in the name refers to the maximum aperture, the ratio of the focal length to the diameter of the entrance pupil, available in this lens. Wider apertures (lower numbers) are always better to have available — until the price, size, and weight penalties are factored in.

Want a long focal length range that includes telephoto lengths in a zoom lens without a large size, heavy weight, and high price? You are likely looking at a variable max aperture lens, and the apertures in the variable range will not be especially wide. That is what we have in the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens.

Here is this lens' max aperture step down by focal length:

24-26mm = f/4.0
27-36mm = f/4.5
37-49mm = f/5.0
50-62mm = f/5.6
63-79mm = f/6.3
80-105mm = f/7.1

At 24mm, the f/4 aperture is reasonably wide (though few 24mm lenses do not open to at least f/4). Unfortunately, f/4 is only available for a very short 3mm range. At 80-105mm, the f/7.1 opening is unusually narrow, among narrowest max aperture found in any Canon EF or RF full frame lens.

With these narrow max apertures, this lens is not the right choice for photographing low light action such as indoor sports unless flash is used as the primary light source, overpowering ambient light. Those following the "f/8 and be there" rule and those photographing outdoors during daylight will have the necessary apertures available. When recording video, only 1/60 second shutter speeds (twice filming framerate) are typically needed (assuming you are not capturing high framerate slow-motion video), and wide apertures are not often required for 1/60 second rates in normally encountered ambient lighting.

A downside to the variable max aperture is that, by definition, the same max aperture cannot be used over the entire focal length selected. The camera automatically accounts for the changes when in auto exposure modes but making use of the widest-available aperture in manual exposure mode is complicated somewhat by the changing settings.

An advantage held by wide apertures is their ability to blur the background strongly. This lens does not have those, but it has a couple of other background blur advantages: a very close minimum focus distance and relatively long focal lengths. Here are examples of the maximum background blur this lens can produce:

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Maximum Blur Example

There is a nice amount of blur seen in these examples, especially at 105mm.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Side View with Hood

Image Stabilization

While image stabilization systems do not help stop subject motion, they provide a remarkable improvement for handheld image sharpness with stationary subjects, counteracting some of the narrow aperture shortcomings of this lens. Canon's RF lens image stabilization systems have been proving impressive, and this one is the same.

Unless I am using a camera support, I seldom leave home without IS, and I often regret those times when I do. Image stabilization allows handholding the camera in extremely low light situations with still subjects (or permits motion blurring of subjects with sharp surroundings such as flowing water amidst rocks). The image quality difference made by IS is potentially dramatic.

One situation that I am frequently counting on IS for assistance with is when handholding in medium and low light levels when significant depth of field is needed, allowing narrower aperture use without a tripod. When using a circular polarizer filter with small apertures (typical for landscapes and cityscapes), IS can be helpful even under direct sunlight, especially at the longer focal lengths. Travelers frequently encounter such scenarios.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens image stabilization system is useful for stabilizing the viewfinder, aiding in optimal composition, especially at longer focal lengths. IS is also very useful for stabilizing video recording with auto-panning detection aiding in stabilizing capture while the camera is in motion.

This IS system is practically silent, with only a very faint "hmmm" heard while active with an ear against the lens. Canon's IS systems have long been very well behaved, referring to the viewfinder image always being stable, and I do not find myself fighting against IS while recomposing or recording video with this lens. I have not noticed the image framing drifting while IS is active unless a significant position change was just made.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Side View

This lens gets a very-high 5-stops of assistance rating. Improved communications between the lens and the camera via the new RF mount has made this impressive rating possible. Converting the 5-stop rating into actual ISO setting differences highlights the advantage. An ISO setting of ISO 3200 instead of ISO 100 and ISO 25600 instead of ISO 800 are two examples. That difference is huge in terms of image quality.

In testing, at 24mm, most handheld one second exposures were sharp. The rate of sharp image capture decreased moderately fast as exposure times increased with several usable images captured with crazy-long 1.6-second exposures. At 105mm, most images were sharp at 0.4-seconds, and a majority of the 0.5 second exposures were sharp. The keeper rate plummeted at 0.6 seconds with most images being blurred. However, some 1-second exposures remained reasonably sharp. Overall, this performance is remarkable.

These test exposure durations should be considered about the best I can do. While I am not the steadiest photographer, testing is done under ideal conditions, indoors on a concrete floor. Quickly hike up a big mountain and shoot from an unstable position in strong winds, and a significantly faster shutter speed is going to be needed. However, the amount of assistance should remain similar.

When you need/want to leave the tripod behind, including for travel and family events, IS is there for you, helping to ensure sharp images and adding significant versatility to this lens.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Top View

Image Quality

Lightweight, compact, plus very low priced is a formula for mediocre lens image quality at best. Especially with the cost added by the long focal length range and great image stabilization system, incredible image quality was not anticipated. Let's take a look at what the testing shows.

With a wide-open aperture, the center of the frame image quality is reasonable and similar over the entire focal length range. Of course, f/7.1 at the long end is significantly narrower than f/4 at the wide end. Stop down to f/8 at the wide end and ... little change is seen. Taking that description to the next level, little change is seen when stopping down at any focal length until the effects of diffraction begin to show.

In general, lenses are not as sharp in the periphery where light rays must be bent more strongly than in the center. This lens' 24mm corners are somewhat soft, but not bad considering the distortion issue that I'll discuss in more depth later in the review. The corners throughout the balance of the range have decent image quality. Stopping down decreases peripheral shading but has little other effect.

Basically, use this lens at any focal length or aperture desired with little bearing on image quality except for the 24mm corners. This comparison and this comparison are not fair from a cost standpoint, but they keep us grounded from an image quality perspective.

Taking the testing outdoors, we next look at a series of center-of-the-frame 100% resolution crop examples. These images were captured using a Canon EOS R with RAW files processed in Canon's Digital Photo Professional using the Standard Picture Style and sharpness set to "2" on a 0-10 scale (note that even modestly-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the true characteristics of a lens).

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

24mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6
60mm: f/5.6 | f/8.0   f/5.6 | f/8.0
105mm: f/7.1 | f/8.0   f/7.1 | f/8.0

While slight differences can be seen in some of these examples, the in-the-field results show this lens turning in decent overall sharpness.

In some lens designs, the plane of sharp focus can move forward or backward as a narrower aperture is selected. This effect is called focus shift (residual spherical aberration, or RSA), it is seldom (never?) desired, and this lens does not exhibit such.

Next, we'll look at a comparison showing 100% extreme-top-left-corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. These images were manually focused in the corner of the frame.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

24mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0   f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0
60mm: f/5.6 | f/8.0   f/5.6 | f/8.0
105mm: f/7.1 | f/8.0   f/7.1 | f/8.0

Samples taken from the outer extreme of the image circle, full-frame corners in this case, can be counted on to show the worst performance a lens is capable of, and the corner results are obviously soft at 24mm. Again, the distortion discussion will shed more light on this issue. The corner results from the balance of the focal length range are decent, with details being readily discernable.

Corner sharpness does not always matter, but for some disciplines, including landscape photography, corner sharpness is important. On the other hand, videos captured at typical wide-aspect ratios completely avoid use of the extreme corners.

When used on a camera that utilizes a lens's entire image circle, peripheral shading can be expected at the widest aperture settings. Expect relatively strong wide-open aperture peripheral shading at the wide end of the focal length range – about 3-stops. The shading is slowly reduced as the focal length is increased with about 1.2-stops of shading remaining at the long end. As usual, corner shading decreases as the aperture is reduced with about 1-stop of shading remaining at 24mm f/16. A shading reduction is again seen at longer focal lengths with stopped-down apertures. Practically no shading remains at 70mm f/11.

One-stop of shading is the amount often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting can be corrected during post-processing with increased noise in the brightened areas being 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 showing in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.

The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). 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 not to have the problem in the first place.

Any color misalignment present can easily be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples. These are 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of EOS R frames showing diagonal black and white lines.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

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

There should only be black and white colors in these images, with the additional colors showing the presence of lateral CA. Not unusual for a standard zoom lens is for lateral CA to be rather strong at the wide end, and that is what we see here. The amount of lateral CA seen is the other focal length examples is quite low, especially for this lens' price point.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or 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 at least 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.

In the examples below, look at the fringing colors in the out of focus specular highlights. Created by the neutrally-colored subjects, fringing color differences were introduced by the lens.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

Overall, there is a low amount of fringing color difference with the 105mm example showing a moderate amount.

Flare and ghosting are caused by bright light reflecting off the surfaces of lens elements, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes-interesting artifacts. With the sun in the corner of the frame, performance at even this lens's worst focal length and aperture combination test result (24mm, f/16) is very good, and very few flare effects are seen at most settings.

Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted. Removal is sometimes very challenging, and in some cases, flare effects can be quite destructive to image quality.

Two lens aberrations that are particularly evident when shooting 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 which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma), or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either meridional (radiating from the center of the image) or sagittal (perpendicular to meridional). Remember that lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The images below are 100% crops taken from the corner of EOS R frames. I often select the corner of the frame with the best star placement when deciding which corner to share a crop from. These results are from the top right.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Coma Example

The 105mm results are not too bad, but the wider results are not so good. With the corner softness shown at 24mm earlier in the review, the appearance of the 24mm results is not surprising.

This is a standard zoom lens, and the standard zoom lens geometric distortion statement holds. The RF 24-105mm STM lens has barrel distortion at the wide end that transitions into negligible distortion and pincushion distortion at the long end. However, that is where this review takes a tangent. A very low amount of distortion is what you will see in the viewfinder (lens distortion correction is always forced on), in JPG results, and in RAW file results from images that are processed using an app with the proper lens aberration profile loaded. However, this lens's native amount of distortion is extreme.

As Rudy Winston, Canon U.S.A, shared regarding the RF 24-240mm lens that to achieve this lens's small size, light weight, full-frame coverage, and good levels of overall sharpness in a package that sells for such a low price, the decision was made to allow very extreme levels of distortion to occur at 24mm, and to apply correction via detailed lens profiles either in-camera or (for RAW images) in-computer.

Brace yourself. We're going to look behind the curtains, and this is going to be painful. Here are the uncorrected test results from our standard distortion test (captured at f/8).

Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens Distortion Example

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

The distortion is extreme at the wide end, though very modest at the mid and long focal lengths.

Distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level as image details must be stretched using computational algorithms to determine what the newly created details should be. Since such correction is required when using this lens, I suggest removing the distortion factor from your selection criteria. Consider this lens to have very low amounts of geometric distortion, and use the resulting image quality as the primary deciding factor for or against this lens. Considering the amount of correction required in the 24mm corners, this lens's resulting image quality is remarkably good.

Note that this lens' corrected wide-angle focal length appears to be 24mm as stated (based on our distance-to-chart measurements), meaning that the true focal length, prior to distortion correction, is likely considerably wider than 24mm. Process your 24mm RAW images using software that does not force distortion correction for a fisheye look.

As seen earlier in the review, the amount of blur a lens can produce is easy to show, and telephoto lenses are advantaged in this regard. Assessing the quality is more challenging due in part to the infinite number of variables present in all available scenes. Here are some f/11 (for aperture blade interaction) examples.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Bokeh Example

The first set of examples shows defocused highlights. These are rendered in very good quality, with the fill pattern being remarkably smooth. The seven aperture blades can be seen impacting roundness primarily at 24mm, where the aperture blades are closed a greater amount to create f/11. The shapes in the 105mm result are very round, showing a benefit from being stopped down only a small amount.

The second set of results, captured outdoors, are full images reduced in size. These look very nice.

Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the corner of the frame 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 corner of the frame, the shape is not round. That is the shape seen here.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

These results are not unusual. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting absolves with the shapes becoming rounder.

With a 7-blade count aperture, point light sources captured with a narrow aperture setting and showing a sunstar effect will have 14 points. In general, the more a lens is stopped down, the larger and better shaped the sunstars tend to be. A narrow max aperture lens does not afford much stopping down before reaching apertures where diffraction causes noticeable softening of details, and these lenses typically do not produce the biggest or best-shaped sunstars.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Sunstar Effect Example

The examples above were captured at f/16. The double-flaring at 24mm is not my favorite look, and the 60mm sunstar is weak. The 105mm result shows better-established points, but the effect is not strong.

Overall, this lens produces decent image quality for its price point. Lenses providing better image quality are available, but size, weight, and cost penalties must be paid.

Focusing

Utilizing a leadscrew-type STM (Stepping Motor) design, the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens internally smoothly focuses with decent speed. Focusing is very quiet, with only a faint whine being barely audible with an ear next to the lens.

Focus accuracy, what most of us would consider being the most important AF aspect, is, as with the rest of the Canon RF lenses, excellent.

The 24-105 STM's control ring serves dual purposes, also acting as a manual focus ring with a switch toggling the functionality. From a focus ring perspective, this tactilely distinct knurled plastic ring is rather small and is optimally positioned in front of the zoom ring, where it is easy to find.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Extended Top View

Normal is for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other, referred to as focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing negatively impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus, and anyone very-critically framing while adjusting focus. At 24mm, this lens shows a moderate change in subject size as full extent focus adjustments are made. The difference is more substantial at the 105mm end of the range.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Focus Magnification Example

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

While it is not wholly parfocal, the RF 24-105 STM retains reasonable focus while zooming through the range. For the illustration below, the focus was established at 105mm and locked (manual focus) for all of the images in this set.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Parfocal Example

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

Refocus after changing the focal length to fully avoid any issues.

A focus distance window is not provided, but a focus distance meter shows in the lower portion of the camera's electronic viewfinder during manual focusing.

This lens has a focus-by-wire or electrical manual focus system (vs. a direct gear-driven system) common for STM lenses. The manual focus ring electronically controls the focus of the lens. FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported in AF mode with the camera in One-Shot drive mode (if electronic manual focusing is enabled in the camera menu), but the shutter release must be half-pressed for the focus ring to become active. With the camera in MF mode, the meter must be on/awake for manual focusing to be available.

With electronics driving AF, the rate of focus change caused by the focus ring can be electronically controlled, and it can be variable based on the ring's rotation speed. The R-series cameras enable a linear (non-variable) adjustment speed via the menu, and that option has been my preference. Also, focus adjustment rate can be made ideal for the focus distance and focal length combinations.

At longer focal lengths, 360° of ring rotation adjusts from minimum focus distance to infinity, allowing very precise focusing. As the focal length widens, this lens focuses to a closer distance, and the rate of change varies, becoming slower at closer distances. Approximately 320° of rotation is required for a full extents adjustment at 24mm with longer distances being changed rapidly within the first 150° of rotation. As the focus is adjusted to the shortest distance, the rate of change appears to stop. However, that is not the case. The rate of change becomes so slow that the bar moving is not noticeable. Keep turning to get the shortest focus distance.

In AF mode, the RF 24-105 STM has a minimum focus distance of 0.7 - 1.12' (0.2 - 0.34m) with a maximum magnification of 0.4x, a remarkably-high number, reached at 105mm. Switch to MF mode, and the wide-angle minimum focus distance decreases to a mere 0.43' (0.13m) with an exceptional 0.5x maximum magnification possible at 24mm.

ModelMFDMM
Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens8.3"(210mm)0.30x
Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens17.7"(450mm)0.24x
Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens15.7"(400mm)0.30x
Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens5.2"(131mm)0.50x
Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens19.7"(500mm)0.26x

At 24mm, a subject measuring approximately 2.6 x 1.7" (66 x 44mm) fills the frame of a full-frame camera at the minimum focus distance. At 105mm, a subject measuring about 3.2 x 2.1" (81 x 54mm) fills the frame.

While the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens close focusing numbers are all very impressive, some points must be understood. First, expect minimum focus distance images captured at 105mm to be somewhat soft in the periphery. Second, expect minimum focus distance images captured at 24mm to be exceptionally soft in the periphery — let's call it "dreamy" — even at narrow apertures due to a curved area of focus (the periphery is focused closer to the camera). Canon notes this softness in the manual. Here are two f/11 examples:

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens

The large stamps measure 1.5" (25mm).

Also note that, at 24mm, there is about 1" (2.5 cm) of working distance available at minimum focus distance without a lens hood installed. This short distance makes lighting the subject challenging, and anything potentially scarable will leave immediately.

When the lens is focused wider than the AF distance range, the camera cannot be set to AF mode, and remote focusing, such as from a wireless phone app, is not available. The focus distance must be adjusted to within the AF range first. The focus guide function available on some Canon EOS R-series models has reduced effectiveness in the MF-only range.

Magnification from wide-angle lenses is generally significantly increased with the use of extension tubes, hollow tubes with electronic connections that shift a lens farther from the camera. That said, this camera natively focuses so closely that extension tubes will likely prove detrimental, at least at the wide end. 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 F4-7.1 IS STM Lens on Tripod

Build Quality & Features

For a lens priced and featured as an affordable kit lens, the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens has a very nice build quality, and it looks very nice as well.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Product Images

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

With smooth external dimensions and tight tolerance between parts, the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens is very comfortable to hold and a pleasure to use.

The ribbed, rubberized zoom ring is large, easy to find, and smooth in function. I especially like the zoom ring being positioned behind the focus ring. Note that a very quiet motor sound can be heard when the zoom ring is turned, with minimally the aperture opening being continuously adjusted.

The knurled "Control Ring" can be configured for fast access to settings that include aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation. At the throw of a switch, the control ring becomes the focus ring. Both cannot be used at the same time, but there is one less ring to cause confusion. Likely is that most people who buy this lens will seldom (never?) use manual focus. Note that this control ring is smooth, not clicked, as is the current default for the L variants.

This lens features a quality plastic external construction.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Extended Top View with Hood

As illustrated in some of the images shared in this review, this lens extends 1.97" (50mm) when zoomed to 105mm. The extended inner lens barrel has relatively little play for the amount of extension. An extension lock switch is not provided and was not needed on the new test lens.

The FOCUS/CONTROL and IS switches are flush-mounted and low-profile, raised just enough for easy use, even with gloves. The 2-position switches snap crisply into place.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Mount

This lens is not weather-sealed. Use caution when in potentially dusty or wet environments.

Unlike the RF L lenses, the RF 24-105mm STM lens lacks the fluorine coatings on the front and rear lens elements that avoid adhesion of dust and liquids and to make cleaning easier. The fluorine-coated lenses are noticeably easier to clean.

At 3.0 x 3.5" (76.6 x 88.8mm) in size and 13.9 oz (395g) in weight, this is a compact and lightweight lens, especially for the focal length range this standard zoom lens provides.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
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 F4 L IS USM Lens24.7(700)3.3 x 4.2(83.5 x 107.3)772018
Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens18.5(525)3.3 x 4.1(83.4 x 104.0)772014
Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens13.9(395)3.0 x 3.5(76.6 x 88.8)672020
Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens26.5(750)3.2 x 4.8(80.4 x 122.5)722019

For many more comparisons, review the complete Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.

This lens can comfortably be carried and used for even very long periods.

Here is a comparison making the compactness visually obvious:

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens
Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens
Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens
Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens

Remember that the EF lens requires an adapter that measures at least 0.9" (24.0 mm) in length and adds 3.88 oz (110 g) in weight when used on the R-series cameras. The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens to other lenses.

This lens provides 67mm filter threads. These are mid-sized threads resulting in mid-sized filters with mid-sized costs. That this size is rather common is also positive. A slim circular polarizer filter model such as the Breakthrough Photography X4 is recommended for this lens as standard thickness models increase peripheral shading.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Angle View with Hood

This lens is not from the L-series, and Canon still not provide lens hoods in most non-L lens boxes. The Canon EW-73D Lens Hood, the same model used by the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens, is optional and somewhat expensive for what it is.

The EW-73D is a semi-rigid plastic petal-shaped hood with a matte plastic interior designed to avoid reflections. A petal-shaped hood is easier to align for installation (simply learn the petal orientation), while a rounded hood enables the lens to stand on its hood. A push-button release makes the bayonet mount very easy to use (there is little friction when rotating). This hood offers a good amount of protection, from both impact and, primarily at the wide focal lengths it must accommodate, from bright light.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Cap

The Canon LP1116 soft lens pouch is also optional. Consider a Lowepro Lens Case or Think Tank Photo Lens Case Duo for a quality, affordable single-lens storage, transport, and carry solution.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Front View on Camera

Price, Value, Wrap Up

The price is right. It is easier to create a good-value product when the price is low, but this lens does offer a good return for the price.

As an "RF" lens, the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens is compatible with all Canon EOS R series cameras. Canon USA provides a 1-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens was online-retail sourced.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Angle View Extended with Hood

Alternatives to the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens

The RF 24-105 STM is the first lens in its class — the compact, lightweight, low-cost, RF standard zoom lens class. Thus, a direct comparison is not available at review time.

The next best comparison opportunity is with the Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens, a high-quality, professional-grade, built-for-reliability, zoom L-series lens that shares the same focal length range and max aperture opening. While the shared max aperture opening sounds good on the surface, the f/4 aperture is shared only for the widest three mm of focal length, and the L lens is a very significant 1 2/3 stops wider at focal lengths over 79mm.

In the image quality comparison, the L lens is noticeably sharper. The L lens has dramatically less geometric distortion at 24mm, though it shows slightly more flare at this focal length.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens vs. Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens comparison shows the STM lens to be considerably smaller and lighter. The L lens has nine aperture blades (vs. seven) and larger filter threads (77mm vs. 67mm). A Nano USM AF system powers the L lens focusing while the STM lens uses an ... STM system. The STM lens has a higher maximum magnification (0.50x vs. 0.24x), though the STM's peripheral image quality is not good when used at the highest magnification. The price is another differentiating STM lens advantage, costing 36% as much (list price at review time).

Before the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens became available, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens was commonly adapted for use on Canon EOS R-series cameras. In the image quality comparison between these lenses, discernment is required. We tested the EF lens on 21 MP and 50 MP cameras and the RF lens on a 30 MP camera (hopefully, a higher resolution R-series camera arrives soon, and we can equalize the comparison near the 50 MP mark). At 24mm, the EF lens appears to be sharper in the periphery. At 35mm, the EF lens appears to have the center of the frame sharpness advantage, with the two performing similarly in the periphery. In the longer half of the focal length range, the EF lens appears to perform modestly better than the RF lens.

The EF lens shows slightly more flare effects (it has more lens elements), has less peripheral shading, and has dramatically less geometric distortion at 24mm.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens vs. Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens comparison shows the RF noticeably lighter and modestly smaller. The RF lens has a higher maximum magnification (0.50x vs. 0.30x), though again, the peripheral image quality is not good when used at the highest magnification. We should not overlook that the EF lens has modestly wider apertures. While the EF lens appears to have some nice advantages, the RF lens costs 2/3 as much and does not require a size, weight, and cost-increasing adapter to mount on an R-series body.

Another RF zoom lens often chosen for general purpose needs is the Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Superzoom Lens. In the image quality comparison, the two lenses perform very similarly with the 24-240mm lens having a slight advantage. The 24-105mm lens has stronger peripheral shading at the wide end but less at the long end. The 24-240mm lens shows more substantial flare effects. Both lenses force geometric distortion correction.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens vs. Canon RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM Lens comparison shows the 24-240mm lens weighing about 2x as much and measuring considerably larger, especially when fully extended. The 24-240mm lens uses slightly larger filters, 72mm vs. 67mm. The 24-105mm lens has a higher maximum magnification (0.50x vs. 0.26x), though its peripheral image quality is not good when used at the highest magnification. The 24-240mm lens has an over 2x longer focal length available, and it appropriately costs over 2x as much.

Use the site's comparison tools to create additional comparisons.

Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Top View with Hood

Summary

The Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens solidly fills the empty slot in the RF lens lineup. Those acquiring an affordable, compact, full-frame mirrorless interchangeable lens EOS R-series camera now have an equally affordable, small, and light general-purpose/standard zoom kit lens.

I sometimes carry a camera and lens with me when trail running to capture those images that just show up. The RF 24-105mm STM lens has been one of the best options I've found for that use. This lens provides a generous zoom range and high-performing 5-stop image stabilization in a package that measures only 3.02 x 3.5" (76.6 x 88.8mm) and weighs only 13.9 oz (395g). The smooth, quiet STM AF system is especially welcomed for video use, and the 0.5x maximum magnification capability extends this lens's versatility. The image quality produced by this lens is good.

Is this the highest performing standard RF zoom lens available? No. Is this the smallest, lightest, and most affordable standard RF zoom lens available at review time? Yes. The Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens is the right choice when those factors are the most important.

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My Recommended Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Retailers

Where you buy your gear matters. You expect to get what you ordered, and you want to pay a low price for it. The retailers I recommend below are the ones I trust for my purchases. Get your Canon RF 24-105mm F4-7.1 IS STM Lens now from:

B&H Photo
Adorama
Amazon.com
Canon USA (new)
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