Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Review

The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens is Canon's first RF-mount lens to hit the streets and the first kit lens to be included with Canon EOS R series cameras. While "kit lens" may bring connotations of cheap and low quality, buyers of full frame imaging sensor cameras are discerning. Canon understands that and does not disappoint with this one. Canon's EF-mount 24-105mm f/4L IS lenses are greatly-loved and have long been the choice for EOS full frame kit lenses, a lens typically needing great general purpose functionality, and based on the success of those lenses, staying the course on the focal length range, quality level and general design for the EOS R-series kit lens made a lot of sense.

The RF mount is Canon's first full frame lens mount introduced since the EF (electronic focusing) mount was introduced over 30 years ago. During that time period, technology has increased greatly and the RF mount, while current-technology-optimized, provides a foundation for future technology implementations.

With excellent image quality, fast and extremely accurate AF, a great general purpose focal length range and image stabilization along with solid build quality and a modest size, weight and price, the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is an extremely versatile lens and the perfect lens choice for the Canon R-series cameras it is designed for. If you could pack only one lens along with an R-series camera for an anything-might-happen photo adventure, this lens will likely be your best option.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM 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 to quickly adjust that framing is the 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 a long range of focal lengths is helpful, what those focal lengths are is even more important, situationally more important at least. This lens' 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. The list of what I personally have used this lens for is already long.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Maroon Bells Sample Picture

This lens 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.

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 is a great focal length range for photographing people and it is ideal for studio portaiture, weddings, parties, events, documentaries, interviews, lifestyle, fashion, some sports, 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 f/4L IS USM Lens Focal Length Range Example

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

This lens 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 perfectly 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 f/4L 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 very useful to you.

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

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L 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 f/4L IS USM Lens Front View

Max Aperture

The f/4 in the lens name refers to the lens' max aperture opening, the relationship of lens opening to focal length. The lower the number, the more light the lens will allow to reach the sensor. Each "stop" in aperture change (examples: f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8, etc.) increases or reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor by a factor of 2x (a big deal).

An f/4 lens is one stop slower/narrower than what is typically found in the fastest/widest zoom lenses covering the general purpose focal length range and two stops slower/narrower than the groundbreaking Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens. The narrower max aperture means that less glass is needed, resulting in lighter weight, smaller size and lower cost. Having a narrower max aperture also means that there may be better options for stopping action in low light, such as the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens or the just-mentioned 28-70. I emphasize "action" as this lens' image stabilization system (discussed soon) makes this lens even better-suited for handheld low light non-action photography than a non-stabilized f/2.8 or even f/2 option. Of course, the subject speed and how rapidly that subject is crossing pixels in the frame makes low light capabilities situational.

Long focal lengths, wide apertures, close subjects and distant backgrounds are the keys to a strong background blur. While the f/4 aperture is not extremly wide, the 105mm f/4 combination, along with a relatively close subject and distant background, is able to produce great subject separation by blurring away the background.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Maximum Blur Example

That is an example of the near-maximum background blur this lens can produce. It is very satisfying to see the background melt into a blur of color.

In a zoom lens, the max aperture will sometimes be stated as a range, indicating that the max aperture narrows as the focal length increases. This is not the case with any of Canon's 24-105mm L lenses produced to date and this one again features the highly-desirable constant f/4 max aperture. Manually-set wide open exposures can be retained and counted on throughout the entire zoom range.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Top View

Image Stabilization

A feature I find crutial in a walk-around general purpose lens is image stabilization. Unless I am using a camera support, I seldom leave home without IS and I usually regret those times I do. While image stabilization does not stop subject motion, it allows handholding of the camera in extremely low light situations with still subjects (or permits motion blurring of subjects with sharp surroundings such as flowing water). 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 more depth of field is needed, allowing narrower aperture use without a tripod. When using a circular polarizer filter with narrow apertures (typical for landscapes and cityscapes), IS can be helpful even under a full sun. I often find myself trail running while hiking with a camera and family/friends (that don't wait for me) and when I stop to shoot, I am frequently breathing hard and not steady. IS makes that work.

IS is useful for stabilizing the viewfinder, aiding in optimal composition. IS is also very useful for video recording, helping to avoid motion sickness in susceptible viewers.

Canon's image stabilization systems have improved dramatically since first introduced. This IS implementation makes a very faint "hmmm" with some clicks while active, audible only from about an inch or two from the lens. Canon's IS systems have long been very well behaved, meaning that the viewfinder image does not jump and I do not find myself fighting against IS while recomposing or recording video. I have not noticed the image frame drifting while IS is active.

In addition to general refinements, the rated number of stops of assistance provided by this IS system has been improved from its EF predecessor. The RF 24-105mm f/4L 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. For example, based on this rating, an ISO setting 5 stops higher, ISO 3200 instead of ISO 100 or ISO 25600 instead of ISO 800 for example, would be necessary to increase the shutter speed enough to compensate for the help provided by this system. That difference is huge in terms of image quality.

At 24mm, with the help of image stabilization, I am getting a high keeper rate with 0.4 second exposures, a still good rate at 0.5 seconds and even a reasonable percentage at 0.8 seconds. The keeper rate drop-off is gradual as shutter speeds lengthen. At 105mm, I had very good results with 0.3 second exposures, still had a decent rate of sharp images at 0.4 seconds and enough were sharp at 0.5 seconds that I would certainly attempt this.

These numbers should be considered about the best I can do. While I'm 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 and that is very important.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens on Tripod

Image Quality

If you are using a full frame interchangeable lens camera, you care about image quality. And your paramount question is probably "How sharp is the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens?"

"Quite sharp" is the answer, about the same as or slightly better than the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L II lens. In the central portion of the frame, RF 24-105mm f/4L IS images have good sharpness that remains remarkably similar throughout the focal length range and unusually similar across the aperture range – until diffraction begins to affect (soften) the results at narrower apertures. The site's image quality tool provides a great view of this lens' performance, but let's take a look at some 100% center-of-the-frame crops from an outdoor scene. The following images were captured in RAW format and processed in Canon's DPP (Digital Photo Professional) software using the Standard Picture Style and, keeping in mind that even modestly-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the true characteristics of a lens, sharpness was set to "2".

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

24mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   50mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6
105mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6

Those results look very nice to me as have my real world images. Basically, these results say that, with this lens, you can freely select the ideal aperture for your image with little regard to image sharpness. That is a great feature.

Note that at 105mm, there is some focus shift rearward as the aperture is stopped down. The focused-on subject remains sharp, but most of the depth of field is added behind the subject. Wider angles show a more even front-to-back depth of field increase.

The full frame corner performance from this lens is quite good, impressively good for a zoom lens with this focal length range. Following are 100% extreme corner crop examples (captured and processed the same as the above). bottom-left for the 24mm and first 105mm results, top-left for the 50mm and second set of 105mm images.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

24mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0
50mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0
105mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0   f/4.0 | f/5.6 | f/8.0

The wider two sets of results are quite nice. The 105mm results show some softness, but notice that lateral CA (easily correctable) is causing misaligned colors in these samples.

It is expected that a lens will show some peripheral shading at its widest aperture when used on a camera utilizing the full image circle. The amount, however, is a variable.

Expect a relatively high about-3.4 stops of shading in the corners at 24mm f/4. By 35mm, the shading amount drops significantly to about 2 stops (relatively low). At 50mm, the shading amount drops slightly to about 1.7 stops. At 70mm, the amount is again slowly climbing, reaching just over 2 stops and from 85mm through 105mm, vignetting is roughly 2.5 stops in the extreme corners.

Want less peripheral shading from a lens? Using a narrower aperture is nearly universally the answer. At f/5.6, this lens shows 2.5, 1.6, 1.4, 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6 stops of shading at the marked 24, 35, 50, 70, 85 and 105mm settings respectively. At f/8, those numbers are 2.0, 1.4, 1.0, 1.0, 0.8 and 0.8. Expect little or no decrease at narrower apertures.

A rough rule of thumb says that shading above 1 stop is sometimes noticeable (though even less may be noticeable on a blue sky or similar). Obviously, even at f/8 and narrower apertures, these shading numbers are still close to or above visibility levels.

Vignetting can easily be corrected during post processing or in-camera with increased noise in the brightened areas being the penalty and you will likely encounter scenarios where this correction is desired. Vignetting can also be simply embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame.

As I have often repeated, if lens elements refracted all visible wavelengths of light identically, a lens designer's job would be a lot easier. They do not and we get aberrations caused by various wavelengths of light being magnified and focused differently.

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 greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths exists.

While lateral CA is usually easily corrected with software (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide, it is of course better to not have it in the first place. Any color misalignment present can easily be seen in the site's image quality tool and this lens shows impressive performance in that challenge with the 105mm corners being the exception. I was able to coax more color fringing from this lens at longer distances as shown below. Illustrated are worst-case examples, 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of EOS R frames.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

Zoom lenses generally have lateral CA showing the strongest at the two ends of the focal length range and that is the case here. The RF 24-105 f/4L IS transitions from a moderate amount of lateral CA at 24mm to a negligible amount in the midrange and back to a rather strong amount again at 105mm.

As mentioned, lateral CA can be corrected with software. With the proper lens profile loaded in Canon DPP, removing lateral CA is as easy as checking a box and removal is similarly easy in other tools.

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) is another common lens aberration to look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while 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. Shown below are 100% EOS R crops taken from the center of the frame. Look for fringing color differences in blurred details in the foreground vs. the background in these images.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

At 24mm and 50mm, the foreground and background blur colors appear about the same and that is what we want to see. At 105mm, the results are still looking very good, though a hint of difference shows.

This lens features Canon's Air Sphere Coating (ASC) and Super Spectra coating, designed to reduce flare and ghosting. Lens flare occurs when a bright light source is within or just outside the image frame, resulting in internal reflections from lens elements appearing in the image. Flare effects can be embraced, avoided or removal can be attempted. If not embraced, flare effects can be destructive to image quality and these are sometimes extremely difficult to remove in post processing.

Our standard flare test involves placing the sun in the corner of the frame and in this test, the RF 24-105mm lens performed very well at f/4 with only small flare effects being noticed. Flare effects are usually most pronounced at narrow apertures and by f/16, this lens is indeed showing stronger flare effects. Still, the effects are relatively mild and not unusual.

There are 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 becomes quite visible mid-frame and in the corners of images captured at wide apertures and significantly resolves when the lens is stopped down. 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).

The following 100% crops were taken from the top right corner of an EOS R frame centered on the north star.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Coma Example

At 24mm, the stars retain a very good circular shape. The little circles are still looking decent at 35mm but start growing wings at 50mm. The weakest performance is at 105mm where little rocket planes seem to be taking shape.

From a geometric perspective, this lens has barrel distortion at the wide end that transitions into negligible distortion and on into pincushion distortion at the long end. That description is applicable to practically all general purpose zoom lenses. The amount of barrel distortion at 24mm is modest and less than seen in Canon's previous 24-105mm lenses. The pincushion distortion at 105mm is moderate in strength and about the same as seen in Canon's other 24-105mm lenses, though the pincushion distortion at 50mm is slightly less.

Most modern lenses have lens correction profiles available for the popular image processing software and distortion can be easily removed using these, but distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level and this technique is seldom as good as using a distortion-free lens and focal length combination in the first place.

While we already established that this lens can create a strong background blur, the quality of that blur, referred to as bokeh, can also matter. Here are some examples.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Bokeh Example

The first three examples are 100% crops showing out-of-focus (background) specular highlights captured at f/8. At 24mm, creating a strong background blur at narrow apertures where blade involvement is visible is challenging. However, it is not so challenging at 105mm. While all three examples are decent for their focal length class, the longer focal lengths are creating a larger and nicer-appearing blur circle.

The fourth and fifth examples were also captured at f/8, both outdoors. The 24mm example is a 100% crop and the 105mm example shows an entire image reduced in size. Both of these examples appear nice.

The last example is an f/4 corner crop looking for cat's eye (not circular) bokeh, a form of mechanical vignetting.

With an aperture blade count of 9, distant point light sources captured with a narrow aperture and showing a star-like effect will have 18 points.

Why does an odd-numbered aperture blade count produce twice as many points on the stars as an even number? The points on these stars are coming from the blades of the aperture. Each blade is responsible, via diffraction, for creating two points of the star effect. If the blades are arranged opposite of each other (an even blade count), the points on the stars will equal the blade count, as two blades share in creating a single pair of points. The blades of an odd blade count aperture are not opposing and the result is that each blade creates its own two points. Nine blades times two points each create 18-point star effects.

A great technique for including the sun in a frame is to partially hide it and use a narrow aperture setting. Here is an example from this lens:

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Starburst Effect Example

That star looks nice to me.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Design

The vignetting is a bit strong and the focal length extremities show the usual lateral CA, but overall, this lens delivers sharp imagery and it has the optical quality needed for a professional-grade general purpose lens.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Side View with Hood

Focusing

Unless manual focusing is being utilized, the combined performance of a camera and lens' autofocus system is critical to realizing the potential image quality of the combination. The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens receives a high-performing Nano USM (Ultrasonic Motor) driven AF system as first seen in the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens.

Nano USM acts like an ultra-fast version of STM AF, combining the benefits of a high speed Ring USM actuator with an STM system stepping motor's quiet and smooth, direct, lead screw-type drive system. Like Ring USM driven AF systems, Nano USM focuses extremely fast. With this lens mounted on an EOS R and the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens mounted on an EOS 5Ds R, I could not discern which combination focused faster in side-by-side testing. Like STM AF systems, Nano USM focuses almost silently, with only faint clicking heard with one's ear next to the lens. And, Nano USM lenses focus very smoothly.

Canon U.S.A.'s Rudy Winston states: "Canon’s new Nano USM technology uses a completely different form factor, but achieves focus results within the lens via the same principles of ultrasonic vibration energy, transmitted here into linear (rather than rotational) movement within the lens. This tiny new Ultrasonic motor achieves the combination of fast, near-instant response during still image shooting, with the smoothness required for good focus during video recording."

While Ring USM has been Canon's preference for high end lens designs, these lenses do not generally focus so smoothly in Movie Servo AF. While the review-time-latest Canon DSLRs are able to focus a Ring USM lens with decent smoothness, these lenses still do not compare to the smoothness of STM lenses and there is considerably more focus chatter sound during Movie Servo AF. Nano USM combines the best of both systems in these regards. I mentioned in the EF-S 18-135mm IS USM review that the AF performance from the first Nano USM lens predicted more Nano USM lenses coming and with the RF 24-105, this proven technology has now landed in the highly-regarded L Series.

AF accuracy from the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens has been very impressive.

The focus ring is mid-sized and positioned in front of the zoom ring (this is my strongly-preferred position).

Like STM, Nano USM utilizes a focus-by-wire or electrical manual focus design (vs. a direct gear-driven system). 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, 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 is disabled in the camera's menu (if this option is present). The lens' switch must be in the "MF" position and the camera meter must be on/awake for conventional 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. I never acclimated to that feature and with the R-series cameras, a linear adjustment speed can be configured. That's my preference and in this mode, the RF 24-105 f/4L focus is adjusted very slowly, with more than 360° of ring rotation from MFD to infinity, for very precise focusing capabilities.

Manual focus adjustments are smooth and solidly centered with no unusual framing shift happening. Only slight subject magnification/framing changes are seen in full extent focus range changes.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Focus Magnification Example

24mm: Distant | Close 105mm: Distant | Close

This lens maintains (naturally or, more likely, electronically) the proper focus distance throughout the entire zoom range (parfocal). Change the focal length after focusing and it appears to remain properly set.

Cameras featuring Dual Pixel CMOS AF and Movie Servo AF make video recording very easy and Nano STM lenses are very well-suited for this task. The smooth focusing makes focus distance transitions easy on the viewer's eyes and the sound of the lens focusing is not picked up by the camera's mic. Even the lens' aperture changes are quiet and smooth.

No focus distance scale is provided on the lens, but a digital scale can be enabled in the electronic viewfinder when the lens is switched to MF mode. The RF 24-105's focus ring is relatively small but large enough to be quite useful.

The RF 24-105mm f/4L has a 17.7" (450mm) minimum focus distance (MFD) that delivers a 0.24x maximum magnification (MM) at 105mm. These are very good numbers overall and average for the class.

ModelMFDMM
Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens17.7"(450mm)0.24x
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens17.7"(450mm)0.24x
Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens15.7"(400mm)0.30x
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens15.0"(380mm)0.21x
Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Lens7.9"(200mm)0.70x
Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S VR Lens19.2"(488mm)0.21x
Nikon 24-120mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens17.7"(450mm)0.24x
Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM Art Lens17.7"(450mm)0.22x
Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens15.0"(380mm)0.31x

Figure a subject measuring 5.3 x 3.5 (135 x 89mm) filling the frame at 105mm at minimum focus distance. The orchid in the maximum blur image shared earlier in the review measures about 3.25" (83mm) in width and was rendered quite large in the frame.

Magnification from wide angle through standard/normal focal length lenses is generally significantly increased with the use of extension tubes, hollow tubes with electronic connections that shift a lens farther from the camera. As of review time, RF mount-compatible extension tubes do not exist. Watch for this accessory to become available.

The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens is not compatible with Canon extenders.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Extended Top View with Hood

Build Quality & Features

While Canon's RF L lenses take on a slightly updated look, those familiar with EF L lenses will immediately recognize this lens' heritage, including the high quality construction.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM 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 f/4L IS USM Lens is very comfortable to hold and use. A slight diameter increase on the zoom ring makes it easy to find. With the RF lenses gaining an additional ring, finding the right ring is modestly more complicated and tactile cues, especially this one, are helpful.

The additional ring is the knurled "Control Ring", able to be configured for fast access to settings including aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation. Note that the control ring is clicked by default and this ring's clicks are going to be audible in camera-based audio recordings. Canon offers a de-click service for this ring (at a cost).

The rear-positioned zoom ring is ideally-located, behind the focus ring. The smooth-functioning zoom and focus rings are immediately adjacent to each other with a small amount of space provided between the focus ring and control ring.

This lens features a quality plastic external construction. As illustrated in many of the product images in this review, this lens extends when zoomed to 105mm. The extended inner lens barrel has a slight amount of play. A switch is provided that locks the lens at the retracted 24mm length, preventing gravity extension that wasn't a problem on the test lens.

The AF/MF and IS switches are flush-mounted and low-profile, but just enough raised surface area is available for easy use, even with gloves. Interesting is that changing the AF/MF switch position opens the lens aperture momentarily when the camera is powered off and that the lens makes a faint noise (ear against the lens required to hear it) when the camera is powered up.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Mount

This is a weather-sealed lens, but don't confuse this feature with waterproofness. Still, weather sealing can sometimes save the day. I've used this lens in light rain and snow with no issues to date.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Weather Sealing

Like most other recent L lenses, the RF 24-105 f/4 features fluorine coatings on the front and rear lens elements to avoid dust adhesion and to make cleaning easier. This is one of those features that goes unnoticed until something happens in the field.

The size and weight of this lens are very comfortable and ideal for even long-term use. My 16-year-old daughter carried it on hikes as long as 7 miles with significant elevation gain and later remarked about it being easy to have along.

ModelWeightDimensions w/o HoodFilterYear 
Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens24.7 oz(700g)3.3 x 4.2"(83.5 x 107.3mm)77mm2018
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens28.1 oz(795g)3.3 x 4.6"(83.5 x 118.0mm)77mm2016
Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens18.5 oz(525g)3.3 x 4.1"(83.4 x 104.0mm)77mm2014
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens28.4 oz(805g)3.5 x 4.4"(88.5 x 113.0mm)82mm2012
Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Lens21.2 oz(600g)3.3 x 3.7"(83.4 x 93.0mm)77mm2012
Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S VR Lens20.3 oz(575g)3.0 x 3.7"(76.2 x 93.98mm)72mm2003
Nikon 24-120mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens23.7 oz(670g)3.3 x 4.1"(84.0 x 103.0mm)77mm2010
Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM Art Lens31.2 oz(885g)3.5 x 4.3"(88.6 x 109.4mm)82mm2013
Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens15.2 oz(430g)2.9 x 3.7"(73.0 x 94.5mm)67mm2014
Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens23.4 oz(663g)3.3 x 4.5"(83.4 x 113.3mm)77mm2017

For many more comparisons, review the complete Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.

Obviously, the RF lens shed some size and weight from the EF predecessor. Here is a visual comparison:

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM 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 f/4L IS USM Lens
Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM Art Lens
Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

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

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens to other lenses.

Not obvious in the above comparisons is that a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R is required to mount any of the EF-compatible lenses to RF-mount cameras (the EOS R-series), the only cameras the reviewed lens is compatible with. This adapter adds .9" (24mm) in length and 3.9 oz (110g) in weight to any of the adaptable lenses. Here is a mounted comparison between the RF and EF lenses:

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens vs. EF II

The difference is appearing substantial here and one of the advantages of the RF mount's short flange back distance is clear.

The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens utilizes the ultra-common 77mm-sized threaded filters. While this filter size is not especially small, that this size is likely shared among multiple lenses in your kit means that fewer filters may be needed in some scenarios and fewer in this case means less space and lower cost. A standard thickness UV or Clear Lens Protection Filter will cause very slightly increased vignetting at 24mm. This issue is even more pronounced with circular polarizer filters as they have thicker rims than protective filters and increased peripheral shading is even visible at stopped down apertures. Definitely get slim filters such as the B+W XS-Pro and Breakthrough X4 models for this lens.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Side View Extended with Hood

Canon includes lens hoods for all L-series lenses and, with very few exceptions, you should always use them (and not in reversed position). The EW-83N is the hood model that comes with this lens. This is a semi-rigid plastic petal-shaped hood with a ribbed interior designed to avoid reflections. It offers a good amount of protection, both from impact and, especially at wide focal lengths, from bright light.

Canon includes the soft-side LP1319 drawstring pouch in the box. This pouch offers protective padding on the bottom, but the sides are unpadded, offering light scratch and dust protection.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Cap

This lens comes with the very nice Canon E-77 II lens cap that has been shipping with other recent Canon 77mm-capped lenses. Along with the RF mount Canon introduced a new mount cap, the robust Lens Dust Cap RF.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Side View

Price and Value

The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens has the same moderate price as its EF counterpart. The versatility of this lens gives it great value at the offered price.

As an "RF" lens, the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens is compatible only with Canon EOS R series cameras. Canon USA provides a 1-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens was a production model on long-term loan from Canon USA.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Angle View with Hood

Alternatives to the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens

At least for now, if you have an EOS R-series camera, you want the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens. If you already have a similar lens that can be adapted to the RF-mount cameras, economics come into play.

The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens is what I've been referring to as the RF lens' predecessor, primarily because it was the most-recent-prior-introduced 24-105mm f/4L lens, and it is the most-similar alternative. The image quality comparison between these two lenses shows mostly similarities. The RF lens is slightly sharper with very slightly less linear distortion and the EF lens has less vignetting.

We have already established that the RF lens is smaller and lighter. Looking at the specs and measurements, the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens vs. Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens comparison shows the RF getting one less aperture blade (9 vs 10). The RF lens has Nano USM vs. Ring USM for quieter and smoother performance and much longer focus ring rotation (400° vs. 122°). The RF lens' IS system is rated for 1 additional stop, 5 vs. 4. The RF includes a control ring, but it is not able to be used on non-EOS-R-series cameras.

Another great Canon general purpose lens is the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Lens. I've gone back and forth between the EF 24-70 and 24-105 f/4L IS lenses and I currently own the 24-105 and still don't know which is my favorite. With the EF 24-105 being similar to the RF 24-105, the Should I get the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS or 24-105mm f/4L IS II Lens? article covers the additional differences.

The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens vs. Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Lens specs and measurements comparison show differences directly.

The Which 24-105mm Lens Should I Get? article includes the Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens in the comparison with the EF L lenses and remains applicable with understanding of the RF lens differences. Here is the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens vs. Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens specs and measurements comparison. The STM lens is the much cheaper option.

Leaving the Canon family, we have the Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM Art Lens as a good option. In the image quality comparison at f/4, visualizing the camera resolution differences, the two lenses appear very similar. The Sigma appears to have a slight edge in the center at 24mm and the Canon at 105mm. The Canon has less barrel distortion at 24mm and the Sigma has less peripheral shading over most of the focal length range.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens vs. Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM Art Lens comparison shows the Sigma heavier and a bit larger including larger filter threads (82mm vs. 77mm). The Canon has a slightly higher maximum magnification (0.24x vs. 0.22x) and a much longer focus ring rotation. The Sigma has a noticeably lower price tag.

Another lens I recently reviewed was the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens. While the Sony lens is not compatible with Canon EOS cameras, some of us still find the comparison interesting. In the image quality comparison at f/4, again visualizing the camera resolution differences, the Sony appears sharper at the wide end with the two becoming more equal as the focal length increases. However, the Sony has very strong linear distortion with stronger barrel distortion at the wide end and stronger pincushion distortion at the mid and long focal lengths. The Sony has a bit less peripheral shading.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens vs. Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens comparison shows two nearly equivalent lenses. The Sony wins the maximum magnification game, 0.31x to 0.24x. The Canon wins the price competition.

Nikon's entry in this class has a modestly longer focal length range. The Nikon 24-120mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens is that lens. In the image quality comparison at f/4, again visualizing the camera resolution differences, I see the Nikon appearing a bit sharper in the center of the frame and the Canon having better corners. Until 85mm that is. Then the Canon turns in sharper performance with some of that advantage relinquished in the comparison of the two longest focal lengths. The Nikon has less peripheral shading and the Canon has less linear distortion.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens vs. Nikon 24-120mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens comparison shows these two lenses being very similar. The price tags are also similar.

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens Top View with Hood

Summary

The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens is the best multi-purpose choice for the EOS R series cameras and the reasons encompass the entire package.

With this lens, you get an ultra-useful focal length range in a lens sized for comfortable long-term use without creativity-killing fatigue. This lens smoothly focuses very fast with consistently excellent accuracy and the image quality is great with 5-stop image stabilization helping to maintain that desired quality. This lens is well-built, including weather sealing, and is ready for professional-duty use, but it does not cost a fortune.

The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens is extremely versatile and the perfect lens choice for the Canon R-series cameras it is designed for. Several thousand images captured in a wide range of scenarios gave me a solid comfort level with this lens. If I could pack only one lens along with an R-series camera for general purpose use, the RF 24-105mm f/4L IS would be my choice.

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