Review: Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II (Canon EF Mount)

Canon has always been a company that is a bit slower to change things, and so when the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II was announced, I was pleased to see that they did a number to fix many issues with the previous lens. With that said though, years have passed now and the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II more or less looks like every other option on the market. Some of the new welcome additions are the prevention of lens creep incorporated into the design, a lock to keep the lens locked in at 24mm, better weather sealing, faster autofocus, and less issues with image quality. For years, the previous version of the lens was my bread and butter option. While many photographers reach for the 24-70mm f2.8 lenses, I tend to go for the longer focal range option.

For only $1,099 you’re getting one of the best bang for your buck L lenses that Canon offers. At a more expensive price point than Sigma’s 24-105mm f4 DG OS HSM, you’re paying for weather sealing and the ability to lock the lens at 24mm to prevent it from extending when in your camera bag. that and less contrast in the images. But the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II’s main strength is in the versatility it offers the photographer.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Weather sealing
  • Sharp image quality
  • Useful range
  • Image stabilization
  • Locking mechanism
  • Better feel than the original
  • Not too incredibly saturated images
  • Better image quality than the original

Cons

  • I wonder how long this lens will last in terms of a life time before Sigma renews theirs and Tamron and Tokina come out with their own options

Gear Used

We tested the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II with the Canon 6D Mk II, Canon 6D, Interfit Honey Badger and the Lumu Power light meter.

Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II Tech Specs

Specs taken from Canon’s website

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture

24-105mm f/4

Lens Construction

17 elements in 12 groups

Diagonal Angle of View

84°00′ – 23° 20′

Focus Adjustment

AF with full-time manual

Closest Focusing Distance

1.5 ft. / 0.45m

Filter Size

3.0 in. / 77mm diameter

Max. Diameter x Length, Weight

φ3.3 x 4.7 in., approx. 28.04 oz. / φ83.5 x 118mm, approx. 795g

Ergonomics

The Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II is a lens option that is also typically a kit lens offering. Some photographers prefer to go for the 24-70mm f2.8 but for years, I preferred the 24-105mm f4 instead. The original was my workhorse, and so it’s nice to see some upgrades come to the follow up. The Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II is mostly characterized by a new exterior texture and the rubber rings.

Oh, and of course there is the red ring.

The Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II has a 77mm filter thread ring just in case you need something like a Polarizing filter. Then there is also the extra Canon branding on the front.

When the lens is zoomed in fully, it almost doubles in size. When the lens hood is attached, it can look larger than it really is.

Turn to the side of the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II and you’ll spot a locking switch. This switch locks the lens out to 24mm.

If you turn to the side of the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II you’ll spot these switches. They control autofocus and the stabilizer.

Canon states that you don’t need a UV filter to complete the weather sealing this time around.

Build Quality

The Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II has weather sealing built into it. You can see that with the rubber gasket on the back of the lens. I took the lens out during a rainfall in Yellowstone National park and it, when coupled with the Canon 6D Mk II did very well against the elements.

The original lens had lens creep but this one doesn’t really suffer from it all that badly. If you get it, then you can use the locking switch.

Ease of Use

The Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II is an autofocus lens that works accordingly with the camera that you’re using. Just remember to unlock it when you’re going to use it and if you locked it before–otherwise you can miss a shot. Additionally, also remember to check the other switches. But otherwise, you just point, focus and shoot. It’s pretty simple.

Autofocus

The autofocus on the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II is pretty and accurate. It’s better than the original versions even though the original wasn’t a slouch. But when using both cameras, I didn’t have any sort of issues with autofocus. It was mostly an afterthought.

Image Quality

If you’re using the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II, you’ll be really happy with the results. My favorite images came out when the camera I was using with the Faithful color preset. Canon doesn’t saturate their photos overly the way that Sigma does but instead just tries to work with great colors and sharpness. One thing is for sure, the skin tones are absolutely fantastic and I’d probably use this lens more often than not to photograph people vs anything else.

Bokeh

The bokeh of the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II is really nice and when used with the right lighting, you’ll be able to create great portraits. Keep in mind that this isn’t as great as using a prime lens but instead you’ll be using this lens for its convenience.

Chromatic Aberration

In my tests, I couldn’t find any sort of the issues with the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II when it comes to chromatic aberration. Canon majorly fixed this issue which was a big one with the original lens. So let’s move on, there’s no major reason to complain here.

Color Rendition

I’ve always been really happy with the color rendition I can get from Canon’s lenses even though for a while I preferred the look that Sigma and others gave me. But I’m over the overly saturated look. Canon’s options are great for skin tones and just overall color.

Now if only their sensors could catch up on the lower end…

Sharpness

The best sharpness from the Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II comes when you’ve got a flash or strobe being used in the photo. The images then tend to really pop.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Color rendition
  • Sharpness is just enough, but it isn’t winning awards
  • Convenience of focal lengths
  • Build Quality

Dislikes

  • I kind of wish that Canon would have pushed the sharpness even further on this. Years ago they showed off a 100+ MP concept DSLR and I wonder if this lens can resolve something like that.

The Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II is a fine lens in so many ways. It’s gotten a lot of updates and improvements on its build quality and with all of the issues that were present with the first version of the lens. For many Canon photographers, you’ll be happy with the output. This lens most deserves to be used with the 5D Mk IV, 5Ds, and the 1Dx Mk II. For the other cameras, I strongly instead recommend prime lenses. While this is a good lens in many ways, Canon I wish pushed it further to give us even more sharpness while keeping the contrast down the way that they did. Still overall, I can’t really complain when Canon is holding their own here.

The Canon 24-105mm f4 L IS USM II receives five out of five stars. Want one? They’re around $1,099 on Amazon.