Review: Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM (Canon RF)

The Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM is the quintessential walkaround lens for Canon EOS R owners.

As a former Canon DSLR owner, I’ve always had a complicated relationship with lenses like the Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM; but this latest version has proven itself to be useful in many situations. The first version of this lens for their DSLRs had a slew of problems that were improved on with the second version. And with this version for their RF lineup of cameras, photographers are treated to some fantastic image stabilization and an industry standard size. For those that want a walkaround lens, it’s hard to beat this one and it even comes close to Sony’s in terms of sharpness and image rendition. And when the situation calls for it, the image stabilization is what I’d call class leading.

At the same time that I’m giving this lens all the praise in the world, I genuinely still feel like Canon could have and should have pushed harder.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Nice image quality
  • Fast focusing abilities
  • Fantastic image stabilization
  • Weather sealing that’s very good
  • Fairly portable

Cons

  • I really think that Canon would have hit this out of the park if they just made it a 24-120mm f4 lens like Nikon has. That also would have made it even more appealing.
  • I’d love to be able to lock the lens at various focal lengths.

Gear Used

We tested the Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM with the Canon EOS R and a variety of flashes.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from Canon’s listing page

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture

24-105mm f/4

Lens Construction

18 elements in 14 groups

Diagonal Angle of View

84°00′-23°20′

Focus Adjustment

AF with full-time manual

Closest Focusing Distance

1.48 ft. / 0.45m

Filter Size

77mm

Max. Diameter x Length, Weight

Φ3.29 x 4.22 in., approx. 1.54 lbs. / Φ83.5 x 107.3mm, approx. 700g

Ergonomics

Unlike previous versions of this lens for DSLRs, with the Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM you don’t have to worry about needing a front filter. It’s fully weather sealed and that’s nice. I would, however, keep the lens hood around.

Turn to the side of the Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM and what you’ll find here is a locking switch. It only locks at 24mm.

Turn to the other side of the Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM and what you’ll spot here is the IS switch and the autofocus switch. Plus there are the three rings: focus, zoom and programmable. The latter feels sort of like an aperture ring.

This is the lens at its longest. Unlike the first version of its DSLR cousin, there is no lens creep.

Build Quality

The Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM is weather sealed and feels good overall in the hand. Photographers who use this lens are bound to be those who love photowalking; but as I saw during my review period, this lens is more than good enough to satisfy the many needs of professional photographers. One of the best things about this lens is the image stabilization. It’s very, very good and I was able to handhold it down to 1/15th and could have probably gone even slower. Of course, I’m better at handholding than most photographers and am pretty much a human tripod. So combine the great handhold-ability with the nice texture on the lens and the overall ergonomics and you’ll get yourself a pretty solid package overall.

Ease of Use

The Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM is an autofocus lens; you put it on the camera, focus, shoot and enjoy the photos. That’s it. It’s a simple enough lens to use and the switches are placed in locations that it wasn’t that difficult to remember where they are. I can’t complain here.

Autofocus

The autofocus on the Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM is overall pretty solid. It’s better than with adapted lenses and manages to be very fast. Any problems that occurred have to do with the EOS R sometimes giving us issues with stuff like face detection, but otherwise I can’t complain about the autofocus. It’s consistent and reliable enough in most situations.

Image Quality

The Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM has overall very acceptable image quality. I still think that Canon could have pushed the envelope further and went from 24-120mm, but that’s not the case here. There isn’t a whole lot of distortion that is difficult to deal with and while I don’t think that it is as perfectly sharp as Sony’s offering, it’s very close and in many situations, photographers probably wouldn’t be able to tell the differences between the two.

What I found to be the difference: Sony’s sharpness allows you to see pores in a subject’s face where as Canon’s doesn’t. For portraiture, I think I’d rather reach for Canon’s lens.

Bokeh

What’s nice is that the Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM lets you focus pretty closely on the subject. That focusing range I’ve found changes depending on what focal length you’re at. But it can help you create nice bokeh either way. For portraiture, that’s pretty important.

Chromatic Aberration

In my tests, I couldn’t find any major issues as far as distortion or fringing go. We can move passed this.

Color Rendition

I really enjoy the color rendition that the Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM can give off when paired with the Canon EOS R. But for what it’s worth, I like the 50mm f1.2 R much more. It’s nice. It’s less saturated than Sony’s and has that pop that Fujifilm tends to give off at times.

Sharpness

The Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM is pretty darned sharp wide open. Stopping the lens down, it gets even sharper. But where I found the sharpness to really shine is when using the camera and lens with a flash. It really pops then.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Weather sealing
  • Convenience
  • Image quality
  • Price point isn’t that high
  • Lots of great image stabilization

Dislikes

  • I wish Canon put even more innovation into it

I think that the Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM is a great lens. Considering that this used to be my bread and butter lens for years when I was a DSLR owner, I’m pleasantly content with the latest version. It’s almost impossible to get a blurry shot due to camera shake. In fact, I pretty much never got one. Then there is the weather sealing, the fast focus, etc. I can’t really fault the Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM.

We award the Canon RF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM four out of five stars. Want one? Check out Amazon.