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Archive for May, 2015

rainleaf

Rainy leaves on my Blueberry bush 24-105mm 4.0 L IS at 105mm and f4

75% of my photos with the Canon 5D mark II are made through a Canon 16-35mm 4.0 L IS lens. Prior to that it was my 17-40mm 4.0 L lens. Generally I shoot real estate photos with my full frame DSLR. So the other half-dozen lenses I own share that little 25% that is left of my DSLR shooting experience.

Enter the Canon 24-105mm 4.0 L IS. This is a lens that Canon offered with the 5D Mark II in a kit and one that many people who own it may use 75% of the time. It is a wonderful range. 24mm is pretty wide on a full frame body and 105 is a nice medium portrait lens.

My style has always been to shoot the fastest glass possible and Canon does offer the 24-70mm 2.8 L II as an alternative to this lens. I am still torn between the two but I own the 24-105. I would be fibbing profusely if I said the price wasn’t a factor. 2.8 speed comes at a steep premium. The 24-70 runs routinely above $1400 used and that is double the 24-105’s used street price. There is the original first gen 24-70mm 2.8 L that is comparable in price but that lens is not as good as the 24-105mm. If you can’t swing the coin, don’t settle for the original 24-70mm 2.8 L. The lens is not as sharp as the 24-105mm 4.0 L IS, it weighs more and lacks the tele reach.

carron

Wifey in the kitchen after work, 24-105mm 4.0 L IS at 105mm f4 and 1/6 second hand held! There is a tinge of subject motion, but damn that Image Stabilizer works.

The speed advantage of f2.8 is not as big a deal as it was back in the film days. When shooting film you were committed to an ISO for the whole roll of film. Having an extra stop to use in available light was invaluable. These days just change the ISO up a stop and presto, there you are! In the manual focus days the extra stop made the viewfinder twice as bright and believe me, that made focusing faster, sharper and more accurate. Of course today’s DSLRs focus much better than we mortal humans. So two of the key reasons for wanting fast glass are largely mitigated through the amazing technology that modern cameras have. 

Canon has further aided us shaky handed mammals with Image Stabilization on the 24-105mm L series lens. Although this will not aid in stopping subject action, it will help in eliminating camera shake. I have effectively shot the 24-105mm lens wide open at the long end at speeds under 1/30th with crisp, sharp results. There is no way that happens for me without IS 🙂 It is important to be sure and understand the IS eliminates camera shake, not subject movement. The only two cures for stopping subject movement are stopping the subject or increasing the shutter speed. That is the world of ISO and Aperture my friends. Sometimes you have to choose between a little digital noise or a big fat wad of cash 😉

rainy24105-2

Forgot to turn on IS so this one is a touch soft, 24-105mm 4.0 L IS at 24mm and f4 @1/20 sec

Since I have the amazing Canon 16-35mm 4.0 L IS in my camera bag, you can imagine that I am not reaching for the 24-105mm lens for wide-angle shots. Yes, I tend to use it at the long end. But looking objectively at the lens, this is a great all-purpose zoom lens. You can take the 5D body and this lens and go on vacation with the absolute expectation that all of the images you try to get can be made and made well with this lens.

It was not that long ago that 24mm was the threshold between rank amateurs and serious pros. A 28mm prime could be had cheap but the 24mm prime was always twice the price. To have that kind of wide-angle on a zoom lens that can switch direction and go to a 105mm portrait is just amazing. Sure there are longer stretches in zooms out there, but this is an L series lens. You can expect the images to be crisp and sharp across the range at every f-stop with minimal or no lens flare and snappy contrast.

Sure the faster 2.8 lens will offer a little more of that soft creamy bokeh we all love, but remember this 24-105 stretches an extra 35mm in focal length and that is nearly enough to get all that soft background back.

rainy24105

Rose from about 20 inches, 24-105mm 4.0 L IS at 105mm and f8 @ 1/200th sec

One of the areas where this Canon 24-105mm really shines is in close-ups. It will focus down to 18 inches and at 105mm that provides a nice macro reproduction ratio of around 1:4 on full frame. This lens will not yield flat field results this close, but it is very sharp and handy on the go.

The Canon 24-105mm L IS is a lens that has been in Canon’s lineup since 2005 and has gone mostly unchanged. It is widely reported that the first several thousand lenses off the assembly line had a lens flare problem that Canon offered to fix for free. My example suffers no such ailment. The lens is truly a versatile Jack of all Trades. This is still a very worthy lens and one I enjoy using every time I have the chance.

P.S. Last time I wrote about fish-eye lenses. I took my new Sigma 8mm 4.0 circular fish-eye Downtown and horsed around a bit. Then I blogged about it on the ‘Couv’ Life here. Check it out.

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