Full frame cameras have become much more affordable over the past couple of years, with models such as the Canon 6D now costing just £1200, and at last there’s a lens to match in the form of the Canon 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM. This budget, full-frame standard zoom, is priced at just £459 to keep it well within the reach of most serious enthusiasts who might have been hesitant about switching over from APS-C because of the high cost of full-frame lenses.
If you’re familiar with Canon’s full-frame lenses, you’ll know there’s already a lens in the line-up with an identical focal range. However, that is an L-series model aimed at the professional market, and is considerably more expensive at £789. This new 24-105mm is in fact only the second non L-series standard zoom for full-frame DSLRs that Canon has ever produced.
The new 24-105mm has a maximum aperture of f/3.5-5.6, unlike the L-series 24-105mm which has a fixed maximum aperture of f/4 at all focal lengths. This isn’t a big deal for most photographers, though fixed apertures are preferable for video. However, it does mean that at 24mm the new 24-105mm actually lets in one-third of a stop more light than its L-series counterpart.
The lens comes with image stabilisation, which gives the user a 4-stop advantage over a non-stabilised lens. Simply put, this means you’ll be able to shoot shake-free images without a tripod with just 1/16 of the light you’d need if you didn’t have IS. Consequently, the lens will appeal to those who wish to shoot handheld in low light conditions, and is ideal for wedding photographers.
Also handy for weddings, or any other situation when you’re required to shoot in near-silence, is the lens’s STM stepping motor, which means there’s virtually no autofocus noise. This is a big plus if you shoot video, as AF won’t be detectable through the microphone.
Image quality is impressive, with sharp corners even at the widest apertures. There is some green-magenta chromatic aberration wide open, though this can be removed fairly easily in post-processing. Distortion is also apparent at the widest aperture settings, but this can be fixed afterwards too. You can use this lens on an APS-C DSLR, although the focal range will become 38-168mm due to the smaller sensor size.
Anyone tempted by a switch to full-frame will be delighted by this impressive budget offering, which is significantly cheaper than both Canon’s 24-105mm f/4L IS USM or Sigma’s 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM. The lens performs well, although without weather-sealing, a metal lens barrel or a fixed maximum aperture it lacks the finesse of its rivals. If these things aren’t an issue for you, this lens is highly recommended.
- Street price: £375 (As of July 2016)
- Focal length: 24-105mm
- Aperture: f/3.5-32
- Visit: www.canon.co.uk
This review was first published in the March 2015 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.