Canon 24-105mm IS STM
This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Canon does not seal its boxes, so never, ever buy any lens, especially a relatively delicate lens like this, at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, dropped, damaged or used lens, a customer return or if the warranty has already been registered to someone else online! My approved sources ship from remote automated warehouses where no salespeople or lookie-loos ever get to drop your new lens before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.
Sample Image Files (more throughout the review) top
The Canon 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM is an optically superb lens in a lightweight, light-duty plastic barrel. So long as you don't plan on shooting in pouring rain for hours or otherwise physically abusing it, this 24-105mm is an extraordinarily good and handy lens for all Canon EOS cameras of every format, especially full-frame.
It does everything well: It's inexpensive, goes long and wide, it gets super close, it has image stabilization, it focuses silently and almost instantly, it works flawlessly with every Canon SLR made since 1987, and it's super sharp.
It has instant manual-focus override, but it's electronic and only works if the meter is on. Manual focus won't work if the camera is off or asleep, and it doesn't work when the depth-of-field button is pressed.
Canon is especially proud of the silent STM focus mechanism for allows silent autofocus tracking while shooting movies with newer cameras, while I'm impressed at this lens' optical excellence in such a lightweight package.
There is a zoom lock switch to hold it at 24mm while you walk around. I don't use it.
This is a full-frame lens, so it works on all formats.
Full frame lenses are at their best on full-frame, which is how I will be reviewing it.
You can make the usual inferences when used on smaller sensors.
This works on all Canon EOS cameras, meaning all Canon DSLRs and all Canon 35mm EOS autofocus SLRs all the way back to the 1987 EOS 650. Yes, I tried it on my 1987 EOS 650 and it works as perfectly as on the latest DSLRs.
It focuses just about instantly on my DSLRs, but only reasonably fast on my 1980s 35mm cameras.
Canon 24-105mm STM. bigger.
Canon calls this the CANON ZOOM LENS EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM.
EF means "electronic focus;" there is an autofocus motor inside the lens.
IS is Image Stabilization.
STM (lead screw-type STepping autofocus Motor) means that the focus motor operates silently and very quickly.
Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 internal diagram. Aspherical, UD Glass, glass and [IS elements].
17 elements in 13 groups.
Two are aspherical.
One is of UD glass, designed to increase sharpness and eliminate secondary color fringes.
The front and back groups move in and out as zoomed.
When used on an APS-C camera, it sees an angle of view similar to what an 40-180mm lens sees when used on an FX or 35mm camera, which is a very handy range as well.
Angle of View, full frame
84º ~ 23.3º diagonal.
74º ~ 19.3º horizontal.
53º ~ 13º vertical.
Canon 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM. (EF diaphragm not visible). enlarge.
7 rounded blades.
Stops down to f/22 ~ 36.
Close Focus top
1.3' (0.4m) from the image plane.
That's just inches from the front of the lens.
Maximum Reproduction Ratio top
1:3.33 (0.3 x).
Minimum Subject Field top
81 x 121 millimeters.
3.19 x 4.7 inches.
Extension Tubes & Closeup Lenses top
Hard Infinity Focus Stop? top
Focus Scale top
Depth-of-Field Scale top
Infra-Red Focus Indices top
Image Stabilization top
Rated 4 stops improvement.
Canon specifies 3.28" (83.4 mm) diameter by 4.09" (104 mm) extension from flange.
Mine weighs 18.438 oz. (522.7g).
Canon specifies 18.5 oz. (525g).
Optional EW-83M, $26.
Optional LP1219 sack, $31. It's just a flimsy unpadded sack.
15 September 2014, 8:02 AM NYC time.
Canon Model Number top
9521B002. (9521B001 in Japan.)
0 1308 24078 8.
Made in Taiwan.
It comes in a silver-gray microcorrugated cardboard box:
Box, Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6. bigger.
There are no foam blocks. The lens and paperwork are simply wrapped in bubble wrap:
Packing, Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6.
Price, USA top
2015 April - 2016 January: $599 ($70,000 yen in Japan.)
The 24-105mm is an optically magnificent lens in a plastic barrel. It has some distortion, but since modern Canons can correct that, no worries.
It's smooth, fast and quiet.
Autofocus is nearly instantaneous, as well as silent.
Autofocus is always dead-on.
Just grab the ring anytime for instant manual-focus override, so long as the meter is on. Your camera may allow some changes to how this works under its AF menu system for "USM Lens Electronic AF," and older cameras may work a little differently.
There's also a switch, like every other Canon lens.
Manual focus is good at the wide end, and a bit fast at the long end.
Bokeh, the quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to the degree of defocus, is quite good. Backgrounds go soft.
Of course for the best bokeh with any zoom, shoot at the longest setting.
Here are full-frame samples. Click for the camera-original JPG:
Canon 24-105mm STM bokeh at 24mm and f/3.5. Camera-original © file.
Canon 24-105mm STM at 50mm and f/5. Camera-original © file.
Canon 24-105mm STM at 105mm and f/5.6. Camera-original © file.
Canon makes a very high quality dual-element close-up lens, the 77mm Canon 500D, which screws on the front.
It lets you get magnifications from 0.21x to 0.41x.
Canon suggests not using manual focus with the close-up lens.
There is no coma.
It's sharp right out to the corners, even wide open. Wow.
The 24-105mm STM has moderate pincushion distortion over most of its range, and moderately strong barrel distortion at 24mm
Canon's newest DSLRs usually can correct this automatically.
If not, use these factors to correct the distortion in Photoshop's lens distortion filter. These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.
© 2015 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
* some waviness remains after correction.
Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM.
Ergonomics are great. It has a big, well-spaced zoom ring, and the focus ring moves with a fingertip.
See also Zooming.
Canon suggests using manual focus with extension tubes.
Canon EF-12 (12mm long)
You can use the Canon EF-12 or Canon EF12 II.
At 24mm, it will give you a focus range from 176 to 188 millimeters from the image plane, and a magnification range from 0.50x to 0.61x.
At 105mm, it will give you a focus range from 1,041 to 323 millimeters from the image plane, and a magnification range from 0.12x to 0.46x.
Canon EF-25 (25mm long)
The Canon EF-25 or Canon EF25 II doesn't work with this lens at 24mm. You'd be focused inside the lens!
At 105mm, it will give you a focus range from 290 to 594 millimeters from the image plane, and a magnification range from 0.27x to 0.67x.
Modern Canon DSLRs fully correct any falloff.
If you're shooting 35mm, an old DSLR or if you've turned off correction, falloff is visible wide-open at 24mm, and otherwise invisible.
I've greatly exaggerated this by presenting it against a gray background. In actual photography, it's completely invisible except at 24mm at f/3.5 with no correction:
There's no need for thin filters. Even two stacked standard filters do not vignette on full-frame at 24mm.
With three stacked filters you'll get a little vignetting at 24mm, almost none at 28mm, and it's all gone at 35mm.
Avoid polarizers at the 24mm end, since the natural polarization of the sky varies with angle and often leads to unintended dark bands across the sky. This applies to all wide lenses; vignetting isn't the problem.
Try as I did, I couldn't get this lens to ghost or flare.
Shoot right into the sun, and nothing.
I'm impressed; the more glass inside a lens usually the more problems it has, while this complex lens just doesn't flare or ghost.
Canon 24-105mm at 67mm and f/11. bigger.
Focus breathing (the image changing size as focused) is mostly of interest to cinematographers who don't want the image changing size ("breathing") as the lens is focused among different subjects.
The image from the 24-105 gets slightly smaller as focussed more closely.
There are no lateral color fringes when shot with a lens profile on full frame.
This is superb; I haven't tried it without a profile.
The 24-105 gets very close. It's unlikely that you'd need to carry a separate macro lens:
Longines 23ZS at close-focus distance at f/5.6 at 105mm on full-frame.
Crop from above image at 100%, shot at f/5.6 at ISO 100 on a 5D Mark III. If this is 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, the full image would print at 40 x 60" (1 x 1.5 meters)!
It's sharp wide-open, but there's some spherical aberration that softens the contrast. Stop it down a little and it gets back to being super-contrasty:
Same thing, shot at f/11. If this is 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, the full image would print at 40 x 60" (1 x 1.5 meters)!
This is a sharp lens, but a slow lens. It's closer to f/5.6 throughout most of its range.
Rear, Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM. bigger.
The Canon 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 is a well-made all-plastic lens.
The mount is metal and the glass is glass, and everything else is nice plastic.
The zoom cam is made of metal, which is a nicer touch than expected.
The front section will wobble a bit if you wiggle it; this is normal.
Avoid beating this on rocks and you should be fine; I've used my older plastic 28-105 USM from the 1990s for many years without a problem.
Printed on plastic ring inside filter threads.
Plastic, rubber covered.
Mostly plastic, with a metal zoom cam.
Plastic, rubber covered.
Laser-engraved into bottom of barrel just above the regulatory symbols.
It's black-on-black, so you won't see it unless you're looking for it.
Rear Gasket (moisture seal at mount)
Noises When Shaken
Made in Taiwan.
Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens, and lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers. It's the least skilled hobbyists who waste the most time blaming fuzzy pictures on their lenses, while real shooters know that few photos ever use all the sharpness of which their lenses are capable due to subject motion and the fact that real subjects are rarely perfectly flat.
This caution aside, this is a very sharp lens at every setting, especially the full-frame corners wide-open. The only slight variations from perfection are a little less sharpness in the far corners of full-frame at 24mm at the wider apertures, and other than that, every part of the frame is as sharp as every other at all settings.
The only way to make this lens less sharp is to stop it down to f/11 or smaller, where the laws of diffraction make it duller.
These MTF curves confirm what I see when I shoot my 24-105mm: it's very contrasty and sharp at every focal length and aperture setting:
Canon EF 24-105mm IS STM MTF Curves.
WARNING: I bought mine from Adorama, who like my other Approved Sources, ships from a secure, remote automated warehouse nowhere near its retail store. I use Approved Sources so I know that the lens I receive has never been taken out to show around on the sales floor, and no other customer or salesman has ever had his hands on it. No store employee has "borrowed" it for a weekend to try it out at home. No one has dropped it, either. When I buy from my favorite stores, I know that I have a pristine, untouched, unopened and brand-new lens. DO NOT buy this lens from any retail store because something as popular as this lens will undoubtedly have been taken out and shown around many times before you buy it. If you're foolish enough to buy one at retail, God help you because Canon does not seal its boxes, so you'll have no idea of how many times it's been dropped, since salespeople and managers have open access to their stockrooms.
If you buy from other than an approved source, yours may or may not be this good. It might be the one bought, not met someone's standard, and returned. Be very afraid if a store has no used department.
With its rounded diaphragm, the 24-105 has nearly no sunstars, except some weak ones at f/22.
Even on chrome in broad daylight, this is all I can get at f/22:
Canon 24-105mm STM at 81mm at f/22. bigger.
Canon 24-105mm at 105mm.
The zoom ring is well spaced. It's easy to select any setting quickly and precisely.
One moderately firm finger will move it, but two fingers are better.
The front section extends as zoomed towards the long end, so it's easier to do pointed down than when pointed up, but the front section is light enough and the lens is cammed well enough that it works fine no matter where you're pointed.
Versus 24-105/4L IS
The 24-105 L IS is a heavier (664 vs. 522 grams) and tougher lens. It's 9 years older and almost as sharp, but has much more distortion at 24mm, its zoom range is compressed at the 24mm end, making it touchy to set precise zoom at the wide end, and it doesn't get as close as this new 24-105 STM.
They are equally fast on the wide side of the zoom range, while the 24-105/4 IS L is a stop faster at the long end.
For light-duty, get this 24-105 STM, and if you use it every day, get the tougher 24-105 L IS.
Versus 24-70/2.8L II
The 24-70/2.8 L II is much bigger and heavier (804 vs. 522 grams). It's also a stop or two faster, but doesn't zoom anywhere near as long. I'll take two stops of speed at the long end over IS. It takes big, weird 82mm filters that you probably don't already have.
The 24-70/2.8L II is at least as sharp, probably a bit sharper than any of the other lenses, and has much less distortion than the others at 24mm.
I own and prefer the 24-70/2.8L II because it's so darn sharp, and because it makes the best sunstars here. I like my highlights to sparkle, literally, but it is so big that I'll take my small 28-105 USM, which also makes great sunstars, on lightweight trips.
Versus 24-70/4L IS
The 24-70/4 L IS is smaller but heavier (600 vs. 522 grams) and tougher lens. It's a slower version of the 24-70/2.8 L II with IS added. It's also super sharp and also relatively free from distortion at 24mm.
It's a stop faster than the 24-105 STM at the long end, but doesn't zoom anywhere near as long.
I'd step up to the 24-70/4L IS if you value build quality and speed over zoom range.
The discontinued 24-70/2.8L is the oldest, toughest and heaviest lens here; the only one made mostly of metal.
It was Canon's top pro midrange zoom before the more fragile but much sharper 24-70/2.8 L II was introduced in 2012.
I'd get one of these if I wanted the toughest, most professional-looking and smoothest-zooming lens and didn't want to pay much. You can get one of these solid pro beauties every day on eBay for only about $850 used if you know How to Win at eBay.
It's not the sharpest if you're a pixel-splitter, but it's the only lens here that I'd really feel confident about giving a professional level of physical abuse. Get the old 24-70/2.8L of you need a tough lens above all.
Versus 28-105 USM
Not on the chart, the discontinued 28-105 USM is the 1990s equivalent of this 24-105mm STM. It's an all-plastic, even smaller and lighter (362 vs. 522 g) metal mount consumer midrange zoom.
I still love mine, and for about $80 used today, it's a swell little lens if you don't need absolute sharpness or IS, and appreciate hundreds of extra dollars in your pocket and much less weight around your neck. The 28-105 USM is a very well rounded lens that also does everything pretty well.
* Some waviness left after correction
Manual focus only works when your camera's meter is on. This STM lens may work differently than you'd expect from previous USM lenses.
This Canon 24-105 IS STM does everything very well, except taking physical abuse. It is optically and ergonomically superb. So long as you don't intend to abuse it like a newsman, this is an ultrasharp, lightweight lens you can take anywhere and use to shoot anything.
There's no longer any need to buy the 24-105/4 IS L, unless you want a tougher lens. This new 24-105 STM has optics at least as good, with much less distortion at 24mm, closer focussing and better zooming, in a newer, lighter and less expensive lens.
If you find the time I spend researching and sharing all this, please know that this ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep adding to this free website when you get anything through these links — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you take the chance of buying elsewhere.
Never buy at retail, especially for a popular lens like this. Canon doesn't seal its boxes so you can't tell if it's a used, returned, damaged, dropped or store-demo lens. Especially with this lens, anyone silly enough to buy at retail has got to know that it's going to have been taken out and played with by everyone in the store before being sold as "new;" while online orders are shipped from secure automated warehouses located far away from any store so no one else gets to drop your lens before you do.
Thanks for your support!
More Information top
Help me help you top
I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.
The biggest help is when you use any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. These places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.
If you find this page as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.
As this page is copyrighted and formally registered, it is unlawful to make copies, especially in the form of printouts for personal use. If you wish to make a printout for personal use, you are granted one-time permission only if you PayPal me $5.00 per printout or part thereof. Thank you!
Thanks for reading!
March - April 2015