Walking around the Queen St mall in Brisbane, the weather was gloom and damp and I had with me a Canon 5D IV paired with a Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. I have only ever owned 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses, and have never really used a 24-105mm until now.
This kit is definitely considered a giant kit by today's standards, but it made me think about what it would have been like 10 years or so ago, as I feel this would have been the ultimate street/travel photographer's kit.
When I say ultimate I mainly mean that in the respect that it gives you loads of flexibility, as well as plenty of potential to capture most things you see. It is 2018 and I'm constantly dealing with customers that are yearning for a lighter kit, which is completely achievable with the likes Fujifilm, Panasonic, and Olympus - to name a few.
I was enjoying this old-school style street photographer kit. I did feel a little conspicuous, but I had no trouble getting the shots I desired. I wanted to know a little more about the history of this lens in particular, as it has been such as iconic lens in the Canon line-up.
Back in August 2005 Canon announced the 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, which was the same day the original Canon 5D was announced, and was then released to the market September 2005. It had a life span of 11 years, before the second generation of the lens was released to the market in August 2016, which is 795g (125g heavier) and has 12 groups instead of 13 groups, and 17 elements instead of 18 elements. When the original was released it was slotted in the range to compliment the 17-40mm f/4L USM and the 70-200mm f/4L USM and was an alternative to the 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM.
At the time, consumers had a selection of a few EF-S lenses and one main EF lens in this range; the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L USM. With it's superior build quality over the EF-S lenses, plus significantly larger aperture, this was the benchmark of "standard zoom" lenses at the time in the Canon range.
What did the critics think of the original Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM? The build quality was not as rugged as the 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, but still had solid construction, similar to that of the Canon 17-40mm f/4L USM. The focusing speed was consistent, but still slower than the 24-70mm f/2.8L USM.
It was considered an expensive lens upon it's release as well, with a price tag of MSRP (2005) $1249.00 USD it wasn't far off of the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L USM which had a price of MSRP (2002) $1349.00 USD. It did also suffer from flaring issues, affecting the first batch of 10,000 lenses, which Canon recalled and fixed free of charge.
However it did edge it over the bigger brother in terms of image contrast, plus it also had a big weapon up it's sleeve; Image Stabilisation.
Although this is not such a revolutionary thing today, back in 2005 it was one of the main talking points of the Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. Canon stated that it would give you up to 3-stops of stability, but some reviewers even reported achieving up to 4-stops. Image Stabilisation does increase the weight of lenses and bodies, but it was still 280g lighter than the 24-70mm f/2.8L USM mainly due to the fact it was an f/4 lens instead of an f/2.8 lens.
This made the 24-105mm a favourite amongst event and wildlife photographers as it could make up for the smaller aperture with it's impressive IS system, plus it was lighter to carry while still retaining excellent weather sealing. Not to mention it gave you an extra 35mm of reach. Another added bonus was the non-rotating end element, allowing for ease of use when using filters. Plus, it has a 77mm filter thread, which was a common size in the Canon L-lens range.
Since it's release the Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM has been a hit amongst photographers of all genres. Tough build quality, excellent weather sealing, superb image quality, and convenient features such as Image Stabilisation, makes this lens still a gem. While this lens is now discontinued, it's replacement Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens remains popular amoungst Canon shooters.
Wanting to test out some lens you've not tried before? Come in to either of our showrooms in Brisbane to get hands on with a huge range of Canon gear. Alternatively, call us on 1300 431 431 to speak to our team of photographers - we're more than happy to help you choose your next lens!
Words and images by Bryce Jarrett