Comparison of the Canon RF 24-105 f/4L with the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II on the EOS R5

Comparison of the Canon RF 24-105 f/4L with the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II on the EOS R5

As my com­par­a­tive test of the EF and RF ver­sions of the 24-105 f/4L IS on the Canon EOS R5 showed that the RF is bet­ter, I have mean­while sold my EF 24-105, which has been hard­ly used in recent times any­way, to good hands via eBay. But even though the RF 24-105 f/4L IS is bet­ter than the EF ver­sion, I won­dered if there was a bet­ter option in the very fre­quent­ly used focal length range, at least up to 70mm. For the range above that, I still own the excel­lent EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II. Because of the faster speed, I’ve been flirt­ing with an RF 24-70 f/2.8 IS - but up to now it’s been far too expen­sive for me.

However, must it be a RF mount lens?

As I already own a large zoo of high-qual­i­ty EF lens­es, I already have very good expe­ri­ence with adapt­ing EF lens­es (espe­cial­ly with the option of using fil­ters in the EF-EOS R drop-in fil­ter mount adapter). Fur­ther­more, I also want to con­tin­ue using my EOS 5DSR, so I am still very inter­est­ed in EF lens­es. In addi­tion, many Canon pho­tog­ra­phers are cur­rent­ly migrat­ing to RF lens­es after switch­ing to the new EOS R5 or R6 bod­ies and often ” dump” their old EF lens­es well below val­ue, so there must still be some bar­gains to pick up?

I then stum­bled across a very attrac­tive offer for a 24-70mm f/2.8L II on eBay (here are some cur­rent offers for the lens on eBay*) again and snapped it up. In total, I only paid about 1/3 of the price of an new RF 24-70 f/2.8L IS for the lens. Opti­cal­ly, both ver­sions are com­pa­ra­bly very good, as can be seen, for exam­ple, in the com­par­i­son at the-digital-picture.com. Also, I thought that on the Canon EOS R5 or R6, the built-in sen­sor sta­bi­liz­er could com­pen­sate to some extent for the RF version’s lack of an opti­cal IS. In addi­tion, I can still use the EF lens on my 5DSR.

Canon Zoomob­jek­tiv EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM für EOS (82mm Fil­tergewinde), schwarz

Price: 1.955,90 €

3 used & new avail­able from 1.955,90 €

The EF 24-70 f/2.8L II is about the same size as the RF (about 5mm longer and wider, about 100g heav­ier). It has an 82mm fil­ter thread, the RF comes with 77mm, as does my EF 16-35 f/4L IS and my EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II. Below, I’ve pho­tographed it with the mount­ed drop-in fil­ter mount adapter EF-EOS R* in com­par­i­son to the RF 24-105 f/4L, which makes it look sig­nif­i­cant­ly longer, and also makes it more than 200g heav­ier than the RF:

As with with my test of the 24-105 lens­es, I want­ed to see for myself how the lens per­forms in real life in my hands com­pared to the RF 24-105 f/4L. Again, this test is not high­ly sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly stan­dard­ized, in that the web­site the-digital-picture.com offers more accu­rate com­par­isons. But I just want­ed to see how I per­son­al­ly get along with the lens­es and which one is bet­ter suit­ed for my purposes.

Sharpness and contrast

As a test sce­nario, I have cho­sen the same small scene from our gar­den as in the test of the 24-105mm lens­es. Admit­ted­ly, it is quite bleak there now in win­ter. As before, I mount­ed the cam­era on a sta­ble tri­pod. The pic­tures were tak­en with self-timer and first elec­tron­ic shut­ter cur­tain to avoid vibra­tions as far as possible.

24mm

First of all, I com­pared the two lens­es at 24mm focal length. I import­ed the RAW images with both lens­es in Light­room with the default set­ting, put them side by side in the com­par­a­tive view with­out any fur­ther manip­u­la­tions and took screen­shots. The RF 24-105 f/4L IS ver­sion is on the left in each pic­ture, and the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II ver­sion is on the right.

In the overview image, there are no sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences at first glance except for a slight vignetting with the 24-105, and the fram­ing is also most­ly the same:

Full frame 24mm at f/4

The EF is min­i­mal­ly sharp­er and has more con­trast in the cen­ter than the RF:

Cen­ter of image 400%, focus is on the back of the chair, f/4

By the way, this remains true at open aper­ture - the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II is superbly sharp at f/2.8 and still slight­ly bet­ter than the RF 24-105 f/4L IS at f/4:

Cen­ter of image 400%, focus is on the back of the chair, f/4 RF vs f/2.8 EF

The dif­fer­ence is more notice­able at the left edge:

Left mar­gin at 400%, f/4

Dif­fer­ences are clear­ly vis­i­ble in the branch­es at the upper right edge. The sig­nif­i­cant chro­mat­ic aber­ra­tion of the RF 24-105 is strik­ing. The EF also shows sig­nif­i­cant­ly more details in the branches:

Upper right cor­ner 400%, f/4

At f/11, the dif­fer­ence is reduced, but still present:

Upper right cor­ner 400%, f/11

By acti­vat­ing the auto­mat­ic lens cor­rec­tion in Light­room at f/11, the dif­fer­ence becomes much smaller:

Upper right cor­ner with lens cor­rec­tions in Light­room, 200%, f/11

All in all, at the short­est focal length of 24mm, my adapt­ed EF 24-70 f/2.8L II is sharp­er and more con­trasty than my RF 24-105 f/4L IS in all ranges and at all aper­tures on my EOS R5. It also vignettes less than the RF at f/4. Sharp­ness at 24mm is slight­ly bet­ter in the cen­ter, but much bet­ter at the edges than with the RF 24-105 f/4L IS. Stop­ping down reduces the dif­fer­ences in quality.

In addi­tion, the RF has much more pro­nounced chro­mat­ic aber­ra­tions that do not dis­ap­pear com­plete­ly with the cor­rec­tion algo­rithms in Light­room. Over­all, the images sub­jec­tive­ly look a bit clear­er and crisper to me with the EF.

50mm

Anoth­er com­par­i­son at 50mm focal length from the same posi­tion, again at aper­ture 4: On the left side of the pic­ture you can see the RF 24-105 f/4L, on the right side the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II. First I want to show the whole image, focused again on the back of the chair:

Full frame at 50mm f/4

In the cen­ter, even when mag­ni­fied to 400%, there is not much dif­fer­ence in both lens­es at 50mm focal length, but the EF again looks a touch more con­trasty and sharp:

Cen­ter of image 400%, focus is on the back of the chair, f/4

There is also hard­ly any dif­fer­ence vis­i­ble at the leaf in the low­er left of the frame:

Low­er left cor­ner 400%, f/4

Over­all, the dif­fer­ence between the two lens­es at 50mm focal length and f/4 is minor, the EF has at best min­i­mal advan­tages, so I did not test it any fur­ther. But: the EF can still be used at 50mm with aper­ture 2.8!

70mm

Now anoth­er test with the longest shared focal length of both lens­es. First again the com­plete frame at f/4, the focus is again on the back of the chair:

Entire frame at 70mm f/4

Again, no sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence can be seen on the overview. With the 24-105, you can only see a slight­ly more pro­nounced vignetting at the cor­ners. In addi­tion, the fram­ing of the EF is a bit wider than that of the RF set to 70mm. Now again a crop of the back of the chair at 400%:

Cen­ter of frame 400%, focus is on the back of the chair, f/4

Even on close inspec­tion, I can’t see any sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences here, both lens­es are sharp and con­trasty. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the scene is also not suit­able for judg­ing the edge sharp­ness of the lens­es, since all objects on the edges are out of the focus plane.

There­fore, I’ ll show you an exam­ple from a win­ter walk in the snowy town of War­burg a few days ago. For com­par­i­son, I also had both lens­es with me on that walk:

War­burg cov­ered with snow with 70mm f/4

Here, you can also see, that the field of view of the EF 24-70mm is a bit wider than with the RF 24-105 set to 70mm. In the cen­ter of the image, the EF 24-70 F/2.8L II is a bit sharp­er again now and also has more con­trast than the RF 24-105 F4L IS:

War­burg cov­ered with snow, 70mm f/4 image cen­ter, 200%

But the tree at the left edge appears much sharp­er with the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II:

War­burg cov­ered with snow, 70mm f/4 left image bor­der, 200%

So over­all, even at 70mm, my EF 24-70 f/2.8L II is the sharp­er and high­er con­trast lens.

Image stabilization

The new RF 24-70 f/2.8L IS lens, as the last two let­ters of the mod­el name reveal, has a built-in opti­cal image sta­bi­liz­er, as does the RF 24-105 f/4L IS I test­ed here.

On the oth­er hand, the EF ver­sion of the 24-70 f/2.8L II that I test­ed here does not fea­ture a built-in opti­cal image sta­bi­liz­er. How­ev­er, it can use the sen­sor based sta­bi­liz­er built into the new Canon EOS R5 and R6 cameras.

Accord­ing to Canon’s adver­tis­ing state­ment, the new RF lens­es in coop­er­a­tion with the sen­sor based sta­bi­liza­tion of the R5 and R6 bod­ies should allow sharp shots at up to 8 f-stops longer expo­sure times than with­out sta­bi­liza­tion. Inter­est­ing­ly, accord­ing to Canon, this also applies to some lens­es with­out built-in opti­cal sta­bi­liz­er, such as the RF 28-70 f/2. Thus, the sen­sor-based sta­bi­liza­tion of the EOS R5 and R6 seems to be very effec­tive on its own.

I was now won­der­ing what is pos­si­ble with my EOS R5’s sen­sor-based sta­bi­liz­er in com­bi­na­tion with the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II and com­pared it to my RF 24-105 f/4L for that purpose.

My test setup

For this pur­pose, I took 12 free-stand­ing shots each of the EOS R5 box with both lens­es from the same posi­tion at 70mm focal length with expo­sure times of 0.5 and 1 sec­ond each. Below you can find the shots of the series placed one below the oth­er. I have arranged the cen­ter crop sec­tions (each 800 pix­els wide) sort­ed by sharp­ness one below the oth­er. An expo­sure time of 0.5 sec­onds at 70 mm cor­re­sponds to the rule of thumb:

Blur-free expo­sure time cor­re­sponds to 1/focal length

to a sta­bi­liza­tion of slight­ly more than 5 stops. In my sim­ple com­par­i­son, the hit rate of the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II’s sta­bi­liza­tion at 0.5 sec­ond expo­sure is some­where between the RF 24-105 f/4L IS’s results at 0.5 and 1 sec­ond. Thus, in my hands, the sta­bi­liza­tion of the adapt­ed EF lens on the EOS R5 is only about 0.5 stops less effec­tive than with the native opti­cal­ly sta­bi­lized RF lens:

Bokeh - object isolation

Since both a 24-70 and a 24-105 stan­dard zoom are cer­tain­ly used very often for por­traits, the so-called “bokeh”, i.e. the qual­i­ty of the blur, is very impor­tant with these lens­es. It is to be expect­ed that the larg­er aper­ture of the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II will achieve an improved qual­i­ty of iso­la­tion of an object than the aper­ture 4 of the RF 24-105 f/4L IS.

Since my fam­i­ly mem­bers and also our cat did not want to pose, our stuffed mon­key from my test of the denois­ing with DxO Pho­to­Lab 4 had to pose again. But he did this again glad­ly and with­out grum­bling for me 😉

Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est in por­trai­ture is, of course, the longest focal length the lens­es have in com­mon, so I set the EF 24-70 f/4L II to 70mm. As not­ed above, set at 70mm it pro­vides a wider angle of view than the RF 24-105 f/4L IS set to 70mm. To ensure a fair com­par­i­son, I set the zoom range on the RF so, that the fram­ing of both lens­es was the same. With my RF 24-105 f/4L IS, this was the case at a focal length set­ting of 63mm. I do not know which lens is “right” here. But it is also a known fact that inter­nal­ly focused zoom lens­es tend to short­en the effec­tive focal length at close range.

Again, I took all shots with the Canon EOS R5 mount­ed on a tri­pod from the same posi­tion with self-timer and import­ed the RAW files into Light­room with the default set­tings with­out any post-pro­cess­ing. As already men­tioned above, I again present screen­shots of the com­par­a­tive view in Pho­to­shop Light­room. Again, each one shows the shot with the RF 24-105 f/4L IS on the left and the one with the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II on the right. First the com­par­i­son of both lens­es at open aperture:

Bokeh com­par­i­son at open aperture

In direct com­par­i­son, the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II pro­duces a vis­i­bly bet­ter object iso­la­tion and bokeh, as expect­ed. This can be clear­ly seen in the wood­en fig­ures and the books in the background.

Bokeh com­par­i­son at open aper­ture, 50% crop

What is notice­able is a much more pro­nounced vignetting of the back­ground with the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II, but the RF 24-105 f/4 also vignettes vis­i­bly at open aper­ture. How­ev­er, the vignetting can be cor­rect­ed very eas­i­ly and effec­tive­ly for both lens­es in Adobe Light­room by acti­vat­ing the auto­mat­ic lens pro­file correction:

Bokeh com­par­i­son at open aper­ture, lens pro­file cor­rec­tions acti­vat­ed in LR

How­ev­er, since I usu­al­ly even wel­come a lit­tle vignetting in por­traits, I usu­al­ly leave the auto­mat­ic lens pro­file cor­rec­tion in Light­room turned off.

At the same aper­ture 4 and 11, the two lens­es hard­ly dif­fer in their ren­der­ing of the out of focus areas:

Bokeh com­par­i­son at f/4
Bokeh com­par­i­son at f/11

But: the RF 24-105 f/4L IS still has a much larg­er focal length range avail­able. Since the depth of field decreas­es with increas­ing focal length at the same image scal­ing and the same aper­ture, it should also be pos­si­ble to achieve a bet­ter object iso­la­tion and Bokeh, right?

To try this out, I took a few more shots with the 24-105 from a lit­tle fur­ther dis­tance, mak­ing sure that the stuffed animal’s head was shown at about the same size:

Bokeh com­par­i­son RF 105mm vs EF 70mm at open aperture

Here, the object iso­la­tion and ren­der­ing of the out of focus areas of the two lens­es seem to be comparable.The slight com­pres­sion of the per­spec­tive can be seen nice­ly in the shot with 105mm focal length on the left: The wood­en fig­ures appear to stand a bit clos­er to each oth­er. The RF 24-105 f/4L IS again vignettes rel­a­tive­ly notice­ably at 105mm. Both lens­es now deliv­er com­pa­ra­bly beau­ti­ful blur gra­di­ents, as can be eas­i­ly seen in the 50% crops:

Bokeh com­par­i­son: RF 105mm vs EF 70mm at open aper­ture, 50% crop

Conclusion

So, what is the core mes­sage of this very sub­jec­tive test?

First of all, the most impor­tant thing: both lens­es are very usable, you won’t go wrong with either. In my opin­ion, the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II - espe­cial­ly at 24 and 70mm - is still a bit sharp­er and rich­er in con­trast than the RF 24-105 f/4L IS. But the RF is clear­ly supe­ri­or in the focal length range from 71mm upwards 😉

The some­what less effec­tive sta­bi­liza­tion effect due to the pure sen­sor sta­bi­liza­tion on the Canon EOS R5 / R6 of the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II is com­pen­sat­ed in many sit­u­a­tions by the one f-stop wider aper­ture. On the oth­er hand, the RF 24-105 f/4L IS can com­pen­sate for the reduced object iso­la­tion at open aper­ture of only f/4 in many sit­u­a­tions by step­ping back from the sub­ject and choos­ing the longer focal length.

The RF 24-105 f/4L IS is more com­pact and lighter on the EOS R5 and R6, but I can also use the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II on my EOS 5DSR.

With the Drop-In Fil­ter Mount Adapter EF EOS R, I can save a sep­a­rate polar­iz­ing or ND fil­ter for the wider 82mm fil­ter thread of the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II, as I can now use these two drop-in fil­ters with all my EF lens­es from 14 to 600mm focal length (at least with the EOS R5).

For now, I will keep both lens­es. The RF 24-105 f/4L IS will remain on the EOS R5 when I’m trav­el­ing with “small bag­gage”, i.e. just one cam­era and only 1 or 2 lens­es. Then the addi­tion­al 35mm focal length is some­times quite help­ful. Oth­er­wise I will tend to use the EF 24-70 f/2.8L II and leave the EF EOS R drop-in fil­ter mount adapter per­ma­nent­ly attached to the R5. I can then use all my lens­es on the EOS R5 and the EOS 5DSR and do not have to con­stant­ly attach and detach the adapter.

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