Comparison of the EF and RF version of the 24-105 f/4L IS on the Canon EOS R5

Comparison of the EF and RF version of the 24-105 f/4L IS on the Canon EOS R5
Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS EF/RF

The Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS was my “always on” lens on my Canon full frame DSLR bod­ies in the past. I always had it on my cam­era when I did­n’t want to car­ry all my equip­ment with me.

In 2005 I bought the first ver­sion of the EF lens in a kit with the first Canon EOS 5D, both were intro­duced at the same time. The first 5D had, as some may remem­ber, a res­o­lu­tion of 12 megapix­els, and the lens and body har­mo­nized very well.

Lat­er, how­ev­er, with the 5D ver­sions Mk II and Mk III (21/22 megapix­els) and espe­cial­ly the 5DS R with its cur­rent 50 megapix­els, the lim­i­ta­tions of the old lens cal­cu­la­tion quick­ly became appar­ent. There­fore, Canon did not rec­om­mend the lens for the 5DS any­more and instead released a new ver­sion. I exchanged my 24-105 in 2016 for ver­sion II, which was more suit­able. But it was always a cer­tain “love-hate relationship”.

Why 24-105mm?

On the one hand, this lens cov­ers a very use­ful range from a good wide-angle to a light tele­pho­to, which still achieves a nice object-iso­la­tion at 105mm despite the aper­ture f/4 on a full-frame sen­sor. So it was quite suit­able for land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy as well as for people/portrait pho­tog­ra­phy. The built-in image sta­bi­liz­er is also very help­ful in low light and the lens is still suf­fi­cient­ly com­pact. And it is also rel­a­tive­ly inex­pen­sive for an L-lens.

On the oth­er hand, I nev­er was 100% enthu­si­as­tic about the opti­cal qual­i­ty. After all, the 24-105 cov­ers a zoom range of more than fac­tor 4. Fur­ther­more, the EF ver­sion II still showed sig­nif­i­cant weak­ness­es at the edges. When it came to the last bit of qual­i­ty, I pre­ferred the EF 16-35 f/4L IS at the bot­tom and the EF 70-200 f/2-8L IS II at the top range, both of which were much sharp­er in those areas or I used an even bet­ter fixed focal length.

Dur­ing my inter­mez­zo with the mir­ror­less Sony Alpha 7R bod­ies, I bought the Sony ver­sion, the 24-105 f/4 G*, which was already much bet­ter than the EF lens. But as I already report­ed, Sony is his­to­ry for me - I sold all my Sony equip­ment and now I use the Canon EOS R5 as my mir­ror­less cam­era. A first field report and fur­ther reports about the Canon R5 can be found here on my website.

Since I already own many EF lens­es, I will con­tin­ue to use them with the Canon EF-RF adapter on the R5 for now, this works real­ly well.

After the good results with the Sony 24-105 and the con­tin­u­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the Canon-EF coun­ter­part, I bought the RF 24-105 f/4L IS USM* as the only native RF lens for my R5. The cur­rent Canon pro­mo­tion, which cur­rent­ly gives 200,-€ cash back when buy­ing the lens for a new Canon cam­era, also con­tributed to my pur­chase deci­sion, since I have just bought the new Canon EOS R5 😉

Today I took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­pare the Canon RF 24-105 F4 L IS USM (RF) and the EF 24-105 1:4 L IS II USM (EF). Because it was a sun­ny day today, I have cho­sen a small scene in our gar­den. All pic­tures were tak­en from the same posi­tion with the cam­era mount­ed on a tripod.

24mm

First of all the com­par­i­son at 24mm focal length. These are screen­shots from Light­room in the com­par­i­son view, on the left side of the pic­ture you see the RF ver­sion and on the right side the EF version.

Total image 24mm at f/4
Image cen­ter 100%, focus is on the back of the chair, f/4
Left mar­gin at 400%, f/4
Upper right cor­ner 400%, f/4
Upper right cor­ner 400%, f/11
Upper right cor­ner 400%, f/11, with auto­mat­ic lens cor­rec­tions in Lightroom

All in all, the new RF lens seems to me to have high­er con­trast and to be sharp­er in the cen­ter of the image and espe­cial­ly much sharp­er at the image cor­ners. Both lens­es show vis­i­ble chro­mat­ic aber­ra­tions, but this is more pro­nounced at the EF. The EF improves with the aper­ture stoped down to f/11, the auto­mat­ic Light­room lens cor­rec­tion also results in a bet­ter result, but the qual­i­ty of the RF can­not be reached by the EF.

105mm

Now a com­par­i­son at 105mm focal length from the same posi­tion. This time, the left sec­tion shows the EF and the right sec­tion the RF version.

Total image 105mm f/4
Image cen­ter 100%, focus is on the back of the chair, f/4
Right mar­gin at 400% at f/4
Right mar­gin 400% at f/11

Also at 105mm focal length, the RF is clear­ly supe­ri­or to the EF. In the cen­ter, the dif­fer­ence is small, but the RF has a bet­ter over­all con­trast. At the edge, how­ev­er, the RF is already at an open aper­ture of f/4 bet­ter than the EF at f/11.

The size also argues for the RF. It is in com­par­i­son to the cur­rent EF ver­sion 100g lighter, if you add the nec­es­sary EF-RF adapter on the R5, the dif­fer­ence is even more than 200g. It is also 3.5cm short­er than the EF ver­sion with adapter.

The aut­o­fo­cus is also by far faster than that on the EF thanks to the RF’s advanced Nano USM dri­ve - the RF 24-105 is actu­al­ly by far the fastest focus­ing lens I own on the R5. With­out being able to test it exact­ly, the RF feels as though it focus­es twice to three times faster than the EF.

The Image Stabilizer

And last but not least the image sta­bi­liz­er: Accord­ing to Canon, the opti­cal image sta­bi­liz­er in the RF in com­bi­na­tion with the in-body sta­bi­liza­tion of the R5 should be able to com­pen­sate for up to 8 f-stops. Accord­ing to Canon, the EF 24-105 should “only” com­pen­sate 4 f-stops with the built-in opti­cal sta­bi­liz­er. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the EF-RF adapter does not sup­port the coop­er­a­tion with the IBIS of the R5, so that the RF ver­sion should offi­cial­ly sta­bi­lize 4 f-stops more than the EF version.

I have test­ed this by myself. I took 10 pic­tures with an expo­sure time of 1 sec­ond each with both lens­es with 105mm focal length while stand­ing and look­ing through the viewfind­er. Object of desire was the box of the EOS 5R. Below you can find a cen­tral crop of the images (855x265 pix­els each), sort­ed by sharp­ness. The left col­umn shows the images tak­en with the EF, the right col­umn those tak­en with the RF:

This is cer­tain­ly not a test by strict­ly sci­en­tif­ic stan­dards. But with both lens­es, I man­aged to take quite use­ful pic­tures in stand­ing posi­tion at 105mm focal length and an expo­sure time of 1 sec­ond. Assum­ing the old rule accord­ing to which the min­i­mum expo­sure time should be 1/focal length, this cor­re­sponds to a sta­bi­liza­tion by approx­i­mate­ly 7 f-stops.

All in all, the result of the RF is clear­ly bet­ter and more con­sis­tent, but it seems to me only 1-2 f-stops bet­ter than the EF.

Conclusion

Over­all, the new Canon RF 24-105 f/4L IS USM lens is sig­nif­i­cant­ly bet­ter than the EF 24-105 f/4L IS II USM. It is sig­nif­i­cant­ly sharp­er, espe­cial­ly in the bor­der areas and this espe­cial­ly at open aper­ture. The con­trast is high­er, chro­mat­ic aber­ra­tions are there, but to a less­er degree than in the EF ver­sion. These can be eas­i­ly cor­rect­ed in Light­room with the inte­grat­ed pro­file. The aut­o­fo­cus on the R5 is orders of mag­ni­tude faster on the RF, the IS is also bet­ter. The lens is also small­er and lighter than the EF version.

Does any­one want to buy my Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS II USM? 😉

*=Affil­i­ate Link

Canon Bajonet­tadapter EF-EOS R

Price: 106,25 €

1 used & new avail­able from 106,25 €

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