Friday, November 14, 2008

Gear Bag Friday: My Favorite Full Frame Sensor Lens Canon's 24-105 IS Lens

Good Morning Everybody,
And welcome to another edition of Gear Bag Friday. I've been kind of enjoying writing this series of articles - the only problem is that I'm getting to the end of my gear bag. Heck, I might need a quick trip to B&H so I can do a few more articles ;~) Nice try DAZ, I don't think so!! Hey gang, today I want to talk about one of my favorite lenses. Canon's 24-105mm IS lens. It's one of their sharpest tacks in the (lens) box.

Last week I joked about buying this lens for LaDawn as a Christmas gift. The fact of the matter is that I had owned the Canon 5D and I thought 24-105mm focal length would be the perfect focal length for my full frame DSLR.
When I put that lens on my Canon 5D and looked through the viewfinder, I was indeed impressed with what I saw. I particularly liked the lens at the 24mm setting. It was pretty darn wide for me. I remember the old days when I had a 24mm prime lens for my Nikon F2. It was a pretty darn wide topic too. Now I had that same wide-angle field of view on my DSLR. My Canon 5D fitted with the 24-105 IS lens quickly became my favorite and main shooting camera-lens combo at weddings.

But with the introduction of Canon's 40D, my 5D was relegated to my second gear bag and hardly ever used since. I just loved the 40D’s feature set and it quickly became my camera of choice.

As mentioned in my first edition of Gear Bag Friday, I typically use the 17-85mm image stabilized lens on my 40D. But now having switched back to the 40D, I was missing my experience of the 24-105 mm lens on the 5D. I missed that fixed f 4.0 aperture and added sharpness.
So I eventually started using the 24-105mm lens on my 40D. That worked most of the time, but now I was still missing the wide-angle aspect that I loved with my 17-85mm IS lens. There were just too many times when I needed to be wider for the shot than the 24mm would give me on the 40D. So I found myself switching back to the 17-85mm lens. I was going crraazzzzzy!!

New strategy - anytime I was photographing the really important images for example all photographs of the bride and groom, the altar return photographs, all the family groups, and all the wedding party groups - I would pull out the 24-105mm IS lens and place it on my 40D and shoot away. I was a happy camper again.

With the new Canon 5D Mark II coming out very shortly, I can't wait to get my 24-105mm IS lens back in operation on the new camera. I think a combination of the two will deftly become my default shooting camera for events from this point forward.

Last weekend I mentioned that I got to shoot the Canon 5D Mk 2. The 24-105mm IS lens was optic of choice for most of the day. I didn't really feel I needed to go to any fast glass in this case, because with my 6400 ISO setting f4.0 was plenty wide to capture everything I needed to capture, even in lower light level situations.

So let me quickly recap why this is one of my favorite lenses in my gear bag.

1 -- I love the 24-105mm focal length range of the lens. I particularly like the 24 mm settings since I'm a wide angle nut anyway. On a full frame sensor camera, it is plenty wide to create some of the dramatic wide-angle images that I love to create.

2 -- The 105mm setting is also a very convenient focal length when shooting portraits of the bride, the groom, or both of them together. It lets me get close without getting too close. At the F 4.0 setting on close up portraits, I'm still able to get the background substantially out of focus.

3 -- The intermediate range of the lens also works nicely for all the wedding party group photographs letting me work very quickly in getting those images.

4 -- The F4.0 aperture is certainly fast enough for me in most instances. Now, particularly with the new higher ISO cameras becoming available, F4.0 should be more than adequate.

5 -- I've always been a huge fan of image stabilization. The image stabilization on this lens works beautifully. I have no qualms whatsoever shooting at shutter speeds as slow as 1/10th of a second - handheld. Yes, I do have my motor drive on multiple firings, but I would say, that most of the time the images are more than adequate with image stabilization working beautifully.

Keep an eye on next week's "Images Of The Day" - many were made with the 24-105mm IS lens.

That pretty much wraps up what I love about this lens. It's sharp, nice focal length range, wide enough aperture for most situations, and great image stabilization. If you're a Canon shooter I would certainly give highest recommendation to this lens. It's really the focal length and F4.0 f-stop combination that works for me and lets me be attuned to the actions and reactions of the day without worrying too much about which other lens I may need to capture the wedding day action.

Anyway gang, that's it for me today. LaDawn and I are packing our bags and heading to England on Sunday. I'll fill you in on what we're doing over there next week. We plan to be visiting some photographers from the UK, hopefully interviewing them for upcoming podcasts, and in general just taking in all of the London sites.

So until then, I'll see you on the flip side of the weekend. As I close this post I wonder, do British pixels have an accent ;~) See everybody next week, -- David.


  1. Great review. Thanks David. I am currently using this lens on a crop frame and am looking forward to getting it on the new 5D when my order comes in. The wide angle on the crop has never been wide enough for me for me to feel 100% happy with this lens. Also, I see a lot of posts on different fora about focusing issues from copy to copy. Is Canon's QA that bad or are there just a lot of very picky people out there?

    I have always wondered about the comparison between this lens and the 24-70 f/2.8 L. Most event and portrait photographers seem to swear by that lens due to the shallow DoF and bokeh it provides. I wonder the same about my 70-200 f/4 L too as you rate the f/2.8 version so highly. Is there really that much difference?

    BTW, I am English and so if these pixels have an accent, so will your photos. Enjoy London and have a pint on me!

  2. Have a safe trip on your way over here! Not sure that I'd pick this time of year for a vacation, the weather looks to Ohio right now, wet, cold, and windy. Bring a coat!

  3. Have a safe trip, but most of all - have fun and take A LOT of pictures to show and tell us all about :)
    I am also indeed in love with the 24-105mm lens on my 5d too, which BTW - my 24-70mm f/2.8 is now stay in the bag(at home) more often than before I have the 24-105mm.

  4. Hi David, can I ask how you are lighting your groups? And have a great time over in old Blighty :)

  5. I am not the same steve as above. But I have the same question about lighting. Are you just using one of your Quantum off camera flashes? Can they really put out that much light? I am just using my Nikon SB-800 as my off camera flash. How dark is the ambient?


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  7. I have been using the 24-105 on my Rebel XT and I have to say that even on the APS is a great focal length range, can't wait to get my 5D MKII because is going to be just perfect on a full frame.

    David points are just a perfect sum up, sweet focal range and f/4 magic

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  10. I am VERY interested in your light source for these images and what your settings were, other than your f-stop of 4.0...what would be your typical ISO and SS? I have the 24-105L and I can't wait to use it! Thanks!

  11. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)