The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is the first kit lens introduced with the new EOS R full-frame mirrorless system. The term ‘kit lens’ is misleading, though, as the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM bears Canon’s L designation and promises professional-level performance. At the time of publishing this article, the only other RF zoom lens is the bulky and expensive Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L lens, which is a much more specialized offering. The RF 24-105mm f/4, on the other hand, is a generalist lens in many ways. Its focal range works well for landscape photography, portraiture, photojournalism, travel photography, and many other genres.
Like all L lenses, the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is built to a high standard with a polycarbonate lens barrel and internal seals against dust and water. The optical design consists of 18 elements in 14 groups, including three aspherical and one UD glass element. The lens relies on Canon’s fast and accurate “Nano” Ultrasonic Autofocus Motor (USM) and has a minimum focus distance of 0.45m (about 1.5 feet). It also has a stabilization system with up to five stops of performance, a valuable feature given that the EOS R and EOS RP do not have in-body image stabilization.
As you can see, the Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM promises to be an attractive companion to the EOS R system. Currently, it sells for a price of $1,100. Interestingly enough, Canon doesn’t offer any discount for buying the lens along with the EOS R camera body. However, there currently is a $200 instant savings on this lens – despite how new it is – bringing the cost down to $900. This price is quite welcome to see, considering that this is a “must have” lens for many photographers starting the R mirrorless system. Still, Canon has left room in their lineup for a cheaper kit zoom to be released eventually.
1) Lens Specifications
- Mount Type: Canon RF
- Focal Length Range: 24-105mm
- Maximum Aperture: f/4
- Minimum Aperture: f/22
- Lens (Elements): 18
- Lens (Groups): 14
- Compatible Format(s): Full Frame
- Image Stabilization: Yes
- Diaphragm Blades: 9
- Aspherical Glass Elements: 3
- UD Glass Elements: 1
- Autofocus: Yes
- Nano USM Focus Motor: Yes
- Internal Focusing: Yes
- Minimum Focus Distance: 17.7 inches (0.45 m)
- Focus Mode: Manual, Manual / Auto
- Filter Size: 77mm front filter
- Dimensions: 3.29 in. (83.5mm) x 4.22 in. (107.3 mm) (Diameter x Length),
- Weight (Approx.): 24.7 oz (700g)
- Versatile 24-105mm focal length range with f/4 maximum aperture is ideal for landscapes, travel, portraits, and photojournalism
- Canon’s In-lens Image Stabilization compensates for the EOS R’s lack of IBIS
- Fast and quiet Nano USM focus motor is great for both stills and videos
2) Build Quality and Handling
The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM is part of Canon’s L series, so it’s no surprise that the lens is well-built. It continues a recent trend of Canon L lenses to minimize weight, which is exactly what Canon needs in a general-purpose mirrorless zoom. However, side by side against the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4, it is noticeably heavier and bulkier. This is not a real problem on the EOS R, which has a tall grip and a bit of heft, but EOS RP users may find it a bit imbalanced.
The RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM’s tough polycarbonate lens barrel and metal mount feel decidedly reassuring in use. The lens features internal seals to prevent dust and water from intruding, and a quick look at the back of the lens shows a generous rubber gasket around the bayonet mount. I didn’t experience any issues when using it in a light rain shower and some snow. Spencer used a separate copy of this lens in windy, sandy conditions and reports that the rear gasket blocked all sand from entering the camera chamber. Several grains of sand got stuck in the gasket and needed to be removed later with a damp cloth and compressed air, but that is no surprise in those conditions.
Measuring 83.5 mm in diameter and 107.3 mm in length (at the 24mm setting), the RF 24-105mm f/4 is relatively compact for a full frame zoom lens. Compared to the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM II, the mirrorless version shares an identical diameter, but it is 10.7 mm shorter. It also weighs 95 grams less, at 700 g versus 795 g. The lens extends quite a bit at the 105mm setting, where it is 159 mm in length.
The rotating zoom and focus rings both feel very smooth, while offering the right amount of resistance so that nothing feels loose. The zoom ring is ideally located behind the focus ring, so it is unlikely that you will accidentally bump focus when trying to zoom the lens. A lock switch helps prevent unwanted gravity-induced extension when the lens is at 24mm, although I didn’t experience any issues when the switch was unlocked.
The additional ring at the front of the lens is a knurled, programable “Control Ring,” which is customizable via the camera menu. It lets you quickly access many different settings, including aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation. The control ring clicks when turned, which is useful for knowing how many 1/3 stops you have gone, but note that it is audible when recording sound through the camera.
The front element features a fluorine coating to help prevent dirt and fingerprints from sticking, as well as making the front element easier to clean. At the front of the lens is a non-rotating 77mm filter thread, surrounded by a bayonet mount for the Canon EW-83N lens hood supplied with the lens. The hood is made of a semi-rigid plastic and remains compact when reversed for storage.
The lens introduces the new and somewhat quirky rear lens cap – the Canon Lens Dust Cap RF – whose design is different in a few ways from the standard Canon EF rear lens cap. Typically, putting a rear lens cap only takes a simple twist. Now, however, you need to make sure to properly align the lens cap with the lens mount for it to stay in place. Specifically, there is a small notch on the cap that must be lined up with the red dash on the lens mount. Otherwise, the cap refuses to fit onto the lens correctly. This design does offer a tighter and more dust-resistant hold onto the back of the lens, but it also handles more awkwardly in the field. It sounds like a small thing, but this sort of ergonomic issue can grow annoying over time.
The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM has two switches on the left-hand side of the lens barrel. The first is a simple AF/MF switch, while the second is an On/Off switch for the In-lens Image Stabilization system. On the right-hand side of the barrel is the zoom lock switch I mentioned earlier.