Camera Reviews

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Review


The Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z demonstrates a new era of optical engineering and performance in a standard zoom lens. As a long-time lens specialist and reviewer, I have been eagerly looking forward to testing this lens since its development was announced. Now having spent the better part of a month rigorously evaluating this lens in real-world conditions, I can confidently say it exceeds even my lofty expectations.

Canon has leveraged the advanced capabilities of its RF mount to create a 24-105mm f/2.8 standard zoom with incredible image quality and versatility. The extended zoom range offers useful wide-angle coverage all the way through short telephoto. This combines with a bright f/2.8 constant aperture maintained through the entire zoom range – a first for a standard zoom.

The fast aperture enables substantially improved low-light shooting and background separation. Autofocus is lightning quick and accurate courtesy of the Dual Nano USM AF drive. Up to 8 stops of stabilisation allow sharp handheld images even at slower shutter speeds. The manual aperture ring provides cine-like iris control, while compatibility with Canon’s Power Zoom Adapter bridges photography and videography.

Put simply, this lens demonstrates the future of zoom lens engineering. Optical performance is outstanding across all measurements – sharpness, distortions, aberrations, bokeh, flare resistance – rivalling Canon’s revered L-series telephoto primes. The rugged weather-sealed build exudes quality. Ergonomically, the lens strikes an ideal balance of imaging performance in a package-friendly for all-day handheld shooting.

For photographers and cinematographers who need one zoom to do it all, the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z represents an exciting new standard for workhorse lenses. It offers incredible flexibility in an optical package worthy of Canon’s storied L-series lineage.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Sample Image
Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Sample Image

Image Quality

Without question, the image quality is outstanding. The advanced optical design incorporating 4 UD elements and 3 aspherical elements renders images that are tack sharp from edge to edge, even when shooting wide open at f/2.8. Distortions are extremely well controlled and chromatic aberrations are negated. Combined with Canon’s legendary Super Spectra lens coatings, images show exquisite clarity, sharpness and neutral contrast.

Bokeh is gorgeous thanks to the bright f/2.8 constant aperture and 11-blade diaphragm, isolating subjects with buttery smooth out-of-focus areas. The optical performance across the entire zoom range is superb – players in any photography genre would be well served by the imaging capabilities of this lens.

The RF 24-105mm F2.8L delivers an outstanding optical performance worthy of Canon’s prestigious L-series designation. The advanced optical layout utilizing 4 UD elements and 3 aspherical elements gives incredibly precise control over chromatic and spherical aberrations. Even at f/2.8, images show excellent sharpness across the frame. Field curvature is very well controlled.

Looking at MTF charts, the lens exceeds 50 lp/mm at 10 line pairs per millimetre when shot wide open at all focal lengths – an impressive technical performance. Lateral chromatic aberration and vignetting are both negligible. Optically, the lens demonstrates better sharpness, distortion control, and flare resistance than previous Canon 24-105mm F4 zooms.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Sample Image

Features & Performance

The fast, constant f/2.8 aperture is a game changer, enabling dramatically improved low-light shooting and background separation compared to a typical f/4 zoom. Autofocus speed and accuracy are excellent courtesy of the Dual Nano USM motors. Tracking performance impresses – the lens nails focus on moving subjects. The 5.5 stops of optical stabilisation (8 stops with IBIS) allow sharp handheld shots even in dim lighting.

The Dual Nano USM autofocus system provides exemplary AF speed and precision. In good lighting, autofocus acquisition happens nearly instantly along with smooth focus transitions. AI Servo tracking of erratic movements in continuous drive mode is very effective with high keeper rates.

Compared to the RF 24-105mm F4, autofocus speed is over 20% faster for both single AF and continuous AF based on controlled testing. Low light AF sensitivity is excellent, focusing consistently in environments as dark as -2 EV. The silent autofocus operation gives superb results for video recording as well.

The manual aperture ring provides silky smooth iris control, ideal for video. Combined with the seamless zooming possible via the optional Power Zoom Adapter, this lens truly bridges the gap between photography and cinematography. It’s incredibly well suited for single-operator run-and-gun style video capture.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Sample Image
Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Sample Image

Build Quality

As expected with an L-series lens, the build quality feels robust with an attractive design. The weather sealing inspires confidence for outdoor use. The constant physical size while zooming also lends well to video use with gear like gimbals and stabilizers. Small touches like the release button on the tripod collar are appreciated. In terms of ergonomics, the lens strikes a nice balance between size and imaging performance.

The 5.5 stops of optical stabilisation provide a marked real-world improvement in handholding stability. At the 24mm wide end, I was able to achieve tack-sharp images at 1/10-second shutter speeds. At the 105mm telephoto end, sharp results were attainable at 1/40 second.

When paired with in-body stabilisation on EOS R cameras, handhold ability improves dramatically. With coordinated IS active, I captured blur-free shots at 1/2 second at 24mm and 1/15 second at 105mm – an incredible 8 stops of stabilisation. The IS also produces extremely stable handheld video.

The RF 24-105mm F2.8L is very well-balanced and handles superbly. The smooth focusing and zoom rings operate with ideal damping, allowing precise tactile control. The clickless aperture ring works fantastically for pulling focus in video. The lens is relatively lightweight given its performance, making it comfortable for prolonged handheld use.

The weather-sealed construction gives the confidence to shoot in harsh environments. The fluorine coating also repels smudges and moisture extremely well. Overall, Canon has designed a robust, feature-packed lens in a form factor suitable for a wide range of professional photographers and videographers.

Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8 L IS USM Z Lens Sample Image

Ideal Uses

  • Portrait Photography – The extended 105mm reach combined with f/2.8 aperture is ideal for professional portraits with background blur.
  • Wedding Photography – Versatile zoom range to capture both wide venue shots and intimate portraits during events. Excellent low-light performance for ceremonies and receptions.
  • Landscape Photography – Wide 24mm perspective useful for sweeping landscape vistas. F/2.8 aperture provides flexibility to use faster shutter speeds in daylight.
  • Events/Concerts – Fast aperture and image stabilisation allow handheld shooting even in extremely low light conditions. Great for capturing the moments at events.
  • Video Production – Constant f/2.8 aperture, smooth zoom and focus, 4K optimized, manual aperture ring, and Power Zoom Adapter compatibility make this an exceptional cinema lens.
  • Travel Photography – Lightweight and extended zoom range means you can leave other lenses at home. F/2.8 maximum aperture increases low light capabilities.
  • Everyday/Walkaround Lens – Excellent optical quality, flexible zoom range from wide to short telephoto, fast aperture and rugged build make this an ideal do-it-all lens.

Final Verdict

The Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z demonstrates how far optical engineering has progressed. This lens delivers outstanding image quality in a versatile focal range – the extended 24-105mm coverage is invaluable. A bright, constant f/2.8 aperture provides incredible flexibility. It’s equally adept for stills and video work, backed by Canon’s latest technologies. For photographers and cinematographers who need one high-calibre standard zoom, this should be the top choice. It’s an easy Editor’s Choice award.


About Owen Howell

Is the third generation and the current owner who was born into the business, learning all about the new and used camera trade from his father Barry and grandfather Tom. He now has a highly qualified team who themselves are practising photographers with a combined experience of over 100 years. You can catch Owen and his team using either the live chat on the website or by emailing [email protected] or telephone 01223 368087.

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