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Special thanks to Guillaume May for providing this lens!
The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 USM L IS was an eagerly awaited lens since the old film days.
On full frame (D)SLRs it is surely a near-perfect standard zoom with a 4.4x zoom
ratio in combination with a relatively compact size, a relatively low weight and
an image stabilizer on top. Some may not like the rather modest max. aperture but
then there's always a trade-off somewhere with all zoom lenses.
On APS-C DSLRs its field-of-view resembles a
classic 39-168mm lens on full-frame cameras so by most standards things
aren't quite as interesting here as on a full frame DSLR/SLR. The lens is
also sold as a kit lens in combination with the Canon EOS 5D where it
certainly makes more sense due to the full frame image sensor of the camera.
With a weight of 670g and a size of 84x107mm it is quite a bit more compact
and light-weight than the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 USM L. Unlike its cousin the
lens has a conventional zoom mechanism so it extends towards the long
end of the range. While this feels right somehow the lens hood (part of
the package) isn't quite as efficient because it was only optimized to the
24mm setting of the lens.
The front element does not rotate during focusing so there're no issues when using a
polarizer - without hood at least.
The optical construction is made of 18 elements in 13 groups including
three aspherical elements (two replica, one glass molded) plus one
S-UD (super ultra-low dispersion) element.
The min. focus distance is 0.45m resulting is a max. object magnification of ~1:4 at
105mm. The lens features 8 circular aperture blades. Typical for most Canon L
zooms the filter size is 77mm.
The lens has a ring-type USM drive based on a front-focusing system resulting
in an extremely fast AF speed and extremely low AF noise. Full-time manual focusing (FTM)
is always possible in one-shot AF mode.
The image stabilzer provides an equivalent effect of a 3 f-stops gain in shutter speed
for hand-held photography (at cost of slower shutter speeds if exploited to the max).
The IS works for static scenes only so there's no 2nd mode for panning. Regarding
the nature of the lens this isn't a big drawback because action photography is
normally not a primary application.
The build quality of this lens is exceptional. No significant wobbling and smooth
control ring - almost perfect. The lens is also designed to survive in harsh conditions with
a sealing against dust and moisture.
It is worth to mention that this lens has been serviced by Canon due to the
present in very early production lenses.