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Author Topic: Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?  (Read 19091 times)

feppe

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« on: July 05, 2009, 07:22:06 pm »

I'm not at all happy with the performance of Canon's 24-105mm F/4L. I've had it for a year now, and just can't get tack sharp pictures with it. I get superior results with the Canon 85mm f/1.8.

Am I expecting too much? I'm fully aware that I should not expect prime-level sharpness from even a pro-grade zoom, but this is ridiculous; the 85mm costs less than a third of the zoom's price!

I've read reviews which have similar complaints, but some claim having had success getting the camera/lens combo calibrated by Canon. I wonder if this would make a difference. Or would I be better served just to eBay the zoom and get a 24mm, 35mm and/or 50mm prime to complete my lens needs (I have the 135mm L already and I don't need more reach)?

ChrisJR

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2009, 09:10:14 pm »

Quote from: feppe
I'm not at all happy with the performance of Canon's 24-105mm F/4L. I've had it for a year now, and just can't get tack sharp pictures with it. I get superior results with the Canon 85mm f/1.8.

Am I expecting too much? I'm fully aware that I should not expect prime-level sharpness from even a pro-grade zoom, but this is ridiculous; the 85mm costs less than a third of the zoom's price!

I've read reviews which have similar complaints, but some claim having had success getting the camera/lens combo calibrated by Canon. I wonder if this would make a difference. Or would I be better served just to eBay the zoom and get a 24mm, 35mm and/or 50mm prime to complete my lens needs (I have the 135mm L already and I don't need more reach)?
I used a 24-105 for some time and it was just horrendous. Centre of the frame was ok(ish) but the edges were hideous. I posted a comment on this forum about it some time ago and people remarked I may have had a bad copy but even so it was awful. Now I've now gone back to using Contax 35mm lenses which are absolutely beautiful. Very contrasty, very sharp and very cheap (at least compared to L series lenses). I think I paid £200 for it while the 24-105 in the UK retails for something ridiculous like £950 now.
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Jeremy Roussak

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2009, 03:29:49 am »

Quote from: feppe
I'm not at all happy with the performance of Canon's 24-105mm F/4L. I've had it for a year now, and just can't get tack sharp pictures with it. I get superior results with the Canon 85mm f/1.8.

Am I expecting too much? I'm fully aware that I should not expect prime-level sharpness from even a pro-grade zoom, but this is ridiculous; the 85mm costs less than a third of the zoom's price!

I've read reviews which have similar complaints, but some claim having had success getting the camera/lens combo calibrated by Canon. I wonder if this would make a difference. Or would I be better served just to eBay the zoom and get a 24mm, 35mm and/or 50mm prime to complete my lens needs (I have the 135mm L already and I don't need more reach)?
Have you tried the micro-focus adjustment on the camera, if you have it? A fairly small correction certainly made a difference for me.

The 85/1.8 is a remarkably good lens!

Jeremy
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Chris Pollock

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2009, 05:29:36 am »

Quote from: feppe
Am I expecting too much? I'm fully aware that I should not expect prime-level sharpness from even a pro-grade zoom, but this is ridiculous; the 85mm costs less than a third of the zoom's price!
I've used the 24-105 for a number of years on a 5D and 5D II. I was completely satisfied with it on the 5D. The superior resolution of the 5D II shows its limitations - it's sharp in the centre, but the corners can be soft. It's great for taking pictures of people, because the corners are usually not in focus anyway, but it's not so good for landscapes.

I also have the 85mm F1.8, and I'd have to say that it's noticably sharper than the 24-105, at least in the corners. It's not that the 24-105 is bad, it's just that Canon's medium focal length primes are very sharp for the money. Designing a lens that only has to work at a single focal length is a lot easier than designing one that has a 4x zoom range, so unsurprisingly primes are usually sharper, even if they're a lot cheaper.

Why don't you post some full-sized crops of some of your photos, so that we can see if your lens looks unusually bad? It is possible that you've got one of the notorious "bad copies" that you often read about. For what it's worth, I once did some comparison shots on the 5D II with my 24-105 and another one belonging to a friend, and didn't notice any difference in sharpness. It was reassuring, but it's hardly convincing proof that bad copies don't exist.
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Clearair

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2009, 07:03:12 am »

Quote from: Chris Pollock
I've used the 24-105 for a number of years on a 5D and 5D II. I was completely satisfied with it on the 5D. The superior resolution of the 5D II shows its limitations - its sharp in the centre, but the corners can be soft. Its great for taking pictures of people, because the corners are usually not in focus anyway, but it's not so good for landscapes.

I also have the 85mm F1.8, and I'd have to say that it's noticably sharper than the 24-105, at least in the corners. It's not that the 24-105 is bad, it's just that Canon's medium focal length primes are very sharp for the money. Designing a lens that only has to work at a single focal length is a lot easier than designing one that has a 4x zoom range, so unsurprisingly primes are usually sharper, even if they're a lot cheaper.

Why don't you post some full-sized crops of some of your photos, so that we can see if your lens looks unusually bad? It is possible that you've got one of the notorious "bad copies" that you often read about. For what it's worth, I once did some comparison shots on the 5D II with my 24-105 and another one belonging to a friend, and didn't notice any difference in sharpness. It was reassuring, but it's hardly convincing proof that bad copies don't exist.


Just back from Goodwood festival of speed. Had to make difficult desicions on what to take as I always carry to much and suffer. Only took one prime as this was also my first visit to this event. A scouting trip so zooms were a good bet.
I had no hesitation in using my 24-105L as it has surpassed my expectations in overall performance. I bought this secondhand as a do all street lens from Parks who I deal with a lot.
Other kit, 70-200 L is 2.8
               300L is f4
For me a lens has to be usable, the 300 f4 is light enough to be handheld all day and the reason I stayed with Canon. I don't care if the 300 f2.8 is a shade better, it's too heavy and I will leave it in the car.
I will contradict myself by saying the weight of the 70-200 is a necessary evil as I love this lens.
No one makes better.
I got shots with the 24-105 which would have been a struggle with other lenses in the conditions. If you are unhappy and it's not faulty then it's a case of finding what works for you rather than blaming the tool.
Yes I would have loved to take my 135L, but wrong tool for the job.

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Clearair

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2009, 07:08:45 am »

Quote from: Clearair
Just back from Goodwood festival of speed. Had to make difficult desicions on what to take as I always carry to much and suffer. Only took one prime as this was also my first visit to this event. A scouting trip so zooms were a good bet.
I had no hesitation in using my 24-105L as it has surpassed my expectations in overall performance. I bought this secondhand as a do all street lens from Parks who I deal with a lot.
Other kit, 70-200 L is 2.8
               300L is f4
For me a lens has to be usable, the 300 f4 is light enough to be handheld all day and the reason I stayed with Canon. I don't care if the 300 f2.8 is a shade better, it's too heavy and I will leave it in the car.
I will contradict myself by saying the weight of the 70-200 is a necessary evil as I love this lens.
No one makes better.
I got shots with the 24-105 which would have been a struggle with other lenses in the conditions. If you are unhappy and it's not faulty then it's a case of finding what works for you rather than blaming the tool.
Yes I would have loved to take my 135L, but wrong tool for the job.




Sorry forgot, I used a 5D mk2 all day if resolution is in question.
950 exposures, battery still up for more, no video to save on cards so used a hi-def Sony.
Is it me or are compact flash cards a bit pricy of late?
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gdanmitchell

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2009, 10:58:31 am »

The 24-105 is capable of very good resolution. If you have exhausted technique explanations for your issues, you might send it in for adjustment. After using mine - roughly - for about three years, I began to notice some OOF along one side of the frame. I sent it in to Canon and it came back in excellent adjustment.

Your 85mm prime is capable of somewhat better resolution than the zoom - no surprise there, right? - but it should not be a "night and day" thing in most cases.

Dan
« Last Edit: July 06, 2009, 11:00:05 am by gdanmitchell »
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feppe

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2009, 02:37:18 pm »

Here comparisons

(A) shots Canon 24-105mm F/4 L, ( shots Canon 85mm f/1.8. Canon 450D, MLU, cable release, tripod, f/5.6 @ 1/50 sec, RAW imported to Lightroom with the preset "zeroed", exported to 8-bit sRGB TIFF without any sharpening or resampling, opened in PS, put in one document as layers, repositioned (so no resampling or skewing), cropped, saved as JPEG with "maximum" preset. Photo taken out of my window, the white wedge is my window sill.

(1) shots AF, (2) shots Live View AF.

(cntr) shots Center of frame, (crnr) near the edge.

So B2cntr is center of the 85mm frame with Live View AF.

Order of photos:
A1cntr
A2cntr
B1cntr
B2cntr
A1crnr
A2crnr
B1crnr
B2crnr

This is the first time I've done any (semi)rigorous testing like this. Just took a look at the results... They're even more pronounced than I expected. I thought my subjective assessment might have exaggerated the differences - quite the contrary: the center images show an even larger difference in favor of the 85mm than I anticipated, and the corner is just awful on the zoom.

Do you think this is within the tolerances of a zoom, or do I have a bad copy, or in need of calibration?
« Last Edit: July 06, 2009, 02:39:22 pm by feppe »
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ErikKaffehr

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2009, 06:11:33 pm »

Hi,

Most reports I read on the 24-105/4 L are favorable. According to most reports it has a weak spot at around 70 mm and improves towards both the short and long end. Normally fixed focals in the short tele range are sharpest, probably the easiest lenses to make. Consider a few things:

1) Is your lens OK? Compare central sharpness and corners. If some corners are less sharp than the others it may indicate a decentering error.
2) Is it focusing correctly?
3) Perhaps you cold borrow another copy of the lens to compare with?

You may also check the writings of Lloyd Chambers, he has a lot to say about lenses.

http://www.diglloyd.com

http://www.diglloyd.com/alc/lenses-WideAngleZoom.html

Best regards
Erik

 

Quote from: feppe
I'm not at all happy with the performance of Canon's 24-105mm F/4L. I've had it for a year now, and just can't get tack sharp pictures with it. I get superior results with the Canon 85mm f/1.8.

Am I expecting too much? I'm fully aware that I should not expect prime-level sharpness from even a pro-grade zoom, but this is ridiculous; the 85mm costs less than a third of the zoom's price!

I've read reviews which have similar complaints, but some claim having had success getting the camera/lens combo calibrated by Canon. I wonder if this would make a difference. Or would I be better served just to eBay the zoom and get a 24mm, 35mm and/or 50mm prime to complete my lens needs (I have the 135mm L already and I don't need more reach)?
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ErikKaffehr

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2009, 06:25:42 pm »

Hi,

I see your point. I'd suggest that focus is different, comparing A2 (second from left) and B2 (rightmost), both top row. The B-pictures have a lot of axial chromatic aberration, BTW. A2 seems a bit focused in front B2 may have some back focus, note sharpness on the sidewalk. Got the impression that A1 and A2 are pretty similar.

Best regards
Erik

Quote from: feppe
Here comparisons

(A) shots Canon 24-105mm F/4 L, ( shots Canon 85mm f/1.8. Canon 450D, MLU, cable release, tripod, f/5.6 @ 1/50 sec, RAW imported to Lightroom with the preset "zeroed", exported to 8-bit sRGB TIFF without any sharpening or resampling, opened in PS, put in one document as layers, repositioned (so no resampling or skewing), cropped, saved as JPEG with "maximum" preset. Photo taken out of my window, the white wedge is my window sill.

(1) shots AF, (2) shots Live View AF.

(cntr) shots Center of frame, (crnr) near the edge.

So B2cntr is center of the 85mm frame with Live View AF.

Order of photos:
A1cntr
A2cntr
B1cntr
B2cntr
A1crnr
A2crnr
B1crnr
B2crnr

This is the first time I've done any (semi)rigorous testing like this. Just took a look at the results... They're even more pronounced than I expected. I thought my subjective assessment might have exaggerated the differences - quite the contrary: the center images show an even larger difference in favor of the 85mm than I anticipated, and the corner is just awful on the zoom.

Do you think this is within the tolerances of a zoom, or do I have a bad copy, or in need of calibration?
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Chris Pollock

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2009, 07:44:23 am »

I finally got around to doing a simple comparison of the 85mm F1.8 and the 24-105 F4 on the 5D Mark II. I did two shots with each lens at F8, F5.6, and F4, using live view focussing with the camera mounted on a tripod. I've decided to post an F5.6 shot from each lens, to match feppe's comparison.

Here are small copies of the two photos, with 100% crops of the centre and left sides. The most obvious difference is that the 24-105 has more vignetting and distortion. The sharpness is pretty similar in the middle of the frame, with the prime lens being a little better. The prime has a bigger lead at the edge of the frame. At F8 the zoom improves a bit, although the prime is still superior.

I don't think this is such a bad result for the 24-105. The 85mm F1.8 is an excellent prime lens, so for a 4.4x zoom lens to lose by a fairly small margin (at least in terms of sharpness) is nothing to be ashamed of. Had I done the test on a 5D, it might have been hard to see much diffference in sharpness at all.

I do prefer to use primes for landscape shots whenever possible, to get the best possible image quality. I use the 24-105 mainly for taking pictures of people, especially children, who seldom stand still for long. Being able to frame the shot quickly is more important than a small difference in sharpness, especially since the edges are usually out of focus anyway. The image stablisation on the 24-105 is an added bonus.

The 24-105 shots are on the left. The file names will also tell you which is which.

[attachment=15534:24_105.jpg][attachment=15535:85.jpg]
[attachment=15536:24_105_F5.6Centre.jpg][attachment=15537:85_F5.6Centre.jpg]
[attachment=15538:24_105_F5.6Left.jpg][attachment=15539:85_F5.6Left.jpg]
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Paul Roark

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2009, 11:26:45 pm »

Quote from: feppe
I'm not at all happy with the performance of Canon's 24-105mm F/4L. I've had it for a year now, and just can't get tack sharp pictures with it. I get superior results with the Canon 85mm f/1.8...

I don't have the 24 - 105 L, but based on the MTF comparisons at
http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controll...fcategoryid=151
I would expect results similar to what you report.  Compare the off-center performance, particularly of the f/8 (blue) lines at 30 lp/mm (thinner lines).

Based on these and other tests (particularly Photodo and Photozone) I decided to go with the 85 1.8 and 90 TS-e (had and knew both were excellent) for the medium telephoto and 35 mm f/2 for the medium wide/standard.  The 35 is very good within the 8x10 framing, but not beyond that.  I'm getting a grid screen to, among other things, help me frame in the center of the 35 mm image cirlcle and avoid the bad corners.  I have 50s (and 45 TS-E) but have been rather happy with a 2-lens setup.  CS4 appears to do such a good job of tiling that I'll use the 35 with tiling for wider shots.  

Paul    
http://www.PaulRoark.com/
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Craig Arnold

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2009, 03:06:05 am »

If you look at the blur charts at slrgear.com:

http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct...duct/145/cat/11

Avoid 70mm completely, 85 is close enough that it should also be avoided.

You can see that at f4 it's very nice at 35mm, 50mm.

At f5.6 -f11 it's very decent at 24, 35, 50, 105.


For many people it's a fantastic lens, with a wonderful set of design choices.

Great IS, excellent sharpness at the "normal" focal lengths even wide open. Works fine as a mid-telephoto portrait lens where maximum sharpness isn't really key for most people. Very affordable, good build quality.

It can be forced into service as a wide angle landscape lens, but that's not its forte, and not the best choice for dedicated landscape photographers.

All-in-all it's a fantastic "kit" or "walkaround" zoom lens, and it's an excellent match with the 5D2.
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feppe

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2009, 03:16:35 am »

Thanks to all, especially Chris for confirming that I'm not crazy

I'll wait for the 5D2 ship (fingers crossed), and do some further testing at different focal lengths before offloading it on eBay. I like the idea of a walkaround lens, but if it produces results which frustrate me, I'd rather lug around 2-3 primes.

budjames

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2009, 05:56:11 am »

About 2 months ago I purchased a 24-105 for use on my 1DsMkIII and 40D bodies. Without any microadjustments (1DsMkIII) the lens was sharp out of the box. I since purchased a 5D MkII and sold my 40D. The same with the 5D, sharp without touching the microadjustments.

Attached are 3 shots from a Rolls Royce Bentley Owner's Club picnic that I attended this past Saturday. These jpgs were produced in Lightroom from cropped RAW files.

I have the LensAlign Pro so I'm going to calibrate all of my lens with my new 5D MkII body this weekend. I'm going to Bermuda in 2 weeks for a family cruise vacation. The 24-105 will be my "standard" lens on my 5D. The only other glass that I'm taking are the 16-35 MkII, 70-200 f4 IS and Canon 1.4X extender.

I'm happy so far with my 24-105. Good luck with yours.

Bud

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Shutterbug2006

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2009, 06:26:18 pm »

I contacted Canon last week about my 24-105mm because of two problems. The most predominant issue I've had since putting it on my 5D MKII is lens flare. I noticed the sharpness problem (or rather, softness around the edges problem) a couple of years ago when I upgraded from a 20D to a 5D. It seemed to work great on the 20D. Posts in this thread seem to suggest the glass is sharper in the middle - so it makes sense it seemed alright on the 20D.

Canon asked me to send them the lens, they will analyze it and repair it free of charge if there is a lens flare problem. Apparently some early production models exhibited this and it can be adjusted.

Overall, it is best to stick with primes on the better camera gear if you're looking for sharp images all around.
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DonWeston

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2009, 02:41:27 pm »

See, I just can't understand how my 24-135mm Tamron bought used on ebay, for $250, is sharp out of the box on my 5D2, and my third copy of the 24-105L is like mush. For 4x the cost, I am sorry but this is just poor quality control.  My 17-40L, 50EF Macro, is sharp and my 70-300mm IS is fair to good.

 My dad during most of his life was a quality control inspector, and this kind of poor business model, not just with Canon or Nikon or whoever is just that a poor business.  It is what killed the American Auto industry as a whole, but that is another conversation.

Manual focus adjustment, not for me, I don't have to time or the patience to do this, and frankly I just should not have to with a $1000+ lens.  Good thing I love my 5D2 overall, cause if not, it would be going too.  I would try a 24-70L but have heard the same issues with that. For now I will stick with my Tamron lens in a similar range, a known quantity, and  a couple of fast primes and keep my fingers crossed. If Nikon ever releases a 24mp D700X, I have kept my Nikon lenses, I might just leave for good. IF I didn't need 20+mp, I might not have even tried the 5D2. If you are lucky enough to have a good copy of the 24-105mm L, be happy, as you are lucky, as I have not been so.  BTW, it is not always the photographer who does not know how to use his gear, I hear this as an excuse and frankly that is very insulting overall, and if it wasn't too funny first.
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johnkraus

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2009, 02:50:09 pm »

I've using a new 24-105 for about 4 months now, amazed at how good it is. This mostly for walk- around, reportage moments. Sharper and crisper than I though it would/could be. On a 1Ds Mark III.
Lens is much better just a touch tighter than 24mm. IS is great. Contrast, flare all well controlled. This particular lens on my particular camera looks best at MF -2 using Lens Align Pro.
Agree corners can be an issue  but for the most part they're quite good, certainly from around  28-70. I just shot a portrait set at 105 and images are fine- but agree for landscape or architecture could be an issue. If you have the time and the prime with you, in particular an L prime, the primes will always win optically.
The lens does have its wonky barrel and pin-cushion distortion moments. Run it through DPP, C1 Pro, or best DXO Pro and all corrections can be corrected for the most part.
So the lens is not as thought -free an experience as other lenses. Know your tools. But if you work within its limitations, it's a great piece of kit, and my favorite travel and walk-around lens if I were to take just one lens with me.

John


THE CANON EOS-1Ds MARK III DIGITAL FIELD GUIDE
$24.95- Paperback
by JOHN KRAUS
JULY 2009
Now available world-wide at bookstores and online
« Last Edit: August 04, 2009, 02:51:06 pm by johnkraus »
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Rajan Parrikar

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2009, 12:48:31 pm »

The 24-105L is an outstanding piece of glass, its design compromises - mentioned upthread - notwithstanding.  I use it extensively on my full-frame bodies for both landscape and other kinds of photography.

A couple of photographs below from the Hindu festival of Ganesh Chathurthi, taken with 5D + 24-105L.  More photos of the festival on my blog.






« Last Edit: August 23, 2009, 12:58:54 pm by Parrikar »
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ashley

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Canon 24-105mm f/4L soft?
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2009, 05:56:07 pm »

It seems inevitable that there will be users who are completely happy or totally disillusioned with just about any lens in production today, though I would be the first to add that I believe quality control appears to be far lower than it should be from just about all lens makers these days.

I have a 24-105L which is used on my 1DsII and I would have to say that it has pretty much exceeded all my expectations. It's definitely a little soft at the 24mm end, which I use rarely and perhaps it's not quite as sharp at 105mm as it is at 85mm but overall I think it's been a fantastic purchase and I find very few occasions now when there is any real justification for using another lens.

For many years I had exclusively used Canon primes, so the performance I am seeing was quite an eye opener. In direct tests against my Canon primes the 24-105 was notably sharper than either my 28mm or 35mm lenses at just about any aperture from centre to edge. It's pretty much identical to the 50mm and you certainly wouldn't see the difference in print.

Compared to the 85mm lens, which I always considered to be a real gem, I was astonished to see that the zoom showed sharper edges at F4, however, they were essentially pretty much identical thereafter. The zoom also has the advantage of closer focussing for portraits at that focal length. As much as I love my 85mm, apart from the slightly faster servo focus speed when following fast moving subjects there is no real reason to favour this lens over the zoom.

Only the 100mm macro is notably sharper than the zoom at the same focal length and I have basically identified that the 24-105 appears weakest at both the widest and longest focal length. As for flare I have yet to find an example on a single image, even following tests where I pointed the lens straight up at the sky and where lenses such as the 50mm were clearly exhibiting flare.

Perhaps I have just been super lucky with this zoom but with a so called "good example" I am really very happy. Before buying this lens I had a Tamron 28-75 which was initially quite sharp but the focus accuracy kept shifting and I eventually didn't feel able to use it with any degree of confidence. The only area where I have noticed a weakness with the 24-105 comes from fairly common chromatic aberration but this has always been very easy to rectify inside ACR when Raw processing. N.B I think image stabilisation is a fantastic feature.
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