The Canon EF 24-105mm f4 pitched up against the EF 24-70mm f2.8: Which is it to be?

In many ways it’s a very close call. I’ve been shooting with the EF28-70/f2.8 and more latterly the EF24-70/f2.8 for a decade now, and have always been impressed with their resultant image quality, which quite honestly can’t be faulted, but I have always found that the 70mm tend to be a tad too short.

Having read good reviews of the 24-105/f4, and massively tempted by that extra 35mm of focal length along with its Image Stabalisation, I thought I should at least put it through its paces, and what better opportunity than a long weekend city break in Berlin.


My girls on their cruisers, 24mm & into the sun, creating a little lens flare (just to the left of the left hand bikes front wheel)… If shot on a 24mm prime this probably wouldn’t occur. Personally I like a bit of flare, though it’s jolly hard to achieve with modern coated lenses.

I’m not a gear freak, I don’t like humping around a heavy ruck stuffed with glass, I’d much rather keep things simple and light, so I simply took with me the 24-105 mated to my Canon 5D Mk2, and plenty of CF cards.


Bens feet about to cross where once there was a division between East & West.

On the surface the three main main differences between the lenses are:

  1. Slower maximum aperture, i.e. f4 vs f2.8.
  2. Image Stabalisation.
  3. 35mm of extra and very useful focal length.

First impression of the 24-105/4 is how similar in size, build quality and handling it is to the 24-70/2.8, though a heavy chunk of optics it is too noticeably lighter. And although an f4, the viewfinder is still plenty bright enough, though in low light scenarios the autofocus hunted a tad which was a bit annoying. As the f4 has image stabalisation which is worth around three stops (i.e. if one were to assume that 125th of a second guarantees a sharp image, the Image Stabalisation allows certainly a 30th/s, if not a 15th/s…), so in such terms a better lens for lower light hand-held photography and as a result far greater versatility. However the true point of the fast f2.8 aperture is the focus fall-off and the manner in which it separates the subject from the background, an effect which I appreciate and must say that I missed.


There’s a huge amount of street art over in the East side of Berlin.

The extra 35mm focal length however was truly useful, and shooting wide open at f4 at the 105mm end regained me to some degree the focus fall-off I appreciate so much.

Upon very close scrutiny, I believe the image quality of the 24 – 70 to exceed that of the 24 – 105, but it’s a close call, which in itself shouldn’t be the deciding factor. The deciding factor for me is really that extra 35mm along with the very useful Image Stabalisation, and since my trip it really has been my “go to” lens as it is just so completely versatile. I use it in my professional life more than any other optic, just seems to cover all bases: reportage, lifestyle, events… where I so appreciate that extra 35mm and being able to shoot at higher apertures for the given ambient light. What I would really like to see is an f2.8 version of the 24-105 complete with Image Stabalisation, now that would be perfect. But in the meantime, though I miss the faster aperture I’m completely sold on that extra 35mm’s and the Image Stabalisation.


The best way to see any city… Camera set on a wall with the self timer set to 10 seconds. Upon composing the image I ensured we had the light to the side to give the image shape.

And as for Berlin… What a fascinating city…. If you like the likes of Paris and London, you’re sure to enjoy Berlin, a big old town, full of interest with a rather charming edge to it.


The TV tower.


In memory of those who died in the concentration camps.


Memorial to the Jews who died in Europe. (105mm ca f11)


An old section of wall adorned with chewing gum.

the wall 01

Section of The Wall with its steel reinforcements (105mm ca f4)


Emulating the street art @ f4. (f2.8 would have thrown the background out noticeably more).

Robert Irving. Co-Founder WPA. Adventurer / Explorer / Photographer

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