Thursday, May 31, 2012

First Look: Canon 24-105 L F/4 IS

Took the plunge.  Canon did not hand this to me in return for a favorable review.   Got the Canon 24-105 L F/4 IS as a replacement for the workhorse Sigma 18-200  3.5/5.6.   There were many reasons to do this.  Image quality was the least.  Sigma is a fine manufacturer and makes some good stuff. But for top of the line results, I needed something better.

Rick Sammon has enthusiastically recommended this Canon lens for portraits which is my intended use (see book below).  This new lens affords the following advantages.

1. No lens sag.  The Sigma lens when hanging around your neck, changes focal length due to gravity.  It gets longer until you hit 200mm.  The Canon does not.  The Sigma offers a lock but only works at 18mm.  Not effective when working with a client and shooting at 70mm.

2. Image Stabilization (IS).  I can now handhold at 1/15th shutter speed at 105mm and produce sharp results.  This is compensation for the lack of an F/2.8 L offering in this focal length range.  I had been debating over the 24 to 70 F/2.8 L for quite a while.

3. Consistent F/ 4.0.  The Sigma goes from a slightly faster 3.5 to full stop less at 5.6 at far end of 200mm.  I know that with the Canon, I am dealing with F/ 4.0 the entire time.

4.  Better Macro.  You can get down to 1.5 feet from the subject but at 105 can get a nice view of a model, a praying mantis or glass of Sam Adams.  Truth is that the 1.5' is from the focal plane.  Actual distance is 9" from the front of the lens hood.

5. Compatibility.  My Sigma concked out the camera last year giving me another ERROR 99 message.  Error 99 effectively shuts down the camera.  Fortunately, I was not on assignment at the time.  Never got this bad chip message with a Canon lens.  Could be difficult and embarrassing in front of a client.  Sigma did replace a chip on a prior lens for $100, but tsk-tsk, should NEVER be needed.  Sorry.  A slap in the face to charge to fix a clear defect even if several years down the line.  SORRY, WE MARRY THE LENSES AND DATE THE CAMERA BODIES!

Anticipated benefits:
6. Contrast / Sharpness / Less flare.  To be tested in the coming weeks.  Stay Tuned.  No disappointment in the first card or the Sam Adams.  Now to use under challenging conditions.