The Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z is the first in a new line of RF Hybrid lenses designed to suit photographers and videographers equally. It gains the Z in its name by virtue of its compatibility with Canon’s two new Power Zoom Adapters, the Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E2 and Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E2B.
My initial impression is that the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z is a high-quality lens, and it seems a logical introduction from Canon in some ways. However, it commands a high price and getting the full benefit of its features requires an additional Power Zoom Adapter at extra cost. This may be easier to swallow once there are other RF Hybrid lenses that can use the same controller.
- Combines cine lens and still lens features
- Aperture ring and control ring
- Long for the focal length
- Clicking and de-clicking of the rings is a service centre job
- Power Zoom function not built-in, an adapter is required
What is the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z?
- Product type: Standard zoom lens
- Announced: 2nd November 2023
- Mount: Canon RF
- Format: Full-frame
- Focal length: 24-105mm
- Maximum aperture: f/22
- Minimum aperture: f/2.8
- Construction: 23 elements in 18 groups, including 4 UD (ultra-low dispersion) and 3 aspherical lenses (2 GMo – glass-moulded aspherical)
- Weather-sealed: Yes
- Coatings: ASC (Air Sphere Coating), Super Spectra, fluorine-coated front elements
- Focusing system: Dual Nano USM
- Minimum focus distance: 45cm
- Maximum Magnification: 24mm: 0.08x, 105mm: 0.29x
- Stabilisation: Up to 5.5 stops by itself or 8 stops on a camera with IBIS (in-body image stabilisation)
- Filter size: 82mm
- Power Zoom Adapter compatibility: PZ-E2 and PZ-E2B
- Weight: 1330g
- Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 88.5 x 199mm
Canon has introduced the RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z to complement the EOS R5 C, a camera that marries cinema and digital still capabilities, as well as more photography-centric models like the Canon R5 and R6 II. It’s designed to serve as a flexible tool for a variety of creative endeavours, shooting both stills and video. As such, incorporates features from Canon’s cine and broadcast lens range while maintaining the performance the company’s RF lenses.
The new lens’s focal length range, 24-105mm, is a popular choice for everyday photography and videography as it’s a versatile option that can cover everything from wide landscapes to tightly-framed portraits. In addition, it has a constant f/2.8 aperture, allowing for consistent exposure and depth of field control across its zoom range. This eliminates the need to adjust exposure settings when zooming between different focal lengths.
As indicated by ‘IS’, the RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z has an onboard image stabilisation system, and in this instance it offers up to 5.5 stops of shutter speed compensation. However, this can be ramped up to 8 stops when coupled with a camera that features In-Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS).
Optically, the lens is composed of 23 elements arranged in 18 groups. These include 4 Ultra-Low Dispersion (UD) elements and 3 aspherical elements, two of which are glass-moulded. There are also elements with Canon’s Air Sphere Coating (ASC) and Super Spectra Coating to reduce optical imperfections like flare and ghosting. A fluorine coating on the front element offers added protection against smudges and dirt.
Focusing is managed by Dual Nano USM Motors, to deliver fast and nearly silent autofocus for both stills and video. The lens is also claimed to keep focus breathing under close control so the framing stays the same when zooming from one focal length to another.
Another standout feature is the Electronic Parfocal Stability, which allows the lens to maintain focus while zooming in or out.
Canon supplies the RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z with a deep lens hood and a removable tripod foot.
Build and Handling
It’s amusing to write that the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z seems big for its focal length when I’ve just written that the Canon RF 200-800mm F6.3-9 IS USM announced at the same time is comparatively light, but its all to do with expectations. At 199mm in length, the RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z is long for its zoom range. At 1330g in weight, it’s also pretty hefty.
As usual, the broad zoom ring sit around the midpoint of the RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z’s barrel with the ridged zoom ring a little further forward towards the front element and the dedicated zoom ring ahead of that. There’s also an aperture ring roughly half-way between the lens mount and the zoom ring.
The aperture ring has settings running from f/ 2.8 to f/22 in 1/3 EV steps. There’s also a ‘Auto’ setting that gives control to the camera. Helpfully, there’s a lock that ensures the aperture ring stays in Auto mode when it’s set there.
At the time of launch, the aperture ring only works in video mode and not stills. I’m told that it will work in both modes with future cameras. Hopefully, a firmware update will bring its functionality to stills mode with existing cameras, but Canon has yet to comment on that.
All of the rings have a high-quality action. The front control ring has soft clicks that can be switched off with a trip to a service centre while they can be added to the smooth-running aperture ring if that should be required. Clearly Canon doesn’t feel that photographers and videographers should takes these matter into their own hands.
As an L-series lens, the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z dust and moisture resistant. It also has metal mount and four switches that govern the focus range, focus mode, stabiliser activation and stabiliser mode.
A key feature of the RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z is that it’s compatible with Canon’s new Power Zoom Controllers. These mount on the side of the lens by screwing three pins into the threads in the barrel and pulling the electronic connection pins into contact.
It’s easier to mount a Power Zoom Controller on the lens if the supplied tripod foot is detached. It’s also easier to reach under the lens with the fingers of your left hand to operate the zoom buttons if the foot isn’t in place, but it’s rather awkward to avoid touching the zoom ring as it moves. This might suggest that it’s best to use the lens and controller mounted on a tripod, but the buttons aren’t especially convenient for use.
I’ve used a pre-production sample of the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z on the Canon R5 and while it’s not suitable for in-depth analysis, I am able to make a few comments and share images here.
Firstly, it’s clear that the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z is capable of rendering sharp detail across the frame, even when the aperture is wide open at f/2.8. As you’d expect at that aperture, it’s also possible to deliver blurred backgrounds, and with 11 blades in the iris, the bokeh is attractive.
The focusing system also seems assured and the R5’s subject detection is able to perform well.
Paired with a Power Zoom Adapter, the lens zooming action is very smooth and steady. The speed of the movement can be adjusted via a control knob on the adapter.
Vignetting appears to be controlled very well but I’ll need to shoot in more contrasty conditions to be able to pass comment on the control of chromatic aberration.
Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z sample images
These images were captured using a beta sample of the Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z on the Canon R5.
The Canon RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z seems like a logical introduction from Canon but I’m yet to be convinced by the implementation of the power zoom functionality. Keeping it separate from the lens in the form of an adapter likely reduces the price, size and weight of this and future lenses in the RF Hybrid line, but it would be slicker to have the feature built-in.
Initial testing suggests that the RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z is a good performer, but there’s lots more testing to be done for I give my final verdict.