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Author Topic: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?  (Read 4649 times)

iKenndac

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Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« on: March 17, 2013, 12:26:18 PM »
I've had my 24-105mm f/4 L since 2006, and it's been my day-to-day walkaround for most of that time. I always found it difficult to get pin-sharp shots with it, but assumed it was always my technique.

However, I recently decided to check the sharpness of my lenses and perform AFMA calibration on them. What really shocked me is that my girlfriend's EF-S 17-85mm actually appears to be sharper than my 24-105 L!

If anyone here has the 24-105 L, and have done sharpness shots with it, would you mind chipping in? I wonder if this is a naturally soft lens or if mine is out of whack. I know the lens is weakest at 24mm, but mine seems to be pretty terrible!

Standard Lightroom settings, sharpness turned down to 0.

100% crop at 105mm:



100% crop at 24mm:


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Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« on: March 17, 2013, 12:26:18 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2013, 01:03:24 PM »
Bad lenses do happen, send it to Canon for repair.  There are plenty of tests and comparisons around the internet to show that it is capable of being very sharp.



I try to test any new lenses I purchase for sharpness right away.  I first adjust the AFMA, and then view a variety of images to check that the lens meets expectations.



I'd find it very difficult to judge sharpness with the images you show.  Their only purpose is to check for front/back focus.



Use a proper target or flat brick wall and check not only the center, but the edges and corners.



Its hard to beat the 24-105mmL for the price.  You can beat it with a prime, but not a zoom in that price range.



mvinson1022

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2013, 01:26:14 PM »
Send it in for check by Canon.

would you mind chipping in?



RS2021

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2013, 01:50:28 PM »
From your picture, at 105mm it seems sharp enough to me for this zoom... at 24mm it looks a bit off but as noted earlier this is really not the best way to check this.

Also, take several shots at the focal lenghts and see if this is not just AF "one-off" situation. Add to this the fact, this zoom struggles in general on the wide end on both distortion and sharpness compared to sweet spots higher up in the focal length range.

If you do plan to send it to Canon...be specific to get things really looked at...just saying "I think this is soft" will generally result in them holding on to the lens for a couple of weeks, doing standard tests, and sending it back the same as you sent them with a terse note "within standard range".

24-105L from what I can tell does have some limited copy variation with some people very happy with theirs (I am one) and others really railing on it. It is also not one of those "super sharp" lenses ...if you have that expecation then it will never meet your expectations. I recently played with a friends 24-70 II and clearly the new zoom is spectacular in comparison. So, recognize the 24-105L for where it falls in the product line up...

Most happy users like me will tell you it is an awesome zoom all things considered. Love it.
“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept” - Henri Cartier-Bresson

tomscott

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2013, 02:59:37 PM »
I had the 17-85mm and it was awful.

The 24-105 is very sharp in comparison. Maybe just needs some good AFMA
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LetTheRightLensIn

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2013, 03:08:45 PM »

Its hard to beat the 24-105mmL for the price.  You can beat it with a prime, but not a zoom in that price range.

Tamron 28-75 is sharper and costs less. And if you go to APS-C then tamron 17-50 2.8 too, probably sigma 16-50 IS too, etc. The new tamron 24-70 VC is also sharper (granted you can find so many kitted or dumped 24-105 that the 24-105 is effectively in a lower price bracket than that one though).

LetTheRightLensIn

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2013, 03:10:12 PM »
24-105L is NOT one of the sharper L lenses, it's one the very softest L lenses (although L lenses are a high standard keep in mind). That said the 17-85 was one of the softest non-L lenses and it seems surprising to hear it is sharper than your 24-105.

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2013, 03:10:12 PM »

pwp

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2013, 04:33:30 PM »
After five completely doggo 24-70 f/2.8 lenses over a number of years, in desperation I bought a pre-owned 24-105 f/4is just to see me through until a revised 24-70 f/2.8II came out. The 24-105 was a revelation. At last, a zoom lens (in this focal range) that I could trust. It's not going to match it with primes if you start pixel peeping but delivers commercially completely viable files. It's sharp at f/4.

So while the new totally stellar 24-70 f/2.8II will have a permanent place in my bag, the old 24-105 f/4is is a keeper. The extra reach is great for any kind of event work, and it's my hands down favourite travel lens.

If you have strong suspicions that your 24-105 f/4is performance is sub-optimal, send it off to Canon for a service if a proper AFMA process doesn't improve things. A search through this list will show you that a vast majority of 24-105 f/4is owners while being fully aware of any obvious limitations are deliriously happy with their lens.

-PW

Sporgon

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2013, 05:19:50 PM »
At building Panoramics we have two 24-105's, both circa 2008. One is sharp across the frame ( within reason) whilst the other is incredibly sharp on the left side, but really blurred on the extreme right. As we shoot our panos with the left edge uppermost ( into the sky) we've only really just noticed it. Beauty of an L lens is it can be tuned - costs about £120 + tax in UK.

Seems to bs a lot of sample variation with this lens, maybe because there are so many of them in use.

pwp

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2013, 06:44:12 PM »
At building Panoramics we have two 24-105's, both circa 2008. One is sharp across the frame ( within reason) whilst the other is incredibly sharp on the left side, but really blurred on the extreme right. As we shoot our panos with the left edge uppermost ( into the sky) we've only really just noticed it. Beauty of an L lens is it can be tuned - costs about £120 + tax in UK.

Seems to bs a lot of sample variation with this lens, maybe because there are so many of them in use.

What you have described is a completely fixable condition. Send 'em off to Canon.

-PW

Tonywintn

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2013, 07:14:44 PM »
Is it normal for the 24-105mm f/4L to be a little soft in the corners when zoomed in to 105mm?  I snapped a shot of my screen door at f/7.  The screen mesh is crystal sharp in the center third, not too bad in the left third but a little soft in the right third and more so at the bottom corner.  At 24mm, the screen mesh looks crisp all over.  I just got the 6D and this lens a month ago and decided to do this test.  My question is should I send it in for adjustment, or is this normal?
Canon 6D, 24-105mm f4L,50mm f1.4,70-300mm f4.5/5.6L,17-40mm, f4L, G10

traveller

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2013, 08:15:19 PM »

Its hard to beat the 24-105mmL for the price.  You can beat it with a prime, but not a zoom in that price range.

Tamron 28-75 is sharper and costs less. And if you go to APS-C then tamron 17-50 2.8 too, probably sigma 16-50 IS too, etc. The new tamron 24-70 VC is also sharper (granted you can find so many kitted or dumped 24-105 that the 24-105 is effectively in a lower price bracket than that one though).

Funny that you should mention this lens, because I have a copy of the Tamron 17-50 (non VC) that I have been a bit disappointed with.  Not only is the AF a bit unpredictable (almost a given with Tamron lenses on Canon bodies), but I didn't find it overly sharp in the border areas even at f/5.6 (I could live with a bit of corner softness).  I tested it against a friend's Canon 24-105 and found it quite noticably softer away from the centre at comparable apertures throughout most of the focal range. 

I've since bought this 24-105 from my friend after he got the 24-70 f2.8L II.  I must admit that the 24-105 isn't nearly as good a lens on a full frame body, and I find it especially soft at the wide end, but this doesn't tend to be where I use this lens most, so I'm OK with that - YMMV.  Full Frame cameras show up corner softness in a lot of lenses that are good performers on APS-C; I thought that my 50 f/1.4 was pretty good at f/2 on APS-C, but suffers from soft corners on FF unless stopped down to f/2.8.  You can accept this and try to stop down a bit more or buy more expensive lenses. 

Tonywintn

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2013, 08:51:22 PM »
After I made my post I started thinking about my set-up:  It was hand held and the focal plane may not have been parallel to the screen door.  So I did a proper set-up on the tripod and did some shots at wide open and with the zoom set  at both ends and the middle.  I got better results with the set up so that the focal plane was parallel to the wall.  I see a bit of softening at 105mm in the corners with the aperture wide open and down to f/7; aperture doesn't seem to matter, but by 70mm the image is tack sharp corner to corner.  24mm is very sharp.  I taped a cloth towel to the wall.  The fine fibers make for a good image to resolve.  I also found that when focusing manually, I did not get the image as sharp as the autofocus.  I appreciate what I am learning on this website.  I feel better about my new camera and lens after making this test.
Canon 6D, 24-105mm f4L,50mm f1.4,70-300mm f4.5/5.6L,17-40mm, f4L, G10

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2013, 08:51:22 PM »

RS2021

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2013, 09:14:10 PM »
Is it normal for the 24-105mm f/4L to be a little soft in the corners when zoomed in to 105mm?  I snapped a shot of my screen door at f/7.  The screen mesh is crystal sharp in the center third, not too bad in the left third but a little soft in the right third and more so at the bottom corner.  At 24mm, the screen mesh looks crisp all over.  I just got the 6D and this lens a month ago and decided to do this test.  My question is should I send it in for adjustment, or is this normal?

Screens are notoriously undulating... and at the longer end of the zoom and if you are close enough perhaps MFD, which I suspect you are,  this would look even more uneven. This is why I prefer real world shots to access if the image is satisfying...not necessarily tack sharp...but sharp enough and pleasing and representative...don't take shots of brick walls and screen doors...you will never be happy.

Having said that, yes, the 24-105L can be a tad soft in the corners. From what I read here it seems to be uneven among different copies...my own is sharp on the long end and a tad softer in the corners at 24mm. But one doesn't notice this in real people shots.

All said, I still love the zoom. 
“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept” - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2013, 09:15:37 PM »
  I appreciate what I am learning on this website.  I feel better about my new camera and lens after making this test.

Be careful about what you read on this site.  There is a large difference in experience and opinion and not owning or having even used a lens does not stop some from giving their opinion as fact.

Read the comments and compare them with those who know how to test and judge a lens, read all the lens test sites.  Even those of us who have had a lens and found it bad should know that defective lenses happen.

I read photozone, lenstip, slr gear, and even DXO before I buy a new lens.  The new lenses I've bought have always matched the reviews, good or bad.

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Re: Is my 24-105mm f/4 L unreasonably soft?
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2013, 09:15:37 PM »