100mm SHOOTOUT! Detailed Analysis of the Hand-Holdability and General Sharpness of the RF100/2.8 Macro, the RF100-500/4.5-7.1 and the RF24-105/4

SwissFrank

1N 3 1V 1Ds I II III R R5
Dec 9, 2018
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See my 135mm shootout thread for details on the methodology, but I'll summarize here:

These are 55 lp/mm charts, which make the black lines about 2 pixels wide on an R5. This target has detail that is totally invisible unless your final image is reduced less than 4:1, and really only if reduced less than 2:1. So even if a graphic here looks "bad", remember it's a level of bad only visible if your image is 4000-8000 pixels wide...

I shot each lens 10x at each of about ten shutter speeds. I had software score the sharpness and sort from sharpest to blurriest. Each line has a benchmark at the left and right to help you compare against "best."

CONCLUSIONS

The 100-500 actually has better IS at 1sec, but from 1/8 sec up, the sharper Macro optics pull ahead.

The 100-500 is so sharp (at least in the center) that there's really no need to switch to the 100 Macro at all, even if you suspect you'll be using the full 45MP.

And for either lens, shooting at 1/2 or even 1 sec is going to be fine for most purposes. Worry only about subject movement, not camera shake.

(I'll post the 24-105 results tomorrow.)
 

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Frank, I didn't see the 24-105mm results. Did I miss something?
Thanks for the reminder, Kai!

Unlike the 100-500 (at least at 100 and 135, haven't tested it longer yet), the 24-105 is not very exciting. It doesn't have as good IS nor the ultimate resolution. The 100-500 is about as sharp at 1/2 as the 24-105 is at any speed.

Still, remember this target is 55 lp/mm. If you cut your width from the 1:1 8k (on the R5) down to 2k (eg, 2000x1350 or whatever), these targets are simply gray disks and the 24-105 will look nearly as good hand-held for 1/2 sec or less, as the sharpest lens on a tripod. This test is really "focused" mainly telling you what to expect if you're really using 8000x5000 or at the VERY smallest, 4000x2500 output.

(There is a spurious benchmark image from another lens, that makes the 1/8th second line longer. I have no idea why there are only a couple 1-second images, but I suppose you can extrapolate!)
 

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(1) That's probably not the right file for the 24-105.

(2) The RF 24-105/4 does have IS.
Thanks David! I have corrected the file. I said "it does not have the IS that the 100-500 does" meaning not the same quality. It's a common American idiom but I agree it's unclear and will clarify. My granddad talked that way a lot and was my first influence with photography...
 
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Thanks for the reminder, Kai!

Unlike the 100-500 (at least at 100 and 135, haven't tested it longer yet), the 24-105 is not very exciting. It doesn't have as good IS nor the ultimate resolution. The 100-500 is about as sharp at 1/2 as the 24-105 is at any speed.

Thanks a lot. The main reason I was asking is that I see used RF24-105 lenses for sale here for 8.500-9.000DKK (new is 9.700DKK), and that's much more palatable to me than the 17.200DKK for the RF24-70/2.8 (seen used for 14.000DKK).
However, the 100-500mm is my main interest in RF lenses (22.650DKK), so there's a overlap between those two.

I've collected the 24-70/2.8 II and the 70-200/2.8 II over the years, but since I don't use them so much, I am not too keen on spending money on RF lenses I won't be using.
 
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I found the RF24-105 to be always a good enough focal length range whereas the 24-70 never was long enough.

In the 90s we really needed f/2.8 to fully enable autofocus, to have a bright viewfinder, and because fast film and slow shutter speeds looked absolutely horrible, and because film was anyway so grainy and lenses less sharp that the blurriness from shallow DOF wasn't so obvious. In contrast, with the R and especially R5, there's just no reason for f/2.8. Photos are so clean and sharp that the gentler bokeh from f/4 is still really noticeable and makes your subject stand out, and still is enough to differentiate the look from a cell phone photo. Super-high ISO and super-long shutters are no longer a problem, and AF works fine and the viewfinder brightness no longer depends on f-stop.

On an R5 the 24-105 is actually almost "smallish".

When I first got the R I got the 24-105 and 50/1.2, and after a year had only taken like three photos with the 50! So I sold it. After about 4 years with only the 24-105, I got a bunch of other lenses last year (I used to have 15 EF lenses in the 90s-10s) and don't use the 24-105 much but mainly because I have other lenses to explore. But frankly most of my good pictures would have been nearly as good with the 24-105.

If I hit hard times and had to sell most of my Canon gear, the 24-105 would be the last lens I'd sell. It's not a lens I love, but it's one that really works well for everything except obviously telephoto. It's not super-wide but it's wide enough. It's not super-sharp but it's sharp enough. It's not super-bokeh but its enough bokeh. It's not super-compact but it's compact enough, etc. etc.
 
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I found the RF24-105 to be always a good enough focal length range whereas the 24-70 never was long enough.

In the 90s we really needed f/2.8 to fully enable autofocus, to have a bright viewfinder, and because fast film and slow shutter speeds looked absolutely horrible, and because film was anyway so grainy and lenses less sharp that the blurriness from shallow DOF wasn't so obvious. In contrast, with the R and especially R5, there's just no reason for f/2.8. Photos are so clean and sharp that the gentler bokeh from f/4 is still really noticeable and makes your subject stand out, and still is enough to differentiate the look from a cell phone photo. Super-high ISO and super-long shutters are no longer a problem, and AF works fine and the viewfinder brightness no longer depends on f-stop.

On an R5 the 24-105 is actually almost "smallish".

When I first got the R I got the 24-105 and 50/1.2, and after a year had only taken like three photos with the 50! So I sold it. After about 4 years with only the 24-105, I got a bunch of other lenses last year (I used to have 15 EF lenses in the 90s-10s) and don't use the 24-105 much but mainly because I have other lenses to explore. But frankly most of my good pictures would have been nearly as good with the 24-105.

If I hit hard times and had to sell most of my Canon gear, the 24-105 would be the last lens I'd sell. It's not a lens I love, but it's one that really works well for everything except obviously telephoto. It's not super-wide but it's wide enough. It's not super-sharp but it's sharp enough. It's not super-bokeh but its enough bokeh. It's not super-compact but it's compact enough, etc. etc.
I have the 24-105 L and the 24-240 "not L". And, since most of the time my photos have a subject somewhere towards the center 2/3rd of the frame, and the outer 1/3rd is bokeh anyway, I end up using the 24-240 almost always (when choosing between the two). (But at this point, I mostly use my Canon rig almost exclusively with specialty lenses (super tele, super WA, etc.), since I use my iPhone for walking around).
I wish Canon would make a great 24-240 L premium lens. That would clearly give my iPhone a run for it's money in the "preferred walking around camera" category. I'd gladly give up the convenience of not carrying a separate camera if the camera would clearly blow away the iPhone 95% of the time... An R5 with a great 24-240L would get me taking my camera with me everywhere I go, (like I did 30 years ago...). Just an observation... Too often camera bugs like to battle it out lens vs. lens, camera body vs. camera body, or Sony vs. Nikon vs. Olympus vs Canon. But, the real threat and competition for digital cameras is not other camera companies, but the Great Satans known as the iPhone and Pixel 7. Hell, with iPhone "night mode" I don't even need my Canon with an F1.4 lens in low light anymore. :cry:
 
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