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        Canon EF 24-105mm F4L IS USM vs EF 17-40mm F4L USM

        - by Brian Ang


                        This piece of comparison article is interesting because it is intended to be aimed at Canon user who are looking into getting a Canon L lens.L lens is representative of Canon best effort in lens making hence there is a very strong demand for it from all sort of user that use Canon system. This two lens is chosen in particular because they share the same pricepoint in used marketplace as well as new (Assuming 24-105mm is taken of camera kit bundle rather than full retail pack).

        Pricepoint are as follow:
        New EF 17-40mm F4L Canon Malaysia set(RM2480) : http://kldslr.com/canon/lenses/canon-ef-17-40mm-f4l-usm-canon-malaysia-2480.00.html-1&filter=BRANDS_m-n-9=Canon&C=MYR

        New EF 24-105mm F4L IS Import Set (RM1850): http://kldslr.com/canon/lenses/new-canon-ef-24-105mm-f4l-is-usm-import-1850.00.html&filter=BRANDS_m-n-9=Canon&C=MYR

        Used EF 17-40 F4L (RM1750): http://kldslr.com/used-corner/used-camera-lens/used-canon-ef-17-40mm-f4l-usm-1700.00.html-1&filter=BRANDS_m-n-9=Canon&C=MYR

        Used EF 24-105mm F4L IS (RM1480): http://kldslr.com/used-corner/used-camera-lens/used-canon-ef-24-105mm-f4l-is-usm-1480.00.html&filter=BRANDS_m-n-9=Canon&C=MYR

                     In certain circumstances both can be extremely close in price but if comparing apple to apple(Canon Malaysia new set) the price difference is RM1k(About RM3500 for 24-105MM F4L IS).To summarize, for about ~RM1800 used or ~RM2500 new Canon wide/standard L lens, these are your two options.

                    This article serves to answer that question. This is more of an user impression and finding post rather than a piece that goes into all the details of each lens.

        Test Setup

        Canon EOS Kiss X5 aka JDM’s version of 600D

        Canon EF 17-40mm F4L USM

        Canon EF 24-105mm F4L IS USM

        Generic tripod (With integrated ball head, mounting plate)

        Lens Construction/Feature:

        Side by side shot of both lens at shortest length:

        Side by side shot of both lens at longest length:

        Construction/feature of EF 17-40mm F4L:

        Length (Don’t change with focal length):

        Focus scale with DOF scale:

        Front element featuring 77mm filter thread:

        Rear lens mount with metal construction:

        AF/MF Switch:

        Extended lens barrel that enable the focal length to change without change in overall length and this is the shortest position:

        Longest position:

        Construction/feature of EF 24-105mm F4L IS USM:

        Length that change with focal length (24mm shortest, 105mm longest):

        Thanks to kingkingyyk of LYN for merging this photo for me, post processing credit goes to him.

        Shortest length:

        Longest length:

        Focus scale with DOF scale:

        Lens control switch (From left to right or down to up when mounted on camera, IS On/Off switch and AF/MF switch):

        Front element featuring 77mm filter thread (Same as 17-40mm F4L):

        Rear lens mount with metal construction:

        How does the lens feel in real world??

                        Having used both lenses in real world, here is what I think about them. Both of them are well built. Both of them share moisture/dust proof seal too but that is something I don’t intend nor can I test with the camera body I have. Let us start off with 17-40mm F4L.For user with APS-C sensor camera. This serve as an upgrade over kit lens (Usually 18-55mm F3.5-F5.6 with IS).As I don’t have a lot of personal experience with kit lens, I can’t really comment on how both compares.

                        The 17-40mm F4L is a good lens performance wise. Very little distortion, good sharpness and minimal aberration (Color fringing) is how I would describe the performance. At least when used in conjunction with APS-C anyway. Despite the nice build quality, this lens is relative light for what it is so it will be great addition to Canon user kit who not necessary want the biggest aperture for given zoom range yet still provide top performance. The only gripe would be lack of IS.For user with full frame body, I believe this will be an excellent ultra wide angle zoom and with super reasonable price tag to boot too.

                        The 24-105mm F4L IS is another good lens. Despite being a lens designed for full frame, it is well suited to APS-C sensor camera s well. The 35mm equivalent when mounted on APS-C sensor body is 38.4mm to 168mm.The focal length will complement APS-C user with an ultra-wide angle zoom(EF-S 10-22mm or 10-18mm) as the focal length continue after where ultra-wide angle zoom left off. Performance wise, it will be same as 17-40mm F4L.Sharp,minimal CA(Color fringing) and IS system that work very well.Again,it share the same trait as 17-40mm F4L which is light in mass.

                        All performance impression is done with APS-C body. For full frame sensor user, this two lens will perfectly complement each other as one cover the UWA range while one cover the standard to short telephoto range. They both share 77mm filter thread too so there are no repeating filter to buy due to different filter thread size.

                        You can’t go wrong with either of this lens.

        24mm Focal Length

        Test condition: ¼ seconds shutter speed (Roughly 3 stops from 1/35)

        10 shot is taken handheld and the best one is chosen.

        IS On:                    

        IS On crop:

        Is Off:

        IS Off crop:

        105mm Focal Length

        Test condition: 1/20 seconds shutter speed (Roughly 3 stops from 1/160)

        10 shot is taken handheld and the best one is chosen.

        IS On:                    

        IS On crop:

        Is Off:

        IS Off crop:

                        As you can see from above sample, the IS work very well.IS buy you a few stops of shutter speed which are great. Besides that, IS will make you a more consistent photographer due to this factor. From my test sample, IS will increase hit rate of your picture by quite a margin. The bottom line is IS do work and I have tested it successfully down to 3 stops.

        Real world sample

        Link to 17-40mm F4L vs 24-105mm F4L album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kid_e300/sets/72157648919432462/

        Exif data on right bottom corner will tell you which lens is the shot from. As usual, you are welcome to download the original resolution and pixel peep it.


                        After the testing of these two lenses, I have found that both of these lens are excellent and fit for their purposes. There are situation where these two lens complement each other(Full frame user) and there are situation where you need a wider UWA zoom to complement the 24-105mm F4L(APS-C user).Build quality, performance are nothing to scoff at yet their mass is light and size is small.

                        To top it off, their pricepoint is extremely reasonable and they even share the same filter thread diameter too. This mean saving in filter as you only need one of specialized filter if you intend to buy one (CPL,ND  etc).

                        Personally, I would have both if I am an user of Canon full frame system while I will have 10-18mm + 24-105mm if I am APS-C user that intend to upgrade to full frame in future. If I am user who decided to stick permanently to APS-C,10-18mm + 17-55mm is my pick but 10-18mm + 24-105mm will work as well too.So,purchase of these two lens is down to your plan in future.

        17-40mm Pros:

        1.) Great performance overall

        2.) Light

        3.) Well-built

        4.) Focus length/DOF Scale

        5.) Common 77mm filter thread size

        6.) Moisture/dust proof

        17-40mm Cons:

         1.) Lack of IS

        Recommended for: EF-S user who is looking for an upgrade from kit lens and intend to upgrade for full frame in the future or full frame user looking for an excellent yet light ultra-wide angle zoom.

        24-105mm Pros:

        1.) Great performance overall

        2.) Light

        3.) Well-built

        4.) Focus length/DOF Scale

        5.) Common 77mm filter thread size

        6.) Moisture/dust proof

        7.) Effective IS

        24-105mm Cons:

        1.) No constant lens length for zoom

        2.) Cost a lot more than 17-40mm if it is a full retail box set with Canon Malaysia warranty

        Recommended for: EF-S user who want to complement their UWA zoom and intend to upgrade to full frame in the future or full frame user looking for an excellent yet light standard zoom lens to complement their uwa zoom.