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Gear Reviews

Canon 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 EF STM – Unboxing, Initial Thoughts, Image Samples

By Matthew Saville on January 13th 2015

canon-24-105-stm-review-astroImage Copyright Sean Goebel

I’m not going to lie, I have been pretty excited in the past year or so about Canon’s apparent change of heart in their lens pricing strategy.  It seems like just yesterday Canon wowed us with the shockingly affordable 10-18mm EF-S STM, ($299) and the relatively affordable 16-35mm f/4 L IS. ($1199, currently $1099!)

Clearly, Canon’s STM lineup of lenses is specially designed to be as affordable as possible, without compromising image quality.  The pressure to compete has recently become more intense from lens makers like Rokinon, Sigma and Tamron.

However, if you believe in the law of “no free lunches,” this newfound affordability has got to come from somewhere.  If Canon is taking a queue from Rokinon’s own business model, some significantly lower build quality (compared to an L lens) could be coming down the pipeline.  Oy!

The Canon 24-105mm STM Unboxing

Enter the Canon 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 EF IS STM.  On paper, it seems to be a stellar performer, matching or improving on the 24-105 f/4 L IS’ already quite decent sharpness, and at a much lower price point.  But, we’ll get to image samples in a minute.  First, I have to open the box…


When I look inside, I see bubble wrap.  Yes, bubble wrap. Wait a minute, did I buy this lens direct, or on eBay?  I’m confused, Canon!

While I suppose bubble wrap is less wasteful than the chunky styrofoam packaging of yesteryear, (and actually probably better at absorbing impacts?), there are so many better options for packaging on the market.  All of the Nikon, Rokinon, and Sigma lenses that I have received in the last couple months have been far more safely packaged compared to bubble wrap.  Yes, even Rokinon and Sigma lenses arrived to me in nicer packaging.

(In fact while we’re at it, Sigma Art lenses truly take the cake in their packaging, considering that they come with a very luxurious zippered, padded case while even Canon and Nikon merely throw in a thin leather pouch, and Canon doesn’t even do that sometimes…)


What do you think that red dot means, by the way?  I think it’s a reminder that Canon’s sales department still has the engineering and consumer feedback departments in a Darth Vader death-choke:  You might use that red dot to attach a hood, if the lens came with one.


Indeed, hood and pouch are optional. Standard practice for many of Canon’s affordable lenses nowadays, unfortunately. (The Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS comes with both a hood and pouch, for what it’s worth…)

Canon 24-105 STM Construction Quality

But I digress.  Aside from the surprise of the bubble wrap, and the not-so-surprising lack of a hood or pouch, the 24-105 STM feels quite solid.  Zoom and focus operations are nice and smooth.  Most of the lens’ construction appears to be high-end plastic, which I’m usually OK with in long-term testing, and the mount is metal so that’s good.  (Unlike the ultra-light, ultra-affordable EF-S 10-18mm STM which has a plastic mount, eesh!)


A zoom lock is included, which is nice for anyone who does a lot of walking with their camera dangling from their neck.  (Something I never do, and thus would probably leave this setting unlocked permanently)

Canon 24-105 STM Image Samples

So, it ships in Craigslist-style packaging and sans accessories, is constructed of plastic, but looks and feels strong enough to stand the test of time.  How do the images look? Pretty darn good, actually.  So far, we’re impressed, but not blown away.

canon-24-105-stm-review-sample-3Image Copyright Sean Goebel

canon-24-105-stm-review-sample-2100% crop, f/8

canon-24-105-stm-review-sample-8Image Copyright Sean Goebel

canon-24-105-stm-review-sample-7What better place for a stabilization test than an abandoned mine! 100% crop, 1/15 sec

canon-24-105-stm-review-sample-6Images Copyright Sean Goebel

canon-24-105-stm-review-sample-5 canon-24-105-stm-review-sample-4

Full Review Coming Soon!

We’ve already taken the Canon 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM on one adventure through the mountains of Death Valley, and we’ll have our full review published sooner than later.  So far, we consider this lens to be a great full-frame kit zoom for anyone looking to travel light, and get sharp results at reasonable apertures and shutter speeds.

canon 24-105 stm review

In our full review, we’ll be taking a closer look at comparing this lens directly against the existing Canon 24-105mm f/4 L, as well as the new-ish Nikon 24-120mm f/4 VR, even though both of those lenses MSRP at approximately twice the price of the new Canon 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM. Needless to say, the 24-105 STM is holding its own so far!

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Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Graham Curran

    It’s appalling that Canon don’t supply a lens hood as standard. They are obviously just trying to make a few pennies extra profit. The cost of including one in the box must be marginal and selling them as separate items in another box which has to be shipped is not a very environmental attitude.

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  2. Basit Zargar

    Not that exciting

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  3. Luis Castellon

    It doesn’t impress me..

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  4. Hans photoWerks

    To try or not to try…

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