It’s Like Having a Stick in My Eye

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Zoom Lens

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Zoom Lens

Okay, a little melodramatic I suppose. But as I’ve said before it’s all about the hook, the gotcha headline. You’ve gotta give me some credit for trying to grab your attention. Right? If you’ve ever Googled lens reviews for this Canon L-lens you will see it gets kind of a bad rap. It’s an older lens now, and I bought my copy in 2009 with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II full-frame digital SLR.

First the stick in the eye. This is my go-to travel lens, and it crapped out in Huaraz, Peru. Bummer. My first inclination was to get royally pissed off. But c’mon it’s 7-years old and its been used hard (really hard). No reason to get overly upset, so I calmed down. The error message was pretty clear:  Err01 – Lens not communicating with the camera. The problem is I’m heading to Cusco and Machu Picchu and I really, really need this focal length.

On my full-frame camera it is the perfect zoom. At the wide end (24mm) it captures nature’s vistas without too much distortion, and at the long end (105mm) it makes for a pretty nice portrait lens. On a crop sensor camera the dynamic changes, and I would probably opt for a different lens, like a 17-40mm zoom (which would give about the same result with a 1.4x crop factor).

The criticisms I’ve seen concern image quality (IQ) and image stabilization (IS). Based on my experience I see no problem with either. Sometimes the tech-weenies get carried away in the labs with their charts and graphs. I’m not saying they’re wrong, but to the naked eye (even at 100% magnification) I can’t detect any discernible image degradation. Here’s a recent shot I took in Huaraz just before it crapped out.

WB IMG_5693

Fine Art Print available at

This image was a recent “Pick” on Northrup Photo’s Tony & Chelsea LIVE, which aired on February 18th. Here’s a link to that post if you’re interested, and would like to see it live on video:  T&C LIVE On Air Pick. I’m now in Lima getting this lens repaired. The good news is it will only cost $160 USD for the repair, the bad news is it’s going to take a month. To replace the lens with a new one would cost me $1,000 USD, so I will be ahead of the game with the repair.

Canon rumors suggest that either an upgrade or a discontinuation might be in the works. An upgrade would be fine (except for an increase in price), but I think an outright discontinuation would be a mistake. The 24-105mm focal length range is just about perfect for a travel lens. I know I would be lost without mine. In fact I have been lost without mine. Fix it quick guys so I can get over to Machu Picchu. Visit Indochine Photography at

Antigua Steve WEB

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Photographer, Writer and World Traveler

Lima, Peru 


2 responses to “It’s Like Having a Stick in My Eye

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