Should You Use a 24-70mm f/2.8 or 24-105mm f/4 Lens?

When it comes to a walkaround lens, you generally have two options: a 24-70mm f/2.8 or a 24-105mm f/4 (or something similar). So, which is right for you? Both options have advantages and drawbacks that make them the right fit for different needs and styles. This helpful video tutorial will show you everything you need to know to make the right choice for your camera bag.

Coming to you from David Bergman with Adorama TV, this great video tutorial discusses the differences between 24-70mm f/2.8 and 24-105mm f/4 lenses. Of course, the most obvious difference is the tradeoff between aperture and focal length range, but it goes deeper than this. For example, 24-105mm (or 24-120mm) f/4 lenses are often about half the price of their f/2.8 counterparts. While f/4 is a bit slow for a lot of work, I still find myself gravitating toward those lenses as walkaround companions simply because I always find 70mm a bit limiting on the long end. And with the high-ISO capabilities of modern mirrorless cameras, f/4 is not as much a hindrance as it used to be. On the other hand, if you plan on doing professional work like events or weddings, you might find that extra stop of aperture crucial. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Bergman. 

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Tim Truby's picture

Dave Bergman makes several key points in comparing the 24-105 f/4 and the 24-70 f/2.8. He gets into the added range of the 24-105, the greater depth control (bokeh) that the 24-70 has when it comes to portraits. Lots of useful stuff here. But...

He never mentions the definitive important that each of the photo genres have in this discussion. Yes, he points out that in portrait work, getting that separation between the subject and background is essential. But also point out that in landscape photography most photogs want the entire scene in focus. You also don't want to go f2.8 in photo journalism. The camera person HAS to have Lee Harvey Oswald in sharp focus -- as well as gunman Jack Ruby. Context is essential in news coverage, not some artsy bokeh effect.

Wedding photography -- yes, you want to separate the bride's face from the wedding crowd. You also want the entire wedding party shot razor sharp with a higher f-stop. And sometimes you want the bride in sharp focus but to also to see the groom's touching reaction slightly out of focus. In that genre, the f2.8 (or better) gives you the creative flexibility that bokeh provides. Same holds true for action photography.

Street photography, portrait work, give me the f2.8 flexibility. Architecture and real estate genres, get it all in focus with a 24-105 (or wider) and a lens that's more closed down. Genre is definitive for this discussion.

Robert Lynch's picture

The word bokeh is not a synonym for shallow depth-of-field.

Michael Holst's picture

Thanks for pointing that out because I couldn't figure out what Tim was even talking about. /s

Paul McMurrick's picture

What Tim is talking about is absolutely clear. When old mate Robert is quoting WikiP you know he is clutching at straws

Kirk Darling's picture

Eh, it's worth reminding people. A whole lot of people do apparently think "bokeh" is a synonym for shallow depth of field, because that's the word they use when they mean shallow depth of field. They're not even talking about the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus areas of the image (which is what bokeh is). David Bergman is making that exact error. It's not wrong to point that out.

Barry Strawbridges's picture

I'm a studio photographer. The 24-105mm and 24-70mm are the primary lenses in my bag. I live at F8 to F14. I would like to rent or try the Tamron 35-150mm on a shoot. That might be the do it all lens for me.

Kirk Darling's picture

Same with me, although I do a lot of indoor portraiture on location. I live at smaller apertures (because I normally need multiple people in focus), and 70-105 are crucial millimeters for me. When I used a 24-70, I had to haul my 70-200 just to have those silly 35 millimeters available. The 35-105 is on my camera 90% of the time.

John Fitzpatrick's picture

I create with Sony and I have to agree with Barry Strawbridges, try the Tamron 35-150, F2-2.8, Acompany that with the with the 12-24GM F2.8 and there are two lenses that cover almost any situation My final lens is the Sigma 150-600 sport and everything is taken care of with three lens. My entire collection this year and sold everything else. Everything fits in one carry-on case. Done