24-70mm f/2.8 vs. 24-105mm f/4: Which Lens Should You Choose?

Choosing the right standard zoom can be tricky, especially when you're deciding between the 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 24-105mm f/4. Here's a look at both.

Coming to you from Marc Newton with The School of Photography, this informative video pits the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 against the Canon 24-105mm f/4 in a portrait shoot. The 24-70mm is more expensive, priced around $1,000 more. When bought with a camera body, the price difference narrows, but it's still significant. The 24-70mm offers an extra stop of light, which can be crucial for low-light situations and achieving a shallow depth of field.

In the test, Newton uses both lenses on a Canon EOS R5, focusing on shots at 50mm and 70mm for the 24-70mm at f/2.8, and the same focal lengths plus 105mm for the 24-105mm at f/4. The goal is to see whether the extra stop of light on the 24-70mm outweighs the extended focal range of the 24-105mm.

The video demonstrates that the 24-70mm at f/2.8 provides a creamier, more blurred background, which can be desirable for portrait photography. However, the 24-105mm at 105mm and f/4 also delivers a pleasing background blur, though less pronounced. The difference in background blur between the two lenses is noticeable but not drastic, especially when considering the practical applications for most photographers.

Newton also points out that the 24-70mm is slightly larger and heavier, but not significantly so. For many, this won’t be a deal-breaker. Instead, the decision often boils down to whether you value the extra stop of light more than the additional focal length. The extra compression at 105mm on the 24-105mm can bring a unique look to portraits, making subjects stand out more against their backgrounds.

Newton finds the 24-105mm's longer reach to be more beneficial for his style, especially since it offers a bit more versatility without a significant sacrifice in image quality. He notes that both lenses are sharp, with excellent image quality, and the choice ultimately comes down to your specific needs and shooting style. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Newton.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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24-105/2.8 is the only answer

24-70. I've never needed 105mm for a portrait, but I'll take 2.8 over 4 any day.

The only correct answer is: It depends.
If you shoot portraits, the 2.8 is more valuable to you.
If you don't care about f 2.8 because you shoot e.g. landscapes, you will be better off with the 24-105.
If weight is a concern, take the lighter option.