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Canon 24-105 F4 L vs 24-70 2.8L - Bokeh and Background Blur

Ric C (Sydney) , Dec 02, 2005; 06:46 p.m.

Hi Everyone,

I was hoping to get some advice. this is my first post. 90-95% of my photography is around getting the absolute best candid and portrait shots of my friends and family either at events or travelling. I have a Canon 20D and bought the 17-85mm IS lens thinking this would be the perfect multipurpose lens for me. It has been fantastic. The range is great and IS is fantastic for me (I drink lots of coffee -;)

I am very very dissapointed with the lack of background blur (bokeh) capability of this lens. I love this aspect of photography. I love the 3D effect created by it. So I want to ebay this lens and am looking at either the 24-70 2.8L or the 24-105 4L. I'm leaning towards the 24-105 4L for the range flexibility, lighter weight and IS capbility, but am really woorried that an F Stop of 4 will still not produce the kind of background blur I love in most sitautions.

Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated?


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Grant Gaborno , Dec 02, 2005; 07:27 p.m.

The bokeh at 105/4 is better than 70/2.8 with the same subject to background distance. Even when giving the 24-70 the advantage of being closer to the subject. Either are WAY better than the 85/5.6 that you have now. I've directly compared all three.

Mark U , Dec 02, 2005; 07:31 p.m.

If you want some really great backgrounds then you should think of the 85 f/1.2 L and the 135 f/2. For something shorter, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is very sharp in the centre and capable of excellent subject isolation - you may or may not like the backgrounds it produces. The zooms won't begin to compare with what you can achieve with these lenses. The extra speed will also make up for your coffee habit, but depth of field will become a lot narrower than you are used to.

Howard Slavitt , Dec 02, 2005; 07:47 p.m.

If you want background blur on a 20 D, I would try the 85mm f1.8 lens or even one of the 50mm lenses before trying more expensive solutions. I have a 5D and find that the 85mm f1.8 gives great bokeh. I also have the 135mm f2.0 which gives better bokeh, but the 85mm f1.8 is not far behind.

J C , Dec 02, 2005; 08:36 p.m.


These are the responses I received when I asked near enough the same question.

I ended up buying the 24 - 70.

Where abouts in Syndney are you, I lived at Wedderburn before moving to the UK

David Koens , Dec 02, 2005; 09:32 p.m.

Hi Ric, I too was thinking about the 24-70mm f2.8L and the 24-105mm f4L IS for a long time. I thought because the price was so close to each other that I would get the 24-70mm f2.8L because it is proven and has been around for a long time.

Well I bid on three 24-70's on Ebay and I was not the winning bidder each time. So I talked to the Guy at the Camera store where I buy all of my stuff from and he knows me very well. I may be one of his best customers. LOL

Anyway I got the 24-105mm f4L IS for about $100 more then a good used 24-70mm on ebay (I have been watching them for over a month on there and keeping track of the prices) and I saved close to $300 off of what other stores here in Canada have the 24-105mm going for.

I do not have the 24-70mmF2.8L but have no doubt that it is a great lens but the 24-105mmF4L IS that I now have is really nice and the Background blur is great also. You will be happy with ether lens. I once had your 17-85mm and know what it is like and let me tell you that you will like the 24-105mm f4L IS if you should go that way. (Especially if you drink lots of Coffee) lol

Take care.


David Koens , Dec 02, 2005; 09:54 p.m.

(JC from the link you gave)

"J C , oct 21, 2005; 12:52 p.m. Thanks for all your advice it has made me make up my mind to stick with my original decision in purchasing the 24-105 f4L IS." and yet you got the 24-70mm? (which is fine and a great lens)

Ric I think from your type of shooting that you mention above you would benefit more from the IS and range not to mention having a bit less weight to carry around. But you can not lose with ether one, just make sure you get a good deal from where you buy your gear. Take care.


Jim Larson , Dec 03, 2005; 12:24 a.m.

I concur that the answer is NOT to upgrade, but to add a portrait lens. Buying BOTH the 50/1.8 and 85/1.8 to SUPPLEMENT your existing lens will be BOTH more cost effective, and yield better results.

Erick Kyogoku , Dec 03, 2005; 01:15 a.m.

It's been mentioned that buying a prime lens is a good path to achieve your goals, and I think it's worth considering. I use a 20D with that 1.6 crop, and own a 28/1.8, 50/1.4, and 85/1.8. With the 1.6 magnification the 85/1.8 is just too close for most situations. I haven't used my 85/1.8 much since switching from film. Actually I use the 28/1.8 more than the 50. If you want nice bokeh and the "3D" effect you speak of, a prime lens with a 1.4 or 1.8 max aperture will achieve that goal. Having said that, the 24-105L will be a nice walk-around lens. I'll be buying one myself next month in Japan (it's $900 new there). I'd back away from the 50/1.8. Optically it'll give you nice photos, but I had one and gave it away. It's slow to focus and searches so long that you'll miss your shot. The 50/1.4 isn't too expensive. Give the primes a "test drive" before deciding on the 24-105L. Good luck!

Andrew Robertson , Dec 03, 2005; 01:33 a.m.

105mm @ f/4 will provide about the same amount of blur as 70mm @ f/2.8.

Really, you sould compare on max aperture and IS features.

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