Landscape photographer Mads Peter Iversen swears by his 24-105mm f/4 lenses. While many landscape shooters prefer ultra-wide angle lenses in the 14-24mm range, or will opt for a 24-70mm mid-range zoom, Iversen believes a 24-105 is the better choice. In the video above, he explains why.
The advice Iversen gives is focused primarily on landscape photography, but the overarching point applies to almost anybody: this lens is a jack of all trades. He argues that a 24-105mm lens offers a compositional versatility that more than makes up for the stop of light you sacrifice over the “holy trinity” f/2.8 zooms many photographers favor.
In the video, he focuses on the 24-105mm focal lengths available from Canon, Sigma and Sony; however, one point he fails to mention is that Nikon shooters have it even better, since Nikon makes a 24-120mm f/4 that goes even further than the 24-105mm focal range Iversen considers essential.
In all, he gives five reasons why he believes a 24-105mm f/4 lens is a must-own:
- It’s a jack of all trades – 24-105 is an incredibly versatile zoom range, making this a perfect “walk-around” lens in just about any situation.
- Less foreground, more background – Ultra-wide angle lenses can capture dramatic foregrounds, but they often sacrifice the background. The 24-105 is wide enough to include the foreground without making the background look tiny.
- It looks “real” – The ultra-wide angle lenses favored by many landscape photographers can distort scenes and make them look “unnatural” compared to human vision. Not an issue with a 24-105, which covers the “normal” 50mm focal length.
- You can still go wider than 24mm: For landscape photographers in particular, you can still get a wider perspective than 24mm without sacrificing quality by stitching together a panorama.
- Image stabilization – Most of the 24-105mm lenses out there are optically stabilized, which can be a life-saver when you’re forced to capture images hand-held.
Iversen ends the video by discussing the advantages of a 24-105 over the popular 24-70mm lenses that are out there. The obvious difference is the full stop of light you lose between an f/4 lens and the faster f/2.8 apertures available in the mid-range zooms, but for landscape photographers in particular, this is negligible since you’ll be shooting most of your photos at f/5.6 and above.
Taking it a step further, even portrait shooters can still get a reasonably shallow depth of field from f/4 when shooting all the way out at 105mm, as compared to the same frame shot at 70mm and f/2.8.
Of course, any lens choice ultimately comes down to your and what you need. The extra stop of light is actually indispensable for some types of photography (see: events and concerts). But for the majority of photographers out there, we tend to agree with Iversen: the 24-105mm lens is the better option.
The fact that these lenses tend to be cheaper than their 24-70mm and 14-24mm f/2.8 brethren is just a nice bonus.