Wide 24-105Credit: javrsmith Canon 50mm Nifty FiftyCredit: javrsmith

The new Canon 24-105mm F/3.5-5.6 IS STM is the less expensive alternative to the "L" series lens with the same focal range. This new zoom is solidly built but is definitely consumer grade. The earlier "L" series is a more professional model. The new lens features more plastic in the construction. It is also less able to withstand harsh shooting in bad weather.

But how does the new lens perform? This article shows the new lens compared to the Canon 50mm F/1.8 II "Nifty Fifty", long regarded as a great performer for the price. The new lens is about $600 while the 50mm is about $120.

The 50mm Nifty Fifty is a fixed lens. There is no zoom capability. The other captures a rather wide range. 24mm captures quite a wide view while 105mm is a moderate zoom. The 50mm is right in the middle.

Images shown here were captured using a Canon 6D, full frame camera. It produces images which use the full capabilities of the lens focal length. This is in contrast to cropped sensor cameras such as the T6i.

Canon 50mm Nifty Fifty

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens - Fixed (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Amazon Price: $125.00 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 23, 2017)
This is the wildly popular EF lens. Practically everyone can use this unit. It works great on full frame or cropped sensor cameras. On the full, it gives a full 50mm field of view, similar to that of the human eye. Great for general photography.
On a cropped sensor camera, such as the T6i, this acts as an 80mm. This is great for portrait shooting.

Color Capture Notes

Both the 24-105mm and 50mm seem to capture very vivid colors. The images are of the same azalea plants taken on the same day. The same camera was used with both lenses. Very clear separation of the colors is evident. Gradients between shades is also quite clear with both lenses. 

Canon 24-105 F/3.5-5.6 IS STM VS 50mm F/1.8 Nifty Fifty

The Less Expensive Alternative to the "L" Series Lens

Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
Amazon Price: $449.00 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 23, 2017)
The new alternative to the more pricey "L" series unit. This unit uses a plastic case, although it is well built. It feels solid and is of substantial weight. It does weigh less than the "L".

Comparison Notes

Both the 24-105mm and the 50mm were tested on the same day. The same Canon 6D camera was used. This is a full frame model which should be able to use the full view of any lens. The same plants were imaged. Conditions were kept consistent as the shoots were all taken in a very short period of time.

Both lenses are surprisingly good at capturing good bokeh. This refers to the blurring of the background when an image is focused on one element. Faster lenses produce better background blurring, usually. The 50mm should be much better at this test since it is f/1.8 while the zoom is between f/3.5 and f/5.6. The test images don't show much of the effect. Both lenses seem quite acceptable in this regard.

Full Frame Camera

Now available with the new 24-105mm STM lens

Canon EOS 6D 20.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with EF 24-105mm IS STM Kit - Wi-Fi Enabled
Amazon Price: $2,099.00 $1,899.00 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 23, 2017)
These high quality lenses really shine when matched with a full frame camera. The 6D is the most economical Canon full frame. The 5D mark III is about twice the cost.

Cost Comparison

The zoom 24-105mm STM is about $600. Many people will pick it up together with a Canon 5D or 6D and get a slight savings. This unit is about half the list price of the earlier "L" series lens with the same focal range. To save money, the manufacturer used more plastic in the construction. Despite this, the STM model feels very sturdy.
The Nifty Fifty, on the other hand, is priced at about $125. It is a very good value. Of course there are significant cost cutting measures here as well. The primary case construction is plastic. The focus motor tends to be noisy. It works fast enough, but will be heard during video shooting.

Canon Product Comparison

"L" Series Lens

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens for Canon EOS SLR Cameras
Amazon Price: $999.00 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 23, 2017)
This is the more rugged, and expensive model. The new STM version performs as a direct replacement. The "L" series unit is more solid with metal case construction. The optics are excellent and the aperture is not variable.

Canon Lens Notes

The Canon 24-105mm F/3.5-5.6 IS STM is the new, less expensive option, compared to the "L" series lens. Both have the same focal zoom range. The new unit is about half the cost, however. To save money, Canon implemented this lens with more plastic in the construction. It is also not as well sealed. This means that more care should be taken by photographers in wet weather.
The performance of the new 24-105mm lens is compared here to the popular Canon 50mm F/1.8. Known as the "Nifty Fifty", this lens is the least expensive on the market today. It is a strong performer as it produces good image quality. The quality of construction is low as everything was engineered for cost savings. For the money, this lens is excellent. It is the number one best selling Canon lens, as people desire quality at a low price.

Use on Crop Sensor Cameras
The 24-105mm zoom range fits best on the full frame cameras such as the 5D and 6D. On other models, such as the T5i, the effective focal length is multiplied by 1.6 times. This has the effect of reducing the range of view. At the low end, it makes the zoom lens about 38mm. In contrast, the cropped sensor cameras are usually purchased with wider angle lenses which start at 17mm. This makes them more generally useful.

Canon Releases New ModelThe

Canon now offers an updated 50mm f1.8 STM lens. This is optically very similar to the Nifty Fifty. The chief difference is the STM, or stepper, motor. STM units are much quieter during focusing. Where the older unit makes loud toy sounds, the new STM is practically silent. This is very helpful when video production is the use. 

The new lens also offers a solid metal mounting bracket, compared to plastic used on the older unit. This is like the first 50mm f1.8 which had metal as well. The difference may not matter but people have had trouble with the plastic mount in the past. It cannot handle much impact force. If it fails, there is often a real need to totally destroy the plastic lens in order to remove it from the camera. This should not be a problem with the new lens.

The new lens retains the distinction of low price. It is very reasonably priced. Quality is still present, however. Most everyone finds the fast 50mm lens to be very handy. Canon makes it easy for practically every owner of their cameras to buy one of these excellent new lenses.

Canon New 50mm F1.8 STM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Amazon Price: $125.00 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 23, 2017)