The lens I’m gonna be reviewing this week is yet another lens for Canon’s full-frame mirrorless system, the Canon RF 24-240mm all-in-one zoom lens. I got this lens as part of a kit with my EOS RP.
You usually see all-in-one zooms like this on APS-C cameras. Indeed when I had a Nikon D3100 a DX 18-300mm was on it almost all the time, providing a 27-450mm equivalent. I like the 24-240mm because I can go out taking relatively wide-angle shots and still have a lot of reach with just a twist of my wrist if I see some animal.
The purpose of a lens like this is to cover almost all of the focal lengths you might need in one convenient package so that you don’t need to change lenses while in the field. Many people could be fine owning just this lens. The compromises you make to get this capability are cost ($899 by itself, less when purchased in a kit), weight (750g), and small aperture (f/4-6.3).
For the longest time, this was the only lens I had for my RP, and I was frustrated by needing to crop a lot for wildlife, but that’s not the purpose of this lens. A few months later, I got my 600mm prime made for wildlife and loved it. Since getting it, I’ve hardly used this lens — less than 500 pics in a year versus nearly two thousand with the 600. I also prefer primes because the industry-standard clockwise zoom rings aren’t comfortable for my left-handedness.
The usability of this lens is better than its image quality, except for when you need manual focus. It has great build quality, but typical for a non-L lens there is little to no weather sealing so don’t go dunking this lens in the mud. The zoom ring is most of the lens, so it’s very easy to make small adjustments. I don’t notice any zoom creep, but there is a lock button that keeps the lens at 24mm which I use for storage. It’s relatively compact when fully retracted.
Like other cheaper RF lenses, it has a combination manual focus and function control ring. This one has click detents. This requires the user to dig into the menus to choose the manual focus and reverse the process to go back into autofocus mode. However, the 24-240mm has Canon’s top-tier fast and accurate Nano-USM motor, so you really never need to switch into manual focus unless it gets very confused.
It’s unusual to have a lens with such a wide focal range on a full-frame sensor because the lens must cover a bigger image circle. All-in-one lenses also usually have lots of distortion of different types along with the focal length range and, oh boy, does the Canon RF 24-240mm have distortion.
I’ve talked about the image quality in reference to other lenses before, but now here’s more detail. At 24mm, the lens image circle does not cover the full sensor, so instead of being dark, the corners are completely black. The camera does image processing to stretch the image to cover the corners, leaving them looking pretty soft and low-res. All but the corners of the image are pretty sharp though.
The image stays digitally stretched until about 70mm. It’s good for the rest of the focal range. Of course, there’s barrel distortion at the tele end like all zooms, but it’s not as severe as the vignetting and pincushion distortion on the wide end. It’s corrected in-camera so you’ll never notice it unless you shoot RAW and edit in non-Canon software.
My biggest problem using the lens, and why I can’t really recommend it, is its size and weight. It’s 750 grams without a hood and 122 mm collapsed. It plus my RP and strap just barely fit into my normal size camera bag, making it a hassle to get out and making me leave the bag with its spare batteries and memory cards in the car. The size is also awkward to carry around; I usually have to keep a hand resting on it to prevent everything from swinging around when I’m walking, even with it cross-body. Another thing is the lens hood is fiddly to put on and remove, so I keep it on all the time which makes it even longer.
Unless you really need this focal range in one lens, I would recommend getting the smaller and lighter 24-105mm f/4-7.1 and spending the money you saved on an RF 100-400, a lens that didn’t exist when I first got my camera and this lens. The RP is a pretty small camera, so it doesn’t really make sense to pair it with a bulky lens like the 24-240mm. The 24-105mm f/4-7.1 is a good lens for what it is, but it’s more expensive than I think it should be. However, you can get it for a reasonable price as part of a kit, or even cheaper than that used.
RF 24-240mm F4-6.3 IS USM (Canon)