At the Interbee show, Japanese lens conversion experts Technical Farm were showing their new Canon 24-105mm f4 L cine conversion. The regular version of the lens is perhaps the most popular wide-to-tele run-and-gun zoom around – especially for users of full-frame Sony and Canon cameras, or Metabones Speedbooster adapters. That said, the stock lens doesn’t have a manual iris and the manual focusing isn’t the smoothest or most accurate. For many years, users have been requesting a proper cine conversion of the zoom, and now Technical Farm have become the first lens specialist to offer one.
Technical Farm’s Canon 24-105mm is similar to their previous 16-35mm f2.8 L, 24-70mm f2.8 L and the 70-200mm f2.8 L conversions, but in a complete rebuild they have added full metal 0.8 pitch gears to the focus and zoom, as well as a 95mm front ring for compatibility with clamp-on matte boxes. Focusing is much smoother and more positive.
In a smart design move they have left the front filter ring on the lens, making it easy to use regular variable ND filters. The conversion also features a full manual iris that makes the lens a lot easier to use for video work. Unfortunately, adding the manual iris means that the image stabiliser will no longer work – something that many users will miss. Autofocus is also disabled.
The benefits of using a cine converted Canon EF lens are that the lens remains very compact and you also gain a manual iris. The downside is that the optical performance is unchanged. It remains a stills lens with the same amount of breathing when adjusting focus.
The conversion is very well done and it makes an interesting alternative to Canon’s own CN-E 18-80mm T4.4 lens. Of course, the CN-E 18-80mm is designed specifically for Super 35mm sensors and has the advantage of IS (and autofocus with some Canon cameras), but is also around $2000US more.
It can also be considered as an alternative to Sony’s 28-135mm F4 PZ and 18-110 F4 PZ lenses. The Technical Farm conversion has a slightly smaller range and the same maximum aperture, but has more flexibility with the EF mount, especially if you use a Speedbooster with it on a S35 camera.With the Speedbooster the Canon 24-105mm is effectively one stop faster than either the Canon 18-80mm or Sony 18-110mm. Again, the biggest factor weighing against the Technical Farm 24-105 is the lack of image stabilisation.
It’s also worth noting that Canon recently launched a Mark II version of the 24-105mm f4L, which has a new design and promises better performance than its predecessor. We’ll have to wait to see just how good the new lens is, although if it becomes popular it’s possible that Technical Farm might convert this model too in the future.
The lens is available in native EF mount and is priced at 360,000JPY ($3245US).