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Testing the New Canon RF 24-240mm Over Three Weeks in Pakistan

I can’t even begin to describe how excited I was about trying out the new Canon RF 24-240mm f/4-6.3 IS.

Full disclosure: I’m a Canon Ambassador and two months before it hit the shelves, I was sent the lens for testing. This review reflects my personal experiences and opinion. It’s about using the lens daily in a challenging environment. I’ve intentionally left out technical details since these have no bearing on my work.


Canon EOS R with 24-240mm at 24mm – f5.6 – 1/200 – ISO 100

Usually, when I’m out on an expedition, I’m schlepping around the 28-300mm lens attached to my 5D Mark IV, which is heavy and bulky. The main reason was that the last thing I want to do is change lenses, whether I’m on Greenland’s icy terrain, Kilimanjaro’s windswept peaks, or Chile’s dusty Atacama Desert. Too cold, too much of a hassle, too time-consuming, too dusty — all good reasons.

That’s why I always travel with two cameras: one with a wide-angle lens (11-24mm), one with a superzoom. This way, I was covered for the best possible focal length range.


Canon EOS R with 24-240mm at 62mm – f5.6 – 1/800 – ISO 100

Of course, I’d rather work with fixed focal length lenses, but sometimes you have to compromise. Finally, the new 24-240mm lens combined with the compact EOS R mirrorless camera meant I had something that would meet most of my requirements, at least on paper.

Would it be everything the specs promised to be? Would I be happy with the results? Let me share some of the pros and cons of working with this lens in Pakistan.


Canon EOS R with 24-240mm at 24mm – f5.6 – 1/200 – ISO 100

Pros

Weight and size

Once I had the lens in my hands, I felt slightly skeptical. Weighing in at just 750g (26.4oz) and barely 12cm (4.7in) long, it’s considerably lighter and smaller than my 70-200mm lens. I was supposed to shoot photos with that? I was willing to comprise, but not at any price.

But after a few test shots, I decided to take the lens to Pakistan and make it my primary lens. Over three weeks, I followed two extreme athletes who were mountain biking around the Karakorum range, hoping to get to the K2 base camp. I had to cover close to 160km (100mi) on foot, starting at 2,000m (6,500ft) and climbing to 5,650m (18,500ft), one way.

Every last gram had to be carefully considered. For the first time, the size and weight ratio compared to the wide-angle combo was reversed. The photography equipment I carried with me daily, two bodies and two lenses, weighed just under 4kg (8.8lbs). So that I could readily use both cameras, I had them on a hip holster. I looked like a gunslinger in the wild west, and I was just as fast on the draw!


In my bag: mainly batteries and battery packs. The 28-70/2.0 I brought as a backup lens. I left it at our starting / ending point and didn’t bring it on the expedition.

Canon EOS R with 24-240mm at 118mm – f6,3 – 1/2000 – ISO 500

Huge zoom range

24 to 240 millimeters on full-frame. I really didn’t need more, especially since my second body, with the ultra-wide-angle, covers a range of 11 to 24 mm. It’s hard to get a much wider angle. Did I ever reach the limit with my 240mm? Never! I’m used to taking photos with my 70-200mm, so I was pretty pleased about the extra 40mm. A Lightroom analysis confirmed this: over 60% of all the photos and videos I took on the trip used the 24-240mm.

An important consideration when I document an expedition like this: I usually only get one chance at a shot. Things I document are often one-offs that the athletes can’t repeat. I was able to take two to three different shots with one lens. Wide-angled landscape shots where the athlete appears small at 24mm, a closer shot of the athlete at 100mm, or a full-frame portrait at 240mm. All that within seconds, using the same camera and the same set-up.


Canon EOS R with 24-240mm at 87mm – f10 – 1/640 – ISO 200

Image stabilization

Image stabilization is of key importance to me. The simple fact that I was not just capturing photos of this expedition, but also filming it, meant that this feature was just what I needed. Because I take action shots using a relatively high shutter speed, I don’t really need image stabilization for photography. However, when I was holding the camera while filming, I noticed huge differences.

It was virtually impossible to use a tripod on this adventure (except for the interviews at the end of the day). Compare these two clips. The one on the left doesn’t use the stabilization feature, whereas the one on the right uses lens and in-camera stabilization in Advanced Mode at 240mm. When filming, stabilization is worth its weight in gold!

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