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...Currently I can get the 28-135 for $250. My concern with this lens, as mentioned, is the loss of the wide end. I could keep my 18-55, but I really want a "one lens" solution so I don't have to carry my bag with me sometimes. ...I like the 28-135 for its 72mm front element, but I am sure at the end of the day I will be more concerned on the look of the final image than the look of the lens.
I just got the 28-135, and haven't had much chance yet to use it, but I am very pleased so far.
A lot depends, of course, on your shooting style, but for my "one lens to rule them all" choice I found that my old 18-55, and my newer 17-55 IS, were limiting me on reach. I didn't really use the wide end that much. Again, that's me and your use may differ.
Here are two samples from the other day in the Butterfly House at Seattle's Pacific Science Center. The first was shot one-handed just as the butterfly landed briefly on my sleeve. At 1/50 shutter speed you can see a bit of motion blur in the butterfly's wings, but the threads on my field jacket attest to the effectiveness of the lens' Image Stabilization. (Very sharp for a one-handed quick snap with the aperture wide open.)
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