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Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
54 198590 Jul 24, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
85% of reviewers $358.76
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
8.39
8.11
7.5
ef20mmf_28usm_1_

Specifications:
Ultra-wide-angle lens for serious applications. Easy to hold and carry at 14.3 oz. (405g). Floating rear focusing system. Sharp images are obtained at all subject distances.


 


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MJRP
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Registered: Dec 16, 2007
Location: France
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 17, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Compact & light
Cons:
Very noisy AF

I was looking for a discret fixed focal lens for street and people photography. That was the main reason why I bought this lens, cause I already have a (big) bright zoom which covers the 24mm.
Well, as everybody said, the lens is small and build quality is OK. But the detail which really sucks is the noisy AF motor. It's really noisy !


Dec 17, 2007
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Peter twohey
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Registered: Aug 21, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 118
Review Date: Nov 5, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: IQ,Build quality,USM.
Cons:
Lack of hood.

There seems to be some very divergent opinions about this lens and where I see review scores varying from 2-10 it would lead me to suspect a QC problem and a batch of bad lenses at some point in production.To me there seems little point in reviewing a bad copy-so send it back and get a good one.Equally if you bought second hand-then try before you buy.
I would therefore propose to ignore those really low scores-and look to the rest for a realistic view of this lens.Bizarrely two of the most complimentary reviews have only scored it 6 and 7 apiece!
Nevertheless everyone seems to agree that this lenses strong points are 1/Sharpness 2/Colour 3/Contrast 4/Build quality and 5/Fast and accurate A/F-a pretty impressive list for any lens
Equally everyone seems to agree on the cons.1/Price 2/No hood 3/Soft edges and some CA (particularly full frame).Well the lack of hood is a perennial beef with Canon and the price is not too dissimiliar with the Sigma and for a lens of high build quality and USM, that seems reasonable value for money to me.Which leaves the soft edges and CA-- on a superwide prime-- pretty much to be expected and easily correctable in post.I shoot with a 40D crop body and these are non issues for me.
I really like this lens,it comes into its own in poor light and strong shadow.Images are crisp and sharp-colours clear and strong.I can thoroughly recommend this lens but definitely try before you buy.


Nov 5, 2007
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gustabod
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Registered: Aug 5, 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 3
Review Date: Jun 15, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharp, great color, contrast, fast and accurate AF
Cons:
a bit costly, and have to buy the hood as well

An excellent lense, love using it. As always with Canon (and only Canon!!!!!) you have to pay for the hood, a 50 cent piece of plastic that sells for 30 bucks!

The range is useful in cropped and FF, certainly more than the 24 MM (it is "just" right on a 1.6x sensor like on the 30D).

I went with this instead of the also well regarded Sigma version, costs roughly comparable, but the Canon not as warm as the typical Sigma coating.


Jun 15, 2007
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Thomaspin
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Registered: Dec 21, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 65
Review Date: Jun 7, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Fit and finish, price
Cons:
So-so towards the edges below f/5.6
Jun 7, 2007
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BobDavid
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Registered: Nov 18, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 57
Review Date: Mar 10, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Contrast, build quality, good AF
Cons:
CA, a bit soft along the edges

I've run extensive tests comparing the 20mm to the 17-40L. The 20mm compares rather favorably to the L. It does exhibit more CA than the L, but sharpness is comparable. This is a nice lens for landscape and architectural interiors as long as it's stopped down to around f8 or f11. All in all, I think this is a good lens at a fair price.

Mar 10, 2007
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abqnmusa
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Registered: May 11, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 2085
Review Date: Feb 27, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $370.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: low distortion, very sharp when stopped down, best at F8-F11
Cons:
not sharp accross the full frame wide open, but there are not any ulta-wide lenses that can do that.

I find the 20mm F2.8 to be sharper and provide better images then my 17-40 F4L is real world shooting.

As is normal with any ultra-wide angle you must stop it down for edge to edge sharpness on full-frame (5D).

I use this lens for lancscape work stopped down to F8 - F11 where the lens is sharpest.

It is easy to improve saturation and contrast to match the L look.

I also like the very mild distortion of the lens. It does not even require correction.

The lens is even better on the 1.6 crop XTI as the sensor is so small it does not use the edges of the lens. So you can get edge to edge sharpness at F4 - F11.

I am very satisfied with the detailed images I get for landscape shots. It was the solution to the inconsistent sharpness of the 17-40 lens I was using.


Feb 27, 2007
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veroman
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Registered: Aug 19, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 3742
Review Date: Jan 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $389.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: • Low distortion • Excellent color fidelity • Excellent contrast • Ecellent build • Fast AF • Large aperture • Good value
Cons:
• CA in harsh, contrasty situations

I've tried and worked with any number of super-wides in my search for the one that would satisfy my needs and that would work well with my EOS 5D. I avoided the Canon 20mm f/2.8 throughout my search due to the many negative comments and experiences I'd read about here and elsewhere.

I should have tried this lens first and saved myself a lot of time, money and grief.

I find it to be an excellent, overall, superwide prime. For starters, the distortion is the lowest of all the lenses I tried, which includes two copies of the Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogen 20mm f/2.8...which I now consider a highly over-rated lens...and Canon's 17-40 f/4L. And when I say distortion, I don't just mean barrel and/or pin-cushion (this lens exhibits neither). I'm including the highly noticeable "stretching" at the edges that's so pervasive with wide lenses. The Zeiss lens was the worst with this particular type of distortion. The 17-40 was a distant second (not as bad as the Zeiss). The 20mm f/2.8 exhibits some of this "stretching" distortion as well, but it's hardly noticeable and is very dependent on the shooting perspective.

The 20mm f/2.8 is also sharper than the 17-40 (at least my copy is), and the color and contrast are much, much closer to the real thing compared to the 17-40.

I do not find vignetting to be a significant problem, and the blueish color cast reported by one reviewer is totally absent from my copy. There's no color cast whatsoever, in fact.

CA is definitely evident when faced with strong backlit situations. I didn't measure the width of the CA halos, but I would estimate they can be as wide as 2 pixels. This appears to be the only major problem with this lens, and it's a problem shared with many, many quality lenses of this focal length or wider. Spot-on exposure and other techniques can go a long way towards minimizing CA with this lens or any other.

All in all, I find this to be a very fine lens that's entirely appropriate to exacting landscape and architectural work...although some might prefer the even wider focal length of lenses like the Sigma 12-24 when faced with tight corners and smallish rooms. Foliage detail is among the best I've seen with my 5D, and natural room light is rendered quite stunningly. As I say, this lens is much more like the real thing than the 17-40, a lens I never did like all that much for any number of reasons.

I was tempted to give this lens an overall rating of 10, but the CA issue prevents that. It's a 10, in my opinion, in all other respects.


Jan 23, 2007
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Geisterfahrer
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Registered: Nov 30, 2006
Location: Italy
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 30, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Compact and relatively light, negligible chromatic aberrations, pretty sturdy, good control of distortion, fast and accurate AF, good resistance to flare
Cons:
On full frame, image corners and edges are way softer than the center until about f/8

I purchased this one used on Ebay since I needed a wider lens for inside shots and the 28mm end of my Tamron 28-75 was sometimes too tight even on my 5D.

The lens does not take a lot of space in my bag(s) and weights only 405g. It is pretty well build, it feels quite solid. No chromatic aberrations can be seen throughout the pictures, even in high contrast situations like broad daylight; some slight red/green shift is to be noticed but only in the corners and only at wider apertures - this is, in my opinion, the best feature of the lens.

AF is fast and accurate in all situations. To my experience, no flare problems to report despite the wide angle of the lens. Color rendition is slightly on the warm side, but if you shoot in RAW you can correct that later if you don't like it.

On the other hand, image corners and edges are noticeably softer than the center, until you stop down the lens to f/8 or so, but being a wide and affordable lens, I can easily turn a blind eye on that! Overall sharpness, although good, is not great; it is however what I would expect from a lens in this focal length and price range.

The lens does its job well, and while not being exceptionally good in any aspect, the sum of its qualities make it a recommendable choice if you need such a wide angle of view.


Nov 30, 2006
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dottò
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Registered: Jan 4, 2005
Location: Italy
Posts: 0
Review Date: Aug 2, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros:
Cons:

I have had this lens for almost a year now, and I have shot enough pictures with it to say it is a good piece of glass.

I guess the main point I want to make here is that 20 is really wide and as such it presents you with a very steep learning curve. It is fun and excitement since you have to get VERY close to the subject to fill the frame, but then you have to think about the background too, since this lens catches almost everything. This of course poses some exposure issues as well, since the different part of the frame may be very differently lit.

Build quality is very good, the lens feels solid and compact at the same time. It's not light but it's not heavy either, so the overall feeling while shooting is that of steadiness.

The manual focus ring is maybe a little loose, but my copy is second hand, so it may be just due to usage. However this really hasn't been a problem at all.

AF is fast and accurate, even though it may hunt from time to time in low light or low contrast situations (just like all other lenses).

I haven't noticed any significant distortion, if you are parallel to the plane you're shooting at (walls...) lines will come out straight.

Resistance to flare may probably be better. I have tried a few shots with the sun within the frame and the outcome wasn't very good. In such a situation I have to recompose in order to cover at least partially the sun.

99% of the shots I took with this lens are BW so I cannot comment on its color rendition, but the few color pics I took didn't come out bad.


Aug 2, 2006
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mckenzy
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Registered: Mar 19, 2006
Location: Singapore
Posts: 5
Review Date: Apr 6, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $210.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: wide enough
Cons:
not very sharp

i bought mine 3rd hand.

focusing ring was loose but bearable... i might get it fixed one day...: ]

good feel to it, not plasticky at all.

for my 350D, its wide enough to get great coverage outdoors and especially for me, with the kids, INDOORS.

its a wide aperture so i shoot wide handheld at about 1/15 and i still get my pics... which is the main reason i narrowed down all the wide primes and zooms to this.

sure theres the 17-40mm L glass... but i need something wide and L or not, it doesn't deliver.

its tremendously useable.

for me, the clincher was: i need to get the shot in every circumstance, and this lens does it.

sure its not exactly versatile, but all primes are like that...

good for projects and events, works well with my 430EX


Apr 6, 2006
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zleon
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Registered: Mar 11, 2006
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 1
Review Date: Mar 11, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

 
Pros: 20mm prime;
Cons:
Non-L lens; No hood. Flare problems; Soft across the pix



Mar 11, 2006
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kalliljas
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Registered: Jun 23, 2005
Location: Sweden
Posts: 52
Review Date: Mar 11, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: relatively light, fits well with my 300D, affordable wide angle on 1,6 crop
Cons:
Even though it is a prime, I find that 2,8 is often not enough for indoors, ergo 2,0 eller more would be nice.

I bought this lens used cheaply, and I am very happy with it. I was searching for a equivalent 28mm prime for my 300D, and this was the best I could find. The Sigma 20 1,8, a lens that I have never tried, didn't have USM so that made me pick the Canon. If I had the money, I would swap it for a 16-35L, but that wont happen anytime soon. Smile
I use this lens and the 35 2,0 90% of the time on my camera. I would recommend this lens to anyone.


Mar 11, 2006
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flashbracket
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Registered: Mar 4, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Super price, light and fast
Cons:
No hood supplied, typical of Canon

I was a little nervous purchasing this lense. The reviews were very mixed, and so decided to take the plunge and experiment myself.

I tested it for sharpness with my 5D and a chessboard. Chesssboards are ideal (vertical and horizontal lines; wood grain etc).

The lense is sharp throughout the range which pleased me greatly.

In the field, the lense is amazing. I am very, very happy with the results, and thankfully there's no need to look at L glass. I wanted a prime, as opposed to a zoom, for sharpness and detail, colour and contrast; and it delivers. It is prone to flare but that is controllable and can be desirable depending on what effect one is after.

As regards to the mixed reviews, I can only assume that there are bad copies on market, but is that uncommon? I can't say I would ever award 10/10 to Canon for excellent quality control. The reality check is this: if you are unfortunate enough to end up with a bad copy, take the issue up with the supplier and/or Canon. My copy rocks but then I was lucky, probably several times lucky, given the number of primes and zooms I own.

Sample shot: http://www.pbase.com/flashbracket/image/56802968


Mar 4, 2006
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Fer1
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Registered: Jan 3, 2005
Location: Italy
Posts: 9
Review Date: Aug 18, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Extremely sharp in the center from f/4, very useable wide open. High resistance to flare. Good colors and contrast. Fast and accurate focus. Good build quality.
Cons:
Corners are not very sharp, even on a 1.6x camera, until f/8-f/11. Vignetting at f/2.8 even on a 1.6x. Some red-green CA at the corners. Quite bulky.

I used the 20/2.8 on both my film camera (shooting slides and scanning them on a hi-res film scanner) and my 10D.

I'm more than happy with this lens.

The center of the frame (actually almost the whole frame... up to, say, 3/4 width on a 1.6x camera) is extremely sharp from f/4, and very useable even wide open (very handy in low-light shots).
The corners are less sharp even on the 10D; they somehow catch up at f/8.
Distorsion is reasonable, flare is not an issue, and there's almost no coma even in the corners; a very weak point of the 16-35L, which I found to be sharper in the corners than the 20/2.8 at wide apertures, but with visible coma.

CA shows up in the corner; it's the red-green type, fixable in Photoshop (Camera Raw or Lens Correction).
No PF issues.

Some tests and comparisons I've done:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=14363894

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=14358679

Some real world shots in challenging situations:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=14535576

Hope this helps.

All in all: there's no better (ultra)wideangle prime in the Canon lineup, and I'd say this lens get the job done. I recommend it, if you can live with not-so-sharp corners or if your photography style allows stopping down (so the corners become good).

Fernando


Aug 18, 2005
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nsbca
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Registered: Aug 2, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 385
Review Date: Aug 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Crisp. Fast focus.
Cons:
Does not do well on less then a full frame body.

I used this lens quite often when I had my 1Ds, but never liked the results when it was attached to my 1D Mk II. I expect it to come back into regular service with my upgrade to the FF 1Ds Mk II.

Aug 4, 2005
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rroach
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Registered: Oct 7, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 105
Review Date: Jul 10, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $419.95 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Solid Build, Good Size,
Cons:
None that you would find in any wide angle lens

I have worked with this lens for nearly two years now and I am very happy with the results from it. I have produced 20 by 30’s that are beautiful so I am forced to wonder why the lens gets such a bad rap. This lens performs best from f4 to about f16 around f22 the lens seems to get soft again, but not that bad. The 20mm does not have as much contrast as 17-40, but that is not a bad thing. I found this lens to render colors accurately which is all you can really ask for. What really surprised me is how much I really use this lens. After reviewing my images I use this lens for about 1/3 of my images. One issue is that 20mm on a 1.6x image sensor is not that wide and in the future I will likely get the 12-24 Tokina to fill in a gap in my lens coverage. However all and all when using this lens in practical real world image making it’s a solid performer that can deliver high quality results.

Jul 10, 2005
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Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
54 198590 Jul 24, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
85% of reviewers $358.76
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
8.39
8.11
7.5
ef20mmf_28usm_1_


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