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Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Review Date: Aug 11, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Lightweight, excellent handling, smooth zooming and USM, very sharp stopped down to f/8, color/contrast better than the EF 28-105mm f/3.5-f/4.5, the 24mm field of view is wonderful on a standard zoom, little or no flare.
Typical ballyhooing about these types of zooms, distortion at either end and not terribly sharp at the widest apertures. Build quality OK for the Canon USM consumer zoom range.

It seems that some people get stuck with so-so copies of any lens, and there are mixed reviews on the EF 24-85. I must have lucked out with an excellent one, as this optic easily outperforms the erstwhile 28-105mm f/3.5-f/4.5. I have only shot one roll of BCW with it, but it appears to offer much better performance than my supposedly decent 28-105.

Yes, it is a tad soft in the corners at wide apertures and there's barrel distortion at 24mm and pincushion at 85mm, but that's to be expected. However, stopped down to f/8, it performs wonderfully. I see this lens is very well controlled for flare, a surprise despite it's largish front lens element and similar experiences with wide angels, in general. It is a *must* that you get the EW-73II shade - I could never understand why people don't get the dedicated hoods for lenses. It helps improve contrast and shooting against the light.

Having 24mm in a zoom is most useful, as I have never liked standard zooms starting at 28mm that much; the 28-105 went well with my 20mm f/2.8 that I recently sold, but the 24-85 incorporates four valuable focal lengths - 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm, all of which I have owned in fixed optics in the past.

The 67mm thread for filters is a bit of a PITA, but I have the stunning EF 70-200mm f/4 L, which uses the same ones; I already ordered a Tiffen Pro Mist 3 SF filter, the most useful for me and the type of work I do.

I am excited to now own just two zooms for all my film work, coming from 5 lenses that made my Domke F-1X bag just too darned heavy. Now, with the announcement of a new Canon full-frame DSLR that is actually affordable, my investment with Canon seems a bit safer as I will, someday, have to say goodbye to my A2 bodies and go totally digital.

Thumbs up, Canon.