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Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM

ef28mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Feb 7, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $360.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: great IQ from f/2.8, relatively small and light, ring USM is fast and accurate, very good build quality, relatively inexpensive in Canon's new pricing paradigm.
Cons:
Somewhat Soft (while still useable) at f/1.8. Canon doesn't include hood which is BS.

Would you rather have this or the EF 28 or 24 f/2.8 IS? Well this one goes to f/1.8. Sure, it's soft there, but it makes an image that is just fine for most purposes. The other one doesn't do that. The other ones have IS, which can make up for the 1.3 stop deficit in some situations, but IS doesn't stop fast things like kids at all.

At f/2.8 I'd bet the IQ is similarly excellent. The decision is whether you want to have 1.3 more stops available to you to improve things, or IS available to you to improve things.

The other kicker is the new IS primes cost hundreds more, which is kind of crazy IMO. I'd buy one of them if they were $400-ish. Not at $650.

Sorry, this is supposed to be a review of the 28/1.8. See above for its pros and cons. It's offers a lot of nice features for the price. It's not perfect, but none are.


 
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Pancake

pancake-1
Review Date: Jan 30, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Everything: excellent image quality, cheap, tiny, light, nice focal length on full frame
Cons:
Haven't used it on an ASP-C camera, but I bet it's a weird focal length there. STM isn't as great as ring USM

Great lens! The positive attributes are listed above. More details:

The image quality is surprisingly good - so much so that this has become my go-to lens. Not just when I want to travel small and light - I'm talking about all the time: it's on my camera more than any other lens since I've acquired it.

The camera as a whole becomes more portable with this lens. On more than one occasion, I have decided to bring my camera and this lens, in a situation where I usually would have left the DSLR home. This effect alone makes this lens worth it.

Anyone who complains about this lens has unreasonable expectations in the context of the price and size. You really can't expect anything more for $200 and given the size constraints Canon was shooting for. If you think a f/2.8 prime is pointless, or you don't want 40mm, or you don't want a tiny lens, then don't buy it - you probably won't like it.


 
Canon EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

ef20_35mm_1_
Review Date: Jan 30, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Small, light, good build quality, ring USM, sharp at f/5.6
Cons:
Lack of contrast and sharpness wide open. Doesn't handle backlight well at all.

This lens does not offer the apex of image quality in this focal length range. What it does provide is good image quality in this focal length range, in a small and light package, for a bargain price (now $150-$200 in the used market). Don't bother using this lens with a APS-C camera - get this lens for use on a full frame camera if you want a decent 20mm and don't want to spend a lot.

My biggest complaint is the washed-out look in backlight situations. Stopping down to f/5.6 or f/8 gives the best image quality, but this isn't a major issue in the situations this lens is most likely to be used in.

It's not a perfect lens, but it's a good lens, and currently can be found at an excellent price for what you get.