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Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Oct 23, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: IS, fast focusing, decent build quality.
Average optics

I reviewed this lens once before, a long while back, but after having used other lenses extensively I need to re-review this. Back then, it was a pretty decent consumer kit zoom on film cameras. I had a chance to compare images shot with this lens on my old 300D with images taken on the 18-55 kit lens and other more recent zooms. This lens fares poorly compared to even the cheapest all-plastic zooms available today. 6-7 years ago, I would have recommended it, but today there are several cheaper and better alternatives.

I'd rate this a 4/10 today in value and optical quality.

Canon EF 28-105 F/3.5-4.5 II USM

Review Date: Oct 23, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $200.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Very fast focusing (USM motor), decent build quality, compact and light.
Average optical quality.

This was the first zoom lens I got with the EOS-50 kit. It is quite well built and focuses very fast, but that's about as much as it has going for it, since the optical quality is just about average. Today even the cheap "dog-toy" 18-55 IS kit zoom of the 450/500D can destroy this lens in terms of optical quality.

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

Review Date: Oct 23, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $65.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very light, IS really works, very sharp, unusually so, focus speed is not bad, small filter size, cheap cheap cheap.
Sub-average construction, front element rotates while focusing.

This is a very strange lens. I was quite happy with a 17-85 IS USM for everyday shooting, till I tried a friend's "cheap dog-toy all-plastic" 18-55. I very much expected this lens to be as dodgy as the 28-90 film counterpart.

Nothing could have prepared me for the surprise (shock?) I got when looking at the pics shot with this lens. Not only was it way sharper than the 17-85 USM, the resolving power was noticeably better and the micro contrast was really nice. I was even more surprised when it matched my 20/2.8 and 24/2.8 primes in image quality, even wide open.

I could not believe this, so I tested and re-tested these lenses last weekend, and it's true, the 18-55 IS really produces more detailed and sharper images than I could have imagined.

I liked this lens so much I dumped the 17-85 which costs 4x as much. What's Canon trying to do? What's going on here?

Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Sep 28, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Fast focusing, reasonably good build quality for a consumer lens, IS.
Image quality is average.

I bought this to replace the 18-55 kit lens before I got the 17-40L. I was a bit puzzled by the results. The cheap fisher-price 18-55 would often deliver sharper results than the 17-85 zoom specially from 18 through 30-35mm or so. I tried the micro adjustment on the 50D but no luck. Thought maybe my lens was a dog, and tried another one at the shop but it came out the same.

The lens is ok from 30-85mm though. Good decent focal length range for general travel, but stop down to f/5.6-6.3 for any sort of decent results. I still haven't been able to get a really sharp image at 17-35/40mm at any aperture.

Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

Review Date: Sep 28, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Very sharp at all focal lengths, fast focusing ring USM.
Build quality.

$1000 for an all-plastic 17-85 type zoom? For this price I'd expect L build quality even if it doesn't have CaF2 fluorite elements or ED glass. The optics are very good, but I somehow get better micro-contrast and color rendition with the 17-40L.

I'd have bought this if it were a $500 lens, but at over a grand, I personally feel it's a waste of money for a 1.6 crop lens. I kept the 17-40L.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Sep 28, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Stunning optics at all apertures, incredible color, contrast and sharpness.
It's white, and it's long though not heavy.

I sold my 70-200/4L non-IS because for some reason it was not as sharp as my 28-70L. I really hesitated before spending money on this lens, but it was well worth it.

The IS version of the 70-200 doesn't disappoint. It is waaay sharper, and has better micro-contrast than the old non-IS one. It has quickly become my go-to lens for all long lens type occasions. Delivers stunning quality results even at f/4 at all apertures. Highly recommended.

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8

Review Date: Sep 28, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $220.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small, light, compact, large aperture.
Focusing not as fast as ring USM lenses, a little noisy due to the AFD motor but this is nothing great, and certainly no deal-breaker.

I replaced my 17-85 IS zoom with the 28/2.8 and 50/1.8. The difference between the image quality of the 17-85 and the 28 is night and day. For a long time I thought my canon 300D really didn't like wide lenses, as my 17-85 is unable to produce decent sharpness from 17 through 35mm at any aperture.

I own and use a 60mm macro, a 70-200/4L and a 200/2.8L so I quite know what I'm looking for in a sharp lens. When I used the 28/2.8 for a test shoot at the park, I was stunned by the results. I really don't know why, but the 17-85 often underexposes and almost always produces grainy noisy images, though I always shoot raw and process via Capture One Pro. The 28/2.8 images are as tack sharp as any other high end prime out there, and even at f/2.8 the color, contrast and sharpness is superb.

I am planning to go to the river, tie a boat anchor to my 17-85 and drown the stupid thing to put humankind out of its misery.

Sigma 28mm f1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro

Review Date: Jul 17, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

Pros: Well built, nice optics when it works.
Doesn't like newer canon EOS cameras, mine wouldn't focus properly and would lock up.

I almost bought this lens. There was one going cheap at the local second hand camera store. When I tried it on my 300D it would not focus properly. It would whine back and forth and not lock focus. The few times it would "lock" focus, it would front or back focus like mad, sometimes as much as 50% off. I tried the 30mm f/1.4 at the same store and it worked just fine. Pity, this is a cheap and well made lens, wish it would work on my EOS, I'd have bought it.

Tokina 28-80mm f/2.8 AT-X 280 AF PRO

Review Date: Jul 17, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 4 

Pros: Built like it will survive a nuclear holocaust.
Front focusing problems with my camera, soft till f/5.6-6.3.

I bought this lens a while ago before I blew my bank balance on the 28-70L. This is a cheap way to get a solid well built f/2.8 mid range zoom.

Sadly my lens left a lot to be desired. It would consistently front focus on both my film cameras (Elan 7) and the 300D, though it worked fine on an older EOS-5. Since I bought this second hand, there was no warranty.

Maybe my copy was not very good, but the lens was soft till f/5.6. Surprising, but my old 28-105 canon zoom was sharper than this lens, wide open.

I sold it after a bit of use. Why lug around a heavy f/2.8 lens when you can't use it at f/2.8 and it front focuses? I got a 28-70L and have been very happy with that.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Jul 17, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $550.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent build quality, contrast, colors and sharpness.
Can't find anything negative, except maybe the price.

This lens replaced my junk 18-55 kit lens since my 28-70L is not wide enough on a 1.6x crop DSLR. I didn't want to spend twice the amount on the 16-35 just for the f/2.8. After all, I can just bump up the ISO on the DSLR, it's not like shooting film anyway.

Image quality is about the same as my 28-70L, which is amazing, with gorgrous colors and contrast. Sharpness is nothing to complain about, though it is not as sharp as my 100mm macro obviously. It is as sharp as my 28-70L which is pretty decent. Still, sharpness is not everything. I shoot raw all the time and there is a significant amount of post processing that goes in to every image and that includes sharpening.

DPP and capture one give me awesome results and C1 is able to pull an enormous amount of detail from this lens. On the whole it's a great lens, though f/4 may be limiting in some cases. If I'm shooting in low light I pull out the 50/1.8 or the 20/2.8 USM.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM

Review Date: Apr 16, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Excellent compact and hand holdable design, IS really works, black unlike the attention grabbing L lenses, optics are better than non-L zoom lenses.
Ripoff price. Slow f/4.5-5.6.

I borrow this lens off a pro photog almost every week for our weekend photo events, as I don't own this lens. The lens is really good. I love the way it zips into focus and the IS really works wonders compared to the ancient 75-300 IS whose IS is sub par compared to this baby. I've seen many people complain about the optics, but every single shot I've taken with this lens has been sharper and more detailed than the stuff I get out of my canon consumer zooms.

Of course if I did a controlled test at f/8-f/11 between this lens and (say) a 100-300/4.5-5.6 USM, maybe they will be equal (maybe they won't) but I don't have the time to fuss around with lpmm and resolution charts, there's lots of shooting to be done in the real world, lots of great images waiting to be made.

Yes, my 70-200/4L beats this lens every time, the L gives me better color and a lovely texture which this lens doesn't but for what it was designed for, it does the job.

That said, I would never buy this lens. It is a ripoff. If it dropped by 50% maybe I would consider it, but not otherwise.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Mar 21, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Blistering fast AF, excellent optics, well built and sturdy.

First off, I don't own this lens any more, but use it quite often from our common "lens pool". Any time I get sick and tired of using heavy or slow zooms, and need a reminder on just how excellent canon's optics can be, I put this fellow on my SLR and shoot. No more dark tunnel vision thanks to f/1.8, no more slow focusing and no more misfocused shots.

Every single one of the images I have shot with this lens have been flawless in terms of optical quality. This lens is wonderful with a 25mm extension tube... great macro performance. No, it is not as good as the 100/2.8 macro USM which I also have (that lens produces corner to corner sharpness at 1:1 magnification, not something most other lenses can do). But, it is as good as other lenses can get.

The AF is so fast that I've never had the opportunity to miss a shot due to slow response. In all, there's not a single bad thing I can think of about this lens. It's superb.

Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye

Review Date: Mar 18, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Decent build, excellent sharpness, color and contrast.
Front element is very easy to damage or get your fingers on.

I am surprised at others complaining about barrel distortion of this lens. The lens is DESIGNED to perform that way. It's a fisheye lens, in case you've all forgotten.

I was quite pleased with the results from this lens. The optics are outstanding, and the color saturation and contrast are excellent. I'd recommend this lens without a hesitation. Of course you have barrel distortion but remember this is a fisheye.

The front element is so big and unprotected it's very easy to get your fingers on it or scratch it, so I had to be very careful when using this lens.

Sigma 180mm f3.5 EX APO Macro IF HSM

Review Date: Mar 18, 2004 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: Excellent build quality, smooth focusing.
Optics are not as good as the Tamron and Canon offerings.

I am surprised to see such superlative comments about this lens. I use a 100mm macro and needed a longer lens for some types of work and considered the Sigma and Tamron lenses since they are half the price of the Canon L lens.

Two samples of this lens from my local dealer were tested on my EOS-3 and Velvia. We also tested the Tamron 180 macro. Wide open, the Tamron was significantly sharper than both the Sigma samples (I tried the second one because I thought there was some problem with the first sample). The Sigma improved significantly by around f/8 but the resolution seemed to worsen beyond f/16. So it looked like the sweet spot for the Sigma is around f/8-f/16. The second sample of the Sigma performed identically, so I assumed that either they were all like this or the dealer got a slightly sub-standard batch.

Anyway this made me decide in favour of the Tamron which I will probably get in a month or so. At this price point, the HSM is the only thing in favour of the Sigma.

Sigma 105mm f2.8 EX Macro 1:1 Lens

Review Date: Mar 18, 2004 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: Good construction and manual focus action.
Optics are not as good as other offerings in this range, AF is slow.

This is a good alternative to brand name lenses if you want to shoot macro. However take a look at the Tamron 90/2.8 or the cheaper Sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro as an alternative.

The Sigma is well built, but I was not impressed by the optics when compared to my Canon 100/2.8 and specially the Tamron 90/2.8 which is by all standards a superb performer. When I compared the Sigma, Canon and Tamron, the sigma was the softest, specially at f/2.8. Both the Tamron and Canon were significantly better. However the Sigma caught up by f/5.6-f/8.

Of course this is not meant for AF, so the focusing is very slow. In all, I'd choose the Tamron - it offers far better value for money.

Canon EF 22-55mm f/4-5.6 USM

Review Date: Mar 17, 2004 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

Pros: Cheap, small and light.
Flimsy construction, feels very cheap, so so optics.

For the price one can't complain. I do not own this lens nor do I intend to buy it. I borrowed it one evening for fun. It felt cheap and crummy compared to the mid range 28-105 and the likes. The zoom ring felt loose and the zooming action did not feel substantial. Focusing was quite slow, not like a real USM motor. When I got back my results I got what I expected. Optics are OK for the price, sort of average. This is an OK lens if it comes as a kit with a camera but I wouldn't ask anyone to buy this.


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