8 out of 10 points and recommendedAmazing Contrast, Consistently good IQ throughout range, CompactWide open is pretty good, but 1 stop down is much better
This lens is older, and was probably originally designed as a mid-priced widezoom, but I find it has a nice home as an outdoor lens on my 20D. My primary walk-around lens is a Tamron 17-50 F2.8 which is awesome except it can be a bit short outside. Well, often I want some available extra reach without going full blown tele, so I got this lens.reviewed August 29th, 2007 (purchased for $170)
I bought it expecting it to be a little soft wide open, but it was actually better than I thought it would be based on the reviews I've read. However, this lens really shows it's stuff between F5.6-11, where while not natively razor sharp, it captures excellent color and contrast throughout the range, and sharpens nicely in PP or if you boost in camera sharpness.
This was also my first USM AF lens, and I really enjoy it, though this is an older USM design, and isn't as smooth as some of the newer ones, and does have a little play in the ring, but isn't a deal breaker. There is some wobble in the barrel, but only if forced, it doesn't wobble while in normal use. Due to the compact nature of this lens, the zoom and focus rings are small, but just large enough to not be bothersome.
In all honesty from the tests I've seen and comparing my lens to others, this lens is not that far behind a Canon 24-105 F4L. The aperture is similar, though it doesn't have IS and it's shorter, it is a lot lighter and less expensive. On a 1.6x body, it has no significant vingetting or CA, and the contrast is approaching L grade even near wide open.
This lens is a diamond in the rough, which is nice, as it is found for about half new price on ebay as I did, and the results are very good.
This is an excellent first lens or kit replacement if you shoot mostly outdoors. Some say it is not wide enough for a walk around on a 1.6x body, but I beg to differ, especially if you have a dedicated wide angle such as the Canon 10-22. Indoors, it is better to have a F2.8 lens, but this is still much better than kit indoors, except for it's less wide stance. However, 85mm F4.5 will allow you to dabble with portraiture.
I think this lens would also be excellent for a travel/walkaround on a 1.3x camera.
While this is by no means a perfect lens, I think it is a great lens for just about any Canon body, though it's usage might be different depending on what you strap it on.
Update: After spending even more time with this lens, my opinion is fairly consistent. The main flaw of this lens is the build quality, which could have been so much tighter. The materials are fine, but the play in the barrel and rings are more on par for a low end lens, not a medium end lens.
7 out of 10 points and recommendedGood Telephoto and near macro for cheapcheap coatings make for a slight ghosting effect in high contrast areas
I bought this lens many months ago because I needed an economical telephoto lens to begin with. It also came with the ability to focus quite close, giving about a 1:2 at 200mm, great for experimenting with macro.reviewed August 29th, 2007 (purchased for $100)
So this lens is mainly for beginners who are first experimenting with telephoto, or people who need a good quality, economical telephoto which is small and lightweight. Nice thing about this lens is that no one will think you have a telephoto on your cam. It also is easy to carry around all day.
Additionally, it's not even that slow for it's price, size and focal length at 4-5.6. AF is fairly accurate, though if it begins to hunt, it takes a while because of the wide focus range. A distance limiter would have been nice, but of course at this price point, good luck.
Build quality is descent. Lens wobble is almost non-existent dispite it's long extention, the hood has a nice feel to it and can be used to MF since the front element rotates.
Now image quality of this lens is not bad, but isn't L or DX grade either. It will probably give better overall optics than your kit wide open, but in high contrast areas, you may see a strange ghosting abrasion, which is probably due to cost cutting in glass coatings. However, these abrasions are small, and will only be seen when you zoom in on your monitor, print large, or do heavy cropping.
Overall, this will give better images than most of the 70(75)-300 lenses near it's price, but the telephoto zooms that run about $500+ will definitely outperform this lens in most categories.
If price, weight, and size are most important to you, this is an excellent tele zoom. If you need excellent image quality and optimal AF performance, you'll want to spend more money on something larger and better.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedSharpness, contrast, color, fast accurate AF, great buildThe IS version costs twice as much
For Canon's cheapest L lens, it is astonishing in just about every category. It's not really heavy, it has good range, descent MFD, and awesome image quality. That really about sums it up.reviewed October 23rd, 2007 (purchased for $500)
To be nit picky, I would like a closer MFD, maybe 0.7 meters instead of 1.2m would be great for near macro shots, or more versatility at the lens' wider end. Also, I wish the IS version were not twice the price of this lens. For sports, I wish I had the F2.8 version, but F4 is fine for almost every other application.