8 out of 10 points and recommendedSize/weight, build (for the price), AF, Aperture.Softer at f/1.8, esp. on crop sensor. MF ring too stiff.
When I purchased my first L lens I worried I would never be able to enjoy a cheaper lens, but I'm finding that's not the case, I'm simply more picky. The 28mm is not L-quality, but it's very good for what it is. On a full-frame 5D it's brilliant to use, just enough heft to make it not feel cheap but light enough to not be a burden. At f/1.8 it's a bit soft and lacks contrast, but it's still very usable for low-light work. It improves dramatically even at f/2. Colors are spot-on, as opposed to many aftermarket lenses I've used, and AF is as good as I've come to expect from anything with USM.reviewed January 26th, 2011 (purchased for $360)
However, this is a lens that doesn't seem to like pixel density. On a 10D, my thoughts are the same for this lens as they are for the 5D. On a 40D, however, it remains soft at f/2 and only really improves in sharpness as you approach f/2.8. There also seems to be more bloom in highlight areas. It's harder to justify the purchase of this lens on a newer crop-sensor body since you're losing so many stops to image softness. In my opinion a lot of the "cool" factor of this lens is lost at 45mm, too.
6 out of 10 points and not recommendedConstruction, versatilityClutch-type MF is finicky, color rendition, CA, depth
This lens should have been great. It may be heavier than I prefer for a standard zoom, but it feels very solid. The huge manual focus ring is a brilliant idea and the focal length range is extremely usable, though I found myself on the wide end more often than not. It's pretty sharp, though not exceptional. Despite lacking USM, focus is very fast, and the high-pitched noise it makes while focusing isn't loud or obtrusive.reviewed January 26th, 2011 (purchased for $450)
My biggest problem with this lens was that the images lacked depth, and I'm not sure whether to chalk that up to a lack of contrast or some other factor I can't adequately explain. The photos I took with this lens simply looked flat, and no amount of post-processing would make them pop the same way a better lens would. Color rendition seemed too warm as well, and there's the typical Tokina issue with Chromatic Aberrations, which showed up in any bright areas of the frame. The MF system would have been nice, but pulling the ring back was never a smooth or effortless operation.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedImage quality, costBuild quality, slow/noisy AF
There seems to be some contention on this lens's image quality. I must have an exceptional copy, because it has bested many, many other lenses I've owned in this department, and this is at all apertures. It's criminal how close it comes to my 200mm f/2.8L. I mean that.reviewed January 26th, 2011 (purchased for $90)
The autofocus is very slow and brutally loud, and the build is awful if you've owned any other lens (if it's your first, you won't mind), though it is nice to have a usable piece of glass that's so light. The worst thing about it is that despite its problems, the image quality and price are so good it's hard to justify paying more for the 50mm f/1.4 USM.
If you're a beginning photographer and shoot Canon, you have to get one. It's mandatory.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedIQ, weight, size, handling, price... everything.Jack.
I don't think I've ever seen a bad review for this lens, and there's a good reason for that: it's damn near perfect.reviewed October 1st, 2011 (purchased for $600)
Sure, I can nitpick. There's no IS, but that would add to the size/weight. It's not weather-sealed, but it's one of the cheapest L lenses you can buy. A 135mm f/2 with a 1.4x extender is more versatile, but that combo costs almost twice as much.
Otherwise, what you get is a relatively compact telephoto with superb image quality and if that's what you need, look no further. It's *very* tight on crop (320mm) which is great if you're stuck at a distance (or are just plain lazy), but can be fairly limiting. Personally I preferred the extra reach. Low-light work is exceptional - its size allows for hand-held shutter speeds well below 1/200 without too many misses.
This has been my first - and so far only - L lens. Coming from cheaper gear, I was concerned about the jump in price, and I'm still weary about spending over $1000 on glass. This thing, though? Underpriced. I use it nearly every time I shoot, and I'm impressed with almost every shot.