6 out of 10 points and recommendedMost affordable low-light prime lens, sharpness from around f/2.5-f/8, price/performance ratio, very lightNot as sharp & poor contrast wide open compared to stopped-down, all-plastic body down to the lens mount, very narrow focusing ring
Bought this lens after using the kit lens for some time, so I could appreciate the difference in sharpness & IQ. I suggest not using this lens wide-open unless you're using it in poor available lighting (when there is no other way to take the shot without using the flash) because it's soft & lacks contrast at f/1.8-f/2.0. It noticeably improves around f/2.5 & continues to improve until around f/8. f/5.6 seems to be the sweet spot in my personal experience.reviewed January 8th, 2007 (purchased for $102)
Build quality-wise, it's true what they say, you get what you pay for: it feels cheap. The plastic body & lens mount means it can't stand much rigorous use. The focusing ring, which is very narrow and located at the very front of the barrel, is almost unusable.
Don't bother protecting the front element with a filter, a cheap uncoated one would just degrade your images while expensive ones aren't worth it considering the price of this lens. If it gets damaged beyond repair, just buy a new one.
AF speed is so-so, not ring USM-fast, but not slow either, which is to be expected since this lens uses a conventional micro-motor. It's not silent either. The good news is that it doesn't tend to focus-hunt in poor light as much as the kit lens, probably because of the wider maximum aperture.
Overall, this is very much recommended considering this is the best bang-for-the-buck Canon lens. It delivers images that are sharper than some of the several-times-more expensive zooms at comparable apertures. It provides more background blur for portraits than even the fastest zooms (although the bokeh is rather nasty due to the 5-bladed aperture). The next step up from this lens, the 50mm f/1.4 USM version, costs 4-5x more than this one.
P.S. Get the now-discontinued 50mm f/1.8 Mk.I if you can. It has a better build quality (metal barrel & lens mount), wider focusing ring, distance scale and slightly-better image quality.
7 out of 10 points and recommendedBetter build quality than the f/1.8 version, micro-USM w/FTM, wider manual focusing ring, distance scale & DOF indicatorAlmost unusable wide open, AF is not accurate
First of all, the build quality is markedly better than it's cheaper brother, the 50mm f/1.8. The manual focusing ring is actually much more usable now, and the addition of a distance scale & DOF marks are certainly welcome.reviewed January 8th, 2007 (purchased for $410)
Image quality-wise, wide-open aperture up to around f/2.0 should only be used a last resort since softness, vignetting & poor contrast are very noticeable at those apertures. Beyond f/2 up to around f/8, it is somewhat sharper & more contrasty than the f/1.8 version at the same aperture. It is best used around f/4-f/8.
AF speed is noticeably faster & quieter compared to the f/1.8 version due to the use of micro-USM, although I noticed that AF accuracy seems to suffer in low-light. Even though it doesn't use a ring USM like the more expensive Canon lenses, manual focusing can still be used without switching out of AF. I find that to be a very useful feature.
Overall, this normal lens is still highly recommended for its maximum aperture & sharpness (stopped-down). It's a better portrait lens than the f/1.8 version since it gives a nicer-looking background blur quality due to the use of an 8-bladed aperture. I just wish that it is cheaper, maybe priced at just around 2-3x more than the f/1.8 version.
5 out of 10 points and recommendedfree (if bought with an APS-C body), light, usable focal length rangecheap build quality, tiny focusing ring, not that sharp wide open especially at the corners
We've all read the other reviews, so I'd just tell you how to maximize the use of this lens. It actually has a pretty useful zoom range. Stay near the middle of the zoom range and aperture opening range to maximize sharpness and minimize CA & distortions. That means around 24-45mm and f/8-f/11. Corners would always be softer than the center at most apertures and the lens would have obvious CA & distortions especially at the wide end of the range.reviewed January 8th, 2007
AF, surprisingly, is fast considering that it only uses a micro-motor but it is somewhat audible. It would tend to focus-hunt in low-light though. The manual focusing is hardly usable due to the tiny focus ring directly at the front of the lens.
Don't bother protecting the front lens element with a filter since a cheap uncoated one would just degrade the image quality while an expensive multicoated one wouldn't be worth it considering how much this lens costs.
Overall, it's a good lens to get if you compare the price of the kit package & the price of the cropped-sensor body only. I have seen a lot of amazing shots taken with the kit lens, and some were even award-winning pictures. Once you maximize the capabilities of this lens & learn its limitations, you would have improved your skills enough and you'd have a better idea of what lens to get next.
7 out of 10 points and recommendedvery convenient (almost 5x) zoom range, ~2-stop IS, decent build quality, fast & quiet AF by ring USM, decent image qualitypoor corner sharpness especially at wide angle, very obvious geometric distortions at both ends of the focal range
Pros: very convenient (almost 5x) zoom range, ~2-stop IS, decent build quality, fast & quiet AF by ring USM, decent image quality in terms of sharpness & contrastreviewed January 15th, 2007 (purchased for $490)
Cons: poor corner sharpness especially at wide angle, very obvious geometric distortions at both ends of the focal range, some CA & vignetting wide open
Been using this lens since the film days, and it was fantastic during that time. In today's digital era, the flaws of this lens becomes apparent even on a 1.6x FOVCF sensor body. It somehow loses a bit of color & contrast when used on a DSLR, maybe because of the lack of digital-optimized lens coatings. Barrel distortions on the wide end of the range is still obvious even on a cropped-sensor body.
The zoom range is also not optimal for general-purpose use on a 1.6x FOVCF body; I find that it's not wide enough on the short end, especially indoors.
IQ-wise, it's better than most of the other consumer-level zooms, which is to be expected given the price. 1st-generation IS is good for 2-stops at most, but it's still better than nothing.
Overall, it's still a good lens to have for walkaround purposes, but on 1.6x FOVCF bodies, consider getting the slightly-more expensive EF-S 17-85 f/4-5.6 IS USM if the wide-end is more important than the tele-end.
9 out of 10 points and recommendedVery sharp & contrasty, very fast & quiet ring USM, very useable wide open, great bokeh w/ an 8-bladed aperture, reasonable priceslight CA at max. aperture, not at its sharpest wide open, also some vignetting at wide apertures even on a cropped sensor body
Pros: Very sharp & contrasty, very fast & quiet ring USM, very useable wide open, great bokeh w/ an 8-bladed aperture, reasonable price.reviewed January 15th, 2007 (purchased for $560)
Cons: Slight CA at max. aperture, not at its sharpest wide open, also some vignetting at wide apertures even on a cropped sensor body.
One of the sharpest lenses I've used, and the very wide maximum aperture makes this lens usable in low-light situations where using flash is not an option. In my experience, it seems sharpness peaks at around f/2.5-4, it improves little when stopped down further. The 8-bladed aperture results in a very nice, non-distracting bokeh for portraiture, although 85mm maybe a little too long when used indoors on a 1.6x FOVCF body. Overall, one of the best bang-for-the-buck primes in the Canon arsenal.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedExtremely sharp at all combinations of focal length & aperture even at the corners, extremely fast & accurate AF, great "L" build quality & handling, state-of-the-art 4-stop IS, constant apertureNone!
Pros: Extremely sharp at all combinations of focal length & aperture even at the corners, extremely fast & accurate AF, great "L" build quality & handling, state-of-the-art 4-stop IS, constant aperture.reviewed January 15th, 2007 (purchased for $1,180)
Cons: What cons?? There is none. If you want to nitpick: maybe a case could be made for the price, it could be a tad lower. The lens hood should have been petal-type like those used in the f/2.8L versions. Also, the tripod mount should have been included considering the price, although it's not that essential since it's not as heavy as its f/2.8L siblings.
Everything you've read about this lens is true: it is the sharpest Canon zoom lens made to date. Its delineation & contrast is equal to or even superior to most primes, including the L ones. This lens was designed to be shot wide open, it improves little when stopped down. It has something that even both the f/2.8L versions don't have: a Fluorite lens element, which has optical characteristics unachievable with ordinary glass. Fluorite was previously used only with super-tele L primes & a couple of older L zooms (the 70-200 f/4 non-IS is one of them).
This lens is destined to be regarded as one of the best Canon EF lens, zoom or prime, ever made.
8 out of 10 points and recommendedLightweight for an f/2.8 macro, fats & quiet ring USM, true 1:1 macro capabilityIt's light & compact because it's for EF-S bodies only, very short 1:1 macro working distance, vignetting apparent at f/2.8
Pros: Lightweight for an f/2.8 macro, fast & quiet ring USM, true 1:1 macro capability, very sharp even at the corners, useable as a general-purpose fast primereviewed January 15th, 2007
Cons: It's light & compact because it's for EF-S bodies only, very short 1:1 macro working distance, vignetting apparent at f/2.8
Had an opportunity to evaluate this lens, currently the only EF-S prime in the lineup, and came away impressed with its optical performance both as a portrait lens & as a macro lens. It's very good when used wide open & improves up to around f/5.6. Sharpness & lack of distortion is the hallmark for a macro prime, and this one delivers. As this is an EF-S lens, the image circle is reduced thus vignetting should be expected at f/2.8-3.5.
Overall, I found out to be somewhat less useful for non-macro use even though it's relatively fast for a prime. If your macro subjects require more working distance then this lens is also not suited for that, you'd be better off with the EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro.
7 out of 10 points and recommended
This is the EF-S equivalent of the venerable EF 28-135 IS USM, with the same zoom ratio and a newer IS corrector unit good for up to 3-stops of handholding capability. It has a faster & quieter AF than the kit lens, but optically they are almost the same, especially in terms of corner sharpness, geometric distortions (especially at wide angle), CA & vignetting. Given its price, which is slightly more than its full-frame equivalent, it does seem rather underwhelming. I honestly expected more from this lens. The IS is a must-have due to the slow maximum aperture, but this lens still can't stop action in less than ideal lighting conditions. I would recommend getting this one over the full-frame 28-135 IS USM if you need the wide-angle more than the extra tele reach. 28mm isn't wide enough on a 1.6x crop body.reviewed January 15th, 2007
9 out of 10 points and recommended
Being an L lens, optical & build quality expectations are all met. The IS is the one feature that would make this zoom more useful than the 24-70 f/2.8. AF is very fast & accurate due to the ring USM, as expected. The zoom range is very nice, although I find that 24mm is still not wide enough on a 1.6x FOVCF body for my needs. Some might complain of rather unpleasing bokeh at the tele range wide open, but that is subjective. Overall, a very good lens to have as a walkaround if you don't need more wide angle.reviewed January 16th, 2007
9 out of 10 points and recommended
We all know it's an L lens, so I don't need to add to what is already known about this lens optically- & build-quality-wise. If you're fortunate enough to get a good copy of this lens you'd be amazed at it's portrait capabilities wide-open at the short tele end. It's definitely prime-level IQ to my eyes, it would even improve 1-2 stops down. It has better bokeh quality than the 24-105 f/4L IS at the same FL & aperture, even more at f/2.8. It's just too bad it doesn't have the 3-stop IS of the newer 24-105L. I actually prefer this lens over the 24-105 if only for the f/2.8 & slightly better IQ & distortion control at all comparable FLs & apertures.reviewed January 16th, 2007