6 out of 10 points and not recommendedIS and cost/performance ratioIt is past its prime
First, my ratings are based by 2008 standards and not the 1996 standards. In 1996 the ratings would be 9 overall, 8 construction, and 9 image quality (with IS on)reviewed October 13th, 2008 (purchased for $650)
I bought the this lens in Tokyo when I was stationed in Japan in 1996 for around $650 (it was a heck-of-a-bargain in '96). I was using a Canon ELAN IIE 35mm.
When I got this lens it knocked everyone's socks off. My friends with Nikons with consumer xx-300mm telezoom lens couldn't compete. The Canon 75-300mm IS is soft above 250mm; however in 1996 the IS more than made up for the optics' flaws.
Now years later, this lens is past it prime. Especially with APS-C (1.6 crop) digital SLRs. One could say it now has a 480mm focal length, but the image quality is sub-par (you can compensate a little by setting the ISO to 1600+, and let the larger grain mask some of the softness). In 1996 this lens was king, but now is too long in the tooth.
I won't sell this lens, I have too much respect for it and will make it part of my collection (after all it was the first interchangeable SLR lens with IS). But it will sit idle as I move on to its successors.
10 out of 10 points and recommendedCost/performancefor the price/entry level lens none
I was skeptical of a entry level lens; however I was proven very wrong.reviewed October 13th, 2008 (purchased for $100)
- Great sharpness and overall performance
- IS performance does deliver 3 to 4 stops
- Holds its own versus higher price lens (dollar for dollar comparison)
- Good flare resistance
- Closest thing to disposable lens on an DSLR, lets you take chances in risky environments (weather, rough terrain)
Cons (for the price none, I'll explain as I call out the Cons):
- All plastic construction (it is the lowest class, so its expected)
- Plastic mount (its okay for the lens, its very light and it is short so you shouldn't bang it into too many things)
- Not USM (its still quiet enough and fast for the price)
- Rotating front focus (the vast majority of users will not use it with a polarizer; or you can do the old focus, adjust the polarizer, then shoot work around)
- Manual focus is awkward (most users will not need/use MF)
- Focal length range (18-55mm [28.8-88mm APS-C] is sometimes a little too short, I wish it went to 65mm [effective ~105mm] but it might degrade performance and up the lens cost)
Great kick-around lens. Its light, compact and has great performance. The only thing you need with this lens is a UV filter and considering its image quality you might want to buy a higher class B+W filter versus a cheaper UV filter.
6 out of 10 points and not recommendedGreat 35mm lensTroubled DSLR (APS-C) lens
I've owned this lens for 8 years and on 35mm SLRs it always performed well. However, on APS-C DSLRs it is flawed.reviewed October 18th, 2008 (purchased for $200)
With a 35mm SLR its image quality is good to great throughout the focal lengths. However, on a DSLR it only is good at 50mm and higher. Which is very odd and I have no explanations for it.
On A DSLR this lens should be only used above 50mm at distances greater than 5 meters; and even then, between 50-70mm, the aperture should be F8 or higher for sharp pictures. Anything less than 50mm will have poor image quality, even if you stop down the aperture. So this lens on a DSLR is effectively a 50-105mm lens (on a 1.6 crop 80-168mm).
This phenomenon troubled me to the point where I pulled out my Elan and tested the lens. The image quality on the prints (8X10) is much better.
If anyone can explain why an EF lens performs so drastically different on a 35mm body versus a APS-C DSLR body I would appreciate the knowledge. I have a guess, the distance of the lens rear element to the focal plane (a long back focus which is improved with the EF-S lenses), but no real evidence.