7 out of 10 points and recommendedsmall, sharp, fun to use
I've owned this lens for a little over a year now and I was shocked when I first saw the official review pop up here. They must have hit a bad copy as it does not match my own experience at all. The off-center blur plot is a bit of a giveaway too.reviewed November 15th, 2008 (purchased for $280)
Anyway, I bought this lens before a trip in the summer of 2007 without being sure it would be useful. I was quite wrong: I ended up taking most of my pictures with it and it stayed on my camera most of the time. It's light and is a good walkaround focal length on a 1.6x body. The picture quality is simply great! When I got back I had a few pictures printed at 8x12... and this lens at f/4 was so much sharper than my 17-85 at f/8. I simply couldn't believe it. I ended up selling the 17-85 the next year.
The build quality is quite good, focus is fast enough (for what it matters at that focal length anyway), balance is great on a 30D. It's sad that as a prime it's only f/2.8 but to be honest I shoot it at f/4 or f/5.6 most of the time and have not missed the extra stop that much. When I want narrow DOF I just use my 35 or 50.
9 out of 10 points and recommendednarrow DOF, very small, not too expensivenoisy focus, small focus ring
This is the first prime I bought for my 30D some two years ago and I never regretted it. I find it produces excellent close-up portraits with very nice background blur. It's also a great lens to chase the cat around with :) I have a 16x20 enlargement of said cat on my wall which I love.reviewed November 15th, 2008
It's only slightly longer than normal on a 1.6x body so you can still use it for many things. It's also very small so it'll fit in pretty much any bag and not feel like a brick. This means I carry it most of the time.
Autofocus is quite noisy but that has never proven to be an issue in practice. Speed is ok: this is not a lens you'll want to track a moving subject with but I don't find myself waiting for it to focus either. Manual focus does not feel great but is quite usable. Build quality is like other lenses of that time: good but not OMG-L-amazing!!!
7 out of 10 points and not recommendedcheap, light, bright, sharp when stopped downuseless focus ring, poor AF
This lens is a great value because of its price and its amazing sharpness once stopped down a little. I wouldn't recommend it as a first prime on a 1.6x body because it is quite long and focus is plain crap. Unless you can't afford anything else of course.reviewed November 15th, 2008 (purchased for $100)
So yeah, the manual focus "ring" (if you can call it that) is very hard to operate because it's tiny, poorly located and offers almost no resistance. It can still be used but it's definitely not fun and I often wish I had gotten the f/1.4 for that reason alone.
Autofocus does not seem very accurate and will miss significantly every now and then. On the other hand, mine is not noisy at all. It's definitely quieter than my 35mm f/2 and not much noisier than the 17-85 USM. The plastic mount feels cheap but is not a problem in practice given how light the lens is.
I've taken a few interesting shots with this lens but still wish I had had the option of paying 50% more for a decent focus ring. I don't use it very much and will probably replace it someday.
8 out of 10 points and recommendedcompact, decent quality for a kit zoomsmall aperture, limited telephoto reach
This is a great small, all-purpose zoom at the right price. Image quality is quite good (much better than the 17-85 it replaced for me). It's also the cheapest way to get IS... and I wouldn't do without that on a slow zoom. I find the size and weight more convenient than the 17-85 : this is a lens I can bring even if I'm not sure I'll use it. I usually carry it in case I'll need something very wide or if I just want to take one lens for casual photography.reviewed November 15th, 2008 (purchased for $170)
I can't really comment on manual focus as I simply don't use it on that lens. The images it produces are ok for a zoom. Distortion at wide angle is easily corrected with the latest DPP software.
7 out of 10 points and recommendedversatile, decent build, ISlarge & heavy, poor image quality at wide angle, large filters
Bought it as a kit with my camera because I didn't know any better.reviewed November 15th, 2008
This is a very convenient lens and if you're only going to have one lens on your camera this could very well be the one to get. The focal length is very nice and covers most situations. Auto focus is fast and accurate. It also transmits distance information to the body for E-TTL II, something which I think most other kit zooms don't do (in practice I've found that this only matters when the subject is very close). It also has IS which means it's useful indoors without flash even with the slow aperture.
After having bought a few primes I found that lens was bulky and produced poor images in the 17-24mm range. This could be forgiven if the results improved when stopping down... but they don't. I was using less and less so I sold it last spring after buying a 18-55 IS.
I still think it's a decent starter lens though... but it's a little overpriced for that. If canon could just fix the IQ issues at wide angle it would be a great lens. I wouldn't recommend buying it new because of the price but if you can get it second hand, it's probably worth it.