Photo packs have come a long way in the past decade, especially those that are targeted toward outdoor and adventure photographers. Alaska-based adventure photographer Dan Bailey takes a closer look...
This zoom is a
hefty thing, but not nearly as hefty as the
EF 28-70/2.8L. The front is huge, as this lens
take the same 77mm filters as the
28-70/2.8L and EF 70-200/2.8L, and the lens comes with a reversible lenshood
which, while making the package shorter, adds to the diameter.
When mounted, I find the lens-body combination very comfortable to carry
around and playfully shoot with. My old, manual Minolta MD system included fixed
20mm and 28mm primes, and the gap between these two often seemed too large. Being
able to freely zoom between 17mm and 35mm makes it possible to tightly frame
wide-angle shots, and at the wide end gives plenty of opportunity to play with
apparent perspective distortion. It's great for shooting in tight quarters.
This lens replaces the earlier EF 20-35/2.8L, and offers comparable optical
performance (the old lens was considered a hot performer, as was the FD 20-35/3.5
which preceeded it). Improvements include the extra three millimeters at the wide
end, a ring USM motor, and Full-Time Manual (FTM) focusing. It is a two-ring
zoom, which I prefer, with the ring closest to the body controlling focal length.
Though the lens can be switched to manual focus, the FTM feature means that I
rarely do so. The lens focuses quickly and almost silently.
The rear of the
lens is slotted for rectangular gelatin filters, presumably to avoid the
vignetting problem that would occur when multiple stacking filters on the front.
I've used a UV filter on it while shooting at the coast, and haven't noticed any
increase in falloff at the edges when using it.
Despite being partially constructed of plastic, the lens has a rugged feel. As
I so often do with my camera gear, I field-tested its ruggedness by dropping it.
This time on asphalt! It was lying on top of a camera bag in my trunk, as I'd
just finished photographing the flooded basement of a house a friend was going to
buy if it weren't for the flooded basement, which had supposedly been fixed. When
I went to grab some other stuff from my trunk I had a lovely view of the lens
with body attached drop over two feet onto the driveway.
No problem. The lens fell face-first onto the lenshood (one reason I always
use lenshoods), the package bounced a couple of times, and, wincing, I took a
look. Other than the fact that the lens now looks used, I've noticed no ill
I love this lens,
as much as the
EF 28-70/2.8L. Why own
both? Because Canon doesn't make a 35-70/2.8, unfortunately. In practice, I tend
to carry one or the other, not both, depending on what kind of shooting mood I'm
in. The photos you see on this page were taken on the University of Washington's
Canopy Crane, where
backing away to widen the view was a physical impossibility as we dangled 30
stories above the forest floor. At 17mm, we're talking wide and I was able
to get some sweeping shots that include the gondola we were riding in. The
straight lines in some of these photos also gives you an idea of linear
distortion of this lens - amazingly low for a zoom. The front does not rotate
while the lens if focused, which is handy when using polariod or split-density
Slides are, as one expects with Canon's L zooms, extremely sharp and
contrasty. Magazine tests I've seen don't rate it as highly as the
EF 28-70/2.8L, perhaps the sharpest zoom ever
made, but I can't see any difference in the range where they overlap.