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Canon EOS 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Lens Review

by Russ Arcuri, 1997


General impressions

I love this lens, about as much as anyone can love an inanimate object. I know this isn't a very objective way of beginning a review, but I don't think my praise is unfounded. I hope to be able to provide a few sample images soon in the way of support for my opinions... I've just got to get that photo CD made first. Watch this space.

You'll pay more for this lens ($325 at B&H) than you will for similar third-party offerings or Canon's lesser-quality consumer zooms like the 28-80 or 35-80, but in my opinion, the difference in price is worth it.

Focal length range

28-105 mm. This is a very popular focal length range in consumer-grade gear. Pentax, Minolta, Sigma, Vivitar, and Tokina all make zooms with the same focal length range, although most are limited to an aperture range of f/4-5.6 rather than the Canon's f/3.5-4.5. More about this later.

28-105 seems to me to be a very useful range for many photo tasks. I'm surprised there aren't any point & shoots out there with this range. I'm even more surprised that there aren't any pro-grade lenses out there with this range. I used this lens exclusively for two years (as I didn't have the money for another one), yet I only rarely felt limited by it. And on those rare occasions when I did feel limited by the focal length range, a few mm more wouldn't have helped. (Note: like most zooms in this range, I don't think it actually makes it all the way out to 105 mm; my best estimate of it's actual focal length fully extended is about 95-100 mm. Perhaps someone else has hard numbers...)

The range from 28-50 is really useful for scenics and general snapshots. That extra few mm on the wide end from 28-35 is far more useful than you might expect, and I've been very glad to have it when the situation called for it.

The range from 80-105 mm is useful for portraits, as long as you have a reasonably pleasant background. f/2.8 would be better than f/4.5 to throw ugly backgrounds out of focus. Even so, you can get really nice portraits out of this lens without too much effort.

Aperture Range

f/3.5-4.5. Not bad. Of course, I'd prefer a constant f/2.8 or f/4.0 throughout the focal length range, but I don't know of any consumer-grade zooms with this feature. f/3.5-4.5 is bright enough for focal lengths under 105 mm in open shade or in the 90 minutes or so before sunset at ISO 100. Not so for zooms in the f/4-5.6 range -- you're forced to use ISO 200 or 400 films if you want to hand hold.

Don't be too envious of your friend's 28-70 f/2.8 L. If he wants sharp pictures on Velvia at sunset, he'll be lugging a tripod too, especially if he rates Velvia at ISO 40 like many pros do.

Construction

More solidly built than the similar third-party offerings I've had the opportunity to play with. It's a turn-to-zoom type of arrangement as opposed to a push/pull, which I like. You can set this lens at 50 mm and aim it straight at the ground, and it'll stay right where it is. It features internal focusing and a non-rotating front lens element, so using a polarizer is not a problem.

Ergonomics are good, unless you use the EW-63 lens hood, in which case getting the lens cap on and off is a chore which requires you to remove the lens hood each time. Of course, I have very large hands and fingers, so maybe it's not so bad for people with smaller hands. Regarding the lens hood: use it even if it is a pain in the butt. I've had a couple shots ruined by not using it, and I'm sure I've gotten many good shots using it that I couldn't have gotten without it.

The lens utilizes Canon's ring-type ultrasonic focusing motors, so focusing is quiet and lightning-quick. (In fact, the focusing is so much faster and quieter than the third-party offerings that this feature alone is enough to justify the extra cost.) You can override the autofocus simply by turning the focus ring. (No need to switch the lens to manual focus mode.)

[Ed: The best feature of Canon EOS is simultaneous AF/MF with bodies like the EOS-1, EOS-5, and Elan IIe and USM lenses; therefore, I don't think it is ever worth buying a 3rd party lens for a Canon if there is a USM equivalent available.]

Image Quality

Good. Excellent compared to Canon's lower-cost consumer zooms like the 28-80 and 35-80, and noticeably better than most of the third-party offerings. If you want your pictures to look better than the ones your Mom is taking with her $170 point & shoot, get this lens.

Contrast and sharpness are quite good throughout the zoom range. I'm not equipped to perform critical sharpness tests, but slide images under a 4x and 8x loupe and projected big (30" wide) on a screen look razor-sharp.

The magazine reviews mention some minor barrel or pincushion distortion, but I've never taken a picture with this lens in which the distortion could be detected. You'd probably have to take a picture of a bunch of straight lines near the edge of the frame to notice it. (Hint: if your preferred subject matter is graph paper, you might be better off finding another hobby.)

Conclusions

This is probably the best consumer-grade zoom available for the Canon EOS mount. Image quality is excellent for the price, and it's solidly built. The focal length range allows you to leave this lens on your camera for everything from scenics to snapshots to portraits. And don't worry too much about the price -- in this class of lenses, you definitely get what you pay for.

Note

As a working-class family man who enjoys photography as a hobby rather than a profession, I am relegated to that class of photo equipment known as "consumer-grade" gear. This is not meant as a plea for sympathy; rather, it's advance acknowledgment that pro-grade gear is indeed better in many ways than the equipment I'll be reviewing here. Yes, I would choose the Canon USM 70-200 f/2.8 L ($1,540 at B&H) over the Canon USM 70-210 f/3.5-4.5 ($250 at B&H). But unfortunately my wallet and my wife have other opinions.

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Article created 1997

Readers' Comments


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Keith Neundorfer , January 22, 1997; 02:19 P.M.

The 28-105 is an excellent compromise between cost, speed, utility, and image quality. Plus, it's possible to find decent discounts these days. I purchased mine with the A2 kit for $889, $789 after the rebate (Camera World of Oregon). Canon has extended some of their rebates until the end of March '97, and as of yesterday (1/21/97) you could get the 28-105 from B&H for $285 (rebate included). There are precious few better values for "consumer"-grade optics.

Rolf Harjung , April 10, 1997; 04:19 A.M.

For those who have difficulties getting the lens cap on and off when the EW-63 lens hood is mounted, the hama 'Super-Snap' lens cap should be the solution. Its snap mechanism is on the top side, not on the rim. I never had one in my hands, just saw it in the catalog.

The article number is 94437 - 94458, producer address is Hama, Postfach 80, D-86651 Monheim/Bayern, Germany. I don't know if it's available outside of Germany.

J.R. Neumiller , October 05, 1997; 11:33 P.M.

I am *so* glad someone else is as happy with this lens as I am. (For some reason, I've read some "less than positive" opinions about this lens.)

Well, I am not one of them! My previous rig was a Pentax K1000 with a "Promaster" (read, Sigma) 35-70 zoomer.

Conclusion: junkola!

On the same terain, with the same lighting and subjects, this 28-105 has made quality photography a pleasant reality, rather than an elusive quest. For the first time, I see how a good lens is not only so much sharper, but is also so much more *colorful* than cheaper lens.

I use this lens 95% of the time, augmented with the 75-300, (with a 2x teleconverter to boot! 600mm for less than $400! Decent quality, too.) I've had a ken for a shorter lens, (the 20mm), but not for much longer. (That 100/2.8 *would* be a sweet addition.) I've never felt the need to replace or redund this lens and its length.

All the features mentioned are absolutely true, although I'm too much of an "AF-boy" to appreciate the full-time manual override ring. Although not a true vari-focus lens, (you have to refocus after zooming,) the USM AF is so fast, you never notice. (I tend to prefer refocusing several times per shot, anyway.) The lens does do a funny "jerk" motion at the 105 range when it changes focus slightly. Not alarming; just odd.

The EW-63 can be a bother if you let it. I keep this lens shade on all the time, (it reverses on the lens for compact storage,) and take the inconvenience in stride. It is a very rigid plastic, so I can and do forego the skylight filter, (never cared for them.) My only knock is that it looks rather odd, with both sides cutaway for wide-angle relief. (It looks like some mutant platic flower blossom on the front of my lens!) It also makes the lens look 100mm longer. I always reverse it for storage, and replace the lens cap then.

Pound for pound, apples to apples, I firmly believe this lens may represent the best optical value in photography today. (I'd be interested to learn what rivals it.) Even aside from its rich feature set, the overall crispness and contrast of this lens justifies and confirms the original desire of getting a 35mm SLR in the first place. I can't recommend this lens enough. Absolutely 0 complaints.

Jason Fobart , January 21, 1998; 02:45 P.M.

I love this lens too!!

My only complaint is something I noticed while reviewing some slides I took in Nov.

I always keep a UV filter on for safety, and I was also using a Circ. Polarizer...and unfortunately at the wide end I did get some vignetting. Going to have to watch that in the future....Looks to me like any wider than 35mm on this lens, you should only have one filter on it...oh well. Lesson learned.

Cliff LeSergent , March 13, 1998; 01:32 P.M.

For potential users of this lens concerned about the "ergonomics" of not being able to remove the lens hood with the lens cap in place, Canon has since modified their lens caps slightly, and the new caps don't interfere with installing or removing the lens hood.

OHM -- , March 16, 1998; 03:43 P.M.

I have used this lens for 4 years. I trade in my Nikkor gears for new EOS5 and this 28-105/3.5-4.5 and 80-200/2.8. At first I really like this lens as I compared the picture taken by this lens with the one taken by Nikon AF 35-105/3.5-4.5 which has more or less the same price. It worked well with extension tube for macro work. Until two year ago I used it for a graduation ceremony. I use it with probably the best soft filter(Carl Zeiss)available in 58mm.size and my fevorite film, fuji reala. I really disappointed with the result. the grain can be seen even at 4"x6".( I sometime enlarge the picture taken by nikkor 105/2.5 at wide open on fuji reala up to 12"x16" with a superb quality.)And of course in the real life I sometiome has to use it with soft filter at wide open. Since then I don't trust this lens but I still using it as I cannot afford a new and better lens. I don't know whether I made the right decision. I was facinated with the USM actually as I really disappointed with the poor focusing system of Nikon. At the same price=$250 I could buy Sigma 28-70/2.8 which is recognised as a nother great lens. Of course the focal range may be more limited and slow focus but you get a constant 2.8 and probably a better quality.(you may ask me to buy canon 28-70/2.8 since I really care about the quality. Anyway as otherpeople I cannot afford it and if I could I would not buy one as you can buy a third party one at a much cheaper price). I don't feel confident when I use my canon 28-105 as I trust it and feel that I bought the second best lens. I many time thinking about trading it for a new sigma 28-70/2.8 but I cannot make up my mind yet. I personally prefer the character of canon to sigma. Canon give a much brighter color especially under the bright sunny day. If you experience both Canon 28-105 and sigma 28-70/2.8 please give me your comment. Sould I trade for the sigma or the lens I has is already the best I can find. It may sound stupid but I need confidence and respect in my equipments. I cannot be happy as I don't trust in my lens.

Russ Arcuri , April 15, 1998; 04:40 P.M.

Regarding the above comment about large grain with the lens: No lens can cause large grain, except in a very indirect and unusual way. Your shots with the filter on Reala were probably grainy due to improper processing of the film at the lab, or possibly due to underexposure of the film. Underexposing negative film can definitely increase grain, especially if much of your subject is in shadow areas. So if you're upset about grain, don't blame the lens.

Scott Gant , July 30, 1998; 12:14 A.M.

For anyone who has doubts about this lens being only a "consumer" grade that professionals wouldn't touch, I direct you toward the August 1998 issue of Popular Photography.

Now, before everyone starts spouting off about this and that about lens test let me head you off at the pass: This wasn't a lens test I'm talking about. It was a special article written by Tim Fitzharris entitled: "7 Tips for Better Landscapes". 5 out of the 10 images were taken with the Canon 28-105 USM!

This just goes to show you once again, you don't need ultra expensive equipment to get excellent, professional and publishable images. It's the person behind the camera!

Arthur Tateishi , September 14, 1998; 02:41 P.M.

I'm adding my "me too!" for this lens. It really is a joy to use and it fills an incredibly diverse set of needs.

I had a Rebel XS with the Tamron 28-200. The Tamron was the older 28-200 with a minimum 5ft focus distance. This made the lens very awkward for a lot of close shots and family functions.

Since getting the 28-105USM, I use for almost everything and get nice comments all the time about my snaps. The Ring USM is so quiet and fast compared to my Tamron. One area in the review that was not highlighted on. The 28-105 is nice and compact as well as lightweight. I've carried my Rebel XS/28-105 combo on several trips (1300km bike tour, business trip to London, ski trip to Whistler, etc). I would leave the rest of the gear at home and take a small zoom case because I could. Sure, it was noticeably bigger and heavier than a P&S but everyone remarks that my shots are sharper, brighter, nicer than the others. The combination of size, weight, cost is a major win for such situations.

Dominic Barnes , October 29, 1998; 08:17 A.M.

One small tip re the lens hood for this lens - make sure you remove it when using the integral flash indoors as otherwise it throws a shadow on the picture.

J.R. Neumiller , December 12, 1998; 11:28 P.M.

After another year of pleasing usage, I'll leave another comment about this lens.

Its still #1 in my book, as it has proven reliable, durable, and consistent. Stopped down to f/8, it is as sharp as I've ever needed. (I prefer this setting, as it is the lens' sharpest, and covers just about the right DOF for most pictures.)

The last poster is right about the lens hood: you're better off removing it before taking a flash picture; even if using a shoe-mounted. It will cast obvious shadows, and pretty much ruin the picture. (Much more a problem with the short rather than the long tele range.)

The lens hood *must* be mounted squarely, or it will vignette at katty-corners of the picture. (Thus the reason for the cut-aways on it's sides.) Make sure it mounted firmly, "or you'll be sorrrry."

The hood also provides a reasonable guide if you want to cup it with your hand to provide more shading for the lens. Flare is a problem anytime the sun is even close to hitting the lens. (I haven't been able to get "reasonable" flare with this lens - whether stopped down or wide-open.) Sometimes it looks creative, but I've never gotten anything that looks like Phil's sunrise at Chaco Canyon. (One of his best, and my favorite screen background.)

I use standard lens cleaner to keep it clean, with an occasional spritz with ROR. (Has anyone found a good way to wash microfiber cloth? Even when I hand wash with dishwashing soap, it never feels as soft as new when dry, and seems to get dirty faster.)

This is the kind of equipment you want to own for a long time, so that when you get a bad picture back from the developer you never have to wonder whether it was the lens or something else.

It was something else.

Nassar Ali Syed , January 06, 1999; 08:43 A.M.

Hi there:

My camera system comprises of a CANON EOS1n with 50mm/1.4, 100mm/2.8Macro, 200mm/1.8, 300mm/2.8 Primes lenses which give excellent qulaity. However one of my favourite lenses is the 28 - 105mm/3.5-4.0 withouth which I could not have tkens the photographs on th elink below. I think this lens is a wonderful addition to my system and allows me to compose more freely, especially when I am travelling and want to stay light!

http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Boardwalk/2965 /Murree.htm

Bet regards

Nassar

Jan Kozak , January 14, 1999; 02:41 P.M.

Just read these posts and was wondering what am I doing wrong. I have a combo Rebel/28-105USM and my results are not good. This is my first AF camera set and if I use it as such the pictures come out like from $100 pocket camera. Then I decided to use it in P mode (program) and still - a litlle better perhaps - but some rolls are badly out of focus - especially when using the build-in flash. It focuses on something much closer to me then I intend. Tried to compensate for it - still, the results suck. What I do :1) decide what I want to capture 2) autofocus on what I want to be in focus 3) keep it there (partially pressed) and recompose the picture to my liking 4) finish pressing - exposure taken I don't believe that this could screwed in the processing of the pictures. If you have any secrets or find anything I'm doing wrong - please let me know.

Mark Sutherland , January 15, 1999; 03:21 A.M.

I recently purchased a Canon EOS 50, and i was undecided about a lens. I first was going to purchase the standard 28-70 mm lens but it did not meet my needs. the next lens i looked at was a tamron 28-200. After some discussion with friends and looking at homepages about the canon range of lens i finally opted for the 28-105. and boy am i happy with what i brought. The extra money i paid for it was nothing now that i look at the photos i have taken. Do youself a favor and send the extra bucks. you will never regret spending the extra dollars

Nassar Ali Syed , January 15, 1999; 12:07 P.M.

This is response to Jon Kuzak's Post.

The Rebel should perform very well with any lens as far as sutofucusing is concerned. In the Rebel, you can choose one of three points as a focusing point, unfortunately it doesnt lite up in the viewfinder but does show in the display below the viewfinder. Try selecting only one of the points (eg. the central one) and focus on your subject by depresssing the shutter half way. Keppeing the shutter pressed half way, recompose your shot and fully depress the shutter to take your picture. When all three focusing points are selected, the camera selects the one it thinks is the most important, sometimes this is not what we wanted. It may focus on something closer or further away then the object we require. Alternatively, you may have already slected a fucssing point (left, middle or right) without your knowledge, and the camera is using that point to focus anything it covers. Try it out.

Steve Allen , January 16, 1999; 06:38 P.M.

I have the 28-105 and find it to be very useful. It is well built and very sharp, but I have found one problem. I am not able to use my Tiffen circular polarizer and the lens hood at the same time. If the filter is applied first, you cannot attach the hood. If you attach the hood first, it is not possible to screw on the filter. As I usually employ a polarizer outdoors and always use a hood I am somewhat unhappy. I have not checked to see if using Canon's polarizer will correct the problem.

Cliff LeSergent , March 01, 1999; 03:41 P.M.

Just wanted to add a comment to what Steve said above; I also use a Tiffen circular polarizer, and find that it vignettes on the 28-105 zoom at the 28mm setting. One of the Canon polarizers or the new thin-mount Hoya polarizers is a better bet.

Harold Wolf , March 02, 1999; 02:21 A.M.

I to had a problem with my canon 28-105, ew-63 lens hood and tiffen circular polarizer. The adjustment ring on the Tiffen is just to wide to allow the lens hood on or off. The solution: The Hoya circular polarizer. I bought it after taking the lens and hood to my local shop and tried it out. The Hoya is smaller and allows the hood to be put on or taken off without removing the filter. HTH Harold

Chuck Ross , March 19, 1999; 12:19 A.M.

Hmm. I've read the comments about the lens hood on the 28-105 not fitting with the Tiffen Circular Polarizer, and had to try it myself. Guess what? No problem! The hood goes on and off perfectly with the filter in place.

Tan Chung , April 22, 1999; 07:03 A.M.

This lens is good. I have been using it for about 6 months now and I like the image quality very much. My pictures taken with this lens can be found at http://www.tanchung.com

David Warburton , April 25, 1999; 08:32 A.M.

I also have had vignetting problems with the Canon 28-105 but found a pretty easy solution. I had the Cokin A system and could not work below 35mm. Solution - Cokin P series holder. It wasn't the filters but the holder. Yes, it looks a little funny with the Cokin A hood attached but I'm interested in function, not profiling.

David Warburton

Dharmadi Hardo , April 30, 1999; 05:02 A.M.

I have this lense, compared to the other one (75 ~ 300 mm), this lense have less color matching. I tried to take a same picture with both of the lense, the 75-300mm gave better warm color than this one.

Mario Giberti , May 02, 1999; 09:19 A.M.

Great lens! Thanks for the posts. They convinced me to forget about the "standard"zoom offered with the Elan IIe, 28-80. My old camera was a Pentax K1000 with a Pentax f4 75-150 zoom. The new set up has sharper images, no doubt due to newer technology, and all of the new features. The extra 1/2 f stop is appreciated also. I enjoy spending time composing pictures and working with the camera metering system on the exposures, and not having to focus all of the time.I used to lose photos because I couldn't focus fast enough. The weight of the camera/lens in about 1/4 lb less then the Pentax K / 75-150 combo. My first roll of film with this lens (and body) was shot in the Beacon Hill section of Boston. Late day, great shadows with the Victorian Ironwork. The macro worked well for closeups of finials on the tops of iron posts. Exposures were sharp, and the flash filled in nicely. The lens hood should help reduce flair I got shooting at the Earth Concert the same day. Got hold of a backstage pass and shot with the press photographers. Of course, one has to expect flare when shooting straight into the sun, and the two earthy looking dreadlock guys dancing in the first row look a little wilder with the flare! This lens can be bought from World Photo and Video from the NYC mail order ads. $219 with $15 shipping to Boston . Got it to me in three days, no bait and switch. Other mail order places (Abe's of Maine) wanted to give me a Sigma lens for $25 more!, and when I wouldn't take it, they said everything ( I was ordering the Elan IIe also) would be drop shipped from Malasia, with a 5-7 week wait. Instruction booklets in Malaysian . Sons of _itches!

Mario in Boston

Janamejay Nemade , June 09, 1999; 06:34 P.M.

I own 28-105/3.5-4.5 for quite a some time now. Here is my impression about it in brief :

Cost : I could have settled on a lens with lower cost, but I AM HAPPY I PAID MORE AND GOT THIS LENS.

Zoom range : Takes care of most of my requirements, good landscape framing, good family pics, good family closeups (only birthday boy etc) too.

Sharpness : Good. It may not be as good as an "L" grade lens but I am happy. Money matters too !

Auto-focus : Fast, accurate, quiet and reliable. It works even in total darkness with the AF-assist beam.

Full time manual focus (FTM) : Not required often. AF WORKS GOOD !! Helps great during macro photography.

Vignetting : I have had vignetting problems when used at 28mm with UV and ploarizing filger, or UV and lens hood. I found it is best to take UV filter off when using polarizer, but found a pretty easy solution for the UV + lens hood problem. I bought a cheap 55mm rubber lens hood ($3 canadian) and separated the rubber part of it from the ring (28-105 is a 58mm lens). I stretch the rubber cone and fit it on the UV filter ring. One can glue it there too, but it might create problem when using the flash. I can take it out when not required. It works great. TIP : Keep the lens cover on the lens when putting the rubber cone.

Conclusion 1 : You get what you pay for

Conclusion 2 : Worth the extra money

Final comment : GREAT LENS to start with and for amature photgraphy where money matters too.

JJ Everett , June 29, 1999; 11:17 A.M.

This lens has been great. The AF is fast. I have no complaints about the lens, but if the 24-85 is as clear, fast, and rich as the 28-105 I would suggest getting a 24-85. I decided to go with a 28-105 and buy a 24 fixed. Unfortunately I do not always have time to change lenses and I loose some of the perspective of the scene. I shoot a lot of travel type photos.

Paul Gabriel , June 29, 1999; 05:24 P.M.

I4m sorry. But I don4t like this lens at all. It is definatelly a good compromise for those who don4t want to change lenses too often. I have big problems with the AF. Actually, it never works. Besides, this lens is too dark using a ASA 50 slide film for example. Then I decided to buy a Sigma 70-210mm /2.8 APO. This one has more sharpness, brillance the picture quality is just better. Both on a EOS5 body. -Paul

Lewis Brownstein , September 13, 1999; 11:15 A.M.

I have been using the 28/105 for three years all over the world and it is my "workhorse". While it may not be quite the equal of a prime, it is an outstanding all-around. As to the vignetting problem at 28mm, I bought a B&W slim polarizer and remove the UV when using it. You will get excellent results without vignetting.--Lew Brownstein

Justin Deeley , December 13, 1999; 12:36 A.M.

I purchased this lens as a replacement for my 28-80mm.

What a difference. It't considerably sharper, faster to focus, exceptionally quiet and relatively fast to boot (sure - it's not a f2.8 but 3.5 suits most of my needs).

The focal range is very versatile and this (along with a UV or Circular Polariser) is what stays on my Camera most of the time, and when it's in the bag.

If I had to go back to only having one lens (Non L series) then this would be in the top 2-3.

Michael Scherbakov , February 29, 2000; 02:50 P.M.

I've found some flare problem, especially on long end. Some times flare could be really heavy even when using the Canon hood. Another problem is boke (for portrait) Recomendation is to stop the lence if possible and prevent 105 end. Michael

Nick Roberts , June 11, 2000; 06:32 P.M.

When I wanted to replace my Mk 1 28-80 USM, I couldn't decide between the 28-105 or 24-85. So I bought both! This isn't quite as crazy as it sounds - my wife and I both use EOS 100/Elans, and her Sigma 24-70 had packed up. So what do I think? Both lenses are very similar - very sharp for focal range and price, with fairly high distortion (just frame a straight line at the edge of the viewfinder at either end of the focal range for evidence). Both are awkward with lens cap/filter/lens hood combinations. But above all else, theyr'e sharp and well built, giving confidence and enjoyment whilst in use. The down side is we both use more film!

Puppy Face , July 23, 2000; 03:14 P.M.

I've owned several Canon 28-105 USM lenses and have carried them all over the world. There isn't a more perfect travel lens: reasonably sharp, the most used zoom range, light but strong construction, fast AF and FTM. I considered the 24-85 also but it is about $175 more, I'd have to buy a new PL-CIR filter and I already have a 24 2.8 (which sees little use). My only beef with the 28-105 is that the filter threads are only a few mm from the front element. You must move very slowly and carefully as to not slip and scratch the glass when installing a filter.

Lately the price of this lens has fallen sharply. I paid $375 for my first one in 1992. I bought one from Camera World 2 weeks ago for only $229 (USA not Gray). What a bargain for a fine lens.

Samir Koirala , July 23, 2000; 04:40 P.M.

I've used the 28-105 as my primary lens on an Elan IIE for over 4 years. For the money, it's a hard lens to beat - light, optically very good, and with an extremely useful focal length range. I would recommend any serious amateur considering a Canon 28-80 to put in the extra dough if possible for the 28-105. It is more solidly built, and the extra half stop (4.5 vs 5.6) at the longer end comes in handy when light levels dip. My 28-105 has gotten a fair amount of abuse through the mountains and jungles of Nepal, and the deserts of the western US in the past 4 years, and is still going strong. The inner tube of the zoom wobbles now and has a tendency to creep when slung facing down, but neither of these problems affects the optics. As with most consumer AF lenses, the zoom and manual focus rings have a cheesy, rough rotation (compared to old manual lenses we were weaned on), but these too have no effect on optics. As far as build quality goes, this lens is above average in its price-range. Sharpness, contrast and flare (with the slide films I usually use) are on par with or better than similar lenses on the market: not outstanding but very good, especially at f/5.6 and smaller. One caution: if you don't want flare and ghosting, be sure to shield the lens from direct light. It's good practice with any lens, but I have noticed that flare is much worse with zooms in general than with single focal length lenses, which have fewer elements. AF is a delight - smooth and silent; and the ability to touch up focus manually is very useful. After shooting hundreds of rolls of film using this lens over the past 4 years, I can confidently say that for the money I couldn't have gotten anything better or more versatile.

Joshua Marker , October 10, 2000; 07:09 P.M.

Based largely on reviews from photo.net, I bought canon's 28-105 from B&H. I considered the 28-135 with IS, but couldn't bring myself to drop the cash. It actually has a quicker climb up the minimum aperature, too. Well, I'm more than pleased. $229. I took it this weekend to a Renaissance Faire to get pictures of costumes, dancers, and the like; I was overjoyed. Faster and quieter (too quiet?!?!) than my 50mm 1.8; a constant joy. And as you'll see from the links below, optically great. A fantastic lens for the price. I haven't explored it to all the nooks and crannies of its abilities, but my first reaction is, "wow.".

Adrian Sia , November 02, 2000; 10:41 P.M.

My best general purpose and travel len. Begineer that got the kit package SHOULD upgrade to this len. I didn't believed it until I tried it. However after years hanging around me, the zoom starts to creep. Any idea how to fix & prevent this? (where by I assume this is normal wear & tear for a zoom lens?)

And I just read that the mkII version is out to replace the former?? Have anyone test it out? In term of built and optically, is it for better or for worst?

Thanks, Adrian

Gerald Flapper , December 11, 2000; 03:53 P.M.

I had the possability to choose between the no. I- and II-type and phoned helpdesk and professional service from Canon in Holland. The answer was that the difference between the two is only a (slight) production/technical difference; there should be not any difference in optical quality what so ever. The II-indication is to make clear the lens is from a newer productionrun.

Gerald Flapper The Netherlands

tammi tran , January 23, 2001; 11:47 A.M.

This is a great lens to be carried while you're on travel. It's extremely versatile and sharp. I am currently using it in combination with my Elan I and II. It produces beautiful images. I have tried the 28-135 IS but didn't like the extra weight and money. the IS cost almost twice comparing to this lens. Also, I didn't feel the higher price of the II version justifiable. You really don't gain anything with version II. I would rather save the differences and put it toward the 20-35 zoom. Don't forget to get the matching hood. It DOES help!

Anan Lapsuksatit , March 08, 2001; 03:48 P.M.

I own both 28-105 USM I and 28-135 IS. I prefer the first 'cause it's faster, cheaper, lighter, and probably more durable. At 105mm, the maximum aparture of 28-105 is 4.5, but 5.6 for 28-135. It causes me difficulties at dim light, harder to focus (even auto-focusing) and dimmer view finder. F5.6 is too dim for my EOS3's cross focusing sensors. Both have the same picture quality in my opinion, but the IS costs you almost double. Not to mention the larger filter size (it matters when you use B+W filters, which are much more expensive for larger size). The weight and size is another weakness for the IS. With this size, plastic construction is not solid enough esp. when you zoom at 135. However, the 135mm is nice and IS works really great. After 4 years, my old 28-105'optical is still working great, but the lens is full of dusts inside and the zoom function is not working smoothly. I'd recommend 28-105 and save your money for the 'L'.

Rory Lindeman , March 11, 2001; 12:27 A.M.

It's a good lens, but, I don't use it below 35mm @ 4.5. Vignetting is a problem. At 28mm you need to stop down at least 2 stops to try and avoid vignetting and softness around the edges of the frame. It's disappointing that Canon would allow such an obvious problem to be a part of such a popular lens. I suppose these days you will have to be Bill gates to afford lens' that are techincally good.

des robinson , August 31, 2001; 12:33 A.M.

in response to -- tammi tran, January 23, 2001's comment. what is the attraction for an EOS user/owner of the original version for him/her to justify upgrading to the new lens?

Only one: better lens barrel construction - the original version was designed entirely with polycarbonate materials while the new zoom has been constructed with a much solid body; from the lower part, which is of the same type used on certain L-series lenses like the EF 135mm f/2.0L USM and EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM.

Harry Arnold , September 21, 2001; 09:29 A.M.

The zoom on my 28-105 failed after about two years of spasmodic indoor and outdoor use, but not abusive use. It was always either banging against me and whatever was near while hanging on my neck, or it was in a padded carry case. The internal gearing just gave up on the first extension, so it would not retract shorter than about 50mm with the zoom ring. It could be pushed in to 28mm without any force, and the auto focus still worked, however, so I didn't lose any pictures. But I had to keep sticking my finger in front of the lense any time I wanted to zoom wide. It was usable, but not working right.

This, I thought, is the perfect opportunity to slip a new lens through the budget. But I wanted something better, not just a replacement. To make a long story short, I sent it in for repair after looking at the available alternatives.

For several years I had used only prime lenses -- 105/2.8, 28/2.8 and 50/1.8 -- because at first there were no zooms, then later, the zooms were not sharp or fast enough. These primes were not Canon, but the manufacaturer, Miranda, which has deceased, made decent lenses. However, I never liked the 28/2.8 prime which always appeared too dark and vignetted under all conditions but bright sunlight.

A couple of years ago I bought the Rebel G with Canon 28-105/3.5-4.5. This lense is close enough to 2.8 to get lost in the photo fog, and in spite of possible barrel, pin cushion and whatever at the extremes of the zoom, I can report that at approximately 50mm the distortion is so small tha one can stitch digital prints together with no visible mismatch in the overlap. I have printed up to 24X36 from ISO 25 Royal Gold, and routinely print 16X20 from anything up to ISO 400 Royal Gold. I have never noticed any vignetting, nor has any pin cushion or barrel distortion been apparent, even in some wide shots I made in an art gallery with picture frames all over the walls. The lens is not the weak link in my photographs. If anyone is interested in making copies of documents or other tasks where linearity is critical, I suggest that you investigate the fixed length, manual focus, macro lenses. The best one I am aware of is orders of magnitude sharper and more linear than any zoom, and a lot cheaper.

I agree with the majority of respondents on this page that the 28-105 is THE lense to leave on the camera. I have a much wider lense (20-35mm zoom) which has convinced me that anything shorter than 28mm is a whole new ball game for composition. I will also remind users of a neat touch: the built-in flash on the Rebel will cover the 28mm field of view. The lense hood will cast a shadow from the flash, but the lens by itself won't. One should assume until proven otherwise that a lens with a shorter focal length and equal or larger aperture will cast a flash shadow without a lens hood.

Shannon L , September 22, 2001; 01:20 P.M.

In regards to the above posting about the Hama lens cap, I have one on many of my lenses, the 28-105 included and it is indeed much easier to remove and replace the cap with the lens hood attached in the shooting position.

As for it's contruction... yuk. When I first pulled them from the box, and attached them to my favorite lenses, the fit was not very secure. Very wobbly in fact. However, after removing the release mechanism from the cap and milling the bottom portion down, the fit is alot more reliable.

I would recommend going to your favorite camera shop (frequently) and get one of the newer Tamron or Minolta caps. These both have release tabs on the inside and outside of the cap, and additionally they fit SOOOO nice. However, most of these caps that come in used are snatched up by the store employees before us poor consumers are even given a glance at them. I don't know if you can purchase them new or not, but it might be worth a try.

Oh, and if you are repelled by the idea of putting a Tamron or Minolta cap on your famed and well-loved 70-200/2.8L or 24/1.4L lenses... well that's ok, more for me :)

j riggio , November 12, 2001; 05:48 P.M.

I'm very interested in buying this lens. It's now november and there is a NEW 28-105 lens II. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing? any comments?

Jiri Belak , January 23, 2002; 07:43 P.M.

Hi everybody! First off all I hope you will understand my coarse English. I have few Canon lenses (50/1.4; 28-105, 70-200/2.8, 100/2.8 macro, 24/2.8). I was thinking to get rid off 28-105. But first I was curious and tried to compare the great 50/1.4 with that. I expected 50/1.4 to beat up 28-105 without problems. Guys, I was shocked. Maybe I am blind :o) but I didn't see any difference between them. Even my friend thought that pictures from 28-105 are sharper!!! What was a little bit weird for me - the same size of pictures I get when 28-105 is set about 58mm. Now I know - I will not sell it. I guess the best (rather flexible) lens for weddings etc. Buy it, keep it. Jiri

Peter Vance , June 05, 2002; 02:50 A.M.

I just read all these posts about the 28-105/3.5-4.5 USM. It seems the bulk of users are more than happy with the lens as was I until about 2 weeks after purchase(Early 2002, the mark II model I believe). My gripe with this lens has to do with the Full Time Manual focussing feature. After using the feature while doing macro work on some botanical specimens I found it began to seize. At 4 months old the lens is no longer usable in manual focus mode as turning the focusing ring has no effect on the internal mechanism and the lens makes a horrible squeaking noise when in auto focusing mode. I don't know if it's just this particular lens (a dud?) or somthing to do with the new version. Either way it's going back to the manufacturer (Under waranty)hopefully for replacement.

Mani Varadarajan , July 30, 2002; 04:49 P.M.

I'm not quite sure why everyone praises this lens so much. It was my primary lens when I bought my Elan II a few years ago, and I thought I was getting acceptably sharp pictures, until I bought the cheap 50mm 1.8, and subsequently the 85mm 1.8. The latter two lenses simply blow the 28-105 away in terms of contrast, sharpness, and color rendition.

These days the only reason I use the 28-105 is for flexibility and for snapshots -- never for good, enlargeable photos. The difference is very visible even in 4x6 prints, and is definitely there when viewing slides under a loupe. I have also had significant vignetting problems when shooting wide open with the recommended hood.

Unless I have a partial lemon (and don't get me wrong, the lens is fine for snapshots -- just not that great for critical shots, or for quality travel photography) I think people are better off buying a couple of primes.

Mike Guglielmone , October 22, 2002; 08:34 A.M.

To give some minor tips...using two or more filters on "wide angle" ranges of any lens often times runs the chance of having vignetting happen. Personally, I think this lens is better than the canon 28-135 due to the simple fact that when the latter of the two is held at steep angles, the lens like to creep in the direction which gravity is pulling...don't get me wrong, having IS has it's benefits...but I don't like that fact that it changes focal length by itself.

Also...to follow up on a previous comment about the two versions of Canon's 28-105 lenses being exactly the same....re-read the descriptions...the USM I (the plain one) does not have a 3.5-4.5 f-stop...it is a 4.0-5.6....there is a difference there, also, there is no aspherical lens in the USM II, and I am fairly confident that it is not a "ring type USM" like the USM II model.

And as far as anyone worrying about the pictures being sharper, and more contrasty...a quick tip would be to slow the shutter speed, to increase the depth of field...and use low grain films; i.e. 100 or lower if possible.

just a thought that i had about big photos as well ...you will be hardpressed to get a photograph taken with any 35mm camera to be suitable for anything bigger then 4x6 or 5x7, to make bigger photos you should look into using a medium or large format camera body...this info may or may not be totally accurate...this is just information that I have heard from friends that I have discussed this problem with. Back to the lens discussion at hand...I know many people...a few professional, and many amatures that use and live by this lens...so do not worry about it being a "chintsy" lens at all...just use common sense, and read a few books on photography to pick up some tips... This review was not intended to offend anyone...just to help in clarifying some questions, so I apologize if anyone was offended.

Adam T , December 07, 2002; 09:46 A.M.

I think Mike has the 28-105 revisions totally confused here .. the Lens was first introduced in the early 90s - it had a 5 blade Iris and Ring USM like the consumer EF20-35.. Later on (about 2000ish) they released a Mk2 which was identical optically but had a more Matt finish to the body and a different style of rubber zoom ring .. at some stage they introduced a 7 blade Iris, I don`t know if it was during the Mk1 or Mk2 revisions but have been told that if it has a "Flower icon" to depic Macro on the body then it`s a 5-blader, if it has "Macro" written instead it`s a 7 blader...... BOTH versions are F3.5-4.5, Neither have Aspeherical elements and both have metal lens mounts

Recently Canon introduced a budget 28-105 which IS F4-5.6, has a 6 blade iris, plastic mount, awful cheap construction and inferior optics - there are two versions - one with a Micro motor and one with Micro-USM, these are cheaper than the original models though not enough cheaper to make them worth buying..

AS for the originals - they make good walkabouts especially on a D30 or D60 as you don`t get the Vignetting problems which you do slightly at 28mm with film.. the lens is a bit soft wide open at 28mm and not the most contrasty on earth but if used at F4.5 all the way through it`s a damn good well contructed fast focussing budget lens.... BUY before they discontinue it and only the Toylike cokebottle successors take over

Steve Dunn , December 12, 2002; 05:50 P.M.

at some stage they introduced a 7 blade Iris

This was a slipstream change to the Mark I lens. I bought my 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 (Mark I) in 1997 and it was the 7-blade version with the word "Macro" on it.

Evrim Icoz , January 31, 2003; 02:25 P.M.

Mani, don't you think it is a little out of line to compare a zoom and a prime? Esp. who knows what aperture you compared them at.

28-105 f3.5-4.5 is a really good prosumer lens. Nothing more. But it is EXCELLENT value for the price. Way better then the 28-80 or 28-90 lenses that came with it.

I shot some slides and scanned them in at 4000dpi to see how this lens compares to Canon 28-135 USM IS, Tokina ATX Pro 28-80 f2.8, Canon 50mm 1.8 and Canon 85mm 1.8.

Obviously the primes killed everyone, but they also killed Canon 70-200 4L. That is expected.

Of all these lenses (28-105, 28-135 and Tokina), I can say that they are all pretty much the same. If there is a difference, I can't see it. Maybe Tokina is marginally better but then it is soft at 80mm f2.8. But then at least you can shoot in 2.8.

I sold the 28-105 because I found that 28-135 with a D60 made a good walk around - travel lens. I still have the Tokina which I use when I am shooting for money.

Sean Leslie , December 10, 2003; 01:05 P.M.

You can purchase this lens in a kit for about $170 Canadian Discount at Henry's along with an Elan 7. If you are looking for a good 35mm Camera body, with a great lens this kit is great. I was tempted to get the FREE 28-90 kit lens that came with the camera, for the same price as the body alone, but the lens just didn't seem worth it (you get what you pay for). So I got the 28-105 USM II. For low light I also have an inexpensive 50mm 1.8 for those really low light shots (note manual focusing is a must at low light with that lens).

Cheers, Sean

Igor D. , January 20, 2005; 05:49 P.M.

I bought and tested this lens, must say it is really good for the price. Very good performance wide open at f4,0 comparing to the other cheap canon zooms I used.

David Williams , September 08, 2006; 10:43 A.M.

Lonodn August 2006. Having been unable to find a new copy of this lens I found a very nice second-hand one and decided to buy it on the spot. Having read all the glowing reports on here and elsewhere I was disappointed to say the least. The optical performance was pretty atrocious at the edges at 28mm and didn't really get useable until f8 or f11. But even then it was still pretty grotty. I have been using a Tamron 28-200 for a few years on my T90 so I know just how good/bad zooms can be, this one was not anywhere near the mark. I should add I was using it on a 1.6 crop D60 so no excuses really. It was better at the tele end, but not much. The shop gave me a refund and undeterred I have a new one on order. I'll let you know what I think of that copy - it can't be any worse - hopefully David

Billy Bylund , May 28, 2007; 01:58 P.M.

What is the true difference between the Canon 28-105mm USM I versus the newer USM II. The canon website says it has a new exterior, and also more "groups and elements" within the lens (see canon lens pdf comparison). what difference does this make? Also - what difference does a hood make?

David Williams , June 05, 2007; 07:47 A.M.

Another update on this lens. New copy is better but still not brilliant. I would say this lens is un-useable wide open at 28mm for any purpose. Stopping down to f4.5 sees a marked improvement but you really need to be at f8 before you get decent quality - and even then it's not stunning.

The tele end is much better, but then I wonder how much the impression of poor wideangle quality stems from wide angle shots often having detail to the corners whereas telephoto shots don't.

Anyway overall impressions - nice focusing and handling but image quality not very good athe WA end, better at the tele end.

HTH

David

Ian Miller , August 21, 2009; 05:32 A.M.

I have and continue to use the Mk1 version of this lens, its a great little traveller and works well on both film and digital cameras. Its lightweight and strong and has never once let me down. Sihanoukville2

a t , February 25, 2010; 04:11 A.M.

I have Version 1 with the word macro.

At f3.5 28mm. Soft focus (not accetable) only really comes into accetable at f5.6. With flash f3.5 very poor performance in close range (2m).

Tested using tripod and photos of newspaper taped to wall at 2-5 meter tests. At 5.6 very similar but slightly poorer sharpness to 450d kit lens (18 -55mm (IS) f3.5-5.6). Conclusion kit lens preferable for indoors, short distance and IS will give additional stability. Best results 50mm f1.8 version 2 (that's expected as it is a prime).

Out and about: f8 upwards very usable lens. Sharp focus. Similar sharpness results to Tamron SP 10-24mm f3.5-4.5 at 28mm compared to Tamron 24mm. Also similar performance to Tamron AF70-300mm at the 105mm. Conclusion I will be using the 28-105 for outdoor work in street photography to save swapping from kit lens to Tamron.

Overall, hardly suprising this is a consumer lens with its limitations. If used within the limitations it gives good value for money. If not you may lose that unique moment to a bad shot...value for money? Your call.

Just tried using live view to focus...28m f3.5 much better than AF!! Maybe the reason for mixed rivews is that there is a slight issue with AF? Any thoughts appreciated.

Johnny Boje Jensen , May 18, 2010; 02:37 A.M.

hello

 

it is very importen to choise the right model of this lens, there are four different model.

second ver. of mk I ( 7 blade and made in japan) is the right one

http://reviews.ebay.com/Canon-EF-28-105mm-f-3-5-4-5-USM-Zoom-Lens-Buying-Guide_W0QQugidZ10000000000771280

Flavio Egoavil , December 13, 2012; 03:37 P.M.

New test comparison - isn't such a good lens

The wider the zoom range, and the wider the aperture, then the harder it is for a lens engineer to achieve the most optimum picture quality. Take this test just as a comparison between similar lenses.


I compared today these three lenses on a Canon 5D MK1 (full frame):

A: 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 USM first version (optically identical to the one that says "macro")
B: 35-80mm f4-5.6 PZ (rare "power zoom", cheap and light)
C: 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 (1987 version, one of the first standard zooms for the EOS system)

Lenses A & C had just been serviced by a qualified technician.

Test subject was an urban landscape at infinity.

24 or 35mm -- wideopen

------------------------

A: (28mm f3.5) :

sharpness: UNACCEPTABLE unless you like very soft pictures.
contrast: ok

vignetting: noticeable

CA: very low (may be due to lack of sharpness)

B: (35mm f4) :

 

sharpness: good

contrast: slightly low

vignetting: slight

CA: low

C: (28mm f3.5) :

sharpness: very high, startingly high compared to the others (!!)

contrast: very high
vignetting: slight

CA: very low

 

 

24 o 35mm stopped down to f8

-----------------------------

A :
sharpness: good

contrast: normal

CA: very low

distortion: perceptible but slight

B :
sharpness: very good

contrast: normal

CA: almost nothing

distortion: perceptible but slight


C :
sharpness: high

contrast: high

CA: almost nothing

distortion: low (!)

 

I did also tests at 70mm with generally the same results between A, B and C.

Conclusion: This sample of a 28mm-105mm 3.5-4.5 USM lens was of very noticeably inferior quality to the old, 1987 lens, 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 non-USM, which gave readily noticeable images.


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