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When I first took this lens out of its box, I was impressed. "This is the
BIGGEST 28mm lens I've ever seen! Heck, it's the biggest 70mm f2.8 lens I've ever
seen!". The lens is bulky, and has an equally bulky lenshood. The fact that it
takes 77mm filter should give you some idea of its size - and it's much longer
than it is wide.
After shooting my first roll of Velvia with the lens, not a formal test but a
variety of subjects shot with the camera mounted on a tripod, I spread the
resulting slides on my light table. I invited Suzy, my girlfriend at the time and
a die-hard Nikon fan, to inspect the slides using an old 50mm lens I use as a
loupe. She closely inspected slide after slide for several minutes, in silence.
Finally, she quietly said, "That's one *bleeping* sharp zoom!"
This lens replaces the earlier EF 28-80/2.8L. What happened to the
extra 10mm at the long end? They were donated to the
70-200/2.8L, which was introduced in 1995 as a
replacement for the earlier 80-200/2.8L.
Besides improved optical performance over its predecessor, the EF 28-70/2.8L
includes 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. As is common with
autofocus lenses, the manual focus ring is a bit looser than I'd like, but
whenever I get grumpy over it I just look at some slides, shake my head, and
mutter, "sheesh, those are SHARP!" The front does not rotate while the lens is
focused, which is handy when using polarizing or split-density filters.
Zoom action is smooth, though my sample has a slight hitch right at
50mm. This lens has five cams to move everything around, and the barely-noticable
hitch occurs as one lens group appears to change direction, and is probably due
to a tight curve in the cam's slot. The lens is longest at the 28mm end, shortest
at the 70mm lens. Since the lenshood mounts on a non-moving portion of the lens,
as you zoom to 28mm the front element crawls up to the front of the hood. Cutouts
in the hood ensure it will not vignette at the wide end. Zoom back to 70mm, and
the lens retracts, the resulting being a nice, deep hood at the long end. Though
not unique to Canon, it is a great design.
The lens contains a lot of plastic, but feels solid to me, and the lens weighs
less than its bulk suggests. I do field work each fall in a rugged mountain
range, in a backpacking situation, and this lens has held up well to the bumps,
storms, and dust there.
You can't judge performance from highly compressed JPEG images, but I've
included a couple anyway. The older woman was shot in a Diary Queen - she was a
student in an Elderhostel I was teaching at the time. The second photo is of the
Goshute mountains, which hosts the largest fall raptor migration in the western
United States. I work at a banding and monitoring project there each fall. The
third photo was taken at the Chiricahua National Monument, in Arizona.
Philip Greenspun's photos with his 28-70/2.8L
One of the luxuries of having root password on this Web server is that I can
randomly add stuff to contributors' articles. :-) Here are some of my snapshots