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Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the prime, wide-angle, Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM lens.

| Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM in Interchangeable Lenses
Handling and features
Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens Review: Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM

This new wide angle prime lens from Canon sports a fast f/2.8 maximum aperture, image stabilisation and an ultrasonic focus motor. This lens is currently costs around £700. Does the performance of this lens match up to the price? Here we will take a look.
Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens Review: Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Handling and features

The design of this lens is similar to many of Canon's latest high-end consumer grade lenses. High quality plastics have been used for much of the construction and the lens mount is metal. A silver ring around the rubberised focus ring finishes off the look nicely. Overall the lens has a high quality feel to it and the use of plastics has kept the weight down to a chiropractor friendly 260g. It balances extremely well on the Canon EOS 5D MkII body used for testing.

Autofocus is powered by an ultrasonic motor, and focus speed are very quick. Manual focus adjustments can be made at any time, whether the lens is set to AF or MF. The focusing ring is well damped and has a smooth action, which helps to make fine adjustments easy to apply.

The 58mm filter ring does not rotate as focusing is performed internally. This makes the lens ideal for use with graduated and polarising filters. Closest focus is 23cm, which is great for shooting in cramped environments and even for the occasional close up image.

Including image stabilisation on a wide angle lens like this is an interesting approach. Even so, with care sharp hand held images are possible around half the time with shutter speeds as low as 1/8sec, which is around three stops slower than the usual rule of thumb would allow. The ability to hand hold the camera at such long shutter speeds should open up quite a few creative possibilities.
Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens Review: Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Performance

The performance of this lens is quite amazing with regards to sharpness. Sharpness is outstanding across the frame from maximum aperture right down to f/11. This kind of performance is about as close to perfect as you can get.

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens Review: Resolution at 28mm  

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D MkII using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are well controlled, only just exceeding half a pixel width towards the edges of the frame at most apertures. This low level of fringing should pose few issues, even in large prints, or harsh crops from the edges of the frame.

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens Review: Chromatic aberration at 28mm  

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D MkII using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is very noticeable at maximum aperture. At f/2.8 the corners are 3.6 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved until the aperture is stopped down to f/8 or beyond.

Only a mild level of 1.06% barrel distortion is present and the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make it relatively straightforward to correct in image editing software afterwards.
No lens hood is supplied as standard by Canon, which is a shame. Luckily this lens doesn't suffer any severe issues with flare, even with bright sources of light in the frame. Contrast remains high when shooting into the light also. If you require the optional lens hood the EW-65B will set you back a wallet-lightening £47.

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Sample Photos

Value for Money

At £700, this lens could be considered quite expensive for a prime lens with an f/2.8 maximum aperture, even with silent focusing and image stabilisation.

Canon's other 28mm lens costs around £380 and sports a faster f/1.8 maximum aperture, but no image stabilisation.

Third party offerings at the same focal length include Sigma's 28mm f/1.8 EX DG. Although this lens lack silent focusing and image stabilisation, it does have a faster maximum aperture and can be picked up for around £360.

Those with a taste for the exotc, and deep pockets to match, may also consider the Zeiss ZE Distagon 28mm f/2 T* lens. This lens has a fast f/2 maximum aperture, but lacks autofocus, image stabilisation and any electronic coupling with the camera. Even though it is quite basic in terms of features, it still costs around £1070.

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Verdict

Although this lens isn't cheap, especially for a prime lens sporting a maximum aperture of f/2.8, it does deliver excellent sharpness, low CA and distortion. Although these attributes are probably worth the price, you'd still be forgiven for expecting this lens to be more keenly priced.

Still, those looking for a high quality, lightweight wide angle lens for video, or stills could do a lot worse and maybe the price will drop in time as this lens becomes more available.

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens Review:
The Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM lens has outstanding sharpness, low CA and distortion.

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Pros

Good build quality
Image Stabilisation
Outstanding sharpness
Focuses close

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Cons

Falloff at maximum aperture


Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Canon EF USM
Focal Length28mm
Angle of ViewNo Data
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size58mm
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus23cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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josa Avatar
josa 11 25 Czech Republic
10 Aug 2012 12:57PM
A very good lens but...expensive, expensive, expensive!!!Sad
boardhead Avatar
10 Aug 2012 1:04PM
It would be nice if you could provide non-photoshopped samples.
joshwa Avatar
joshwa Plus
13 927 1 United Kingdom
10 Aug 2012 2:00PM

Quote:It would be nice if you could provide non-photoshopped samples.

Hi, the images were shot in RAW and Photoshop has been used to convert the images from RAW to JPEG for display on the site.

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