Save & earn with MPB; trade-in and buy pre-loved

A Free Lens


Thank you for looking at my portfolio. I hope you find some images you like.
I read all your comments and look through the gallery, but I may only vote rather than comment.
...Read More

A Free Lens

2 Jun 2021 3:33PM   Views : 443 Unique : 290

I thought that would get your curiosity aroused. Canon had a promotion in the late 1990s where purchasers of photographic gear could claim a free lens. Which one did I go for? And is it still useful?

The exact details are lost in time, at least as far as I'm concerned. I think it involved buying a new camera body. The upshot was that there were several different lenses to choose from. The selection is something else that hasn't lingered in the memory, and why would it having made my choice.


I went for the EF 24-85 f/3.5-4.5 USM zoom for the wide angle view and the convenient range. Indeed, as a walkabout and travel lens its small size and lightweight were attractive. I even used it with extension tubes (not a first choice and I guess not recommended by Canon) to photograph leaf cutter ants in Costa Rica as I'd prioritised longer lenses for bird and mammal photography. It worked well enough.

The lens had been designed with the smaller format of the then recently introduced APS-C cameras but was also compatible with 35 mm SLRs (what would be referred to today as 'full frame' cameras). When more affordable digital cameras entered the market from the early 2000s their sensor size was around the size of the APS-C film camera format. The lens was ideally suited to those smaller cameras in size, weight and focal length range. While newer lenses were available of course, it meant older lenses had a place and were still a valid choice if you'd got one.

With the advent of mirrorless cameras that are smaller it was time to dig out that lens and give it another go. There are some nice lenses for the new cameras. The initial flagship models while being tantalising are, no two ways about it, on the large and heavy side. If absolute weight isn't an issue, maybe balance when hand-holding could be. With a lens design around 20 years old and the high resolution sensors in modern cameras I wasn't expecting top notch results. Where weight might be a premium, would the results pass muster to allow consideration of the lens? My first choice as a general lens is my EF 28-70 f/2.8 L, itself getting on a bit but still able to hold its own. The smaller lens has a more useful range. Apart from the smaller aperture at the wide end not allowing as effective differential focus, very good high ISO performance these days means that's much less of an issue in many situations. Vignetting and distortion aren't a concern either (not that I recall any significant issues) as they are adjusted either in-camera or in RAW conversion software.


After digging it out of the bag, literally as it's been living in the bottom compartment of a Billingham 335 along with other bits of gear, it was time to give it a go.

First impressions are good. It balances well on the smaller EOS R. Currently I need three lenses to cover the range of this lens, and going from wide to telephoto takes a bit of readjusting. Results look fine, and given it was designed for APS-C where greater enlargement of a negative for a given print size was required that's good to see. The coming weeks and months will allow a further and more critical evaluation. Nonetheless, even at this stage I can say it's a combination I'll make more use of especially when size and weight are a big consideration.


All text and images Keith Rowley 2021

Recent blogs by dark_lord

Unedited Images Rediscovered

While browsing for some image files recently I came across a folder containing a couple of dozen picures. I was sure I'd taken more than that. We all have our preferred workflow. On the whole I like to go through the results of a shoot fairly soon ...

Posted: 27 Nov 2022 5:49PM

Analogue Magic

One of the fascinations of analogue, or film, photography was watching an image appear in front of your eyes on the paper in a developing tray. Apologies first for not posting anything for a while as I've had some health issues to contend with for w...

Posted: 4 Nov 2022 4:40PM

Tripods A Personal History

Tripods are very useful accessories and in some cases indispensable for some types of photography. Some models are more suitable than others and Ive had a few over the years. Your working style and/or genre may mean you don't have an immediate need ...

Posted: 23 Aug 2022 3:01PM

Bird Photography (On a Budget)

Not everyone can afford extreme telephoto lenses for bird photography. Lower cost gear is perfectly effective and getting the best out of it will improve you as a photographer. We've all looked at fantastic bird images and thought that if we too had...

Posted: 12 Aug 2022 3:07PM

Black and White, We Can Learn From the Old Days

It's simple to produce a monochrome image these days. Creating a good one and realising your vision is another matter. Black and white images can be intensely powerful, muh more so than colour. Just think of some of the iconic images from the 20th C...

Posted: 13 Jul 2022 10:11AM

There are no comments here! Be the first!


You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join for free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.