Canon EF 20-35mm f/2.8L - Review / Lab Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published February 2006

Special thanks to Anthony Harling for providing this lens!


The Canon EF 20-35mm f/2.8L is one of the oldies in the Canon lens lineup. Released back in 1989 it has been discontinued in the mid '90s in favor of the EF 17-35mm f/2.8 USM L (replaced by the EF 16-35mm f/2.8 USM L now).
Regarding its initial release date it is obviously a full frame lens but as usual this review focuses on the performance on an APS-C DSLR where the field-of-view is equivalent to 32-56mm so it's more a limited standard zoom here.

The optical construction is made of 15 elements in 12 groups with one high quality ground aspherical element. Its aperture mechanism has 8 aperture blades. The minimal focus distance is 0.5m resulting in a max. magnification of 1:11 at 35mm. The lens features a floating system for improved close focus performance. With a weight of 570g and a size of 89x79mm it is not especially small but still in line with other pro grade lenses in this range.

The tested sample has seen some use over time so its quality impression is surely worse compared to its initial state. Nonetheless it's still a level up from the average consumer zooms out there. The length of the lens remains constant regardless of the chosen zoom or focusing setting. However, the inner tube moves a little during zooming (see the product shots) - this is the same with most Canon ultra-wide zooms. The front element does not rotate so using a polarizer remains easily possible.
The rubberized zoom and focus control rings operate pretty very smooth but not really well damped which is probably related to its age. The lens uses a fast but conventional arc form drive (AFD) for focusing so full-time manual focusing (FTM) in not possible in AF mode nor really needed with such a lens

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