Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 USM IS - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews -
Canon EOS (APS-C)
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Special thanks to Markus Stamm for providing this lens!
Released in early 1998 the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 USM IS was the first standard SLR zoom
lens featuring an image stabilization (IS) mechanism.
Using its IS capabilities the camera motion is detected by 2 gyro sensors which measure the
angle and speed of the shake. This information is used to shift a lens group off the optical
axis (basically a forced decentering) to counteract this motion. The result is a significant
improvement of handholdibility under extreme conditions. According to Canon the stabilizing
effect is equivalent to about two steps of shutter speed - reads: slower shutter speed so
there may be side effects with moving objects in your static scene. Besides the IS on this lens
cannot be used for object tracking purposes. Nonetheless IS is immensely useful in the field
if you don't want or cannot carry a tripod.
The combination of 5x zoom ratio, a range from wide-angle to short tele and IS
made it an attractive allround zoom - consequently with a huge success in the film SLR market.
Well, that was then but today APS-C DSLRs rule the mainstream and will continue to do so for a
few years. Due to the 1.6x cropping factor the zoom has a field of view equivalent to ~45-216mm
on full frame cameras. So on APS-C DSLRs it can be classified as short tele zoom rather than an
allround zoom. Consequently Canon released the EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 USM IS to fill the gap with
a similar field-of-view like the 28-135mm on full-frame SLRs.
Nonetheless the lens is surely still present in many camera bags so it makes sense to check
it out in the APS-C scope (as usual on the EOS 350D/Digital RebelXT). Its range could still
make sense in conjunction with an ultra-wide zoom lens like e.g. EF-S 10-22mm + EF 28-135mm IS.
The lens extends during zooming being shortest at 28mm and reaching its max. length at 135mm. As you
may notice below the lens features a so-called duo-cam zoom system with two inner lens tubes.
The optical design includes 16 elements in 12 groups with one molded glass aspherical lens element in
the rear group. Its aperture mechanism features 6 aperture blades. With a size of 78x97mm and 549g
it isn't one of the smaller standard zooms out there but a 5x zoom range and image stabilization
simply doesn't come for free here.
The build quality is decent though not great. There's a little play in the duo-cam system
and the focus and zoom control rings aren't damped. Nonetheless it's one step up from bottom
end products. The lens has a very fast and near silent USM (ultrasonic) AF drive with allows full-time
manual focusing in one-shot AF mode. The minimal focus distance is 0.5m resulting with a max. magnification
of 1:5 at 135mm. The front element does not rotate so using a polarizer is no problem.