Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS - Review / Lab Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published October 2009


Over the years we've seen a variety of "super"-zoom lenses made by Canon. Apart from the professional grade EF 35-350mm L and EF 28-300mm L IS there were also a couple of consumer zoom lenses-: the EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 (full format) and, recently, the EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. Neither of the latter were overly impressive actually. Starting with the release of the EOS 7D there's a new option in this market - the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. The lens is available as part of a 7D "kit" or separately for about 400€/450US$. Upon first, naive view it seems a bit brave to combine a 7.5x "budget" zoom lens with an 18mp DSLR - well, hopefully this is not too brave. The EF-S naming refers to Short-backfocus design which is only compatible to APS-C EOS SLRs. In this scope the provided field-of-view is equivalent to 29-216mm on full format DSLRs.

The build quality of the Canon lens is slightly better compared to the typical low-end/"budget" class zoom lenses by Canon. The plastic quality is quite decent and the lens feels pretty "tight" in terms of build tolerances. The mount is made of metal. The lens extends when zooming towards the longer focal lengths but there's no wobbling of the inner tubes even at the 135mm setting. The zoom and focusing rings operate quite smooth although they don't scream "quality" here. It is somewhat annoying that the focus ring rotates during AF operations. Fortunately Canon managed to keep a static front element so it's no problem to use polarizers. The tested sample did not suffer from zoom creeping.

The lens uses a conventional AF micro-motor (DC) rather than the typical Canon USM. However, the AF speed is generally fine, less so the accuracy at the wide end. There's no FTM (full-time manual focusing) though. The 18-135mm features an Optical Image Stabilizer for corrections up to 4-stops - at least according to Canon. In real life situations this seems a little optimistic so make it a 3 stop advantage outside of lab conditions. The AF speed in contrast AF mode (aka LiveView) is very slow.

Equiv. focal length29-216 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/5.6-f/9 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction16 elements in 12 groups inc. 1x UD and 1x aspherical elements
Number of aperture blades6 (circular)
min. focus distance0.45 m (max. magnification ratio ~1:5 @ 135mm)
Dimensions75 x 101 mm
Weight455 g
Filter size67 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodoptional, petal-shaped, snap-on type
Other featuresIS (Image-Stabilizer)

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