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4.3 out of 5 stars
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Standard Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras
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2,526 of 2,556 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2004
Product Packaging: Standard Packaging
I bought this lens four years ago and have shot around 6,000 photos with it (4000 digital, 2000 35mm). Autofocus is very fast and quiet, which is typical of the Canon USM lenses. I would not recommend a Canon lens that does not have the ultrasonic motor (USM) focusing. Optics are sharp throughout the focusing range.
The lens is fairly heavy and after a few months of use, you will likely find that the weight of the glass is enough to make the lens telescope out when it's around your neck. If you want a compact lens that will let you take great pictures in a wide range of settings, this is probably the best lens you could get for a Canon camera. If you're a pro, you'll probably have a backpack full of lenses and you're not reading this anyway, so I'm not talking to you. If you want something you can sling over your shoulder and not think about when you take the kids to Disney World, get a cheaper, lighter lens.
The Image Stabilizer (IS) makes the lens a lot more expensive (some lenses are offered with and without it), so you should know what you're paying for. Some notes about the Image Stabilizer:
- The image stabilizer itself is basically a spinning lens element (piece of glass) that acts as a gyroscope. When the lens moves slightly, such as camera shake caused by your pulse, the gyroscopic element stays put while the other elements move. Because the gyroscopic element is no longer in line with the other elements, it effectively bends the light just enough to compensate for the lens moving.
- Having the IS feature does not mean that you can take crisp photos with a 1/20 sec exposure while jumping on a trampoline. What it means is that you can often get away with not carrying a tripod in normal lighting, and in low light when your photos would be very blurry (assuming you're not using really fast film), the IS will make the images significantly less blurry. An obvious corollary is that you can avoid using a flash in many situations when a flash is undesirable or prohibited.
- The rule of thumb to get crisp photos without image stabilization is that your shutter speed should not be longer than 1 over your focal length. So if you are taking a picture zoomed in at 135mm, your shutter speed needs to be 1/135 sec or faster, and since no camera I know of has a 1/135 setting, that means going up to 1/160 sec (on cameras with stops in 1/3 increments) or faster. The image stabilizer means that you can go 2 f-stops slower than you normally could using the rule I just explained. So if you're shooting at 135mm and you have the IS switched on, you can shoot at 1/40 sec instead of 1/160 sec. That means four times as much light goes past the shutter, or that you can get the same quality results with 1/4 of the ambient light you would normally need.
- There are some times when you SHOULD NOT use the IS feature. You should definitely not use it if you are in a car, on a roller coaster, if you are walking, or in any other situation where the camera is moving or vibrating a lot. You will get blurrier than normal images because the gyroscopic element is constantly moving all over the place, trying to prevent the image from moving. Only have IS switched on when you are using the camera in a normal, stationary, handheld manner. You should also not use IS when you are using a tripod, or when you have the camera resting on a vibration-less surface for an image. The reason is that the gyroscopic element will be spinning even though it's not needed, and while this isn't really bad, the motion could decrease photo quality (I've never noticed this, but this is what Canon claims), and it is unnecessarily using battery power.
- Finally, not all of Canon's IS lenses use the same IS technology; many of the more expensive and newer lenses are better, but it was hard enough for me to come up with what this lens cost--it'll be awhile before I can rationalize three times as much for an upgrade.
One last note about third-party lenses, in case you're thinking about it. I know the price may be compelling but there genuinely does seem to be major quality differences, and while all Canon EOS lenses work will all Canon EOS cameras, no matter how many years apart they are in design, it has happened several times that even the best of the third party lenses (Sigma, some others) do not function properly with new Canon cameras. I happily buy knock-offs with other things, but not with lenses, flashes, or other camera components that actually communicate with my camera.
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544 of 556 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2003
Product Packaging: Standard PackagingVerified Purchase
While I considered purchasing a Canon 10D, I also started looking for a good first lens. Most of the reviewers and Canonites on the various forums suggested this lens as a good starting point.

The 28-135mm IS USM Zoom is the one I use all the time now on the Canon 10D, and that will be the case until I get over the sticker shock of the 10D/28--135mm combo and start adding other lenses to my kit.

In the meantime, this lens gets the job done very well. It gives you good range for a variety of of shots, from portraits to telephotos. There is even a macro mode, which gives you the opportunity to do close-ups--not really a true macro, but okay for shots of flowers, your kitty cat's face, etc. It is the flexibility of this lens that makes it so appealing if all you have is just one lens. And remember that if you mount this lens on a digital camera, like the 10D, the range is actually extended by a factor of 1.6.

The USM focuses fast, and the Image Stabilization (IS) really works. In fact, I've been spoiled by it, and IS is now a must for any of the longer lenses I might purchase in the future.

The IS system "locks" on target so that camera shake is eliminated or at least seriously minimized. This means fewer shots ruined by camera shake, and the IS system allows the user to shoot handheld at slower shutter speeds. This isn't just advertising hype. It works.

The image quality is quite good. I get good color saturation, contrast, and sharpness. After tweaking some shots in Photoshop, I was able to turn out some excellent 13x19 inch prints.

As others have pointed out, if you are just starting out with a Canon DSLR or SLR and want one good general purpose lens, this is it.

As of August 2008 I have sold this lens because I have moved on to Canon "L" glass, but the EF 28-135 is still a great lens to start with if you are just beginning to learn photography.
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309 of 316 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2005
Product Packaging: Standard Packaging
Dollar-for-dollar, this is the best consumer-grade Canon lens available. The focal-length makes it a great walk-around lens. The onboard Image Stabilization allow for crisp zoom shots without a tripod. If your hands shake a lot, this lens will help overcome that.

On the flip side, I found the Macro option provides a really startling level of detail up close. I also found the combination of the f3.5 and Image Stabilization to be of great use in low-light, indoor shooting where flash is prohibited. It's a fairly fast-focusing lens, too.

Even though I have upgraded to an L-series lens, the 28-135 is still a personal favorite. Considering it is 1/3 the price of an L-series lens, I cannot find a single fault with it. Anyone looking for a general-purpose lens for under $500 to compliment their Canon Digital Rebel, Rebel XT, 10D or 20D has found it here.
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203 of 211 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2005
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Finding unbiased, reasonable, reviews of camera lenses can be more difficult than one might imagine. A large percentage of the reviewers deem anything that does not live up to the quality of the highly esteemed "L" class of Canon lenses to be, frankly, inferior.

I almost didn't buy this lens because so many members of a forum that I frequent bashed this lens and recommended the 24-105L as the only really "good" choice in the focal range I wanted. Fortunately for me good sense pevailed and I bought the 28-135 anyway. The fact that the 24-105L was three times the price ($1200) certainly weighed heavily on my decision.

SO GLAD I DID.

This lens is well built, has a very usable focal range and (at least my copy) is RAZOR sharp. I expected good quality of a lens this price, but I was not at all prepared for the stunningly sharp images that it renders. Color and contrast are very good. The other good "walkaround" lens in this price point is the 17-85mm. I tend to prefer a longer focal length and the 28-135 qualified me for Canon's generous triple rebates so the choice was clear. F3.5 is fairly fast and the IS does allow hand holding in lighting conditions that would otherwise necessitate a tripod, but for very low lighting you may want to try the 50mm F1.8 prime (They're only $80, buy one).

So if you are hesitating to buy the 28-135mm for any reason please don't listen to the "L" snobs, it's a great great lens.
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249 of 266 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 29, 2007
Product Packaging: Standard Packaging
This lens has been my workhorse for the past two years. I have dragged this lens through the rain forests of the Amazon, backpacked with it in Europe and hiked with it in New Zealand. The lens locks into focus very quickly and the image stabilization works quite well. When I first got the lens, I played with turning off the IS and then taking the same photo with the IS and I found that with the IS I could get the same quality photo at a slower shutter speed if need be.

However, that all being said, this lens does suffer from some problems. A friend of mine and my sister also have this lens and two of our lenses arrived out of the box feeling quite loose. While holding the camera body with one hand and the end of the lens with the other, you could move the end of the lens about an alarming amount. I am not sure if other owners have this same problem or if it is just normal. Or maybe the looseness has just gotten worse over the past two years due to use.

The biggest problem with this lens is dust in the lens. Google this lens +dust and see how many people out there are complaining that this lens sucks dust into the body due to the extending piston design. If I hold this lens upside down after it spends some time in my camera bag, I can see dust all over the inside of the lens. I am not taking photos with a lens that I know produces spots and may be pumping the dust into my SLR body. After only two years, I am now forced with the choice of returning the lens to Canon to be cleaned or writing off the lens. Canon can not tell me how much the cleaning will cost until I send it to them. However, I will have to pay $40 for their time making the estimate if I decide that the repairs are too costly.

Despite the problems, unless you have the money for an L lens, get this lens because it is fantastic. Based on my budget at the time, I would not hesitate to get this lens again despite the problems. But, if you want a lens that will last longer and is much better, spend the extra money on an L.
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109 of 114 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 23, 2005
Product Packaging: Standard Packaging
I bought this lens for my Canon 20D digital camera and have found it to be a great all-purpose, everyday-use lens. Here are the best features from my perspective:

1. The range of telephoto zoom is adequate for 90% of photo opportunites. 28-135 mm telephoto in digital photography translates into 48-230 mm in SLR film photography. Since a standard camera lens is 50-55 mm, the starting range of this zoom lens equals that and then has the added versatility of zooming up to 135 mm (or 230mm in old style camera figures). In my opinion, this added range of framing a shot gives the photographer so much more creativity, as well as being able to bring objects into closer, more intimate range. I mentioned that this lens is good for 90% of all general camera shots; the missing 10% are those pictures that require a better zoom (more telephoto zoom), and those pics that need a wider field of view. You may find that for group photos in close proximity, you want to take a step backwards to get everybody in the frame. This is not a problem unless you simply don't have the room to take that step back. I solved this problem by switching back to the original 18-55mm lens that came with the camera. For the more distant shots that can't be drawn into the 135mm zoom of this lens I purchased a better telephoto zoom.

2. The lens has autofocus and IS stabilization technology. For one used to manual focus lenses in SLR film photography, the addition of a fast autofocus lens is a terrific feature! I used to miss those spur of the moment shots because I was trying to achieve focus. With this lens, you make those shots, because within a milisecond of depressing the shutter down halfway, the picture snaps into focus! I absolutely love this feature! The focuser has many points of potential focus, so it adapts easily to virtually all focusing situations. For the really difficult focusing shots, there is the option of manual focusing. While nice to have, I rarely use this option. The Image Stabilization feature is a handy one in the longer shots. "IS" lets one get away with a bit of camera shake without too much out-of-focus smear on the picture. Canon does not recommend using the IS feature on tripod shots, so there is a switch to turn off the IS if desired.

3. The lens takes sharp clear pictures. I have not been disappointed with the quality of the lens at all.

Drawbacks

1. While there are not too many drawbacks to this lens, I think the major one is that the lens is bigger and heavier, in fact, much bigger and heavier than the standard 17-55 mm lenses that come with SLR cameras. For me this is not a problem, however, for one that wants to have a lighter-weight camera, this could be considered a serious drawback. On the other hand, a SLR camera like the Canon 20D or digital Rebel is not designed to be a smaller pocket-sized camera. It is a larger format camera and of course the lenses will be larger (and heavier) as well.

2. Cost. At just over 400 dollars, this lens is an investment. Again, one has to weigh the obvious financial outlay, but the 28-135 mm lens is so superior to the cheaper 18-55 mm lens, that in my opinion, it is well worth the cost to upgrade.

With this product, Canon made a great everyday camera lens. From my perspective, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and I do recommend this lens to be your everyday standard camera lens.

Jim "Konedog" Koenig
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78 of 81 people found the following review helpful
Product Packaging: Standard Packaging
I bought this lens last year for my first Rebel (300D). I used it a lot to take indoor shots with and without a flash (the 420EX Speedlight works well with this lens). I've been able to photograph my daughters' (both) at various school events (band, chorus, etc) with and without a flash.

I just upgraded my Rebel to the Rebel XT (350) and this lens works even better at the higher resolution!

I recently started using it for more obscure things like nature closeups. The lens is a dream in this capacity as you sometimes have to hunt around a lot to find your "target" and only have a few shots before it is gone again. The IS helps ensure that one of those few shots work out well.

If I have a complaint, it is the size. It is rather long, and was a pain in the neck before I bought a new bag. I took a leap of faith and decided to replace this lens with the new Tamron 18-200mm Di II Zoom. Well, after about a week & half the Tamron was packaged up and is heading back. There is no competition! Should Canon decide to go the "DO" route and shrink this lens (like they did with the 70-300) I might replace this one, until then it is "stuck" on my Rebel XT.

Oh yeah, important stuff: The IS feature uses power from the camera battery. On the behemoth of a battery on the original Rebel, I could go on and on. With the XT, however, I seem to get about 300 - 400 photos before having to recharge the battery (even then it is about 1/2 full). So far this is not a very big issue.
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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2006
Product Packaging: Standard Packaging
I bought this lens to launch my wedding and portrait business earlier this summer and this by far has been one of the best purchases I have made. This is my first lens that has been over two hundred dollars that I have ever bought, my second was the 100-400 L IS.

If you are used to using the consumer grade lenses by Tamron Sigma or the included EFS 18-55 lens that comes bundled with the Rebel, the moment you put this lens on and look through the veiwfinder you will see the diffrence it is punchy clear and very contrasty in comparison to the kit lenses.

I love this lens because it gives me nearly all of the focal length i need to get the job done, I can pull it back and on my digital rebel at 28 mm its about a 35 mm lens perfect for landscapes and wide angle ceremony pictures. Zooming into 135 it becomes a 216 mm lens on my Rebel. Perfect telephoto for quick candid shots of kids and brides.

The Image stabilization is a great tool, I have taken photos which I have used for print hand held as low as a quater of a second. Get used to it before you depend on it because it does have its limitations and be sure to switch it off when you mount this lens to a tripod as it will ruin your photos if you do not.

I was impressed with the resolution of my digital rebel when i first used it with my old lenses but after attaching the 28-135 it was as if I had a completly new camera with more resolution and clarity than ever before.

The focus is fast and silent you forget its there most of the time, its nice being able to over ride the focus at any time by sinply grabbing the focus ring. It has a fairly close focusing distance also, you can get near macro shots, i have taken great flower pictures with it so far.

You have invested money into a extremely highquality camera body, you owe it to yourself to get a good peice of glass to compliment the rest of your camera you wont regret it!
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2007
Product Packaging: Standard Packaging
I bought this lens when I got my Digital Rebel XTi and I absolutely love it. The price put me off a bit (at the time I didn't realize how expensive these things really are!!). However, just holding this lens compared to the kit lens (which I didn't take) was amazing. This lens feels solid, not heavy, but solid. By holding it and working the mechanical parts you can really tell it's a well-built piece of work.

Since purchasing this lens I've used it to shoot at parks, family gatherings, theatre events, and even on the track at the Kentucky Derby. The focus is fast and the range in focal length is fantastic. I do lighting design for theatre, dance, etc and I needed a lens that would work well in low-light/bright-light conditions equally well. The 3.5-5.6 aperture works great for this. Quality is equally good between a dimly lit stage and sitting on the dirt at the derby taking a shot of Street Sense winning.

It's currently the only lens in my arsenal, and it's served me well. The colors are fantastic and the images are crisp at all lengths. I've been able to produce some great shots without ever touching them in Photoshop. I highly recommend this lens to anyone looking to get started in the world of DSLR photography, as well as anyone looking for a quality lens that takes great shots, but doesn't cost an arm and a leg like an L series lens.

I will say this, it wouldn't hurt to get the lens hood for this model. I was very happy with it before I got the hood, but the hood really eliminates a great deal of the lens flare and allows for shadows to show up better as well as more color contrast in bright/noon light. For such a cheap investment, it really has a great impact. If you're looking for one, the model number is EW-78B II.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Product Packaging: Standard Packaging
I first bought the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Zoom Lens to use with my Canon 10D along with the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM telephoto zoom lens. About three years later I now have a Canon 20D and sold off the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM for a better lens. As for the Canon EF 28-135mm, I still have it and get plenty of use from it.

This is not an L lens, but that is no reason to avoid this lens; no matter what level you shoot at. The construction is sturdy and consists of 16 elements in 12 groups. The focus type is the standard twist zoom, and permits for auto or manual focus depending on how the switch is set.

The Canon EF 28-135mm lens is compact measuring 3.8 inches long and lightweight weighing in at about 1.2 lbs/540 g, and accepts 72mm filters. Since my other lenses accept 77mm filters, I use a step-up adapter ring to limit the number of filters I have when I can. The f/stop ranges from 3.5 - 22 on the short focus range and 5.6-36 on the long with the f/5.6 starting at about 90mm. The closest focusing distance is 20 in/50cm. In addition, the lens has a USM drive mechanism for optimum AF performance, and the pulse control diaphragm (EMD) ensures precise aperture control.

The IS system is composed of a pair of gyro sensors to detect vertical and horizontal motion and a microprocessor that compensates for it by shifting special lens elements in parallel with the perceived movement. It is recommended that the IS be off when shooting on a tripod. I have used the IS on my Bogen 3231 professional monopod with deatchable legs successfully. A monopod is not as stable as a tripod though, with or without the legs. Using the IS, you can obtain sharp pictures two stops below where you normally would. This is a huge advantage in dim light or places where flash is prohibited. Just keep in mind, the IS attempts to eliminate camera movement, not the movement of the subject being photographed.

A distance scale ring sits below the focus ring. Turn the distance scale ring all the way to the left and you are set for low magnification close-up photography. Turn it to the right and you are able to set for infinity compensating for changes in temperature as necessary. The distance scale includes figures in red as an infrared index to use when shooting black and white infrared film. Shooting infrared is not available on all cameras. If this feature is a must, make sure this lens is compatible for infrared photography on your camera body.

The Canon EF 28-135mm includes a 1 Year US Warranty and the front & rear lens caps. The EW-78BII hood and LP1116 soft lens pouch is sold separately. Depending on your set-up, the case may not be that important, but get the hood as it will decrease lens flare and increase metering accuracy. If you use filters, Canon recommends against stacking.

As I add new lenses to my collection, this lens will probably be sold. I don't see myself selling this lens in the next couple of years though. Depending on what subject I am shooting, I get heavy use of this lens. It is a great starter lens at a good starter price with plenty of versatility.

Update: Having come into some cash, I sold this lens May '06 and upgraded to the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens. The 24-105mm was not available when I originally wrote the review of the 28-135mm lens. If the price difference isn't an obstacle, consider purchasing the 24-105mm instead. Otherwise enjoy the 28-135mm lens.

PROS:
A compact, lightweight standard IS zoom that can be a workhorse
Versatile landscape lens

CONS:
Hood not included
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