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Canon 28-135 IS USM F3.5-5.6

The venerable 28-135 is a well regarded "classic" from the days of 35mm film cameras and is also a favourite as a mid-range walkabout lens for many digital owners. APS-C camera owners have been stuck for choice in this area - with really the only Canon alternative being the twice as expensive 24-104 "L". Both options are designed for full frame cameras.

Nikon introduced the excellent 18-200 VR as a walkabout solution for their users - and Sigma followed with a 18-200 OS of their own which sadly offered variable performance across the board. So is the 28-135 is a good compromise between price and functionality ?

The build quality is good - better than the 70-300 IS although not up to "L" or "EX" standards by any means and the lens takes 72mm filters - so you'll need to buy a separate set or use extension rings. The focus and zoom rings feel solid as indeed does the lens as a whole. The lens features a distance scale and the front element doesn't rotate. Its also capable of full time manual. Quality wise this is an alright lens - whilst it doesn't feature any specialist glass stopped down to F8 it produces reasonably sharp images with middling contrast and colour - which is fine for well lit outdoor photography. The IS is equivalent of up to two stops - which combined with higher digital ISO's helps make up for the slow aperture and the need to stop down.

The image quality isn't anything special - I can spot the difference between an image taken with this and with my other (non "L") lenses without a problem. I have had the occasional sharp image but the majority of the time its been too soft for me. I find the colour flat and contrast equally so - compared to the 70-300 there's not a single image on this website taken with it. I really noticed the difference when I switched to a 24-105. The move highlighted just how poor the images were that I was getting from the 28-135.

There's not really a lot else to say about this lens - its does everything OK if not exceptionally. Its long enough for general day to day phoptography however its downside is that it simply isn't wide enough on an APS-C camera. While IS is nice - it could do with an extra stop or two to cope with indoor photography without using the flash. I've found that in terms of image quality the photos are fine for non-photographer friends - but blown up to 10" x 8" or larger for me, the image softness and flat colour begin to show up.

Would I recommend this lens ? No. I know its an oft repeated addage that must drive new photographers mad - but save your money for some decent glass. Its no doubt better than the consumer level "cheapies" - and having if it makes the difference between you between taking pictures or not then by all means go for it. It might even be fine for your needs.

Pros : IS, distance scale, reasonable image and build quality.

Cons : First generation IS, too slow for flash free indoor work, very soft wide open, not wide enough on an APS-C camera, flat colour and contrast. 72mm filter diameter.

Conclusion : I didn't like it.

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