Santa Fe New Mexico Family and Children Photographer – David Moore» Blog Archive » Lens review: Canon 28-105mm USM II

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This is the photography blog for photographer and writer David Moore. He's based in Santa Fe, New Mexico but speaks with a funny accent.


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    June 13th, 2008

    Lens review: Canon 28-105mm USM II


    Life through a lens

    I have a soft spot for this lens – the Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4 USM (a bargain at $230), even though I no longer own it.

    It was given to me by my mother-in-law when she upgraded her film SLR to digital, and it was partly responsible for reviving my interest in photography.

    So, for that, I’ll always owe it a lot.

    A good all-rounder

    If you’re upgrading from a basic kit lens, the 28-105mm might be a good place to start. Its range is pretty good – 105mm on a 1.6x crop camera like the Rebel XTi is quite long, but you might find 28mm isn’t wide enough for landscapes – it’s nearly equivalent to 50mm on a film or full-frame digital camera.

    The USM means focussing is fast and accurate, and the colors and contrast are acceptable.

    I was very happy with a lot of the shots I took with it, and while the sharpness and overall quality don’t match the 24-105mm L I replaced it with, there can be no complaints about that, given its price.

    On the downside

    Given its lowest aperture is a variable f/4.5 to f/5, it struggles in low light. Which in this case means indoors in daytime, unless you’re in a sun-filled room.

    You could try and jack up your ISO, but a better option if this is your main lens would be a cheap prime (like the $70 Canon 50mm f/1.8) as your indoor alternative.

    Zoomed in, the lens extends considerably in length, and the whole thing starts to feel a little creaky and wobbly. It never caused me any troubles, but long-term, I’d worry about its reliability. In fact, my copy was my mother-in-law’s replacement for an earlier copy that ground to a halt when dust and dirt found their way in (there are no seals).


    The Canon 28-105mm is a relatively inexpensive competent performer, and a few years ago it would have been a unequivocally good choice. Now, though I’d look at a few other lenses too – the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, and Canon EF 17-85mm IS, for example.

    They’re twice as much, though, so if you’re not shooting every day, and don’t do a lot of landscape photography, this might work out well for you.

    In my case, it was rewarding enough to make me buy a whole bunch of more expensive lenses. So if you’re aware that it might be a gateway lens that could eventually lead you astray, buy it and have fun.


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    2 Responses to “Lens review: Canon 28-105mm USM II”

    1. alex allan Says:

      this review makes me feel good, being spot on as the 28-105 is exactly what I own together with the nifty fifty f1.8II. I dream of course of L lenses (which I can’t afford) and what I am looking at as a next addition is the 85mm f1.8 or the 100mm f2 for portraits and discreet shooting of reluctant subjects (grandkids).

    2. David Says:

      Hi Alex, thanks for your comment, and I’m glad it’s working out for you.

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