Santa Fe New Mexico Family and Children Photographer – David Moore» Blog Archive » Lens review: Canon 28mm f/1.8 USM

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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 28th, 2008

    Lens review: Canon 28mm f/1.8 USM

    41AJ4YRZ1FL._SL500_AA280_.jpg Once you start appreciating how good prime lenses can be, a zoom will be a useful option but lacking some great simplicity and appeal. So it was I came to buy a new grey market copy of this lens – the Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – on e-Bay for a good price, when I should have been saving for a mid-range zoom. Tests report some vignetting and chromatic abberation issues, and at around $420 it’s not cheap – but I love it.

    Back to the 50mm way of seeing

    On my cropped Rebel XT, the classic 50mm prime turns into a useful but tall 80mm portrait lens.

    This is particularly noticeable indoors, where you find yourself backing up against a wall to fit in a headshot of two people standing next to each other. The solution: a 28mm prime that equates to nearly a 45mm lens on my camera body.

    The 50mm is considered the classic focal length on 35mm film and full-frame sensor DSLRs because it approximates the field of view of the human eye.

    So on the 1.6 crop bodies from Canon, this 28mm delivers the same comfortable field of vision in a fast, contrasty lens with much better build quality than the (admittedly much cheaper) nifty fifty.

    Quiet Competence

    The 28mm f/1.8 is quietly competent rather than spectacular, but is very handy in many circumstances. Its speed make it useful indoors or in low light (I shot a whole photo essay at the great River of Lights show in Albuquerque with it).

    Its small size and modest weight make it unobtrusive for street photography or bringing to events when you don’t want to look like a paparazzo.

    The pretty good minimum focussing distance mean that if you don’t mind zooming with your feet, you can still fill the frame with your subject.

    But (unlike the 50mm on a crop body) you can also resist the temptation in portraiture just to go in tight on the head and shoulders, with the 28mm giving the subject room to breathe.

    I have to say it’s slightly less sharp than my nifty fifty (at lower apertures, anyway), but that’s only noticeable when i do pixel peeping on my computer. What is noticeable immediately, however, is the rich and natural colour rendition.

    The focussing is fast and accurate, and the full-time manual focus ring is handy and smooth.


    Not that many, if you can afford it. It’s way cheaper than the 28mm L lens, well-built and very useful. The 50mm version at this level goes down to f/1.4 so you could count its f/1.8 against it, but that’s being harsh.


    Ken Rockwell has a very different approach to photography and reviewing than I do, but I have to agree with him on this lens – just get one.

    Even with the apparently more useful and definitely much more expensive Canon 24-105mm L at my disposal, if I’m just leaving my camera out to be ready to take random pictures, my 28mm f/1.8 is the lens that’s most likely to be on it.

    Sample images

    Off the hook


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    One Response to “Lens review: Canon 28mm f/1.8 USM”

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