Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens Review:

I've just tried the new Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM for a few days and want to share my first impressions and sample images here. Full review for this lens and comparison with two other 28mm lenses is planned. I have no intention to shoot test charts, because nobody shoots test charts, print them and hang the pictures of test charts on the wall in real life, and there are lots of places over the internet, where you can check out formal lens tests. I will supply a link or two at the bottom of this review page where you can check all these formal test results if desired. I want to share some real life experience here.


A 21st century update to a popular and widely used fixed focal length lens, the Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is a fixed focal length wide-angle 28mm lens equipped with Canon Optical Image Stabilizer technology, superb image quality and performance perfect for use in any number of photographic applications. Sharp, clear images are easy with an Optical Image Stabilizer that offers up to 4 stops of shake correction while a ring-type USM and advanced CPU with optimized AF algorithms enable faster auto focusing. Aspherical lens elements help improve image quality on the periphery and lens coatings help minimize ghosting and flare. A 7-blade circular aperture diaphragm delivers beautiful, soft backgrounds. Compact and lightweight with outstanding lens performance, it's the perfect lens to go with any EOS DSLR camera whether shooting stills or video. – this is a short description from official Canon web site.

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is a very nice lens. It is small and light, smaller and lighter than Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Lens. It doesn't feel like a toy as Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens does. Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is build similar to Canon L lenses, it just lacks the red stripe on it, and a weather sealing gasket on a lens mount. The lens body is made of high quality plastic with metal mount. Focus ring is wide for a lens of this size and operates silently and smoothly, without any wobble. The lens is equipped with a ring-type USM for fast and silent AF operation, and allows full time manual override. Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is not a champion in terms of focusing speed. AF speed is good, but it is not nearly instant like on the best Canon L lenses, but fast enough for most situations. AF accuracy is although very good.

The lens has internal focusing and doesn’t change its size. Filter thread is fixed and doesn’t rotate, so it accepts polarizing and gradient filters well. Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM has 58mm filter thread. I recommend using high quality UV or protection filter, that doesn't degrade image quality, to protect the front element from accidental fingerprints, dust, waterdrips and scratches. Good examples are Canon Protect filter, or B+W UV MRC filter. B+W UV MRC filters are probably the best, as they don't degrade image quality at all, and cleans very easily, thanks to special coating. I fill much more comfortable cleaning dust and fingerprints from filter than from an expensive lens, sure one shouldn't expose lens to these, but unfortunately it happens sometimes.

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is equipped with a new generation Image Stabilizer. Canon claims that it offers up to 4 stops of shake reduction, and I think that it is almost true. IS on this lens works insensibly, you never notice it while working, but it really helps to efficiently reduce camera shake. Shot below was taken handheld in a cold weather, it was below -7 degrees Celsius, and in such conditions it harder to hold camera still. Image stabilization on Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is implemented very efficiently, as it doesn't affect image sharpness if you shoot with tripod, so there is no need to turn it off.

Covered bridge, Canon 5D mark III, f/5.6, 1/8s, handheld.

Covered bridge, 100% crop, Canon 5D mark III, f/5.6, 1/8s, handheld.

Moscow city at night, Canon 5d mark III, f/8, 10s, tripod.

Moscow city at night, 100% crop, Canon 5d mark III, f/8, 10s, tripod.

Optically Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is excellent. It is very sharp even wide open, especially in the center. Corner sharpness wide open is not perfect, but good. Sharpness improves slightly when stopped down, by f/4 it is sharp in the frame corners too. There is plenty of sharpness for any real life use even wide open. When you shoot wide open, you probably want to isolate a subject with a shallow depth of field, nobody puts main subject in a frame corner. So when you use Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM lens, you need to adjust aperture for DoF only. Color reproduction is very accurate; saturation and contrast are excellent. It captures almost all the tiniest and finest details, look at the sample shots below.

Phone, Canon 5D mark III, f/5.6, 1/50s, handheld.

Phone, 100%crop, Canon 5D mark III, f/5.6, 1/50s, handheld.

Chromatic aberration on Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM may be noticeable only in extreme conditions, but in real life shots there is nothing to worry about. It has only small traces of chromatic aberrations that can be corrected easily in software. On the sample shots it is not corrected, so you can see that it is negligible.

Vignetting is visible when you shoot with Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM wide open on a full frame body, but quickly disappears stopped down. When you shoot at f/2.8 aperture vignetting emphasizes visually perceived depth, have a look at the sample with flowers. Distortion is not noticeable in real life shots.

Shop window, Canon 5D mark III, f/5.6, 1/50s, handheld.

Shop window, 100% crop, Canon 5D mark III, f/5.6, 1/50s, handheld.

Old door, Canon 5D mark III, f/5.6, 1/25s, handheld.

Flowers, Canon 5D mark III, f/2.8, 1/25s, tripod.

Bokeh, or how the lens renders of out of focus areas, is a very important characteristic of any lens. Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM bokeh is very good, thanks to 7-blade circular aperture. Background is rendered very smooth and nice, however highlights may have slightly visible triple edges.

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is flare resistant, it doesn't lose contrast with the bright light source in a frame. There may be some color artifacts, but there are not as severe as with 28mm 1.8 USM.

White house, Moscow, Canon 7D, f/8, 1/800s.

Conclusion. Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is a great travel or street photography lens. This lens gives you great flexibility, it is useful for anything from landscapes to candids and interiors. It is good for environmental or interior portraits. Close focus ability can create dramatic perspective. Excellent 4 stop image stabilization system makes Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM a low light photography gem. On a APS-C camera body it is equivalent to approximately 45mm lens, wich makes it very nice general purpose lens. I use 28mm prime lenses as first choice for my travel photography for APS-C camera since 2006. First it was Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Lens, later it was upgraded to Carl Zeiss Distagon 28mm f/2.0 ZE Lens. Now with Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM the choice is wider. It offers excellent image quality, consistent AF and very efficient Image Stabilization in a light and small package.

You can buy Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM here (use these links to support this site) :

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens at Amazon.com

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens at Adorama

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens at B&H Photo

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