Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Wide-Angle Prime Lens Review Roundup

2012-11-13 04:28
11/13/2012: Add review by LensTip, LensTests, TheDigitalPicture.
9/18/2012: Add review by SLRgear.
10/1/2012: Add review by PhotoZone.

On February 7 2012, Canon announced the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM and EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM lenses. All three lenses use a rear focusing system, high-speed CPU, and a ring-type Ultra Sonic Motor (USM) with optimized AF algorithms for faster auto focusing and sharp images. Canon upgraded both its EF 24mm and EF 28mm lenses with Image Stabilization technology and Ultrasonic Motor-powered auto focus. Both lenses feature Canon's Optical Image Stabilizer technology providing up to four shutter speed stops of correction. New aspherical lens elements improve the peripheral image quality and a 7-blade circular diaphragm delivers beautiful, soft backgrounds. The 24mm and 28mm lenses each have a minimum focusing distances of 0.20m and 0.23m, respectively. Here's the 28mm lens technical specifications:

  • Focal Length & Maximum Aperture 28mm, 1:2.8
  • Lens Construction 9 elements in 7 groups
  • Diagonal Angle of View 75°
  • Focus Adjustment Rear focusing system with USM
  • Closest Focusing Distance 0.23m / 0.75 ft.
  • Filter Size 58mm
  • Max. Diameter x Length, Weight 2.69 x 2.02 in., 9.2 oz. / 68.4 x 51.5mm, 260g

The EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM lens is listed for an approximate retail price of $799.99. It's currently selling at around $699, via Amazon.com. Here's the lens review roundup:

LensTip: "The resolution test of the Canon EF 28 mm f/2.8 IS USM was based on RAW files from the Canon EOS 1Ds MkIII body. In the case of that camera the decency level is situated near 30-32 lpmm and the best fixed-focus lenses can get as high as 44-46 lpmm. We don't have any reservations concerning the results in the frame centre. It is true that, near the maximum relative aperture, the lens gets values 1-2 lpmm worse than the 2.8/24 model we tested not so long ago but still its performance is very good. The result of over 40 lpmm reached at the maximum relative aperture is especially praiseworthy. However if you compare the resolution values of the Canon 2.8/28 IS with those of the older 1.8/28 model they are hardly so impressing anymore. The older device was weak at the maximum relative aperture but on stopping down it performed very well so its best results are higher than those of the new construction.
Looking how the lens fares on the edge of the frame you can notice what you gain, compared to the 24 mm instrument (and also compared to the older 1.8/28 which was really very weak on the edge of the frame). Small resolution loss in the centre is recompensed by noticeably better results on the edge of both types of detectors. It's worth reminding here that the 2.8/24 device had to be stopped down to f/5.6 to provide a decent image quality on the edge of full frame. Here it's enough to stop down to f/4.0.

The list of pros and cons of the Canon 2.8/28 is exactly the same as in the case of the Canon 2.8/24 IS, tested here not so long ago. However our summary of this one is going to be even more critical. Firstly because of the parameters, which are less extreme so the 2.8/28 model is easier to construct. Secondly, there is a much faster rival of the same make - the EF 28 m f/1.8 USM; the new construction compares unfavourably with it in many categories despite the fact that it is more expensive. In our humble opinion Canon would have fared much better if they had presented a typical successor of the 1.8/28 model - after improving the performance on the edge of the frame and at the maximum relative aperture such an instrument would have fond a wide group of fans, even with f/2.0 aperture and the price tag of about 3,000 PLN. In the current situation many people, instead of buying the expensive 2.8/28 model, will choose a faster 1.8/28 or they will make do with the elderly EF 28 mm f/2.8 which costs as much as one fourth of the price of the new lens."... [Source]

LensTests: "The EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is a compact and well-built prime lens with a common wide-angle focal length, a good maximum aperture and a modern image stabilizer that compensates up to 4 f-stops. While the image stabilizer sounds great one has to consider that it's not as necessary in wide-angle lenses as it is in telephoto lenses - but I still appreciate it. The lens is best used indoors or for architecture and landscape photography. When using the lens with an APS-C camera the resulting effective focal length of 45mm is close to a standard / normal lens and thus can be used for a whole variety of things. The lens offers good image quality - sharpness is great straight from f/2.8 and there is only a small amount of barrel distortion visible. My lab tests have shown that color fringes both in focused parts of the image and in out-of-focus areas are visible but compared with its immediate peers the lens's performance is quite respectable. There is no curvature of the focal plane but corner shadows are very intense and they are visible even stopped-down.

The EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is similarly priced to the EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM but costs a lot more than the EF 28mm f/1.8 USM which offers an even better maximum aperture (which is great for available light photography) but lacks an image stabilizer and cannot compete with the EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM's good image quality. Chances are you already own a zoom lens covering the same focal length in which case you are probably most interested in the EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM for its good image quality, compact size and the maximum aperture of f/2.8. Is this lens for you? I think it really depends on how you configure your kit. If you have use for the focal length / aperture combination the EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM's rugged build quality and good image quality will leave no regrets."... [Source]

TheDigitalPicture: "The new lenses are clearly sharper than the old ones. The old lens is quite sharp in the center at f/2.8, but don't let its stronger barrel distortion make you think that it is better than it really is. Barrel distortion enlarges the center-of-the-chart details. The 28 IS is considerably sharper in the mid and peripheral areas of the image circle than the original EF 28. The 28 IS is quite sharp across the frame at f/2.8 - and is razor sharp at f/4. There is no need to stop down any further for better image sharpness. Peripheral shading in full frame corners is about 3 stops at f/2.8 (moderately strong, but not unusual) and about 1.5 stops at f/4.0. Stopping down to f/5.6 improves vignetting slightly on a full frame DSLR with about 1 stop of corner shading remaining at f/11. These amounts are very similar to the 24mm f/2.8 non-IS lens. APS-C DSLR users should expect to see just over 1 stop of corner shading at f/2.8 - enough to be visible, but not strong. The EF 28 IS shows a modest amount of CA in the corners - and as usual, CA will be most noticeable in full frame format sensor image corners. The previous 28mm f/2.8 Lens produces a similar amount of CA. CA does negatively affect perceived image sharpness in the outer portion of the image circle - unless corrected. The 28 f/2.8 IS lens design has 4 additional lens elements (9 vs 5) over the previous non-IS design, but remarkably shows less flare than the previous lens. Almost none - flare is very well controlled. The Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens has a small amount of barrel distortion - slightly less than the older 28. As usual, distortion is most noticeable when straight lines are placed near the edge of the frame. APS-C sensor format DSLRs will not likely notice distortion in EF 28mm IS images. 

Like the 24mm f/2.8 IS lens, with a moderately high price tag, the Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens may be overlooked by some of those who could be well-served by it. I of course would appreciate a lower price, but I'm satisfied with the value this lens provides. You get fast and accurate AF, very good image quality and image stabilization in a package that is sized and weighted to go everywhere with you."... [Source]

PhotoZone, gave an image quality rating of 4/5: "The Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 USM IS is, undoubtedly, a high performance lens with only a few weaknesses. The center performance is breathtaking and the border quality is also very good if you close the aperture by a stop or so. The lens is also capable of keeping its performance in close-focus scenarios. The low amount of lateral CAs contributes to the high sharpness perception as well. The lens produces a slight amount of mustache-style barrel distortion which is lower than most zoom lenses. The vignetting characteristic is a a weak spot - at max. aperture there's quite a bit of light falloff so you should stop down to at least f/4 to reduce the issue to a more sane level (unless you're after the effect, of course). The quality of the bokeh (out-of-focus blur) is often a problem on wide-angle lenses but the EF 28mm f/2.8 USM IS delivers comparatively smooth results here (although they are not as buttery as on some tele primes). Bokeh fringing can be visible at f/2.8 but this is, again, a lesser issue when stopping down.

The build quality of the Canon lens is one a very high level with a constant physical length as highlight here. Typical for Canon USM lenses there're no issues with respect to focus speed and noise, of course. The new image stabilizer is certainly a very welcome addition e.g. for low-light photography. So technically we certainly have a winner here ... except for the pricing. The street price (as of the time of this review) is about 700EUR/800US$. This is about 3x more compared to the old EF 28mm f/2.8 and you won't even get a lens hood as part of the package. This is stretching things a little here in our opinion. Other than that ... highly recommended!"... [Source]

SLRgear: "On a sub-frame camera such as our studio Canon 7D, the lens provides excellent sharpness across its aperture settings; on a full-frame camera, the corners of the lens show a little softness. Mounted on the Canon 7D, the lens provides consistent sharpness from its widest setting of f/2.8 through to f/11; while it's not tack-sharp, it is very sharp indeed. Diffraction limiting sets in appreciably by f/16, and there is a generalized softness when fully stopped-down at f/22. Mounted on the full-frame Canon 1Ds mkIII, we noted a bit more of the lens' corners: specifically, it's a bit soft in the extreme corners when used wide open at f/2.8 and f/4, and while the central region of the frame offers excellent results for sharpness, the corner areas trail very slightly behind. You won't get tack-sharp results with this lens, but results will still be very good. Diffraction limiting again sets in at f/11, and f/16 produce slightly higher generalized softness. The sub-frame 7D is hit a little harder for chromatic aberration than the full-frame 1Ds mkIII, but in both cases it's fairly consistent across the range of apertures, showing up as magenta-green fringing in areas of high contrast. Happily, you won't notice it through the majority of your image, as it shows up in the corners of the image. 

Canon uses a black stippled texture to finish this lens, which is light and fairly small, and mounts well to any of its camera bodies. The lens uses a new optical configuration: 9 elements in 7 groups, including aspherical elements (this is a big change from the previous 28mm f/2.8's 5 elements). In addition, the lens uses seven circular diaphragm blades to make up the aperture, to produce pleasing out-of-focus elements. The lens features a distance scale under a plastic window, measured in feet and meters, as well as a depth-of-field indicator (f/11 and f/22 marks) and an infrared index marker. Canon makes an innovative decision to include image stabilization in its wide-angle prime lenses; the lens performs well, perhaps not quite as well as the lens it is replacing (at least in terms of sharpness) but the image stabilization will be welcomed by landscape shooters and videographers alike."... [Source]

ePhotoZine, gave a rating of 4/5: "The performance of this lens is quite amazing with regards to sharpness. Sharpness is outstanding across the frame from maximum aperture right down to f/11. This kind of performance is about as close to perfect as you can get. Chromatic aberrations are well controlled, only just exceeding half a pixel width towards the edges of the frame at most apertures. This low level of fringing should pose few issues, even in large prints, or harsh crops from the edges of the frame. Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is very noticeable at maximum aperture. At f/2.8 the corners are 3.6 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved until the aperture is stopped down to f/8 or beyond. Only a mild level of 1.06% barrel distortion is present and the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, which should make it relatively straightforward to correct in image editing software afterwards. No lens hood is supplied as standard by Canon, which is a shame. Luckily this lens doesn't suffer any severe issues with flare, even with bright sources of light in the frame. Contrast remains high when shooting into the light also. If you require the optional lens hood the EW-65B will set you back a wallet-lightening £47.

At £700, this lens could be considered quite expensive for a prime lens with an f/2.8 maximum aperture, even with silent focusing and image stabilisation. Canon's other 28mm lens costs around £380 and sports a faster f/1.8 maximum aperture, but no image stabilisation. Third party offerings at the same focal length include Sigma's 28mm f/1.8 EX DG. Although this lens lack silent focusing and image stabilisation, it does have a faster maximum aperture and can be picked up for around £360. Those with a taste for the exotc, and deep pockets to match, may also consider the Zeiss ZE Distagon 28mm f/2 T* lens. This lens has a fast f/2 maximum aperture, but lacks autofocus, image stabilisation and any electronic coupling with the camera. Even though it is quite basic in terms of features, it still costs around £1070. Although this lens isn't cheap, especially for a prime lens sporting a maximum aperture of f/2.8, it does deliver excellent sharpness, low CA and distortion. Although these attributes are probably worth the price, you'd still be forgiven for expecting this lens to be more keenly priced. Still, those looking for a high quality, lightweight wide angle lens for video, or stills could do a lot worse and maybe the price will drop in time as this lens becomes more available."... [Source]

PhotographyBLOG, gave a rating of 4/5: "The Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is a capable but pricey wide-angle prime that will appeal most to landscape and reportage photographers looking for a small, lightweight and responsive lens. Despite its lack of an L-series billing, the Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM build quality is reassuring and it makes a good partner to a full-frame Canon DSLR like the 5D Mark III. Auto-focusing is quiet and quick, with the ability to override it and focus manually if required proving a nice touch. The capable image stabilisation system used in conjunction with a high-ISO monster like the 5D Mark III is a low-light shooter's dream ticket, making it easy to hand-hold the camera and get the shot.

Image quality is generally excellent. Chromatic aberrations are very well controlled, geometric distortion is impressively low for a wide-angle lens (unless you are focusing very close), and the Super Spectra coatings successfully prevent contrast loss attributable to flare, The only real optical issues are obvious corner shading at the maximum aperture, a lack of edge sharpness from f/2.8-5.6, and poor results in both the center and edges of the frame at the minimum aperture of f/22. If you can afford the rather hefty price-tag and don't mind the non-L billing or sharpness fall-off at the edges of the frame, we can recommend the Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM as a great wide-angle prime lens for Canon full-frame DSLR owners."... [Source]

User review by Gil De Sousa, gave a rating of 4/5: "A quick note about me: I have been into SLR cameras and lenses for more than 20 years - as a hobby in the beginning and professionally later. Maybe because of my technical background I started testing my own lenses quite a while ago. I have a (no longer so) little test lab of my own where I do 6 different image quality tests (after taking a lens out for a while). The EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is a compact and well-built prime lens with a common wide-angle focal length, a good maximum aperture and a modern image stabilizer that compensates up to 4 f-stops. While the image stabilizer sounds great one has to consider that it's not as necessary in wide-angle lenses as it is in telephoto lenses - but I still appreciate it. The lens is best used indoors or for architecture and landscape photography. When using the lens with an APS-C camera the resulting effective focal length of 45mm is close to a standard / normal lens and thus can be used for a whole variety of things. The lens offers good image quality - sharpness is great straight from f/2.8 and there is only a small amount of barrel distortion visible. My lab tests have shown that color fringes ("Chromatic Aberrations") both in focused parts of the image ("Transverse CA") and in out-of-focus areas ("Axial CA") are visible but compared with its immediate peers the lens's performance is quite respectable. There is no curvature of the focal plane ("Field Curvature") but corner shadows ("Vignetting") are very intense and they are visible even stopped-down.

The EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is similarly priced to the EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM but costs a lot more than the EF 28mm f/1.8 USM which offers an even better maximum aperture (which is great for available light photography) but lacks an image stabilizer and cannot compete with the EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM's good image quality. Chances are you already own a zoom lens covering the same focal length in which case you are probably most interested in the EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM for its good image quality, compact size and the maximum aperture of f/2.8. Is this lens for you? I think it really depends on how you configure your kit. If you have use for the focal length / aperture combination the EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM's rugged build quality and good image quality will leave no regrets."... [Source]

Hands-on Video Review by DigitalRev:


Sample Photos from Flickr:



Show full Press Release

Canon U.S.A. Continues the Tradition of Incredible Optical Quality with the Introduction of Three New Lenses

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., February 7, 2012 - Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced two new versions of its coveted Wide Angle Lenses and a new version of its popular 24-70mm Standard Zoom Lens for professionals and  photo enthusiasts. The new EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM and EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM lenses use a rear focusing system, high-speed CPU, and a powerful ring-type Ultra Sonic Motor (USM) with optimized AF algorithms for faster auto focusing and sharp images. With large apertures these new lenses deliver beautiful, soft backgrounds for superior image quality.

"Our heritage is our optics with over 70 years of expertise, we look to continually further our promise to our users and deliver the ultimate image quality," said Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon U.S.A. "These new lenses are powerful tools for photographic and video enthusiasts to pair with Canon cameras to help enable and enhance their creative vision."

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens for Harsh and Rigorous Conditions
Canon continues the tradition of ensuring the Company's highest quality optical performance in its L-series lenses with the launch of the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM zoom lens. This new version of one of Canon's most popular lenses utilizes one Super UD lens element and two UD lens elements to help achieve outstanding image quality throughout the full zoom range. The result is significantly reduced chromatic aberration in the outer area at wide-angle, high resolution and contrast in images and crisp clear edges around the subject. The lens coatings have been optimized to ensure exceptional color balance while minimizing ghosting, and reduced spherical aberration. With a circular nine-blade diaphragm, the lens delivers soft backgrounds and incredible bokeh.

In demand by architectural, corporate, adventure and professional photographers of nearly every discipline, the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens combines amazing image quality with enhanced durability. Highly resistant to dust and water, the new lens has enhanced durability and weather sealing. The lens also features a zoom lock lever to secure the zoom position for safe transport, and fluorine coatings on the front and rear glass surfaces to reduce smears and fingerprints, making it an ideal lens regardless of the conditions.

The EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens is expected to be available in April for an approximate retail price of $2,299.00.

Canon Standard Prime Lenses with Optical Image Stabilizer: EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM & EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM
Empowering landscape and wide-angle photographers with improved optical performance, Canon has upgraded both its EF 24mm and EF 28mm lenses with Image Stabilization technology and Ultrasonic Motor-powered auto focus. Both lenses feature Canon's Optical Image Stabilizer technology providing up to four shutter speed stops of correction. With the Optical Image Stabilizer turned on, photographers can capture sharp wide-angle images in low-light settings reducing the need for a flash or a tripod. New aspherical lens elements improve the peripheral image quality and a seven-blade circular diaphragm delivers beautiful, soft backgrounds. The silent and smooth operation of each lens makes them ideal choices for shooting video as well. The EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM and EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM lenses each have a minimum focusing distances of 0.20m and 0.23m, respectively.

The EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM lens is expected to be available in June for an approximate retail price of $849.99, while the EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM lens is expected to be available in June for an approximate retail price of $799.99.


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