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Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5
Full-Frame EF USM II
(1992-2010)

© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

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Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5

Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM II (58mm filters, 1.6'/0.5m close-focus, 12.8 oz./362g, about $150 used.) This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) and at Amazon when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep reviewing these oldies when you get yours through these links, thanks! Ken.

March 2013    Canon Reviews    Canon Lenses    All Reviews

 

Sample Image File

Fiarie Garden, flower fields, 21 March 2013

Fairie Garden, 21 March 2013. Canon 5D Mark III, 28-105mm at 45mm, f/10 at 1/250. Original © file.

 

Introduction       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

The Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM and USM II are lightweight, great-handling general-purpose full-frame zooms for all Canon EOS digital and 35mm cameras. They perform especially well on the Canon 5D Mark III, which when a lens profile is loaded, corrects for falloff and lateral color, right in the camera.

The 28-105 USM II is the lens most often on my 5D Mark III because it's small, light, focuses instantly, and covers just the range I need for general family photos. With the 5D Mark III's crazy-high ISOs, I can shoot this lens hand-held in any light. While tripod-addicts will prefer the big and heavy 24-105L or 24-70 2.8 L II, I prefer this lens when I'm chasing my kids around.

At f/4.5 at the long end, this 28-105 is faster where you need it than most inexpensive zooms.

The first model was the 28-105 USM, sold from 1992-2000, which was replaced in 2000 by the USM II reviewed here, and made through 2010. The two are the same optically and mechanically. They have minor cosmetic differences, and I prefer the newer II version for its 7-bladed diaphragm.

 
28-105 USM
28-105 USM II
Anni
1992-2000
2000-2010
Optics
same
same
Mechanics
same
same
Fonts
pseudo-Helvetica
pseudo-Frutiger
Exterior Finish
More glossy
Less glossy
Made in
Japan
Taiwan
Diaphragm
6 blades
7 blades

With the new lateral color fringe correction in the Canon 5D Mark III, I prefer to use this lens for day-to-day family photos than the bigger, clumsier and heaver 24-105mm f/4 L IS.

This 28-105mm has great ergonomics: I usually can zoom with one finger for one-handed shooting, and the grippy focus ring provides instant manual-focus override.

It works fine on Canon's 1.6x DSLRs, but its focal length range makes little sense except on full-frame. I'd use a kit lens like the 18-55mm IS instead for a much more practical range on small format DSLRs.

Consider also the very similar Canon EF 24-85mm USM, which is the same thing but with a slightly shorter focal length range, slightly more distortion and sells for slightly more money.

Avoid the 28-105mm f/4-5.6. It's a much cheaper, slower lens with a plastic mount and no manual-focus override.

In the 1990s, this was Canon's most popular lens, sold along with zillions of Canon A2Es. Today, I love it on my 5D Mark III for its ideal zoom range, great handling, small size and weight, 7-bladed diaphragm and instantaneous autofocusing.

San Juan Capistrano Zebra Bars

Parallel Zebra Bars, San Juan Capistrano. (Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 28-105mm USM II at 105mm, f/25 at 1/50, ISO 100, 6 sharpening, +3 saturation, AUTO WB A4, and then split-toned in Photoshop) bigger.

 

Compatibility and Formats

This lens is optimized for 35mm film and full-frame digital, and of course works on all 1.3x and 1.6x Canon cameras.

This Canon EF EOS 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 works perfectly with every Canon EOS camera ever made, meaning every Canon DSLR and every Canon autofocus 35mm camera made since 1987.

This means of course it works great on today's 5D Mark III and Canon 7D, but it works just as well on my original Canon EOS 620 from 1987!

As a full-frame lens, this works on all Canon SLRs, regardless of format. As a full-frame lens, I will be reviewing this lens on full-frame.

 

Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5

Canon 28-105 3.5-4.5 USM II at 50mm. enlarge.

 

Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More

 

Name

Canon calls this the CANON ZOOM LENS EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM or USM II.

EF means "electronic focus," meaning that there is an autofocus motor in the lens itself. All Canon lenses since 1987 have been EF.

ULTRASONIC and mean UltraSonic AF Motor, so it focuses silently. You also may grab the focus ring at any time for instant manual focus override.

The newer model shown here is marked "II." This newer version looks a little different on the outside and has a 7- instead of a 6-bladed diaphragm, and is otherwise identical.

 

Optics       top

Canon 28-105mm internal diagram

Internal diagram.

15 conventional spherical elements in 12 groups.

Internal focus; nothing moves externally as focused.

The front group moves in and out as zoomed.

 

Focal Length

28-105mm.

On 1.3x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what a 36~135mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.

On 1.6x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what a 45~168mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.

 

Angle of View (on 35mm and full-frame cameras)

75º ~ 23.3º diagonal.

65º ~ 19.3º horizontal.

46º ~ 13º vertical.

 

Close Focus       top

1.6 feet (0.5m) from the image plane, specified.

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio       top

1:5.3 (0.19x).

With EF12 II tube: 1:1.9 (0.53x).

With EF25 II tube: 1:1.3 (0.75x).

 

Diaphragm       top

Canon 28-105 L

Front, Canon 28-105mm at 50mm (EF diaphragm not visible).

7 blades (USM II), 6 blades (USM).

Stops down to f/22-27.

 

Focus Scale       top

Yes.

The ring turns from infinity to the closest focus distance in about 105.º

 

Depth-of-Field Scale       top

No.

 

Infra-Red Focus Indices       top

Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5

Focus Scale, Canon 28-105/3.5-4.5.

Yes, marks for 28, 35, 50, 70 and 105mm focal lengths.

These marks are probably for the 800 nm wavelength.

 

Filter Thread       top

58mm.

Plastic.

Doesn't rotate, but pumps in and out with zooming.

 

Size       top

Canon specifies 2.8" (72mm) diameter by 3.0" (75mm) long.

It gets longer as zoomed to longer focal lengths.

 

Weight       top

12.776 oz. (362.2g), measured.

Canon specifies 13.2 oz. (375g).

 

Hood       top

Reversible plastic petal-type bayonet EW-63II ($25), not included.

(same hood as Canon 28mm f/1.8.)

 

Case       top

LP-814 sack, ($24), not included.

 

Caps       top

58mm E-58U front, included. (ultrasonic cap with gold "ULTRASONIC" and silver "Canon" logos.)

Standard EOS cap rear.

 

Quality       top

1992-2000 (USM): Made in Japan.

2000-2010 (USM II): Made in Taiwan.

 

Price, USA        top

2012 August: about $150 used.

2005 December: $220 gray, $230 USA, new.

 

Plenty of speed in any light with the 5D Mark III

Ryan likes fire

Ryan LOVES fire! The ladies, less so. (01 August 2012, Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 28-105mm USM II at 28mm, Program Auto and AUTO ISO chose f/4 at 1/125 at ISO 3,200, STANDARD Picture Style with 6 sharpening, 0 saturation, AUTO WB A4.) bigger.

 

Performance       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More

Overall    Autofocus   Breathing   Color   Distortion

Ergonomics   Falloff    Filters     Lateral Color Fringes

Maximum and Minimum Apertures   Mechanics   Sharpness   Sunstars

 

Overall     performance      top

The Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM is a well-made, fast-focusing, great-handling, plastic-barreled lens with optics that work great with the Canon 5D Mark III's automatic corrections.

 

Autofocus     performance      top

Autofocus is almost instantaneous and almost silent.

I wish every lens was this good!

 

Auto/Manual Switching

Just grab the focus ring for instant manual-focus override.

You never need to touch the AF-MF switch unless you want to lock-out autofocus.

 

AF Speed

AF is almost instantaneous. It's the only lens I've used fast enough to track a kid on a swing at close distances and high speed:

Katie Swinging

Katie Swinging, 29 July 2012. (Canon 5D Mark III, Canon EF 28-105mm USM II at 68mm, Canon 220EX flash, Program Auto and AUTO ISO chose f/18 at 1/200 at ISO 400, STANDARD Picture Style with 6 sharpening, 0 saturation, AUTO WB A4.) bigger.

I've never gotten any of my Nikons to do this; the Nikon lenses just can't focus as fast as most of Canon's USM lenses.

This photo stopped most of the action; Katie was going so super-fast that I could hardly keep the camera pointed at her, much less could have focused manually!

 

AF Accuracy and Consistency

AF accuracy is fine on my Canon 5D Mark III.

 

Manual Focus

Manual focus is easy; just slide the ring at any time.

 

Focus Breathing     performance      top

Focus breathing (the image changing size as focused) is mostly of interest to cinematographers who don't want the image changing size ("breathing") as the lens is focused among different subjects.

The image from the Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 gets smaller as focused more closely. This effect is stronger at the longer focal lengths with this lens.

 

Color Rendition     performance      top

The color balance of this 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 matches my other Canon EF lenses.

 

Distortion     performance      top

This Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 has plenty of distortion, but it's easy to correct.

It's got barrel distortion at 28mm, neutral at 35mm, and strong pincushion distortion in the rest of the range.

If you want less distortion, use fixed lenses or the 24-70mm f/2.8 L.

Use these values in Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool to remove it:

On full-frame

at 10' (3m)

at infinity

28mm
+4.0*
+5.5*
35mm
0.0
0.0
50mm
-3.0
-2.0
70mm
-3.2
-3.0
105mm
-3.5
-3.0

© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

* Some waviness remains.

If shot on the Canon 5D Mark III as a raw file with the appropriate lens profile loaded, the 5D Mark III can process raw files in-camera to eliminate all of this distortion. I have not figured out how to get the camera to eliminate this distortion as-shot, or how to use Canon software to invoke the lens profile to correct it later.

 

Ergonomics     performance      top

Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5

Canon 28-105/3.5-4.5 USM.

Focus is via a very well placed and grippy ring. There is no "macro" range; it focuses to 0.5m at all settings. There are no silly lock-outs or levers to move.

The zoom feels a little plasticy and it's a little more compressed at the wide end, but since it still runs well enough often to be able to zoom it with one finger while shooting hand-held, I'm not complaining. I much prefer the zooming of this 28-105 over the stiff zoom of the 24-105L.

 

Falloff (darkened corners)     performance      top

Falloff isn't a problem with a camera with Peripheral Illumination Correction and with this lens' profile loaded.

With a 35mm or older full-frame cameras, you might see some falloff wide-open, but it's gone stopped-down a stop.

I've exaggerated it below by showing shots of a gray field presented against another gray field:

 

Canon 28-105mm USM II falloff on full-frame

No peripheral illumination correction

 
f/5.6
f/8
28mm Canon 28-105mm USM falloff Canon 28-105mm USM falloff Canon 28-105mm USM falloff
50mm Canon 28-105mm USM falloff Canon 28-105mm USM falloff Canon 28-105mm USM falloff
105mm Canon 28-105mm USM falloff Canon 28-105mm USM falloff Canon 28-105mm USM falloff

© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

Peripheral illumination correction enabled

 
f/5.6
f/8
28mm Canon 28-105mm USM light falloff Canon 28-105mm USM light falloff Canon 28-105mm USM light falloff
50mm Canon 28-105mm USM light falloff Canon 28-105mm USM light falloff Canon 28-105mm USM light falloff
105mm Canon 28-105mm USM light falloff Canon 28-105mm USM light falloff Canon 28-105mm USM light falloff

© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Filters, Use with     performance      top

The plastic filter threads don't rotate. They do move in and out as you zoom

There's no problem with vignetting even normal filters on full-frame, but there is some very slight vignetting with thick rotating filters like polarizers, only at 28mm.

I'd not worry about it, but if you do, a thin polarizer like the 58mm Hoya HD works perfectly.

 

Lateral Color Fringes     performance      top

Shot on the Canon 5D Mark III with the appropriate lens profile loaded, there are no color fringes.

Shot without Chromatic Aberration Correction active, there are some barely visible green-magenta fringes at 28mm and 105mm, and none in the middle of the zoom range.

This is excellent performance.

 

Maximum and Minimum Apertures     performance      top

 
Maximum
Minimum
28mm
f/3.5
f/22
35mm
f/4
f/22
50mm
f/4
f/25
70mm
f/4
f/25
105mm
f/4.5
f/29

 

Mechanics     performance      top

Canon 28-105mm f/2.8

Rear, Canon 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 USM II. enlarge.

The Canon 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 is one of Canon's vanished "mid-range" series of reasonable lenses for reasonable photographers. It has a metal mount, and well-made plastic elsewhere.

 

Filter Threads

Plastic.

 

Hood Mount

Plastic.

 

Fore Barrels

Plastic.

 

Zoom Ring

Plastic, rubber-covered.

 

Mid-barrel

Plastic.

 

Focus Ring

Grippy plastic.

 

Rear barrel

Plastic.

 

Internals

Seem like mostly plastic.

 

Zoom Cams

Feel like plastic.

 

Rear barrel

Plastic.

 

Moisture seal at mount

No.

 

Mount

Chromed metal.

 

Markings

Paint.

 

Serial Number

Laser-melted into rear light baffle on back of lens, only visible when not mounted on a camera.

 

Date Code

None found.

 

Noises When Shaken

Mild clunking.

 

Made in

Taiwan.

 

Sharpness     performance      top

Lens sharpness doesn't matter much, but it sure distracts amateurs who confuse lens sharpness with picture sharpness.

It's best shot on the 5D Mark III, whose lateral color-fringe correction improves the sides and corners.

Ryan and Katie in Tokyo

Katie with Easter flower, 08 April 2012. (5D Mark III, AUTO ISO 100, AUTO A4 White Balance, Canon EF 28-105 USM II at 63mm, f/7.1 at 1/160.) © full resolution file.

 

Zedonk at Zoomar's

Half Donkey, Half Zebra. (Shot with 5D Mark III, Canon EF 28-105 USM II at 55mm, f/20 at 1/200, 220EX flash, AUTO ISO 400, AUTO A4 White Balance, STANDARD Picture Style with 6 sharpening and +3 Saturation. © original rotated file.)

Shot well on my 5D Mark III, it's plenty sharp. Here are the details for you lab rats:

 

28mm

Shot wide-open, it's softer all over. It's much better at f/5.6.

Corners are optimum by f/8 and f/11.

At the wide end, sharpness, especially in the corners, improves greatly as stopped down.

 

35mm

Shot wide-open, it's softer all over. It's much better at f/5.6.

Corners are optimum by f/8 and f/11.

 

50mm

Shot wide-open, it's softer all over. It's much better at f/5.6.

Corners are optimum by f/8 and f/11.

 

70mm

It's sharper at 70mm than at the shorter focal lengths wide-open.

Corners again are optimum by f/8 and f/11.

 

105mm

Just as at 70mm, it's sharper at 105mm wide-open than it is at the shorter focal lengths.

Corners again are optimum by f/8 and f/11.

By 105mm, it's already pretty sharp wide-open.

 

Sunstars     performance      top

Its sunstars have 14 points, but they are relatively soft; the 7 blades are slightly curved.

 

Compared       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More

This 28-105/3.5-4.5 is a lightweight, inexpensive, mostly plastic, very well built, handy and well-performing lens on the 5D Mark III. For the small increase in sharpness that the 24-70mm f/2.8 L or 24-105mm f/4 L IS might offer in the corners at large apertures where no one looks anyway, I won't bother carrying them; I prefer this lightweight lens for use in the field — and this 28-105mm zooms much better, without the cramped wide-angle range of the 24-105mm.

With the 5D Mark III's marvelous ultra-high ISO performance, the extra stop of the 24-70mm f/2.8 L isn't needed, and I love not having to carry all that weight.

 
Anni
1996-2007
1992-2000
2000-2010
1998-
2002-2012
2005-
Maximum Aperture
f/3.5-4.5
f/3.5-4.5
f/3.5-4.5
f/3.5-5.6
f/2.8
f/4
Filter Size
67mm
58mm
58mm
72mm
77mm
77mm
Filter Threads
plastic
plastic
plastic
plastic
metal
plastic
Length
69.5mm
75mm
75mm
97mm
123mm
107mm
Distortion (W~T)
Ease of Zooming
pretty good
very good
very good
very good
good
poor
Diaphragm Blades
6
6
7
6
8
8
Sunstars
6 points
6 points
14 points
6 points
8 points
8 points
Focus
USM
USM
USM
USM
USM
USM
Instant manual-focus override?
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
AF/MF switch
slide switch
slide switch
slide switch
slide switch
slide switch
slide switch
Weight
361g
362g
362g
540g
910g
664g
Made in
Japan
Japan
Japan
Japan
Japan
Japan
Price, 8/2012
$190 used
$150 used
$150 used

$1,400 used

 

Recommendations       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More

Want a lightweight, low-cost, high-performance all-purpose zoom for your full-frame Canon?

Only have $150 for a Canon zoom?

Shooting a 5D Mark III or 35mm EOS Rebel?

This just might be the perfect lens for you. If you're a tripod-hugger you'll want something more expensive to show off your fancy gear, but if your photos speak for themselves instead of your equipment, this lens is great.

The 28-135mm IS is also a great lens, with the added feature of image stabilization, that weighs and costs much less and with a longer zoom ranger than the big, fat L-lenses.

If you've found the time I've spent sharing this professional review helpful, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) and at Amazon when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep reviewing these oldies when you get yours through these links.

Thanks!

Ken

 

More Information       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More

Canon's Museum: 28-105 USM.

Canon's Museum: 28-105 USM II.

Canon USA.

 

Help me help you         top

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Thanks for reading!

 

 

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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September 2012