Canon 28-200mm USM
Canon EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM set to 50mm (72mm filter thread, 1.5'/0.45m close-focus, 17.8 oz./504g, about $200 used.) This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to it at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken.
Used improperly: hand-held at midnight (see the stars?), 5D Mark III at ISO 25,600, 28-200mm at 28mm, f/3.5 at 1/6 second. How sharp do you need, hand-held at midnight, when nothing is in focus and the camera blurs so much with noise reduction anyway?
This Canon EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM is a do-everything lens for Canon EOS 35mm and full-frame digital cameras.
It looks good online, being MADE IN JAPAN and having a metal mount, but it's actually a dinky thing with a loose, sticky zoom mechanism, a noisy AF system, and relatively blurry optics.
Focus is USM, but it's not silent. The lens shown here that I bought used on eBay is wheezy and squeals as it autofocuses. Manual focus always requires moving the switch, and the focus ring turns by itself during AF; be sure to keep your hands off it! There is no instant manual-focus override.
This 28-200mm was introduced for people who wanted a do-it all wide-to-tele lens for their 35mm Canon Rebels.
Nikon came out with a competitive 28-200mm G three years later in 2003 for the same people who wanted a do-it-all lens for their lightweight N75-class cameras. Strange is how the aspherical Nikon 28-200 is smaller, lighter, focuses much more closely, and is so much sharper than this Canon lens.
Optically, this is the worst Canon lens I've ever tested, however, used by a skilled photographer, it easily can be used to win photo contests and sell masterpiece prints. It's always the photographer that makes the picture, never the camera.
It's always sharp in the center, but shot wide-open is much softer on the sides. It has to be stopped down to about f/16 to get the corners to be their sharpest.
Shot on the newest Canon 5D Mark III, it's not the lens that tripod-shooters would want, but it's sharp enough for most uses, and does get sharp stopped down. The 5D Mark III has a lens correction profile available, and if you use it, there are no lateral color fringes as there may be on other cameras.
This is the USM version. There also was a non-USM version sold in other countries that has the same optics, differing only in having a different AF motor. Seeing how noisy is this lens' autofocus, I would suspect that the non-USM model ought to be pretty similar. The non-USM lens has the same specs and optics, but is just 5 grams lighter.
Compatibility and Formats
This Canon EF EOS 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM works perfectly with every Canon EOS camera ever made, meaning every Canon DSLR and every Canon autofocus 35mm camera made since 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 28-200 US at 50mm. enlarge.
Canon calls this the CANON ZOOM LENS EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM.
EF means "electronic focus," meaning that there is an autofocus motor in the lens itself. All Canon lenses since 1987 have been EF.
USM and ULTRASONIC mean UltraSonic autofocus Motor. The AF motor may be silent, but the rest of this lens' focus train makes plenty of noise.
16 spherical elements in 12 groups.
Used on a 1.3x camera, it will see about the same field of view as a 36-260mm lens sees on full-frame.
Used on a 1.6x camera, it will see about the same field of view as a 45-320mm lens sees on full-frame.
Angle of View (on 35mm and full-frame cameras)
75° ~ 12° diagonal.
65° ~ 6º vertical.
46º ~ 7º horizontal.
Close Focus top
1.5 feet (0.45 m) from the image plane, specified.
Maximum Reproduction Ratios top
With EF12 tube: 1:1.4 (0.54x).
With EF25 tube: 1:0.9 (1.1x).
Front, Canon 28-200mm at f/3.5-5.6 USM at 50mm (EF diaphragm not seen).
Stops down to f/22-36.
Focus Scale top
The ring turns from infinity to the closest focus distance in about 60.º
Depth-of-Field Scale top
Infra-Red Focus Indices top
72mm thread, plastic.
Doesn't rotate, but does pump in and out with zooming.
Canon specifies 3.1" (78.4mm) diameter by 3.5 " (89.6 mm) long.
17.795 oz. (504.5g), measured.
Canon specifies 17.6 oz. (500g).
Plastic bayonet EW-78D, optional.
It's the same hood as used by the EF-S 18-200mm.
LP1116 sack, $25.
Standard EOS cap rear.
Made in Japan.
Price, USA top
2005 December: $360 USA, $340 gray, new.
The Canon 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM is a wide-range zoom that can replace a lot of other lenses, but not very well.
Autofocus is fast, but gritty and often squeals.
You have to touch the AF-MF switch.
There is no instant manual-focus override.
AF is reasonably fast, as we expect from Canon.
AF Accuracy and Consistency
AF accuracy is fine on my Canon 5D Mark III.
Manual focus is good at the wide end, but too fast at the long end.
Focus breathing is of interest to cinematographers who don't want the image changing size ("breathing") as the lens is focused among different subjects.
The image of the Canon 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM gets smaller as focused more closely.
The focus breathing is reasonable at 28mm, but at 100mm and longer, becomes very strong. Canon does this because it plays an optical trick to get focusing as close as it does at the long end.
The color balance of this 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 matches my other Canon EF lenses.
The good news is that unlike many superzooms, the distortion is usually very simple and easily corrected by using these values in Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool.
© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
* Slight 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.The camera cannot eliminate this distortion as-shot. Canon's computer software and DxO also ought to be able to fix this if you can find the right profile, but I haven't tried.
Canon 28-200/3.5-5.6 USM.
Ergonomics are wishy-washy. Most of the lens is the zoom ring, which would be good, except that the ring is sloppy with a lot of play, and the plastic innards always feel as if they're about to break as you turn the ring.
The plastic zoom innards have a lot of stiction, meaning it feels crappy as you try to zoom. There is rarely any zoom creep, but that's because it's so sticky, like a bad kid's toy.
AF is fast but nasty, often making squealing noises as it focuses.
After you move the switch to M, the manual focus ring is easy to slide with a fingertip. It slams from end-to-end in just one-sixth of a turn.
Shot on a DSLR with peripheral Illumination correction, even on full-frame, falloff is never a problem so long as you load the profile.
Shot on 35mm film or with full-frame digital cameras without peripheral illumination correction, I've greatly exaggerated the actual falloff by shooting a flat gray target and presenting these images against a flat gray background:
Use normal filters, or thin rotating filters and there are no problems.
With a thick rotating filter like my Schneider 0.6 grad ND (8.6mm thick excluding rear threads), ther eis a tiny bit of vignetting at 28mm. You can ignore this, or zoom to 29mm.
It could be a good idea to get a "thin" polarizer for this lens.
Actual focal lengths are accurate at infinity.
At closer distances, the 200mm end becomes much shorter. This is an optical trick played to be able to focus so closely at 200mm. In other words, at a few feet away, you won't see much change as zoomed from 135mm to 200mm.
This said, at 5 feet (1.5m), this 28-200mm still gets much tighter than my EF 28-105mm USM II does at its 105mm setting.
Shot without a lens profile on a full-frame DSLR, there are these lateral color fringes:
28mm: minor green-magenta.
35mm: minor green-magenta.
135mm: strong green-magenta.
200mm: strong green-magenta.
When shot with a lens profile on the 5D Mk III, there are:
135mm: none, but there can be some weird phantom gray shadows if you look very carefully as the 5D Mark III remaps the color channels.
200mm: almost none, just some residual red-blue left after the 5D Mk III does its best to remap everything. There can be some odd small gray shadows left.
Close focus is very close, but it isn't any sharper than it is at normal distances. Good news is that it's not that much softer, either, and that distortion seems to go away:
At close-focus distance at 200mm, f/5.6 at 1/160, full-frame Canon 5D Mark III.
Rear, Canon 28-200 f/3.5-5.6 USM. enlarge.
The Canon 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM is a plasticy lens with a plasticy feel that just happens to have a metal mount.
Metal (honest), covered with rubber.
Front: metal (honest), rear: plastic.
Middle covered with rubber.
Moisture seal at mount
Laser-engraved into rear black light baffle (only visible with uncapped lens removed from camera).
Noises When Shaken
Very mild clicking if you hold all the lens barrels together, wild clunking if you shake it by the zoom ring and let everything flop all over.
The Canon 28-200mm is always sharp in the center, but much softer and blurrier on the sides at all focal lengths unless stopped down, ideally to f/16.
Seen at 100% on-screen from a 22MP camera like the 5D Mark III it looks horrible wide-open, but seen at rational print sizes like 12 x 18" (30x50cm), it looks fine for family photos even wide-open. A smile will be just as brilliant through this lens as any other.
Stopped-down to f/16 for nature and landscape photos, it looks fine even printed at 3 x 5 feet (1 x 1.5 meters). The 24-105mm might be a little sharper at f/16, but not by much. (At f/4 and large print sizes, the 24-105 is much sharper).
Here are Canon's rated MTF curves:
Canon 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM MTF.
With an ordinary 6-bladed diaphragm, sunstars are common 6-pointed ones, visible at many apertures, on brilliant points of light.
It gets blurry in the sides wide-open if you look too close, but if you're a tripod kind of guy, you don't buy a lens like this. If you've got a new family and want one lightweight lens for full-frame that will grow as your family does — or want a back-up lens to throw in your luggage — this lens will do it.
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 it at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live.
More Information top
Canon's Museum page for the 28-200mm (non-USM).
Help me help you top
I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.
The biggest help is when you use any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. These places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.
If you find this page as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.
As this page is copyrighted and formally registered, it is unlawful to make copies, especially in the form of printouts for personal use. If you wish to make a printout for personal use, you are granted one-time permission only if you PayPal me $5.00 per printout or part thereof. Thank you!
Thanks for reading!