Sunday, December 28, 2008

Canon's 28mm f/1.8

I got the Canon 28mm f/1.8 lens a few weeks back in anticipation of my daughter's birth. My thinking was, I'd need a fast lens that would give me a wide enough field of view on my APS-C 40D, but still be useful for full-frame work down the road. My only other fast lens is the Canon 50mm f/1.8, which has served its purpose but has survived a nasty fall in recent weeks and can no longer be trusted for serious work. Plus, on the crop sensor I simply had to step back too far to take a photo sometimes, not helpful when you're looking to take a lot of photos indoors.

In the meantime, I was also lucky enough to get in three weeks of time with the full-frame 5D Mark II, on which I had the 28mm lens most of the time. It's a vastly different lens on the two cameras. Not because the 40D's a dog compared to the shiny 5Dmk2...far from it. It's just that it's a wide-angle lens on the new camera, and a normal lens on the 40D.

Performance-wise, I noticed no difference in the 28mm on either camera. It uses Canon's ultrasonic focus, of which I am a huge fan, and locks focus almost instantly. I'd compare it to the 85mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.4 lenses.

I didn't do any pixel-peeping on the corners of 28mm files, nor did I conduct any tripod tests. I did notice some vignetting when I used it on the 5D Mark II, but it tended to be under extreme conditions (and is easily dealt with in Lightroom). All I know is this: it's my favorite lens in my collection, and I'd say that it's well worth its $420 price tag.

Here's why I like it:
  • build quality on par with Canon 85/1.8
  • super-fast focus
  • focuses really close
  • full-time manual focus override
  • very sharp starting at f/2.8 or so (not tested, just my impression)
  • nice bokeh
  • 7 aperture blades make nice sunstars when stopped down
  • small and lightweight, makes a wonderful walk-around rig
Cons? There have to be some, right? Alright, here goes:
  • no hood included
Seriously, it's a nice little lens which is a step up from the more flimsy and slower-focusing f/2.8 Canon primes. I've heard some folks say the 28/2.8 or 35/2 primes are sharper than the 28/1.8, and I can't argue since I haven't (and won't) test this lens. Hell, its design is many years old at this point and any testing I do would be redundant, anyway. On my 40D it's a nice, fast, normal lens. Down the road it'll be a nice, fast, moderate wide-angle lens. How can I lose?

A similar lens is Sigma's 30mm f/1.4. A buddy of mine has that lens and loves it - it's on his camera most of the time, focuses fast, and is 2/3-stop faster than the 28/1.8. But it only covers crop sensors, so for me the choice was easy.

It fits all the criteria I set down for it: pictures look great wide open, it focuses faster than I can shoot, it's small and light. At f/1.8 pictures are slightly soft, but since when does a picture have to be sharp to be good?

No comments:

Post a Comment