Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM


Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM on Canon EOS Rebel XTi/400D.



2007-02-11 - Stripes Bui - 006This is the lens that my dad purchased to use with his Canon EOS 5D. This lens definitely wouldn’t be my first choice if I had a 5D, it’s kind of like buying a Ferrari but filling up with 87 unleaded, but to each his own I guess. My dad and I traded lens for a while back (just to try), my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM for his Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM.

I didn’t use the lens as often as I would have liked to, a combination of bad weather days and being busy, but I used it enough to get a general idea of the lens.

Weight and Dimensions

Well compared to the Canon L series lens, this lens feels like nothing. At about 540g, it is almost half the weight of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM’s 950g. It is also smaller, coming in at 78.4mm x 96.8mm. Very easy to carry my Canon EOS Rebel XTi around with this lens attached.


This lens is made of nothing but plastic. The only metal on the entire lens are the screws and the lens mount. There is some noticeable “wiggle” when the barrel is extended to its full length of 135mm. Turning the zoom room feels ok, not very smooth though. The focus ring is the same.

Unlike the L series lenses, you definitely do not want to drop it at all.

Field Test

The focal range on this lens is excellent! 28mm to 135mm is very nice to have in one lens. I did find starting at 28mm is definitely not wide enough for me, especially on a 1.6 frame of view crop factor, turning this2007-02-11 - Stripes Bui - 026 28mm to 44.8mm. But on the other hand, having a lens that is versatile such as this is great, especially when you have no idea what kind of reach you need to get a shot.

The IS is a great feature to have, as with all the other lenses that have IS also. This lens needs it a bit more so because of it’s maximum aperture of 3.5. IS does drain the battery, so use it when necessary if you need to conserve battery juice.

Because its a small and light lens, but covers an expansive focal range, I find this lens is perfect for hiking or just walking around. This lens performs quite poor in low light because of its maximum aperture. You’ll have to dial up the ISO.

Worth mentioning is that there is some noticeable barrel distortion at 28mm which becomes pincushion after 45mm.

Getting nice bokeh from this lens is difficult for two reasons, f/3.5 and a 6 blade aperture. Easiest way to accomplish it is to stand close to the subject but using a long focal length.

Final Thoughts

This is actually a pretty good lens for the features versus price. You’re getting a great range, 28mm-135mm, ring type USM, limited macro and IS all for under $500. It’s actually quite amazing that Canon decided to include not only IS but ring type USM that is generally found on the more pricey lens such as the L series. For those that don’t know, ring type USM is the super fast and quiet focusing system that Canon utilizes that allows for Full-Time Manual (FTM) without having to toggle a switch. Nikon’s equivalent to this is AF-S.

This lens also has limited macro capabilities like the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, which is great for people who take macro shots occasionally but not enough to spend money on a true macro lens.

The build quality isn’t so great, but perhaps I’m biased and the optically quality is decent. This is a very popular lens with many users from beginners to pros alike, can’t go wrong with it.

A great lens for those on a budget and also a great backup lens.

2 thoughts on “Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM”

  1. Hello,

    Once you have used an “L” series lens there is no turning back!

    I’m looking for a lens in this focal range now that my 18-55 kit lens has stopped working, so this post was an interesting read!


  2. @Marvin Africa – Actually, I should make an update to this post. I purchased this lens some three months back because of a great price and have actually been quite impressed with the sharpness and versatility of the Canon EF 28-135mm lens. Other than the build quality, the IS, the focal length, the image quality are all very, very good. I do find the lens creeping annoying. If you can find this lens used for under $250, it’s worth adding to your kit as a great, light traveling lens. Look forward to a new updated post on this lens!

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