What Lens Do I Need?

What Lens Do I Need?

Written 13 years ago by Mark Evans

This was the question I asked myself a few months ago, and the answer for you will depend on what you want to use it for, and of course, ultimately, how much you’re willing to fork out for one. I was always told that, if you can, spend as much as possible on lenses before anything else in your kit. I guess it’s logical when you think about it. The lens is the first point of entry for the light coming into your camera, which also focuses the light onto the sensor/film, so if it’s not up to par, then the quality of your photos will consequently suffer.

For me I wanted a good general purpose lens; something of a jack of all trades that would perform well in most situations, and of course not blow my bank to bits like the Canon ‘L’ lens I bought a while back, although having said that, if I had the dosh, I would definitely buy an ‘L’ lens every time!

The most versatile lenses are the mid range zooms, so naturally the Canon 28-135mm f/3.5 IS USM came to mind. This lens fitted the bill nicely; it has a reasonably wide zoom for those landscape and architectural shots, while at the telephoto end, 135mm provides enough zoom to accommodate portraits and detail shots. Not to mention the added benefit of Image Stabilization. I must admit, I never thought I’d actually use the ‘IS’ function but it’s turned out to be a bit of a bonus really; on more than a few occasions I have needed those extra stops of light, and the ‘IS’ has allowed me to hand hold at slower shutter speeds than normal, while not compromising the sharpness of my images.

Build quality of the Canon 28-135mm IS USM is pretty good too, it’s obviously not as good quality as an ‘L’ series and besides being built from hard plastic, the lens nevertheless feels solid enough to take a few knocks, but at £250 I don’t want to find out just how much it will take.

Image sharpness seems to be pretty good across the range, although a little softer at 135mm, and as with most wide angle lenses, exhibits vignetting at 28mm, while decreasing slightly throughout the zoom range and is even less when the lens is stopped down to f/8 or so. As with most USM lenses, this one focuses fast and silently, although the Image stabilization does whirr a bit when on.

Overall I reckon the Canon 28-135mm is a really good lens, I’ve found it to be extremely versatile, and is reasonably affordable too. The low maximum aperture of f/3.5 hasn’t been a problem in low light situations, as when ‘IS’ is turned on you are able to hand hold at at least a stop less than usual. I’m quite impressed by this lens and even after a few shoots, I would say it has definitely earned its place in my camera bag.

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Shub  13 years ago

Interesting review… just the kind of lens I was looking for. May be this could be my primary general purpose lens.

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