Canon EF 28-105mm ƒ/3.5-4.5 II USM
I am a person of extremes. I feel like I alternate my shooting style between either wide-angle or telephoto, with not many photographs produced in what can be considered the “standard” focal range: that is, greater than 35mm and less than 135mm (full-frame equivalent). Thus I own several professional-grade ultra-wide zoom lenses and high quality telephoto and super-telephoto lenses, but have never owned a fast L-series standard zoom.
I bought my first Canon EF 28-105mm knowing that I needed a lens in that focal range but also at a time when I was unwilling to invest more money in an L-series lens (I was, after all, a poor starving university student). I was also doing a lot of hiking and backpacking in those days and wanted a good lens that was light and compact (something my ultra-wide and telephoto zooms were not). Several years later, when I started travelling for business, this was the lens that always came along.
That first copy was one of only three lens I have ever destroyed in the field (the others were a plastic-mount nifty-fifties). I was on a sea kayaking trip in the Broken Group islands off Vancouver Island, on Canada’s west coast. We stopped at a beach and I was standing beside the cockpit of my kayak changing lenses (dumb I know) when I dropped the EF 28-105mm. I almost caught it before it hit the ocean, but alas I was not quite fast enough and my hand and half the lens ended up 2 or 3 inches in the water. I stopped using the lens for the remainder of the trip, but by the time it was over the lens was non-functional. It could have been worse—the other lens I had in my hands at the time was my EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8 L USM, a substantially more expensive and precious lens.1
I didn’t hesitate to replace the dead lens with a new copy shortly after, and I got many years of use out of that lens until the switch to EF-M bodies rendered it obsolete.
I have never thought of this lens as a high-quality optic, and indeed, it is not. Wide open it is very soft in the corners. It’s not particularly fast and it predates optical image stabilization.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by many of the images from this lens that I reviewed while preparing this page. For nostalgia’s sake I sometimes mount it on my Canon 30D and take it out for an afternoon of shooting. I always come back with some interesting shots.
- After this incident I came up with a mantra and standard procedure for every time I change lenses—the most expensive gear gets priority. That is, when putting a less expensive lens on a body the more expensive lens gets capped and put away first, then the cheap lens gets mounted. When reversing the operation, the cheaper lens is removed and then the more expensive lens is uncapped and placed on the body as quickly as possible.