- Tamron 28-75mm 1:2.8
- Canon EF 50mm 1:2.5 Compact-Macro
- Canon EF 28mm 1:2.8
- Tamron 17-50mm 1:2.8
- Canon EF 24mm 1:2.8
- Konica Hexar AF
- Sigma 12-24mm 4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM
- Minolta MC W.Rokkor - NL 21mm 1:2.8
- Canon BG-ED3 Battery Grip
- Canon 10D
- Sigma EF-500 DG Super EO ETTL
- Minolta Dimage Scan Elite II
- Sears 55mm 1:1.4
- Minolta X-370
- Canon EF 28-90mm 1:4-5.6 III
- Canon 400D (Rebel XTi)
Canon EF 28mm 1:2.8
What could be more boring than a 28mm 1:2.8? It is a prime. Doesn't the whole world prefer zoom lenses by now? And unlike the newer, faster Canon 28mm prime, this lens is an ancient design with micro motor focus and commonly 1:2.8 maximum aperture. But these pedestrian features might be what makes this lens so appealing. This lens is one of the smallest and lightest in the EOS line. It feels positively stealthy when compared to a standard zoom lens. And it just stays out of your way when making photographs.
I can't say this lens impressed me with it's spec sheet. I wasn't shopping for a slowish prime but it was acquired so inexpensively that I couldn't say 'no'. It sat on my 'Always in The Truck' film camera for a couple years and was used for only a few rolls of film before I discovered it's charm while vacationing in Canada's Desolation Sound.
Desolation Sound is some beautiful country. Easily accessible only by water it is a wonderful boating destination. While vacationing with my family I hatched a plan to hike from one anchorage, past a few lakes, and meet the boat at the next anchorage. The trail in question was not documented in any of the cruising guides. A few rumors from fellow boaters and one off hand mention in an older book were all the 'map' I could find.
I always keep a boating camera around for these vacations. (We average dropping one camera into the water per year so our 'Boating Camera' is usually valueless and often being replaced.) But I guessed the scenery on this hike would be too nice to not photograph with something a little better. So I took my smallest digital body, the 400D, and my smallest EOS lens, the EF 28mm 1:2.8, and headed for shore. The trailhead was eventually located and our adventure began.
The first quarter of the hike was up, up, up. I flipped the 400D round back and had both hands free to fight the branches and occasional bugs. It was during this ascent that I started to realize just how valuable this lightweight lens was. We stopped to snap a few shots (or was it to rest?) and continued on. The simplicity of a good hike was well complemented by the simplicity of my chosen camera gear.
Our hike brought us to three different lakes. We met a few other adventurers. We even took a cool off swim at the last lake before finishing our trip to the second anchorage. The hike was simple joy. And I discovered so was photography when using a lightweight, no bells or whistles, non-zoom lens. I haven't owned a Leica rangefinder but I can imagine that Leica users feel the same about their gear as I did about mine.
After returning from vacation I began to use the 28mm almost exclusively. I found that the 400D with the 28mm was joy to carry. Even all day. My camera's appearance seemed less intrusive and I felt more comfortable shooting in front of strangers. I felt more comfortable shooting images of strangers.
The most beneficial aspect of switching over to this prime was how I was now forced to work harder to frame my subjects. The zooms I had used allowed me to be lazy. A prime lens forced me to move my feet. And moving my feet reminded me to try different points of view. Sometimes I couldn't get the shot I wanted. But more often I was forced to work outside my comfort zone and the result was, if not better images, at least some practice with different techniques.
The 28mm is just a little wider than a 'normal' lens when mounted on Canon's APS-C sized sensor bodies. I can't say I grew up shooting with a 50mm lens on a 35mm format. I can't even claim to have 'grown up'. But many folks have (grown up AND used normal primes) and this lens/sensor combination will have them feeling at home.
I have no complaints about the sharpness, color, contrast, or flare control. This lens acts just like I expect a prime to act. It earns a good or better mark in all four areas. As I do no formal testing I probably shouldn't comment in any more detail.
Despite the warm feeling I have towards this lens I do have two reservations. Both are focused around the focus. The first is quite subjective. When focusing in 'Manual' mode, the focus ring mode has friction but doesn't really feel like it is connected to anything of importance. I think the technical types describe this feeling as lacking 'focus dampening'.
The second issue is mechanical. The EF 28mm 2.8 and EF 35mm 2.0 seem to have a potential issue. If the lens receives an impact it will sometimes bind up the focus mechanism. My lens suffered from this malady when I purchased it. I found an online article detailing the condition and repair. I was able to disassemble and repair mine. The binding was alleviated with the adjustment of a small bracket inside the lens. I believe the bracket is forced out of position on impact and the realignment alleviates the binding.
As of this writing, this lens is mounted on my Canon 400D Rebel body. I tend to choose the 400D/28mm combo when it looks like the plan has a lowish shoot-to-carry ratio. This combination lacks the convenience of the zoom but never stands in the way of a quality image. It's too bad it took me a couple years and then a couple mile hike to see the light.
ISO 100, f8, 1/500th.
Looking up while strolling the town.
ISO 100, f8, 1/320th, custom white balance, crop to square.
After walking the town for a bit, what sounds better than to enjoy a Pint of local brew in the Rusty Hammer? When I was visiting friends last summer I couldn't think of anything.