Rediscovering a Favorite Vintage Lens: Canon EF 28-105 USM f3.5-4.5

I bought my first one in 1999, and I really liked it. I ended up selling it in 2016. I picked up this EF 28-105mm at my local camera shop a couple of years ago for a song, because it has tiny scratch on the front element. The version I am using is the Mark II version.

There are three versions in total. The first version has 5 aperture blades and the second and third have 7 blades, and the third is made in Taiwan. Wikipedia has a great break down of the versions. There is an f4-5.6 version as well, I wouldn’t consider that version though.

I haven’t used this lens in quite a while, as I gave it to my brother for use on his EOS 5D. He gave it back to me so I could test it on my Metabones Mark V adapter. It works just fine on the adapter. The AF is a bit slow, but works. It also tends to hunt when there isn’t a lot of contrast and in low light. Oddly, I have a full plastic EF 28-85mm f3.5-5.6 V USM and the AF works like a charm. I really hate using that lens.

For the last couple of days I took this out as my only lens for photowalking. I’m a “prime lens” kinda photographer, but I forget how handy a good zoom is. I do have the Sony 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens, but I don’t think it has nearly as good image quality. I prefer having the added reach of 105mm.

The close focusing distance is about 1.5 feet (.45m), which is about average for a zoom lens. I can get close enough for photographing flowers.

If you’re a film shooter like am, this lens works very well with Canon EOS cameras. I’ve used it with a lot of years on all sorts of cameras. I found it’s still a great lens on the 5D and crop sensor cameras like the 50D and 60D. This lens is very compact and handles well on EOS bodies and it even handles well on the adapter. If you have a mirrorless Canon R series camera, I bet this lens works like a charm.

This lens is still affordable, you could pick one up for about $150 these days. I think most people would be very happy with this lens. If you’re using a mirrorless Sony, it’s not worth buying, even if you already have a Metabones adapter. The focus is just too slow and unreliable.

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