Lens Review - Canon EF 28mm f2.8 - Best affordable wider lens for video

I picked up this little beauty on www.leboncoin.fr. It's like craigslist but in France. Actually I went to this lady's house to buy a Vivitar flash and she had a whole bag of Canon gear, and this little guy was in there. When I saw it I said to her hmmm, how much? 

It's rare but sometimes you can find people who just want to get rid of gear they haven't used in a long time, and the gear, like Canon EOS stuff, is still good on today's cameras. That's why you shouldn't hesitate to invest in EOS or Nikon lenses, they aren't going anywhere.

The Canon EF 28mm f2.8 is a very underestimated lens because Canon now has several other more popular options. They are: the Canon EF 28mm f1.8 - a newer, brighter, and more expensive lens; the new canon ef 28mm f2.8 IS, which is very similar to the lens I'm reviewing but with image stabilization; the Canon EF 17-55mm f2.8, the Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8, and a few other zooms that cover the 28mm range, not to mention the Canon EF 35mm f2. Don't let these newer lenses deter you from trying this one out. There are many things to like about the 28mm f2.8. 

First of all, it's really small and light. It takes up virtually no space in a camera bag. Newer L zooms and even the consumer zooms are so huge and heavy, they can be annoying the carry all day. Zooms offer immediate change in your angle of view, but they offer it in exchange for hugeness, weight, and price. The 28mm will deliver high quality images, and is excellent as a walk around lens at a party or in the studio, especially when mounted on a crop sensor camera (7D), when it's used as a 45mm. 

The 28mm f2.8 is very similar to the Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II in size, but the 28mm has a metal mount, a focus scale, and so is a bit heavier. Comparing to the toy-like 50mm this guy seems pro and solid.

Compared to Canon's USM offerings or Nikon's lenses, you quickly realize this is an average lens construction-wise. Who cares? Mine is probably 20 years old and is in mint condition. 

The focus ring is a bit flimsy but would be ideal for attaching a follow focus. It has a hard stop infinity and close focus. And close focus on this lens is less than a foot, very nice!

Images are superb with this lens, just like the 50mm f1.8. I think the photos from these two lenses are very similar. The 28mm offers great colors and bokeh, very natural and smooth, both on my 5D and T2i. 

Canon 28mm f2.8 vs. Nikon

I've used the Nikon Series E 28mm f2.8 and it is a garbage lens. Very unsharp and ugly images. The Canon easily beats that lens, but compared to Nikon's manual focus AI 28mm f2.8, they are probably about the same. I would opt for the Canon since price wise on the used market they will be similar. If you already have the Nikon, then use it with an adapter, it will be great. 

Canon 28mm f2.8 vs. 3rd party, Zeiss, etc. 

Zeiss might offer better image quality in a 28mm, but so does Leica and cinema PL mount lenses, and they are all way more expensive than the Canon. To me, Canon's good lenses (primes and Ls) offer image quality equal with almost all other makes, and for way less. You also get AF if you need it for photos. I guess it all depends on what you're shooting. If you'll never use your Canon DSLR for photos, then perhaps using all Nikons or Zeiss might be a good option for you. Zeiss usually have great distance scales and quality metal construction, but honestly the image quality will be the same as from Canon's best.

 

Using Filters

Just like the Canon 50mm f1.8, the 28mm f2.8 uses 52mm filters. I'd recommend a Tiffen CP 52mm, a Tiffen 812 warming filter and a Tiffen graduated filter

I recommend these filters for outdoor use mainly. If a brightly-lit room where you need to have a wider aperture, use Tiffen ND filter, which reduce the amount of light entering your camera without effecting color temperature.

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