I got to borrow this lens yesterday.

Canon T2i has been discontinued, replacement is the Canon T6i: B&H | Amazon

Some of the key points about the Canon 28-135mm: B&H | Amazon

  • You can’t zoom in and out with this lens while shooting video because of the aperture stops that you pass through
  • The IS works amazingly well, almost as good as my camcorder.
  • It is much heavier than my 50mm prime.
  • I think I need an ND filter sooner outside than I do with the 50mm prime.
  • It makes shooting video more complex, but shooting pictures is pretty fun.
  • Is it a good travel lens if it is some much heavier than the 50mm prime?

I got this comment on YouTube I thought I would share:

you can zoom in and out when recording, you just have to set the aperture at or above 5.6 🙂

20 comments

  • A couple of observations on your review:
    1 – 135mm is definitely not enough for most sports or bird video/photography that you mentioned
    2 – yes you can buy a prime with IS – the new 100mm macro – IS is amazing – the lens you tested is old with the first generation IS – the 100mm macro is the latest and greatest iteration of the IS technology and works better in video mode than any IS lens before it – street price around $1k
    3 – you will get IS noise unless your use an external mic or 2 system setup (true of any IS lens)
    4 – now idea why you would need the ND earlier than on your prime (f5.6 is f5.6 whatever lens you’re using)
    5 – You think the 28-135mm is bulky? try the 24-70mm 2.8 or 24-105mm f4 L equivalents. Unfortunately, when it comes to lenses quality and bulk seem to go hand in hand (the nifty fifty maybe the 1 exception but then the 1.4 is better than the 1.8 but is heavier and the 1.2 is better still and heavier still).
    6 – If you want a filmic look don’t zoom while filming anyways – set the focal length then move the camera. This will get past the variable aperture issue you saw – as will not setting the aperture below – as will not setting the iris below 5.6 if you intend to rack from one extreme to the other while filming (i.e. shoot in AP or M mode)

    I used to use this lens a lot when I got my first rebel and I wrote a review of it myself from a still perspective back then: http://www.theothermartintaylor.com/moveabletype/archives/cameras/000556.html

  • @Martin, thanks for your comments. I enjoyed reading your review, sounds like you have a ton of experience.

    Question: the new 100mm macro with IS, doesn’t macro mean you are mostly shooting close ups like for flowers and stuff like that. Can I use a macro also for interviews and run and gun type shooting for stuff that is not close?

  • Dave
    I love taking photos and bit the bullet and upgraded to the 7D with the hopes of trying out the video side as well. I am learning right along with you so I appreciate your ‘novice tutorials’. Thinking first about photography, I purchased the 28-135mm and absolutely love it. It is the lens that stays on my camera 95% of the time. As such, it becomes my primary video lens. You are right about the exposures stepping if you zoom… It does however, let me get shots quickly without having to set things up -most of my shooting is spontaneous. I started to upload to Vimeo as well to participate in that learning community. Here is my first http://vimeo.com/11273330, with some others there as well using the 28-135mm lens. Again, I am just learning so thanks for your inspiration!

  • The macro can shoot very close up (1:1 I think) but it still focuses to infinity so it makes for a good portrait lens too. I have the old, non-IS version of the 100mm macro but am seriously considering trading it in for the IS version when I have some spare cash. 100mm is a little long for run and gun shooting especially on a crop factor camera but it would be great for interviews.

  • Maybe a bit off topic, but I have a lens question:
    When people say that they use “a fast lens”, I’ve learned that they’re talking about an f/1.8 or something similar. Should be good in low light scenarios etc. Now, if you use a value of f/3.5 on that lens, is it still fast? Or in other words: Will that lens do a better job at f/3.5 in low light than a lens that has f/3.5 as the lowest possible value? Hope I’m making sense?

    Thanks,
    Michael

  • @Martin thanks for comments, yes that makes sense now that a 100mm would not work well for run and gun.

    @Michael, I am not sure. I think f1.8 means you can let more light in?

  • Michael – f3.5 is f3.5 is f3.5 – is doesn’t matter if it’s f3.5 set on a fast lens or set on a slower zoom, it is still the same amount of light hitting your sensor. That said, a fast lens, like the nifty 50 (f1.8) set at f3.5 will nearly always be sharper than a zoom lens wide open set at 50mm and f3.5. Why is that? 2 reasons: zooms are nearly always softer than primes (because zooms involve more glass elements and more compromises to be more flexible), and a lens usually performs better a stop or two in from it’s most open setting. This is because the center of the glass in your lens is usually sharper than the glass at the edge and when you shoot wide open you’re using that glass at the edge of your lens – the more you stop down the less of the edge of your lenses glass you use.
    Hope this makes sense.

  • Thanks, Martin…can I also run this by you: a low f-value (+/- 1.8) will let more light in, allowing you to use lower iso’s and minimize noise? But: If you want minimal background and foreground blur, you need to use something like f/10 and crank up the iso?

    Thanks,
    Mike:o)

  • Hi Mike – sounds like you’ve got it. There are only controls in exposure; shutter speed (can’t go slower than 1/30th when making movies), aperture and ISO. As for dof, as you say, the smaller the number, the less range from foreground to background that is sharp. Bigger numbers make more of that range sharp but here’s your quandary, the more crispy your shot, the more it looks like a camcorder and the less filmic it appears. That shallow depth of field is a pain when you are trying to hold your focus but it is also the thing that attracts the pros to these hybrid DSLRs. I think a good compromise is around f4-5.6. Of course it also depends on your focal length too – you get a lot more dof with a wide lens than you do with a telephoto.

  • Thanks a bundle Dave and Martin…

    Well, I love the DOF effects on DSLR’s as much as anybody else, just needed to get my head straight on the parameters involved. Thanks again…

    Kind regards,
    Mike

  • Thanks for video Dave, looking into another lense myself after getting the 50mm 1.8 (a real work horse in low light). This might be what I need for sure, looks good.

  • I picked this lens up used for $200, while it is selling on Amazon for $360 so I felt I couldn’t lose by owning it.

  • I can’t believe the great results Michael Huber got for a first video with his 28-135. If I had video that great, I’d be a happy camper. I’m using the Canon 18-135 IS and am still extremely frustrated with the video aspects. Maybe I need to switch to my standard 50mm while learning. I mainly wanted video capabilities for animal photography. I’ve been using my collie as my subject. She always starts out in focus, but then closer or further away, the video isn’t even worth saving. If I’m taking videos of a bird feeder where the object stays at about the same distance, then it’s fine. Lens is good though for still shots.

  • I was thinking the same thing as the first person who posted about the 24-70 2.8. I currently have a 40d and the 17-40 F4L and a 24-70 F2.8 and my friend just got a 7d with the 28-135. I was thinking, man, this 28-135 lens is nice because it is so light coming from my 24-70 2.8. That lens is super light, and looks ok, I am still getting used to it at this point so I dont have enough time with it to come up with a review of its quality yet but for lightness, hell I would love to take it traveling but I am going to stick with my 17-40 and 24-70 on the next vacation

  • “you can zoom in and out when recording, you just have to set the aperture at or above 5.6” is not true. It still causes ‘flicker’ due to variable f-stop with this lens, along with many other zoom lens.

    I don’t know if anybody mentioned this or not, but here’s a great tip on being able to zoom with lens in a video mode.
    Set up focuts, f-stop, and shutter speed the way you want, unscrew the lens a bit, turn on the video mode, and voila! You can zoom in and out WITHOUT the variable aperture!
    I would love to take full credit for this, but I read about it somewhere on the internet, and it works quite nicely is you really need to zoom.

    Bill

  • How do I create the faded background using the Canon 7d with that standard lens 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6?

    Just like how you have it in your video above?

  • Hey dave… Whats about the EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM… Its is fast lens.. Prime, short, And very light (just 261g) perfect to shoot in the street (wide angle) and when your walking or whit your kids, gets great IS, .. Some cool thing it is like 50mm in my gh2 and in t2i or 60d is like a 45mm Lens very portrait lens… And got really good IS.. I know its arround 800$ but.. I think is a great lens to travel… I hope you can review it soon… Becouse i really want to buy that one,… Salute from Argentina

  • Hey dave… Whats about the EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM… Its is fast lens.. Prime, short, And very light (just 261g) perfect to shoot in the street (wide angle) and when your walking or whit your kids, gets great IS, .. Some cool thing it is like 50mm in my gh2 and in t2i or 60d is like a 45mm Lens very portrait lens… And got really good IS.. I know its arround 800$ but.. I think is a great lens to travel… I hope you can review it soon… Becouse i really want to buy that one,… Salute from Argentina.. Thanks