Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8 USM L - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published November 2005

Special thanks to Rainer Zentner for providing this lens!


The Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8 USM L is a discontinued lens introduced back in late 1993. The lens has been replaced by the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 USM L (see separate review) in late 2002. As a designated L class lens it is primarily intended for professional users but its was affordable enough for many serious amateurs - and it's more so now on the used market. On APS-C DSLRs its field-of-view is equivalent to 45-112mm on full-frame cameras which isn't overly useful due to the rather "long" wide-end.

With a weight of 880g and a size of 83x117mm it is quite a bit heavier and bigger than many third party alternatives but comparable to similar lenses made by other genuine brand manufacturers. In fact it's also slightly more light-weight than its successor.
The lens has a reverse zooming mechanism so it extends towards the wide end of the range. It is shortest at 70mm. While this may seem odd at first the system makes sense when attaching the deep flower-shaped hood which remains highly effective at all focal lengths. So with attached hood the size of the package remains constant. Still it would be nice if such a lens would not extend at all during zooming. The front element does not rotate during focusing there're no issues when using a polarizer - without hood that is.

The optical construction is made of 16 elements in 11 groups, including one high-quality grounded aspherical element in the front group. The min. focus distance is 0.5m resulting is a max. object magnification of ~1:5 at 70mm. The lens features 8 circular aperture blades. The filter size is 77mm.

The lens has a ring-type USM drive based on a front-focusing system resulting in an extremely fast AF speed. As usual for modern ring-type USM lenses full-time manual focusing is always possible in one-shot AF mode. The build quality of this lens is very good. No significant wobbling and quite smooth controls. Unlike its successor the lens is not sealed though.