Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 USM L IS - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published April 2006

Special thanks to André Heinicke for providing this lens!


The Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 USM L is a fairly recent addition to the Canon lens lineup. It is the successor of the EF 35-350mm f/3.5-5.6 USM L, a lens which was and still is popular in the press community and among travel photographers. On full frame (D)SLRs this is naturally also true for the new EF 28-300mm L but on APS-C (the tested scope) its field-of-view is equivalent to 45-480mm so it looses some of its universal character. Nonetheless the range isn't unprecedented - the Sigma AF 50-500mm EX covers about the same range on full frame cameras for instance.

The design of a 10.7x zoom is complex and the image stabilizer on top doesn't make things exactly easier so it's no surprise that the lens has 23 elements in 16 groups with 3 UD (ultra-low dispersion) and 3 aspherical elements. The lens features 8 circular aperture blades. In order to limit the compromises regarding optical quality at the tele setting Canon preferred to keep the size to a reasonable maximum so it is neither a small (184x92mm) nor an especially light-weight lens (1670g) - this is even bigger than its predecessor. The minimal focus distance is 0.7m (throughout the range) resulting in a max. object magnification of 1:3.3 at 300mm which is extraordinary for such a lens. Due to the broad focus range Canon also implemented a focus limiter so you can exclude close focus distances in situations where the AF may tend to hunt throughout the range. The filter size is 77mm.

As already mentioned above the 28-300mm L IS features a 3rd generation image stabilizer. Canon claims a gain of three f-stops here which seems to be pretty accurate. Unlike older IS lenses the stabilizer also detects the lack of movement so it can remain activated for tripod usage. Typical for Canon pro grade IS lenses the IS offers two operation modes:

  • standard (mode 1): corrects movements for static scenes (horizontal plus vertical stabilization)
  • panning (mode 2): corrects the vertical axis only (regardless of the lens' orientation).

The lens is not compatible to the Canon EF tele-converters.

The lens has a push/pull zoom mechanism. This approach allows a fast change of the focal length but a fine tuning of a setting is a little more difficult here. For press photography where things tend to be on the fast side this may be appealing whereas most other users would have preferred a conventional zoom ring. Fortunately the zoom operation is very smooth so you can get used to it. Typical for long zooms the EF 28-300mm L extends significantly towards the 300mm setting and the petal-shaped lens hood adds some extra centimeters. A push/pull zoom is doomed to suffer from lens creeping so Canon added a control ring to lock the lens at a desired position. As to be expected from a Canon L lens the build quality of the EF 28-300mm is just great (metal body). Canon was also smart enough to implement an environmental sealing against dust and humidity which is a frequent problem for other air sucking zoom lenses. The AF drive is a ring-type USM (ultrasonic) variant and combined with a rear-focusing group it provides an very fast and near silent AF operation.