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Canon 18-55mm
© 2006 KenRockwell.com

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Canon 18-55mm

This one came as part of a kit from Adorama here. I'd also suggest getting it from Ritz or Amazon. It helps me publish this site when you get yours from those links, too.

More Canon reviews

INTRODUCTION    back to top.

Skip to   Specs     Performance      Recommendations

This is the 2006 EF-S II version of Canon's basic digital zoom. It's a popular kit lens with Canon DSLRs.

It's inexpensive, easy to use and works great. Don't let yourself be oversold if you're on a budget. I'd rather have this great little lens and cash left over to buy the spectacular 10-22mm or a tele than blow a limited budget on a fancier mid-range zoom.

It doesn't have image stabilization and it's not the more expensive USM version. Don't worry, it doesn't have the color fringes of the 17-85mm IS either!

As an EF-S series lens it only works on the recent small sensor (1.6x or APS-C) cameras, like the Rebels (Rebel, XT and XTi [300D, 350D and 400D]), 20D and 30D. It won't even fit on the older D30, D60 and 10D.

SPECIFICATIONS   back to intro and index.

Name: Canon calls this the Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II

   EF: Electronic Focus. All modern Canon lenses do this.

   -S: Only works on newer, small (1.6x factor) DSLRs, which are the 40D, 30D, 20D, 20Da (astronomical), Digital Rebel XTi, Digital Rebel XT and the original Canon Digital Rebel.

Focal Length: 18-55mm. It gives a felid-of-view similar to the view a 28 - 85mm lens gives on a 35mm camera.

Optics: 11 elements in 9 groups.

Diaphragm: 6 blades, round for the first two stops. Stops down to f/22 - f/36.

Close Focus: 0.9' (0.28m).

Filter: 58mm, plastic thread.

Hood: EW-60C, not included (not needed, either).

Case: LP814, not included.

Size: Small. Focused at infinity: 2.692" diameter x 2.590" extension from mount (68.36 x 65.73mm) set at 28mm. Gets longer when set wider or longer, longest (2.960" (75.19mm)) at 55mm setting. (measured by me.) Also extends an additional 5mm when focused more closely.

Weight: Nothing: 6.450 oz (182.8 g), as measured by me, without filters or caps.

Made of: Plastic exterior, switches and mount. Internals unknown, looks mostly plastic. Back of lens has a rubber bumper, a nice touch when setting it down without a rear cap.

Made in: Taiwan (see back of lens inside the mount!)

Serial Number: Laser-engraved on outside of lens barrel, near mount on bottom of lens.

Introduced: September 2004.

PERFORMANCE   back to intro and index.

Overall  Apertures  Distortion  Focus  LCA  Sharpness  Sound  Zoom

OVERALL   back to intro and index.

This is a swell little lens. It works great and is easy to use.

Don't let yourself be oversold. This lens will make spectacular photos limited only by your skill and imagination.

I'd rather have this lens and a 10-22mm ultrawide or a telephoto than just one fancier mid-range zoom.

MAXIMUM APERTURE   back to intro and index.

Maximum Aperture

18mm: f/3.5

24mm: f/4

35mm: f/4.5

55mm: f/5.6

DISTORTION   back to intro and index.

It has a lot of barrel distortion (bulging out) at the wide end, which goes away in the mid and tele range.

Here are the values I use with Photoshop CS2's lens distortion filter to correct the distortion, shot on a 1.6x sensor camera (30D, 20D, 10D, D60, D30).

18 mm: Strong barrel distortion. Corrects best with +5.0, but remains a little bit wavy.

24 mm: Barrel distortion. Correct with +2.2.

28 mm: Very slight barrel distortion. Correct with +0.5.

35 mm: No distortion.

55 mm: Negligible pincushion distortion. leave it alone, or use -0.2.

FOCUS   back to intro and index.

The front rotates during autofocus. Watch your fingers!

Autofocus Speed

AF is almost instantaneous. (The 17-85mm IS is instant).

It's faster than my Nikon 18-200mm on my D200.

Follow-focus works great for moving subjects.

It focuses faster than my eyes.

Autofocus Accuracy

Accuracy is dead on at maximum aperture with my 20D. No problems here!

Manual Focus

You have to move a focus mode switch and twist the front of the lens. If you do a lot of manual focusing I'd suggest a fancier USM lens. This 18-55mm lens is clumsy for manual focusing. It works fine, just that other lenses make it more convenient.

Manual focus moves in the opposite direction from Nikon. Don't try this if you use both systems.


18-55mm macro

At 55mm, close focus limit (full frame)

18-55mm cropped

100% crop, unsharpened. Looks great!

This cute little 18-55mm focuses closer than the much more expensive 17-85mm IS.

LCA (Edge Color Fringes)   back to intro and index.

18mm: Very little (better than the 17-85mm IS!).

28mm: Almost none.

35mm: None.

50mm: None.

SHARPNESS   back to intro and index.

It's fine! This is looking at 100% blow-ups from a 30D. You'd have to make prints three feet wide to see these subtle differences.

Your skill will be your biggest barrier to sharp images, not this lens.

Letters correspond to center - edge. Possible ratings are E - VG - G - F - P. These are subjective. Don't fret over differences between adjacent grades.

18 mm
VG - F
E- G
E - VG
28 mm
G - F
E - VG
E - VG
E - VG
35 mm
E - VG
E - VG
E - VG
50 mm
(f/5.6 -->)
G - G

SOUND and NOISE   back to intro and index.

Auto Focus: It sounds motorized, like a quiet toy.

Manual Focus: Plastic on plastic.

Zoom: Plastic sliding on plastic

ZOOMING   back to intro and index.

18-55mm zoom

Canon 18-55mm EF-S II Zoom Ring

Zooming is fine. It's easy to set any focal length. The wide settings are a little closer together than the tele settings, but since it's only a 3x zoom it's not a problem.

It works fine. You can zoom with one finger tip.

It doesn't creep at any orientation, including straight up or down.

Zoom moves in the opposite direction from Nikon. Don't try to do this if you use both systems.

RECOMMENDATIONS   back to intro and index.

It's a great little lens! It's much easier to carry than the other more expensive mid range zooms. I doubt anyone buys it alone; it usually comes as a kit with a camera.

This one came as part of a kit from Adorama here. I'd also suggest getting it from Ritz or Amazon. It helps me publish this site when you get yours from those links, too.

Personally I rarely use a mid range zoom. I'd get this one and save my money for the 10-22mm super wide zoom. I'd buy this lens as a lens cap.

I wish Canon made an IS 18-200mm as Nikon does, but Canon doesn't.


If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me write more with a donation.

Thanks for reading!




Caveat: The all the ads below come from third parties and I don't see them before they appear on your screen. See more at my Buying Advice page. Personally I get my goodies at Ritz, Amazon and Adorama.

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