Home  Donate  New  Search  Gallery  Reviews  How-To  Books  Links  Workshops  About  Contact

Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS
Full-Frame EF USM

©2015 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More

Please help KenRockwell..com

Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM (Full-frame, 35mm EOS, 1.3x and and APS-C coverage, 58mm filters, 9 inches or 0.75 feet/0.23m close-focus, 9.1 oz./257g, about $500.) enlarge. I got mine at this link to it at Adorama; these links to it at Amazon and at B&H are also fantastic places to get it.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Canon does not seal its boxes, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used lens. My approved sources ship from remote automated warehouses far away from a store where no salespeople or other lookie-loos can drop your new lens before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.


April 2015    More Canon Reviews    Canon Lenses    All Reviews

Why Fixed Lenses Take Better Pictures

How to Use Wide Lenses

24mm f/2.8 IS (2012-) Same lens, in 24mm focal length.

35mm f/2 IS (2012-) Same lens, in 35mm f/2 focal length.

28mm f/1.8 USM (1995-) Faster, different lens without IS.


Sample Image Files

Aviara, 19 April 2015

House, 19 April 2015. Canon 5D Mk III, f/10 at 1/500, Perfectly Clear V2. Full-resolution.


Planter, Aviara, 19 April 2015

Planter, 19 April 2015. Canon 5D Mk III, f/9 at 1/320, Perfectly Clear V2. Full-resolution.


Planter, Aviara, 19 April 2015

Fountain, 19 April 2015. Canon 5D Mk III, f/8 at 1/250. Camera-original © JPG file.


Planter, Aviara, 19 April 2015

Fountain, 19 April 2015. Canon 5D Mk III, f/8 at 1/320. Camera-original © JPG file.


Introduction       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

This Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS USM is a small, lightweight image-stabilized wide-angle lens. Its optics are fantastic, easily equal to my superb 24-70/2.8 L II at 28mm — and it adds Image Stabilization (IS), for a fraction of the price.

Compared to the original 1987 EF 28mm f/2.8, this new lens adds image stabilization and instant manual-focus override: just grab the focus ring at any time.

This new lens is a little bigger than the previous fixed lens, and much lighter than any zoom.



This 28/2.8 IS is a full-frame lens, so it works on all formats.

Full frame lenses are at their best on full-frame, which is how I will be reviewing it.

You can make the usual inferences when used on smaller sensors.



This 28/2.8 IS lens is optimized for 35mm film and full-frame digital, and of course works on 1.3x and 1.6x Canon cameras.

This Canon EF EOS 28mm f/2.8 IS works perfectly with every Canon EOS camera ever made, meaning every Canon DSLR and every Canon autofocus film camera made since 1987.

This means of course it works great on today's 5D Mark III, 6D and Canon 7D, but I tried and autofocus and IS work just as well on my original Canon EOS 650 from 1987!


Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS

Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS. Bigger.


Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More



Canon calls this the CANON LENS EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM.

EF means "electronic focus," meaning that there is an autofocus motor in the lens itself. All Canon lenses since 1987 have been EF.

IS means Image Stabilization.

Ultrasonic or USM means ring-type Ultra-Sonic Motor. This means autofocus is almost silent, and that you can grab the big focus ring for instant manual focus override at any time.


Optics       top

Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS construction

Canon 28/2.8 IS internal construction. IS and aspherical.

9 elements in 7 groups.

One molded glass aspherical element.

Rear focus: nothing moves externally as autofocused.

Multicoated, branded as "Optimized Super Spectra Coating."


Image Stabilization

Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS switches

Canon 28/2.8 IS switches.

Rated 4 stops improvement.


Focal Length        top


On 1.3x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what a 36mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.

On 1.6x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what a 45mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.


Angle of View (on 35mm and full-frame cameras)

75º diagonal.

46º vertical.

65º horizontal.


Close Focus       top

9 inches (0.75 feet or 0.23m), specified from the image plane.

With EF12 II tube: 147 ~ 160mm (5.8 ~ 6.3").

With EF25 II tube: 141 ~ 139mm (5.5 ~ 5.6").


Maximum Reproduction Ratio        top

1:5 (0.20x), specified, at close-focus distance.

With EF12 II tube: 1:2.3 ~ 1:1.6 (0.43 ~ 0.62x).

With EF25 II tube: 1:1.05 ~ 1:0.88 (0.95 ~ 1.13x, larger than life-sized).

With 250D close-up lens: 1:8.3 ~ 1:3.2 (0.12 ~ 0.31x).

With 500D close-up lens: 1:16.7 ~ 1:3.8 (0.06 ~ 0.26x).


Diaphragm       top

Front, Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS

Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS at f/2.8, EF diaphragm not visible.

7 rounded blades.

Stops down to f/22.

Round to about f/4, heptagonal from about f/5.6~22.


Hard Infinity Focus Stop?        top


You have to let the AF system focus for you at infinity.


Focus Scale       top



Depth-of-Field Scale       top



Infra-Red Focus Index       top

Yes, red dot.

Most likely for 800 nm.


Filter Thread       top



Does not move.


Size       top

Canon specifies 2.69" (68.4mm) diameter by 2.02" (51.5mm) long.


Weight       top

9.070 oz. (257.2g), measured.

Canon specifies 9.2 oz. (260g).


Caps       top

New 58mm E-58II front, included. It's a copy of Nikon's newest caps and much improved from Canon's previous caps.

Standard EOS cap rear, included.


Hood       top

Optional EW-65B plastic bayonet, $50.


Case       top

Optional LP1014 sack, $27.


Included       top

Lens and caps; that's it.


Introduced       top

June 2012.


Canon Part Number       top

5179B002 (5179B001 in Japan).


Canon Model Number       top



JAN Code       top



Quality        top

Made in Japan.


Price, USA        top

2015 April: $500. (76,000 yen list price in Japan.)

Box, Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS

Box, Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS.


Performance       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More

Overall    Autofocus    Bokeh   Breathing   Color   Coma   

Distortion   Ergonomics   Falloff    Filters   Flare & Ghosts

Lateral Color Fringes   Macro   Mechanics   

Sharpness   Spherochromatism   Sunstars


Overall     performance      top

The Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS is optically superb and handles very well. It works great.


Autofocus     performance      top

Autofocus is fast and nearly silent, as we take for granted with Canon. For the still subjects I shoot, it's instantaneous unless you need it to rack all the way in or out.


Auto/Manual Switching

Just grab the focus ring at any time for instant manual-focus override.

Only move the AF-MF switch if you want to disable the camera from auto focusing.


AF Speed

AF is fast!, as Canons always are.

The AF motor might be silent, but you will hear some internal sliding and rattling as it focuses.


AF Accuracy and Consistency

I saw no autofocus error on my Canon 5D Mk III.

Especially at f/2.8, every shot is dead-nuts on.


Manual Focus

Manual focus is easy; just grab the ring.

It's geared for the perfect compromise between speed and precision.


Bokeh     performance      top

Bokeh, the quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to the degree of defocus, is good and neutral, not that anything is ever that far out of focus with a lens as wide and slow as this one.

Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS Bokeh

Canon 28/2.8 IS shot on full-frame at f/2.8. Camera-original © JPG file.


Focus Breathing     performance      top

Focus breathing (the image changing size as focused) is mostly of interest to cinematographers who don't want the image changing size ("breathing") as the lens is focused among different subjects.

The image from the Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS gets larger as focused more closely.


Color Rendition     performance      top

The color balance of this 28mm f/2.8 IS seems the same as my other Canon EF lenses.


Coma     performance      top

Coma, or saggital coma flare, is when points of light in the corners turn into batwing-shaped blobs. This is often a problem with fast normal or wide lenses.

I see no coma in this lens, which is superb.


Distortion     performance      top

The Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS has no visible distortion, except at close distances (3'/1m or less) where it has some barrel distortion.

Use these values in Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool to remove the distortion for more critical use:


Correction Factor on Full-Frame or 35mm

10m (30')
3m (10')
1m (3')
0.23m (0.75')

© 2015 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.


Ergonomics     performance      top

Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS

Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS. bigger.

Ergonomics are just about perfect.

It's a small, light lens with one or two switches right under your thumb, and an easy-to-grab focus ring. Perfect!

Grab the focus ring at any time for instant manual override. A single fingertip will do it.

The AF - MF and IS switches fall right under your thumb.


Falloff (darkened corners)     performance      top

Falloff is visible without a profile at f/2.8, and gone by f/4.

With a profile, it's invisible even wide-open.

I've greatly exaggerated this by shooting a flat gray target and presenting it against a gray background:


Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS falloff on full-frame


5D Mk III peripheral illumination control active:

Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS falloff Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS falloff
Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS falloff Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS falloff

© 2015 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

5D Mk III peripheral illumination control disabled (same results on film):

Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS falloff Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS falloff
Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS falloff Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS falloff

© 2015 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.


Filters, Use with     performance      top

The plastic 58mm filter threads are big enough that even two normal stacked filters won't cause any vignetting on full-frame (or any other format).

There is no need for expensive "thin" filters.


Flare and Ghosts     performance      top

Flare performance is superb. I can shoot with the direct disc of the sun in my image and get no ghosts. In this image, I went out of my way to include the direct disc of the sun as well as a black palm tree, and then used Perfectly Clear v.2 to bring-up the dark parts and show what trivial ghosts are there that are otherwise invisible:

Canon 28mm IS flare

At f/9, direct view of mid-day tropical sun. bigger.


Lateral Color Fringes     performance      top

There are no visible lateral color fringes at 22MP full-frame, shot with a lens profile.


Macro     performance      top

It gets very close. 9" from the image plane is just 5" (12cm) from the front of the lens:

Canon 28mm IS Macro performance

Longines 23ZS at close-focus distance on full-frame at f/2.8.

The images would be even tighter on smaller-format cameras (see crop factor).

It's super-sharp; here's a crop from a 22MP full-frame image at 100%:

Canon 28mm IS Macro performance

Crop from above image at 100%. If this is 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, the full image would print at 40 x 60" (1 x 1.5 meters)!

These samples are wide-open at f/2.8, which is superb. Many lenses get softer at macro distances wide-open; this lens stays just as sharp. What softness is seen above is simply because nothing is in focus this close at f/2.8, and even if it was, the plastic watch crystal will blur it.


Mechanics     performance      top

Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS

Rear, Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS. enlarge.

The Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS is made to typical consumer standards: all plastic, except for the glass and the mount. It's the same as the 24mm f/2.8 IS and 35/2 IS.


Filter Threads



Hood Mount




Plastic ring between front element and filter threads.


Focus Ring

Plastic, rubber-covered.






I see what looks like all plastic.


Moisture seal at mount




Chromed metal.





Serial Number

Laser-engraved in nearly invisible black in to the bottom of the black plastic lens barrel.


Date Code

None found.


Noises When Shaken

Mild clunking.


Made in



Sharpness     performance      top

Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens, and lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers. It's the least skilled hobbyists who waste the most time blaming fuzzy pictures on their lenses, while real shooters know that few photos ever use all the sharpness of which their lenses are capable due to subject motion and the fact that real subjects are rarely perfectly flat.

This said, the Canon 28 IS is ultra-sharp at all apertures. It's ultrasharp even in full frame corners at f/2.8, which is magnificent.

So long as you're in focus, sharpness doesn't vary from perfection, except at f/11 and smaller, where diffraction softens images from all lenses.

Hey, sorry to spare you endless boring charts, but with a lens this good, there's nothing to show other than sharp pictures under all conditions.

The biggest detriment to sharpness will be a lack of proper vision and technique, never this lens. I bought mine directly from Adorama. I can't vouch for anything if you buy from a local store or chain where you never really know who's opened and played with your lens before you buy it. I never buy retail; too many risks since Canon doesn't seal its boxes, so why pay more?

Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS MTF

 Canon's specified MTF curve, 28/2.8 IS.


Spherochromatism     performance      top

Spherochromatism, misnamed "color bokeh" by laymen, is when out-of-focus highlights take on color fringes at full aperture.

Spherochromatism is a completely different aberration from lateral color fringes.

I see no spherochromatism.


Sunstars     performance      top

Canon 28mm IS sunstars

At f/10: soft sunstars. bigger.

With its 7 rounded blades, this Canon 28mm f/2.8 IS makes soft, weak 14-pointed sunstars on brilliant points of light, but only at the smallest apertures.

At most apertures, there are no sunstars.


Compared       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More


Compared to the 35/2 IS

The 35mm f/2 IS (2012-) is the same as this lens, just in a 35mm focal length with a faster f/2 speed.

They are for different purposes; the 35mm lens is often used as a normal lens.

Personally, I'd get the 35mm and use it as a normal lens; I never use fixed 28mm lenses, but that's just me.


Compared to the 24/2.8 IS

The 24mm f/2.8 IS (2012-) is the same, with just a slight difference in focal length.

Get whichever you prefer, they are the same thing with only a 10% difference in price and a 15% difference in focal length.


Compared to the 28/1.8 USM

The 28mm f/1.8 USM (1995-) is a very different lens.

The f/1.8 is two-and-a-half times more sensitive to light, but has no IS.

For low-light action shots, the 28mm f/1.8 is more than twice as good for stopping action, but if the subject holds still, the 28/2.8 IS can be sharper at slow shutter speeds hand held.

IS can't help if the subject's moving.

The 28/1.8 also makes great sunstars, while this IS lens can't.

Personally I own a 28/1.8 and don't plan to replace it with this lens. The IS version is a little sharper in a laboratory, while I prefer the better sunstars and better low-light ability of the f/1.8 lens that I can see. The price is about the same, with the f/1.8 costing about $50 less in 2015.


Compared to the 24-70mm f/2.8 L II

The huge and expensive 24-70/2.8 L II has the same superior optical performance at 28mm. The two are equally sharp, while this lens adds IS.

Personally I never use a fixed 28mm lens, and prefer my 24-70 since I usually use it at other focal lengths — but this it like comparing apples to orangutans — and in this case, it's much easier to carry an apple than an orangutang.


Recommendations       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More

This compact little lens is lightweight and optically as good or better than any of Canon's other 28mm lenses. If you want a fixed 28mm lens for full-frame nature and landscapes, this is Canon's best.

I usually carry a zoom, but if you want to go feather-weight, this little gem is at least as sharp as any other Canon zoom like the huge 24-70/2.8 L II.

I'd use a 58mm B+W XS PRO 010 MRC UV filter for protection, or the Canon 58mm UV or a 58mm Hoya HMC UV. These filters are all excellent; the reason to pay more for the B+W is simply if you feel better with a $42 rather than a $30 filter on a $500 lens.


Getting Yours

I got my 28mm 2.8 IS at Adorama. I'd just as well get it at Amazon or at B&H.

If you find the time I spend researching and sharing all this helpful, this ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep adding to this free website when you get anything through these links — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you take the chance of buying elsewhere.

Never buy at retail, especially for a popular lens like this. Canon doesn't seal its boxes so you can't tell if it's a used, returned, damaged, dropped or store-demo lens. Especially with this lens, anyone silly enough to buy at retail has got to know that it's going to have been taken out and played with by everyone in the store before being sold as "new;" while online orders are shipped from secure automated warehouses located far away from any store so no one else gets to drop your lens before you do. Use only the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection.

Thanks for helping me help you!



More Information        top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations   More

Canon, USA's data.

Canon's 28/2.8 IS manual.

Canon's Museum.


Help me help you         top

I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.

The biggest help is when you use any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. These places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

If you find this page 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 continue helping everyone.

If you've gotten your gear through one of my links or helped otherwise, you're family. It's great people like you who allow me to keep adding to this site full-time. Thanks!

If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $5.00.

As this page is copyrighted and formally registered, it is unlawful to make copies, especially in the form of printouts for personal use. If you wish to make a printout for personal use, you are granted one-time permission only if you PayPal me $5.00 per printout or part thereof. Thank you!


Thanks for reading!



Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


Home  Donate  New  Search  Gallery  Reviews  How-To  Books  Links  Workshops  About  Contact




23 April 2015