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Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM

Click to view Canon at B&H Photo

The Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM is notably larger in volume than the EF 28mm f/2.8, but still much smaller than Canon’s 35/1.4L.

Prime lenses (fixed focal length) can potentially be better performers than zooms because they can be optimized for just one focal length. That is, if they are optimized, as opposed to a lackluster design.

Build quality.

The lens is reasonably small and light, its biggest plus. No lens hood is supplied, but there is an unusual internal rectangular light baffle.

Build quality is decent as plastic goes, with reasonably good USM autofocus and usable manual focus.


Most users will opt for the 16-35mm f/2.8L II zoom (about $1700), and that is probably a smart move for its range and versatility in terms of focal length. But the zoom has hazy performance until f/2, so the 28/1.8 offers about two more stops of usable range, for low light shooting, or background blur with sharp focus— a different experience entirely from the zoom. Personally, I’d probably rather carry just the 28/1.8 for its smaller size and lighter weight, and shoot wider, handheld.

Canon’s own 24mm f/1.4L II is a better lens, but expensive (about $1699). Ditto for the Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon (about $1732). But of course for 5X the money you must expect more.

Another option is the Zeiss 28mm f/2, (about $1283), which offers similar speed and better optical performance, but is manual focus.

Of all these choices, I’d opt for the Canon 24/1.4L II for autofocus, or Zeiss for manual focus.


The 28/1.8 has a quite good close focusing capability down to 1:5.5, which extends its versatility. Don’t underestimate the value of close focus as it can really be fun shooting up close in nature.

List price: $459 street price
Specifications for Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM
Aperture scale: f/1.8 - f/22
Filter size: 58mm
Image ratio at close range:            1:5.5
Minimum focus distance 10 inches
Angle of view 75° diagonally
Number of elements/groups: 10 elements in 9 groups

0.68 pounds = 308g (nominal)

Dimensions (with caps): 2.4" in diameter, 2.2" in length


MTF for Canon EF 24mm f/2.8

The MTF chart is a bit hard to interpret with all the overlapping lines, but it shows a lens with plenty of astigmatism at f/8 and a good dollop of field curvature, which means that any comparison is going to be tricky, and will depend on where focus actually is set.

On EF-S cameras (1.6X crop), sharpness will stay high over the sensor (out to the ~11mm mark as shown on the graph), so it could be a good choice on such cameras.

Field comparison

Two different comparisons with extensive crops and a complete aperture series are available in DAP, in the Canon Wide Primes review.

Field comparison scene


At about $459, the 28/1.8 is worthy of consideration if you need a full-frame wide angle prime lens. Stopped down to f/5.6 - f/8 it offers fairly good image quality.

On EF-S 1.6X crop cameras, performance will be quite high, since the weaker edge and corner areas will just not be seen.

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