Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM



I noticed some time ago that the EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 had been discontinued. I am motivated to have a little write-up here as a sort of post-mortem, a user's requiem for the lens.
And I still use it. Not too shabby for a deceased lens.

I am so glad Canon did this thing before discontinuing the lens: they had provided a DPP "plug-in" to correct for lens' "color-related" flaws and others. So I raised my eyebrows and exhaled a little "hmmmm" when failed to find the lens on the official USA website.

Seemingly enough good glass has come out of Canon prior to putting the 24-85 to sleep. One would think Canon were headquartered in Benelux or Switzerland.

I've had my 24-85 for a while. I don't remember why the EF 28-135mm IS never entered my purchasing equation at that time. Many years later I bought a 28-135 just-separated from a new 40D kit (according to the seller) for a friend off eBay. I ran a quick comparison test between the two just to make sure I wouldn't be passing him a lemon. I did the tripod thing "et al." short of shooting a brick wall. What I remember, optically, the lenses paired and fared favorably at full apertures and at the unavoidable f/8. The subject was some intricate pattern on a lamp shade and other silly lens-test things amateurs like me like to do when shooting good photography seems unattractive and passe. The point I want to make here, really, is that at 135mm the IS lens' filed of view was noticeably wider than that of the EF 135mm f/2.8 Softfocus. And the IS was more clickity-click-y than the silent EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. It's nice when better technology creeps into cheaper lenses. But, where was I? I think I have digressed.

I will just do a little mantra now to get it out of the way: sharper the wider and sharper the smaller f-stop I set mine. F/8 and less for landscapes. My horizons are also bowed when I cram sand and ocean horizons and nothing else in a wide-angle shot.

For quick on-the-go portraits @85mm & f/4.5 will do and the "ghostly" image makes my model happy. (And for god sakes, don't blow it up to 100% in front of me to show me how pretty sharp the lens is, says she!) While I'm in DPP, keeping the magnification to "fit screen", I also tweak the sharpens slider way down for most portraits. I've never been pressured to shoot landscapes focused at infinity and aperture wide open.

Qualitatively speaking, I can never scan any film emulsion with such magnification to have an equivalent of a 100% 1.6x crop-sensor image. And so I come to the gist of this rant. The lens was designed in and for the film era. And when I use this paperweight on a film camera such as the Elan 7n I don't want to pick up anything of digital I have, ever. (That doesn't really say much, does it?)

What I can't forget when thinking about my 24-85 is that this design has everything I want in a general purpose zoom lens, the right size, weight, compactness, range, focus speed etc. Sometimes, I just can't resist using such a lovely general purpose zoom because of the convenience and pretty much I always get what the word implies: I stay wooden and zoom in and out to frame a boring shot.

Do I miss the IS on the lens? Well, it doesn't have it so... But seriously, when I'd need it this would be at the longest end, but @85mm:
1. I usually need the bokeh so I shot it wide open, thus there is a range of short-enough exposures.
2. When I do need the cut-off f/8 it's usually sunny for a short exposure, especially with digital. If it's not sunny that means the scene is more drab than the f/4.5 would ruin it. I don't need my tele-shots of fog, featureless trees and telephone posts crisp and spherochromatism-free.

Oh, it just hit me, the answer to my "why not the 28-135mm IS"! I was/am a 24mm guy. Big difference isn't it? Place that "f" in the right place in the previous sentence!

Thank you very much for reading,
Ivan Rabak

PS. And how does all this precipitate photographically?

- portrait (1.6x). @24mm, f/3.5 1/30s hand-held. taken in "portrait", so bottom mostly cropped out.

- flower (1.6x). @85mm, f/5.6 and post-processed - no lens gives me these colors from
camera's default settings

- sheep (film, efke 100). unknown aperture (naturally), but it couldn't have been too far from wide open. focal length? who knows - looks north of 35mm.


  • kodMladjineBake_umjetnicke4_flickr.jpg
    34.1 KB · Views: 2,682
  • cvjet_ii_blog_rv.jpg
    50.8 KB · Views: 1,913
  • Scan-100415-0003_review.jpg
    86.8 KB · Views: 1,823