Canon EF 20-35mm f/2.8 L

July 14, 2015

The last lens I talked about was the Canon EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, a lens which is interesting since it’s not talked about that much (since it’s old and uninteresting on a whole). This time around I’m going to talk about the L version, the Canon EF 20-35mm f/2.8 L. I picked it up last year, and I can positively say that since I got it, I haven’t used the USM version a single time.

Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 20-35mm f/2.8L @ 34mm, F/2.8, 1/5000s, ISO 100

Just as last time, I’m not going to dwell in to sharpness tests and etc. but just talk about how I’ve liked the lens so far, the only reason why I’m writing about it is because I’ve written about the consumer version, and because it’s such an old lens. The L version goes back to 1989 and my copy was actually produced in December 1989 in Utsunomiya, Japan. It does have some rough edges, but I’d bet that you’ll have a hard time finding a 26 year old lens that’s in mint condition. On a positive note, the lens chassis is mostly made up with metal, which makes it feel sturdy as hell.

Anyway, I picked up the lens for the same price I picked up the f/3.5-4.5, which was a bargain considering this lens goes for around £400-500 on Ebay.

Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 20-35mm f/2.8L @ 20mm, F/5.0, 1/160s, ISO 100

The lens weighs around 549g, which isn’t light per se, but light enough. Lately I’ve used this as one of my primary three lenses, the others being a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 and the small Canon EF 50mm f/1.8.

Just as with the other 20-35mm, this lens is not suitable for a APS-C camera, it’s not very wide when cropped, and there’s a lot better, and frankly, cheaper, alternatives for cropped cameras.

Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 20-35mm f/2.8L @ 20mm, F/2.8, 5.0s, ISO 800

Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 20-35mm f/2.8L @ 24mm, F/8.0, 1/160s, ISO 100

While this lens doesn’t sport a USM focus motor, it’s still pretty fast, also very noisy, but fast nonetheless. I love the build of the lens, it feels very sturdy and the image quality is top notch as far as I’m concerned. This copy doesn’t have any haze problems like the other one, and it’s able to perform in almost any situation that I’ve had it in.

Canon EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 and f/2.8L
Canon EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM (to the right) and Canon EF 20-35mm f/2.8L (to the left)

At the current asking price on ebay, I wouldn’t recommend this lens, I’d go for something newer, why? Even though the lens is great, you’ll have to remember that the lens met its EOL 10 years ago, which means Canon probably doesn’t have any spare parts if it breaks down. But if, and that’s a big if, if you can find one cheap, go for it. The one I found set me back around 1500sek, which I think was well spent money.