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Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM vs Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens Comparison

When Canon introduced their new Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM lens it was inevitable that it would be compared to the original Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM lens that has been around for years. The original 28mm f/1.8 lens was generally pretty well regarded but a common wish list item was for image stabilization. With the new 28mm f/2.8 lens users got their wish, but they lose some light with the slower f/2.8 vs f/1.8 aperture. In this article we take a look at the Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM vs Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM lenses and how they compare side-by-side.

The lenses are pretty close in size with the newer f/2.8 lens coming in slightly smaller and lighter than the f/1.8 version. However, that is to be expected since the f/1.8 needs more glass to let in 2/3-stop more light. However, some of the size and weight savings are offset by the addition of the image stabilizer in the newer f/2.8 lens.

Neither lens includes a lens shade as is typical from Canon non “L” series lenses. Both lenses do feature distance scales with hyperfocal distance although the original f/1.8 has markings for f/22, f/16, f/11 and f/8 while the newer f/2.8 lens only shows markings for f/22 and f/11. Both lenses have the infrared focus indicator as well.

As far as overall build quality, both lenses feel very similar in hand. The newer f/2.8 focus ring felt a tad smoother, but both lenses focuses smoothly and accurately.

The 28mm focal length is well suited for landscapes, indoor architecture, weddings, concerts (up close) and other events. Thanks to the small and lightweight size of these lenses, they make for a great travel/backpacking option when you want to go light. Throw int he 40mm pancake and the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM II lens and you have a 3 lens kit that gives you excellent coverage without breaking your back or the bank.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM vs Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM lenses – the images have been scaled (as best as possible) to match their size relative to each other:

Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Pricing*

  • Canon EF 28 f/1.8 USM - $509.99

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Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Pricing*

  • Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM - $549.99

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*Pricing from Manufacturer's website - Current selling price may be different. Be sure to visit the links below for current pricing.

Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Advantages

Faster f/1.8 Aperture (vs f/2.8 max)
Less Expensive (by about $40)

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Advantages

Image Stabilization
Smaller (0.2 inches smaller diameter and 0.18 inches shorter)
Lighter (1.6 oz)
Higher magnification (0.18x vs 0.23x)

Conclusion

If you need f/1.8 for low light or isolating your background then of course you should get the original Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM lens. However, if you can live with the 2/3 stop slower aperture and want image stabilization then by all means you should get the Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM. Overall I would lean towards the newer f/2.8 IS version since the addition of the image stabilization will be more of a benefit than the f/1.8 aperture for outdoor landscapes and such. However if you tend to shoot weddings, concerts, nightscapes and indoor architecture then the f/1.8 is your top choice.

User rankings overall are pretty close overall, however the newer f/2.8 has more 5-star ratings given to it, but has fewer 4-star and more 1 and 3 start ratings. the original f/1.8 lens has more 4-star and 2-star ratings than the newer lens. DXO mark gave the newer f/2.8 version a higher sharpness rating than the original f/1.8 lens as well as a lower CA rating. However when stopped down (which is how these lenses will be used most of the time) those differences are less.

Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Overall User Rating

4.53 out of 5

based on 724 user reviews online.

: 65% (471.42)
: 28% (202.36)
: 3% (24.1)
: 2% (18.08)
: 1% (8.04)

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Overall User Rating

4.58 out of 5

based on 108 user reviews online.

: 74% (80.1)
: 16% (17.8)
: 6% (6.02)
: 1% (1.02)
: 3% (3.06)

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Specs

Spec Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM
Focal Length 28 28
Max Aperture f/1.8 f/2.8
Minimum Aperture f/22 f/22
Minimum Focus distance 9.84 inches 9 inches
Maximum Magnification 0.18x 0.23x
Number of Elements 10 9
Number of Groups 9 7
Aperture Blade Design Hexagonal Rounded
Number of Aperture Blades 7 7
Filter Size 58 mm 58 mm
Diameter 2.9 in. 2.69 in.
Length 2.2 in. 2.02 in.
Weight 0.68 lbs. 0.58 lbs.
Lens Mount Construction Metal Metal
Tripod Collar None None
Weather Sealed No No
Distance Scale Yes - With Hyper Focal Markings Yes - With Hyper Focal Markings
Image Stabilization No Yes
Lens Shade Optional Optional