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Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens

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Those little digital cameras that look like they arrived as prizes in a box of Cap’n Crunch are wonderful for capturing slightly blurry images of next door’s drooling children attempting to bath a cat, but serious photography demands something with a lens having a diameter in excess of that of a pencil eraser. Photographers carry huge, bulky cameras around with them for a reason – the reason having nothing to do with the usefulness of a large brass object on a long strap for defense against bears.

Canon’s latest generation of digital SLR cameras – as touched upon in Storm Gods 2 – is complimented by a new generation of AF lenses which include internal image stabilization. Breathtakingly sneaky, they employ tiny gyroscopes and servomotors to wiggle the lens elements, that they might compensate for minor camera movements at the moment of exposure.

You have to wonder who thinks this stuff up.

As vaguely preposterous as the Canon image stabilization technology may sound, it actually works, and works very well. Short of clamping your hand in a paint shaker, it’s pretty well impossible to make a camera equipped with one of these things exhibit any visual effects of camera vibration.

The EF 28-135mm lens is a really nice bit of glass. It has a comfortable zoom range for the sorts of photography that don’t involve lots of optics and trench coats, and it embodies decades of experience in making weird little numbers and concentric rings fall naturally under your fingers. Using it is so effortless as to obviate the need for description.

One of the aspects of the image stabilization technology in this lens that probably won’t be immediately apparent is how it grants whatever camera it’s attached to the capacity to shoot in hitherto unheard-of low light levels. It can cheat its way to clear pictures even at shutter speeds that would have resulted in abstract art with a conventional lens. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that it only compensates for camera shake in this capacity – it can’t repair the damage wrought by a moving subject.

The less exotic aspects of this lens are easily as well implemented as its image stabilization. It offers quick autofocus and laser-sharp image quality right to the edges of its pictures at all its zoom settings. It’s ruggedly constructed, light as SLR lenses go and quite compact, considering everything that’s squeezed into it.

The EF 28-135mm lens should be workable with any Canon autofocus SLR – it worked with all our digital Canon cameras, and I’m pretty sure it would have been equally comfortable with one of our old EOS film cameras, had any of them still found themselves possessed of working batteries.

While modestly expensive as compared to some of the non-image stabilized aftermarket Canon-compatible lenses, this is unquestionably a toy worth having. Having sprung for a camera that can read your mind, you should unquestionably have one that holds your hand as well.