EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM
Tried and True Normal Zoom
This zoom debuted in 1996 as the kit lens for the EOS IXE/IX (APS) and was a popular lens into the new millennium. It was discontinued in 2009.
Polycarbonate construction, but with a metal mount, keep it a lightweight 380g (13.4 oz.). It's only a little bigger than an EF 50 1.4 USM. Small size and optimal zoom range make it ideal for hiking and travel, especially for EOS film and full frame DSLRs.
Point Wilson WA | EOS 10D & EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM
The twist action zoom is smooth and doesn't creep. Zooming is accomplished by expanding and contracting nested barrels. Like most AF lenses, the manual focus ring is tiny and not as silky or finely pitched as manual lenses of yesteryear.
Cannon Beach OR | EOS 10D & EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM
In 1996 this zoom was
unique inasmuch as the range encompassed a true
wide angle, 24 mm, to short telephoto, 85 mm.
During the 1990s most of Canon's "normal" zooms started at 28 mm.
Not too long before that 35 mm was the norm.
24-85 3.5-4.5 USM | Most samples are black but there's a silver special edition model sold with the 1996 EOS IX/IXE kit.
An internal lens
group is focused by ring-type USM (Ultrasonic
Motor). This motor dives the small rear elements
easily, resulting in extremely fast AF. Thus,
the front element does not rotate nor does the
barrel expand or contract during focusing. Plus,
ring-type USM features full-time manual focusing
(FTM), allowing you to manually focus without
switching out of AF mode. Of course, being an
USM lens, it is silent when focusing. If you
prefocus manually, the distance window in meters
and feet is very useful.
EF 24-85 3.5-4.5
USM | The Gothic
edition with EW-73
This lens sports
a 6-blade diaphragm. Thus, out of focus areas
(bokeh) are reasonably smooth. A molded glass
(GMo) aspherical lens element (4th) is used to
correct astigmatism, achieve sharp definition
and to make the lens compact. Canon manages to
pack 15 elements into a 69.5mm (L) x 73 mm (D)
barrel! With all those elements, the optional
petal hood, the EW-73II, should be used at all
times to protect the front element and reduce
Church of Our Lady | Brugge Belgium | Rebel XTi & EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM
The filter size
is an odd (for Canon) 67 mm, making filters
expensive. There is only one other Canon lens
with this filter size, the EF
70-200 4L USM.
Fortunately, the EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM and EF
70-200 4L USM complement one another well and
make an excellent combo. Plus,
there are a few advantages to large filter sizes: 1) the
space between the front element and filter
threads minimalize the possibility of
accidental scratching when changing filters; and
2) thick filters such as polarizers may be used
Amsterdam Red Light District | EOS XTi & EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM
For a consumer
optic, the EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM delivers sharp
and contrasty images. It's similar to
the EF 28-105 3.5-4.5 USM, but slightly sharper at the wide end. Although quality is
decent wide open, best image quality is at
F8. The long end is slightly softer than
the wide angle side, but sharp enough for
excellent 12 x 18 inch enlargements.
Pole Dancer | Las Vegas | EOS 40D & EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM
Like most wide zooms, this one
suffers from considerable barrel distortion at
the wide end and a small amount of pincushion
distortion at the long end. If you shoot lots of
architecture, you'll want the
superior correction of prime lenses. For general
use, distortion is not a problem except with
ocean horizons or close-up subjects with
parallel lines. Indeed, distortion increases
considerably in the macro range, especially at
24 mm. Distortion is normal for zooms and is an
optical compromise that allows the convenience
of multiple focal lengths.
Seaside OR | EOS 10D & EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM
ghosting are well controlled for a
zoom, but a shearing Hawaiian sunset may cause a
small amount of flare and ghosting with full
frame cameras. After all, 15 elements give ample
opportunity for light to bounce around.
Nevertheless, this zoom has a high level of
flare resistance. With an EOS 10D (1.6x crop), there seems to be
no flare or ghosting even with blazing
sunsets--perhaps due to the small sensor size
(40% less of the image circle is used). Or,
maybe the rectangular flare mask between the
first and second elements makes a
difference. Nevertheless, I keep the lens hood
on to help keep flare in check.
Mount Hood | Elan 7, EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM, RC-1 and Fuji NPH 400
Due to its range and small size, the EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM is a nice lightweight travel lens for EOS film or full frame DSLRs such as the 5D MK II or 6D. Mine endured tours of duty as a travel lens on an EOS A2E, Elan 7E, 10D, Rebel XTi, 5D and 40D. I've got many sharp 11x14 prints on my wall from this petite optic. If you don't need to go wide, it's a good optic for APS-C cameras, i.e., 1.6x crop factor, like the 60D or Rebel.
Today the main reason to buy the EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM is cost. "New old stock" is rare but this lens is common on the used market, selling for $125 to $225 depending on condition. Not a bad deal considering this lens cost over $500 in the 1990s. I think of it as a poor man's EF 24-105 4L IS USM in a lighter and more travel friendly form.
Seaside OR | EOS 10D & EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM
taken with the EF 24-85 3.5-4.5 USM (click
2001-2017 by Peter Kun Frary | All Rights