Steve's Conclusion & Samples

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Steve's SnapShot
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  • EF-S 18-135mm IS STM
  • 35mm equivalent of 29-216mm
  • Improved IS for up to 4 stops of correction
  • Dynamic IS for video recording
  • Silent new stepping motor AF system
  • Lens lock for securing the lens at 18mm
Pros
  • Solid and traditional Canon lens feel.
  • Slightly smaller than the previous 18-135mm lens
  • IS system works as advertised
  • Silent and very low vibration AF is great for continuous AF video recording
  • Very easy to use, controls are smooth
  • Sharp images throughout aperture range
  • Affordable price tag
Cons
  • AF system, while smooth and quiet, is slightly slower than a USM lens
  • Some CA is easily visible in some of our sample images
Bottom Line
A fantastic everyday standard zoom lens, the new Canon EF-S 18-135mm IS STM is a high quality and affordable lens for Canon dSLR cameras. It is well worth the money whether it is coming with the Rebel T4i kit or as an upgrade or additional lens purchased on its own.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a high quality and affordable lens that you can use everyday. Its zoom range is great for most situations, and we feel it's a must have for anyone that shoots a lot of video with their Canon dSLR.
Canon's new EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, which is also available as the T4i's kit lens, has been designed to work with the Canon's new Movie AF Servo mode that allows the camera to continuously autofocus while recording video, helping you capture even higher quality video. Along with this it has a new image stabilization allowing 4 stops of shake correction, the lens is more compact than the previous EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. While using this lens to test the T4i, we did not find ourselves in a situation where this lens was out of its league. It's wide enough for landscape and group photography, while having plenty of zoom to get closer to a distant object. Its macro capabilities are decent, allowing us to almost get within 1ft. of an object. Rounding out the construction of the lens is a 7-blade circular aperture and a zoom lock to keep the lens secure.

Allowing this lens to work well for both stills and shooting is the refined Image Stabilization system. As listed above, you get 4 equivalent stops of correction, but there is also a Dynamic IS for video only that allows you to capture steadier videos; even when walking. Another feature for video shooting is the new continuous AF system, which is not only fast but silent, using a new 6-group zoom system. The new stepping motor "STM" AF provides silent and greatly reduced vibrations for sharper videos with no background noise from the autofocus motor. 

Designed for APS-C sized image sensors, there is a slight magnification multiplier that is added to the lens (1.5x), giving you a 35mm equivalent of 29-216mm. Its traditional layout will feel very comfortable in your hands, especially if you are used to Canon lenses. Zooming and manually focusing the lens in easy, as both rings turn smoothly and easily. The zoom does not turn too easily though, as to where it will not stay in place while you are shooting.  The lens is made up of 16 elements in 12 groups, including one UD and one PMO lens. These lenses greatly increase image quality by helping keep resolution and contrast high while eliminating chromatic aberrations.

Using the new 18-135mm IS STM with both the new Rebel T4i and the EOS 60D, we found that it is a very high quality, yet affordable zoom lens. Our samples below, both indoors and out (all taken with the 60D), showed very sharp and highly detailed images throughout the aperture range. With the aperture wide open, it produced beautifully soft and smooth backgrounds. Aberrations were controlled very well in all of the images, except for our firehouse shot, where it showed up around the telephone poles. There is also some green that has bled from the grass to curb, which we see a lot with Canon lenses. The new IS system allowed us to shoot in low-light and action scenarios with ease. We were very pleased with its ability to steady the lens. It even fared well on a tripod with the IS active. 

Bottom Line - Canon's new 18-135mm IS STM lens is a high quality, versatile and affordable (~$550 USD) standard zoom lens. This lens can easily be used as an all-in-one lens, as it is all you need for most standard shooting situations. It is also one of just two of the STM lenses currently available (Oct. 2012), which is a must for anyone that uses their Canon dSLR regularly for shooting video. The new functions of the lens will automatically increase your video quality. As it is equipped with the new T4i kit, we recommend that you buy the kit for this lens, whether you are getting your first dSLR or upgrading from a previous Rebel. You will find yourself using this lens for all of your day to day shooting.



Sample Images:

All of our samples were taken in program or aperture priority mode, using ISO 100 unless noted otherwise.
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f/4.5 IS on
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f/8 IS on
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f/16 IS on
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f/4.5 IS off
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f/8 IS off
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f/16 IS off
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f/5.6
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f/29 - ISO 640
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f/6.3
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f/6.3
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f/5.6 - ISO 320
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f/8
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f/9
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f/8
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f/5.6
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f/5.6 - ISO 6400


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