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WARNING BUYERS! Canon EF 28-105mm USM Lens CONFUSION!

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WARNING:  MANY EBAY LISTINGS FOR THIS LENS ARE VERY MISLEADING! This guide was written to help Canon EOS Camera owners clear up the confusion about one of the most sought-after Canon lenses sold on eBay. Specifically, it is to help buyers whose budget limits their available options. If you want to find the very best lens for your hard-earned money, you need to know these tips! Sellers of this specific lens also need to know all of these facts to allow them to place accurate and honest ads. This guide will assist those who do not have the time to do the extensive research needed to learn the most important facts required to make a fully informed decision. This Guide required almost two years of dedicated research and some very friendly "inside" assistance.

The Canon EF 28-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 USM is arguably one of the most versatile and best performing "affordable" zoom lens ever made for Canon EOS cameras. It may be the ultimate "MUST HAVE" zoom lens for every EOS camera kit, Digital or film.

The Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM wide angle to telephoto zoom lens is one of the sharpest and most useful "consumer grade" lenses ever produced for the EOS SLR camera line. It has a nearly perfect balance of affordability, compactness, light weight, superior performance and durable construction. Very few lenses that cover this wide range of focal lengths are able to maintain such an excellent level of optical and mechanical superiority. You would have to spend a pile of money on a Professional "L" series model to get a better lens, and those models will not work properly with a built-in "pop-up" flash. The Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Professional Series Lens sells for four times the cost of this very competitive "mid-grade" model. The EF 28-105mm USM and the "L" series models share the Ring Type Ultrasonic AF drive system and the heavy-duty stainless steel lens mount. This is the best "value" lens that Canon offers. It is almost a necessity for every Canon EOS photographer (unless you use all truly superior "L" glass). Combined with an EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM or an EF 70-210mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, you would have most of the required focal range covered with only two reasonably priced lenses, with performance which exceeds their modest cost.

TIP #1

There has been a lot of CONFUSION about which version of this lens is actually being sold on eBay. The original EF 28-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 USM was introduced in 1992. It was a great lens, but it was slightly limited by a inferior five-blade aperture, which creates unattractive pentagon shaped images in out-of-focus backgrounds. In the late nineties, Canon redesigned the internal workings of the lens, upgrading to a superior seven-blade aperture. The newer diaphragm design produces beautifully rounded "bokeh" (Japanese for background "blur").

This lens is actually the second version (although Canon did not indicate this upgrade with the customary "Mark II" Roman numeral II designation). However, this was a very substantial improvement. Instead of lowering the resale value of the original model, Canon chose a more subtle method of identifying the revised version. They simply replaced the old flower icon, found only on the first version, with the actual word "MACRO" on the newer units. Unfortunately, this less obvious method of indicating an internal improvement has caused massive confusion for shoppers searching for the most advanced version on this lens.

The mystery became even more intriguing when the third version, now identified as the "Mark II", arrived at the camera stores. If all of this has your mind totally boggled, I will provide plenty of facts and pictures to help you. Look at the photo below to see where the word "MACRO" is displayed on the superior, seven-blade aperture models.

This is "THE REAL THING", with the 7-Blade Aperture

You must look at this lens carefully to be sure that the word "MACRO" is clearly visible in bright yellow lettering, preceding "0.5m/1.6 ft".  It is also found in the wide-end of the "Distance Window". This is the only outward indication that identifies it as the improved seven-blade diaphragm model. Watch out for the "flower" symbol here instead of the actual word "MACRO", just above the focus ring. The yellow flower icon was only used on the original version with the five blade aperture. The older model with the flower icon is a very fine lens, but it does not have quite the same level of performance as the second version or the Japanese Mark II, and it is more likely to exhibit "zoom creep", due to age and wear.

The photo above shows the original 5-Blade Aperture "Flower Icon" Model

(NOT AS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED AS THE "MACRO" VERSION)

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS TIP ONLY APPLIES TO THIS PARTICULAR MODEL, THE CANON EF 28-105mm f/3.4-4.5 USM. NO OTHER LENS WITH THE LITTLE FLOWER ICON IS INCLUDED IN THIS WARNING!

The newer third version of the EF 28-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 II USM (known as "the Mark II") has had a simple cosmetic facelift to match the look of the rest of the other USM lenses. Otherwise, the "MACRO" and the "Mark II" have nearly the exact same performance characteristics. However, The "Macro" version is NOT ALWAYS A MARK II. Many sellers are advertising that they are the exact same model, which is simply NOT TRUE! I will explain the significance of this in more detail in tip #4.

TIP #2

These lenses must not be confused with the newest (poorly designed & constructed) EF 28-105mm 1:4-5.6 Ultrasonic. The new model is slow as molasses in the dead of winter. It has a cheap plastic lens mount, terrible "skinny" focus ring, inferior Micro Motor Ultrasonic (NOT the superior "Ring" type USM). There is NO distance window and it offers inferior performance in almost every regard! Avoid this lens!

This is a stock photo of the EF 28-105mm 1:4-5.6

(NOT RECOMMENDED)

TIP #3

Another confusing factor to consider is actually due to eBay's simplified listing procedure that features "Pre-filled Item Information". Consequently, many listings for the older versions of this lens are incorrectly advertised as the "Mark II". This is not necessarily because of dishonest sellers. Most sellers do not intend to deceive potential buyers, but some actually do it by accident.

EBay sellers have the option of using eBay's "Pre-filled Item Information", which uses "pre-fabricated" listing templates to simplify the auction posting procedure. The templates that are currently available  all use stock pictures and text that was written for the newest "Mark II" version. A seller who has limited writing skills may be tempted to just use the incorrect template rather than composing a new (correct) ad, because it is so much easier to do. The seller might actually be competely unaware that there is a difference! The result is that a high percentage of eBay ads for the EF 28-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 II USM are INCORRECT! BUYERS BEWARE!

UNFORTUNATELY, A SHOCKING NUMBER OF SELLERS HAVE USED THE PREVIOUS PARAGRAPH TO JUSTIFY INTENTIONALLY LISTING THE OLDER MODEL AS A "MARK II".

PLEASE WATCH OUT FOR THIS UNSCRUPULOUS PRACTICE. IT IS VERY UNFORTUNATE THAT DISHONEST PEOPLE CHOOSE EBAY TO PLY THEIR DECEPTIONS! IT IS HAPPENING QUITE OFTEN THESE DAYS. PLEASE, BE CERTAIN THAT YOU KNOW WHICH LENS YOU ARE BIDDING ON, BEFORE YOU COMMIT TO BUY!

THERE IS A VERY GOOD REASON FOR THESE SELLERS TO MISREPRESENT THEIR LENSES. The real Japanese Mark II version has gotten so rare and difficult to find that buyers have been paying exorbitant prices for them. At least 80% or more listings that claim to be a real JAPANESE MANUFACTURED MARK II are simply not true! Some sellers will try almost anything to convince you that they are offering the rarest model, just to get a premium price for their item.

It is almost guaranteed that THERE ARE SEVERAL OF THE ORIGINAL "FLOWER ICON" AND THE "MACRO" MODELS, INCORRECTLY ADVERTISED AS THE NEWER "MARK II", LISTED ON EBAY AT THIS VERY MOMENT!

TIP #4

The last deciding factor to consider is where the lens was manufactured. The Mark II version of this lens was produced in both Taiwan and Japan. The vast majority of these were built in Taiwan! IF THE LENS WAS ACTUALLY BUILT IN JAPAN, it will be clearly labeled "MADE IN JAPAN",  in BOLD WHITE LETTERING, right on the front trim ring, (as shown below). Canon is very proud to advertise that it was manufactured in their finest facility.

This is the real Japanese version of the Canon EF 28-105mm MK II USM

The Taiwanese version has "Canon, Inc. Made In Taiwan" stamped into the gray plastic baffle around the rear lens element, right beside the gold electrical contacts, in small print. That way it is normally hidden under the rear lens dust cap and it is not visible when the lens is mounted on a camera. The backside of the front trim ring simply says "CANON, Inc" and "∅ 58mm". There is no outward indication of where this version was made.

I have actually seen many cases where sellers have used a photo-editing program to remove the "Made In Taiwan" markings from the pictures of the rear of their lenses! However, there is a way to confirm if this has happened. Only the Taiwanese made model has a rectangular box around the serial number, directly across from the gold electrical contacts. If you see the box around the serial number, it was made in Taiwan, even if the "Made In Taiwan" lettering has been erased. This will be true until the culprits read this guide and find a new way to get around this, and trust me, they probably will!

This picture shows the unaltered location of "Canon, Inc. Made In Taiwan"

(NOT THE MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED VERSION)

I have seen far too many of these Taiwanese lenses listed with no pictures of the rear of the lens or the photos were altered to hide the fact that the lens was Made In Taiwan. If you are not certain, ASK THE SELLER WHERE THE LENS WAS PRODUCED, BEFORE YOU PLACE A BID. REMEMBER, ONLY THE MARK II WAS PRODUCED IN TAIWAN, THIS INFORMATION DOES NOT APPLY TO THE FIRST TWO MODELS. Be aware that approximately 80% of these lenses were manufactured in Taiwan! That is why these are commonly available at very low prices (unless a thief can convince you that he is selling a "superior" version.)

To simplify things, here is EXACTLY what to watch for:

(You may have to study the seller's photos VERY CAREFULLY)

1. The actual word "MACRO" appears in bright yellow lettering on the lens barrel and at the close-focus end of the scale inside the distance window.

2. The words "Made In Japan" are displayed in white lettering on the lens' front trim ring.

3. If it is a real Japanese Mark II, it will say "CANON ZOOM LENS EF 28-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 II USM ( space ) CANON LENS MADE IN JAPAN ( space ) ∅ 58mm". This is printed EXACTLY AS SPELLED OUT HERE all the way around the front trim ring, in all white letters, markings and numbers.

4. The Japanese "MACRO" (2nd version) is almost exactly equal to the Japanese "MARK II" (3rd version), but due to more abundant availability, the "MACRO" will not be quite as expensive as the ultra-rare Japanese MARK II. A real Japanese MARK II can easily sell for double the cost of the Taiwanese model and nearly triple the price of the "MACRO". That provides a very strong motivation for the "funny business" often seen on eBay recently.

Remember, the Japanese versions are no longer available from any retailer. Production of all versions of this lens have been discontinued ("replaced" by the profoundly inferior f/4-5.6 model).  However, there is still a fair supply of the Taiwanese version available on many store shelves. This appears to be the only model currently available for purchase as "new". When these are gone this lens will only be available through the "used" market, regardless of which version you might be looking for.

Most of this information is verifiable as absolute fact. Some points I have made are my own personal opinion, but these opinions are shared by many well-respected photo gear reviewers. I hope that these revelations will offer some useful assistance for those who are trying to find the "best lens for the money" to use with their Canon EOS camera body. If only one person is able to find the lens that they actually desire, or if just a single seller is able to place an accurate and honest eBay listing, this effort will have been completely worthwhile.

THIS SHOULD GIVE YOU ALL OF THE PERTINENT INFORMATION THAT YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE A FULLY INFORMED BUYING DECISION. GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY HUNTING! THIS MARVELOUS LENS WILL BE WELL WORTH ALL OF THE EFFORT THAT IT TAKES TO FIND THE RIGHT ONE.

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