Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Review

May 27, 2016 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is an affordable new super-zoom lens for Canon’s APS-C DSLR cameras. Offering an equivalent focal length of 29-216mm, the Canon EF-S 18-55mm features a newly developed Nano USM motor for fast, smooth and quiet continuous AF while capturing video and in live view mode, 4-stop optical image stabilisation, a minimum focusing distance of 39cm, a circular seven-blade aperture, a non-rotating front element and compatibility with the Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E1 accessory. The Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is available either as a kit lens with the EOS 80D camera or separately for £449.99 / $599.99.

Ease of Use

Weighing 515g and measuring 96cm in length, the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is a pretty small and light zoom lens given the 7.5x range that it offers. Being an EF-S lens, you can only use it on a Canon EOS APS-C body like the 80D that we tested it with, for a 29-216mm equivalent angle of view.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMThe Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMThe Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMThe Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens

As you would expect from such an inexpensive lens, build quality is adequate rather than outstanding. The Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM feels fairly solid in your hand, despite the all-plastic construction, although at least the mount is made of metal. The focus and zoom rings have a ridged, rubberised grip band that assists with the operation.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMTop of the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMSide of the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMSide of the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens

The Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM boasts Image Stabilisation which Canon claims offers an advantage of up to 4 f-stops over lenses without a stabilizer. This is activated via the On/Off switch on the side of the lens. If the camera body supports it, Canon's IS technology is also able to detect intentional panning movement and automatically switch from the Normal IS mode to the Panning IS mode.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMFront of the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMFront of the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens

The Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is also compatible with the new Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E1, an optional accessory designed to enable smooth, fingertip zoom control when shooting movies. The adapter even provides Wi-Fi remote control of the zoom operation via the Canon Camera Connect app. Unfortunately Canon didn't supply one for review, so we can't comment on how well they work together.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMFront of the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMRear of the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens

The final control on the lens barrel is a focus mode switch with the usual AF/MF settings. Note that this lens offers full-time manual focusing even when AF is selected.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMSide of the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMSide of the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMThe Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens in-hand

The lens doesn't ship with either a lens hood or a protective bag. It accepts 67mm filters.

Focal Range

At the 18mm focal length the angle of view is 64° 30'.

 Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMField of view at 18mm

At the 135mm focal length the angle of view is 9° 30'.

 Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMField of view at 135mm

Focusing

The Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens has an adequately sized narrow focusing ring, but there are no hard stops at either ends of the range, making it more difficult to set focus at infinity. Manual override of the autofocusing system is available at any time. Polariser users should be pleased that the 67mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM zoom is a very quick performer, only taking about 0.1 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Canon EOS 80D that we tested it with. We didn't experience too much "hunting" though, either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time. It's also a virtually silent performer too, thanks to the built-in Nano USM (Ultra Sonic Motor), which makes this lens very well-suited to video recording and more candid photography.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are not particularly well controlled with this lens, appearing in quite a lot of our test shots. The examples below show the worst-case scenario.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

Light Fall-off

With the lens wide open at f/3.5 at 18mm, you can see some light fall-off in the corners, although Canon's latest APS-C bodies can automatically correct for it when shooting JPEGs. There's also some obvious barrel distortion that disappears by 35mm.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMVignetting at 18mm

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USMVignetting at 135mm

Macro

The Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is not really a macro lens, but the close-focus point is a useful 39cm from the film/sensor plane, and Canon quotes a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.28x for the lens at the 135mm focal length. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject, in this case a CompactFlash card.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Close-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. The Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM has an iris diaphragm with 7 rounded blades for a pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus highlights. Below you'll find some examples, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
   
Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.

Entry Tags

review, test, sample images, lens, wide-angle, canon, zoom, telephoto, standard, f3.5, f5.6, image stabilisation, OIS, normal, usm, image stabilised, ef-s, 18-135mm, 29-216mm, nano, 18-135 mm, nano usm, Canon EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM Review, Canon EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM

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