WARNING - MANY EBAY LISTINGS FOR THIS LENS ARE VERY MISLEADING! This guide was written to help Canon EOS Camera owners clear up some of the confusion about one of the most sought-after Canon lenses sold on eBay. Specifically, it is to help buyers who's budgets are limited. If you want to find the very best lens for your hard-earned $$$, you need to know all of the facts! Sellers of this lens really need to know these specifics 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 buying decision.
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 is truly 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 "mid-grade" zoom 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 boatload 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 (discounted) for more than $1,200.00! 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 "bang for the buck" lens that Canon offers. It is almost a necessity for every Canon EOS photographer. 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 entire focal range covered with only two reasonably priced lenses.
There has been a lot of confusion about which version of this lens is being sold on eBay. The original EF 28-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 USM (Canon Product ID # 24945197) was introduced in 1992. It was a great lens, but it was limited by a 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, they did have to assign a new official "Product Code"number, which is C21-9701. 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 on the first version, with the actual word "MACRO" on the newer units. They also displayed the new product code number on the retail carton.
Unfortunately, this less obvious method of indicating an internal improvement has caused massive confusion for shoppers searching for the most advanced version of this lens. The mystery became even more intriguing when the third version, identified as the "Mark II", hit the streets. If all of this has your mind boggled, I will provide plenty of pictures to help you. Look at the photo below to see where the word "MACRO" is found on the better, seven-blade aperture models.
This is "THE REAL THING", with the 7-Blade Aperture
Canon Product Code C21-9701
You must look at this lens carefully to be sure that the word "MACRO" is clearly visible in yellow lettering, preceding "0.5m/1.6 ft". 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 fine lens, but it does not quite have 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
Canon Product Code # 24945197
(NOT AS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED AS THE "MACRO")
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 FLOWER ICON IS INCLUDED IN THIS WARNING!
The newer third version is identified by the model number EF 28-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 II USM (Canon Product Code C21-0121, also known as "the Mark II"). It has had a cosmetic facelift to match the look of the rest of the current USM "mid-grade" lenses. The latest model had a more textured finish, which does make it a little easier to handle. Some of the parts inside were upgraded from plastic to metal, but the optical "formula" was not changed. A redesigned rear element "capsule" was added with an internal metal mounting flange where the previous versions had used plastic. (Not to be confused with the stainless steel lens mount, which all three versions have.) Otherwise, the "MACRO" and the "Mark II" have nearly the exact same performance characteristics. It must be noted that the model that has "Macro" printed on it is NOT ALWAYS A MARK II. The MARK II will always have "II USM" printed on the front trim ring. Many sellers are saying that they are the same model, that is simply NOT TRUE! I will explain the importance of this fact in more detail in tip #4.
There is an odd twist in these product code numbers, it is "the exception that proves the rule". A small number of the "Made In Taiwan" lens were shipped in boxes that displayed the Japanese MK II's product ID code of C21-0121! Be certain to find "Made In Japan" printed on the front trim ring of the lens to absolutely confirm that you are actually looking at a real Japanese II USM version. I think Canon did this because they thought this lenses identification history wasn't confusing enough already!
These lenses must not be confused with the newest (poorly designed) EF 28-105mm 1:4-5.6 Ultrasonic (CANON PRODUCT CODE # 8001A002). This new model is slow as molasses in the dead of winter. It has a cheap plastic lens mount, a terrible "skinny" focus ring, an inferior "Micro Motor" Ultrasonic (NOT the superior "Ring" type USM). There is NO distance window and it offers inferior performance in every regard! This model is consider to be the "New" replacement for the venerable EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM.
This is a stock photo of the EF 28-105mm 1:4-5.6
CANON PRODUCT CODE # 8001A002
(NOT RECOMMENDED AT ALL!)
TIP #3Another 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 available 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 ad from "scratch", because it is so much easier to do. The result is that a high percentage of all eBay ads for the EF 28-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 II USM are INCORRECT! BUYER BEWARE!
UPDATE 1/1/07 - A SHOCKING NUMBER OF SELLERS HAVE USED THE PREVIOUS PARAGRAPH TO JUSTIFY INTENTIONALLY LISTING THE OLDER MODEL AS A "MARK II". When you see this error, please "ask the seller a question". Simply ask "Where does your lens have "II USM" printed on it?"
Sellers have actually sent copies of this portion of my guide to very disappointed buyers to explain why they sold the older lens as a newer Mark II. They were obviously quite aware that their ads were false! IF THEY WERE FAMILIAR WITH THIS GUIDE, HOW COULD THEY NOT KNOW HAVE KNOWN THE DIFFERENCE! Both of these sellers had gone to the trouble of shooting their lenses from very carefully chosen angles, specifically to hide the fact that there was no Roman numeral II present on the front of the lens. They did, however, clearly show the "MADE IN JAPAN" portion of the lettering. They used the "Mark II" designation in their listing titles, and also stated "Mark II" or "II USM" many times throughout their ads. THESE SELLERS OBVIOUSLY KNEW FULL WELL THAT THE LENSES THEY OFFERED FOR SALE WERE NOT THE MODEL THAT THEY REPEATEDLY CLAIMED THEM TO BE.
PLEASE WATCH OUT FOR THIS UNSCRUPULOUS PRACTICE. IT IS VERY UNFORTUNATE THAT DISHONEST PEOPLE CHOOSE EBAY TO PLY THEIR DECEPTIONS! IT IS HAPPENING MORE AND MORE 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 very high prices for them. At least 80% or more listings that claim to be a real JAPANESE MANUFACTURED MARK II are 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.
I would like to thank those eBay members who have taken the time to contact me directly regarding their experiences in this regard. I have heard far too many of these sad stories recently, but I welcome each one. Information is our best defense!
It is almost guaranteed that THERE ARE SEVERAL OF THE ORIGINAL "FLOWER ICON" VERSION AND THE "MACRO" MODEL LENSES THAT ARE INCORRECTLY ADVERTISED AS THE NEWER "MARK II". THESE "FAKES" ARE VERY LIKELY TO BE LISTED ON EBAY AT THIS VERY MOMENT!
The last factor to consider is where the lens was manufactured. The Mark II version of this lens was produced in both Taiwan and Japan. The overwhelming 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
Canon Product Code C21-0121*
The Taiwanese version has "Canon, Inc. Made In Taiwan" stamped into the gray plastic surface 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 back side of the front trim ring simply says "CANON, Inc" and "∅ 58mm". There is no outward indication of where the Taiwanese 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 their lens!
There is an excellent way to confirm if this has happened, Only the Taiwanese model has a rectangular box around the serial number, directly across from the gold electrical contacts. If you see the "text box" around the serial number, the lens was made in Taiwan, even if the "Made In Taiwan" lettering has been erase or hidden. This tip will be applicable until the bad guys read this guide, and trust me, they probably will! They will try their very best to find another way to deceive you.
This picture shows the unaltered location of "Canon, Inc. Made In Taiwan"
Canon Product Code # 6469A005
(NOT AS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
UPDATE 4/8/06: I have seen 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 newest "MARK II" was ever made in Taiwan.
To simplify things, here is EXACTLY what to look for:
(You must look at the seller's photos VERY CAREFULLY)
1. The actual word "MACRO" is printed in yellow lettering on the lens barrel and at the close-focus end in the distance scale.
2. The words "Made In Japan" are printed in white lettering on the 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 SHOWN HERE, all the way around the front trim ring, in all white letters and numbers. On the original retail box, if it's available, it will show Canon Product Code #C21-0121.
UPDATE 8/26/06: The Japanese versions are no longer available from any major US retailers. Production of all "USA" versions of this lens have been completely discontinued ("replaced" by the profoundly inferior f/4-5.6 model). However, there is still a good supply of the Taiwanese version "in the pipeline". 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.
UPDATE 8/14/10: There are no versions of this lens that are currently available as "new". The lens is well worth finding, though. You will simply need to search the "pre-owned" market to find one.
Much of this information is easily verifiable as absolute fact. Some points I have made are my own personal opinion. 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. It has taken me over two years of careful research to gather all of these facts. If only one person is able to find the lens that they actually need, or if just one seller is able to place an accurate and honest eBay listing, this effort will have been completely worthwhile.
THIS SHOULD GIVE YOU THE 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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