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BUYERS BEWARE: 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 some of 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 lens really need to know 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.

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. 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.

TIP #1

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

There is an eBay Guide to show you how to determine exactly how many aperture blades are in your lens. That Guide is available here:

How To Inspect Canon EOS Camera EF Lens Aperture Blades

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 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

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!

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!

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

CANON PRODUCT CODE # 8001A002

(NOT RECOMMENDED AT ALL!)

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 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, because it is so much easier to do. The seller might actually be unaware that there is a difference! 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! BUYERS BEWARE!

UNFORTUNATELY, 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.

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 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" AND THE "MACRO" MODEL LENSES INCORRECTLY ADVERTISED AS THE NEWER "MARK II" LISTED ON EBAY AT THIS VERY MOMENT!

TIP #4

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 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.

his 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!


*Caution, be aware that there was a "transition period" where the Taiwanese version was  offered in a retail carton with the product code number C21-0121 printed on both ends of the box. That is the same product number that is used on the Japanese version. Be sure to verify where the lens was made by inspecting the actual 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)

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.

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" in yellow lettering on the lens barrel and at the close-focus end in the distance window.

2. The words "Made In Japan" 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 SPELLED OUT all the way around the front trim ring, in all white letters 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. That provides a very strong motivation for the funny business seen on eBay recently.

The Japanese versions are no longer available from any major retailer. Production of all versions of this lens have been discontinued ("replaced" by the profoundly inferior f/4-5.6 model). (The last statement is true in the States, I have been unable to confirm this for Australia or the UK.) However, there is still a fair supply of the Taiwanese version on 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.

Much of this information is easily verifiable as absolute fact. Some points I have made are my own personal opinion, but these opinions are shared by many well-respected photographers and 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 need, or if just one seller is able to place an accurate and honest eBay listing, this effort will have been worthwhile.

THIS SHOULD GIVE YOU ALL OF 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.

If you have found this Guide to be informative or even just interesting, please let me know by clicking the "YES" button below. Your vote is completely anonymous. However, your comments and criticisms are always welcomed. I am always happy hear about ways to improve my reviews and guides so that more people can find useful information in them. Your "helpfulness" votes are the only compensation that eBay reviews and Guides authors receive for their efforts. Encourage us with your votes and we will return the favor by supplying you with a lot more informative Buyer's Guides and honest Reviews!

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