It has been brought to my attention that some Canon EF lens shoppers have been avoiding several of the finest lenses made for the Canon EOS line of film and Digital SLR cameras. Unfortunately, these decisions may have been based upon a false myth.
The Little Yellow Flower, As It Appears on the Outstanding
Canon EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM Lens
The lenses in question all have a small flower symbol printed on the barrel of the lens and / or in the distance scale window, located at the close-focus end of the scale.
In the early 1990s Canon began using the yellow flower icon to represent the closest focus range on many of their lenses. This was intended to be a recognizable international symbol that would substitute for the English word "MACRO" on certain lens models. The flower symbol was more compact to print and effectively identified the MACRO focus feature and its range on the distance scale.
One extremely popular lens in particular, the Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, had a technical overhaul and a minor cosmetic face-lift in the mid 90s. The newer version of this lens was re-designed to include a seven-blade aperture diaphragm, replacing the more limited five-blade diaphragm that had been used in the original model. The cosmetic change that was made at this time included printing the actual word "MACRO", in yellow lettering, on the barrel of the lens and also in the distance scale window. No other visible indications were used to show that the lens had been improved. Normally, Canon would have added a Roman numeral to the nomenclature, to indicate that there had been an upgrade in the model. However, the Canon EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 II USM was not introduced until several years after the first changes had been made. The "Mark II", as it is known, received a new textured finish to match the current lens lineup, but its performance is indistinguishable from the earlier "MACRO" version.
This is the only Canon lens, that I am aware of, where the flower icon identifies it as the "not yet upgraded" version. You might want to think twice about this lens when you see the yellow flower, BUT ONLY THIS PARTICULAR MODEL.
Some people have gotten the impression that all Canon lenses with the flower symbol are inferior in some way.
THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE.
There are quite a few very fine lenses that have the flower icon printed on them. Some excellent examples include the Canon EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Ultra Wide-Angle zoom, the EF 35-135mm f/4-5.6 USM "Travel" zoom lens, the EF 70-210mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Telephoto zoom lens and the EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM Long Telephoto zoom lens. THE FLOWER ICON DOES NOT MEAN THAT THESE MODELS ARE INFERIOR! Quite the contrary, many of Canon's finest "mid-grade" models have this marking. There are also several poor performing "consumer grade" models sporting the little flower, but the yellow flower symbol has nothing to do with identifying their performance level. AVOID BAD LENSES, NOT CUTE LITTLE YELLOW SYMBOLS!
The bottom line is:
DO NOT AVOID ALL CANON LENSES THAT DISPLAY A YELLOW FLOWER ICON!
You could be passing up some of the best optics that you could ever find within the price range. Instead, avoid the lenses that have received bad professional reviews and have lousy "street credibility".
HOPEFULLY, this will fully answer the question for those who have wondered, but have not written to ask specifically about this rumor. Obviously, there have been a surprising number of people who were confused by this myth. LET'S PUT THAT MISTAKE TO REST RIGHT NOW!
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