My Favorite Focal Range
I have a multitude of lenses, both Canon and a few second party. However my favorite lens (if focal range was all I was considering and if I was not printing much over 8x10 inches) for a full frame camera would be the old, trusty Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. This was my first DSLR lens and I used it on crop format cameras. However, lately, I am playing with it on a full frame camera.
Lots of folks tend to sneer at this lens but, it is a viable contender, especially as a low priced, light weight back up lens.
I like the 28mm side which is plenty wide enough for most of my shooting. Since I am not a really great fan of wide angle shooting, 28mm is just fine on a full frame camera. But, it was not quite wide enough when I was using a crop camera.
The long side gives me an extra 30mm over the Canon 24-105mm (series) lenses and I do like that extra reach.
The image quality of this lens can be decent especially when stopped down a bit. The following portraits were shot using a crop format camera with the 28-135mm using f/8 at about 60-65mm. Of course, 60-65mm on a crop camera is equal to 96-104mm. a pretty darn good portrait focal length...
Sure, I'd like this lens to have a constant f/stop at least an f/4 (f/2.8 would be better and I think technology is coming that would make that possible). I'd also like the lens to have a later generation of IS. I do need to boost up the contrast generally.
It is a decent outdoor lens and at a longer focal lenght can give some separation between subject and background. This was shot at 135mm using f/5.6 on a crop camera.
The 28-135mm lens for its price on the used market is quite a good deal. In fact, it is light enough to carry as a back up for basically whatever lenses are your main contenders.
I mainly use two lenses on two bodies: 17-55mm f/2.8 IS on a crop body and a 70-200mm on another crop or full frame body. Throwing the 28-135mm, at 18.9 oz or 540 grams, into my suitcase could be an insurance policy to back up either lens, especially if I were carrying a crop and a full frame camera...
Mainly, it is a lot of fun with which to shoot and for $100 to $150 on the used market is a hidden gem