Lenses

A Short Review of the Canon 28mm F2.8 LTM – By Atanas Grozdev

Canon 28mm 2.8 ltm

I started to shoot on film in a cold winter of 2014. I used to shoot mainly with compact film cameras with color negative film, were I tried to test as many as possible of them. In the summer of 2018 I bought my first Olympus XA and fell in love with rangefinders and black & white photography. I then began to dream of buying a Leica, and soon found myself with an M7 and 7Artisans 35mm f/2. Then a month ago, I picked up this Canon 28mm f/2.8 ltm.

When I started to looking for a 28mm lens, I was looking for the cheapest possible. I wasn’t sure if a lens this wide would fit me as well as 35mm. I started to look on ebay, and found the offers from 7artisans, Voigtlander, Zeiss and Leica. I then found this Canon 28mm f/2.8. I tried to search for information about it online, and discovered there is not so much online to read about it. There are almost no examples or reviews so I decided to take it, test it, and if I didn’t like it, I could resell it. In the end, overall, the Canon 28mm f/2.8 ltm lens really surprised me.

The Canon 28mm f/2.8 Leica Screw Mount lens is a super-small lens. In comparison to other lenses I’ve held, it looks more like a toy. Here is a comparison of its size with the 7Artisans lens:

The lens has an infinity lock, has clicked stops from f/2.8 to f/22 and appears to be made of chromed brass. It is however pretty light, but has high quality build. I do find the focus ring a little small and fiddly to use. So far, I’ve shot 8 rolls of film, mostly in Sofia and Plovdiv Bulgaria, and the results were incredible –  it 100% satisfied me. I shot it mostly at f/8 where is gives pretty sharp images.

Examples f/8 – All of photos here are shoot on Ilford XP2 Super developed with Kodak HC-110

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I also shot a few portraits to check how it would look like with the lens wide open at f/2.8. The bokeh is quite soft, but there is a little issue with vignetting. Me personally, don’t really care about this, as I rarely shoot wider than f/8, however if you decide to shoot open, and you don’t like the look, you might be disappointed.

Examples at f/2.8 – Photos with Fujifilm Acros Neopan 100 developed in Kodak HC110

A few more f/8 examples with Ilford Fp4 Pushed to 400 Developed in Kodak Hc110

I doubt I will change this lens in near future, it fits my needs for a 28mm lens perfectly. I’m even beginning to get used to the focus ring – in the end how it feels to use doesn’t matter, it just required a bit of time to get used to it.

I am an Eastern Europe film photographer from Bulgaria and my name is Atanas, also known as muzich_photography.

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11 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Simon
    November 14, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Nice review. I think this lens works better on film than digital. I had for my M240 and mostly I didn’t like, it just lacked the sharpness of the Voigtlander 35mm 1.4, but maybe I just didn’t stick with it long enough to get some nice shots. Heard the 3.5 is possibly nicer?

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Dave Tarditi
    November 14, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    It is not the Leica body that makes for a great picture, it is the glass which captures your subject.
    Wide open lens are often needed in low light conditions, and the resulting Bokeh is extremely important to keep the subject being photographed not being distracted by closer and further items from your subject, which usually just give a frame of reference to add meaning to your subject.

  • Castelli Daniel
    Reply
    Castelli Daniel
    November 14, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    A nice review! Good B&W shots showing different scenes so one can appreciate the quality of the lens. You use it well. Me, I just could not get used to that focal length on my M2. I sold my 28mm Voigtlander. So, I’m impressed when someone uses the 28 with skill.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Peter G. Johnson
    November 14, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    Great captures! Hmmm, I like how this lens captures light. Next stop eBay!

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Patrick Abe
    November 14, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    I wondered how you’d react to the “corner falloff” of the Canon 28mm f2.8 LSM lens at maximum aperture. I’ve used this lens on Leica IIIa and Canon P cameras in the days when Kodak’s T-Max films and developer had just arrived on the market. “Darkened corners” weren’t much of an issue with slide film, and I soon learned to set the lens to at least f/5.6 if corner-to-corner detail was important. Then as now, there weren’t too many 28mm lenses for Leica Screw Mount that were sharp, contrasty, and affordable.
    I haven’t used film cameras for a while, since digital cameras use storage media that doesn’t have an expiration date. Still, I approach digital photography as if Kodachrome were loaded into Ye Olde Nikon D7000 or Fujifilm X30, and go for “one great image” instead of many “clear the storage chip” so-so images.
    An M-series Leica was always on the “can I afford it?” short list, with the answer being “No.” (Between a “Made-in-Wetzlar” jewel and film, materials won out over Gear Acquisition Syndrome.) Besides, if speed of operation mattered, Ye Olde Nikon FM was good enough, once the Vivitars and Soligors were replaced with Nikkors.
    Have fun with those old Leica Screw Mount lenses, they range from Superb to “Who made this junk?,” optically. (Though Hipsters revel in “Bokeh-rich” lenses that were paper weights in the previous century.;)

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Bruno Chalifour
    November 14, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    Hmmm Atanas, you exemplify an interesting paradox: buying a film camera worth several thousand dollars and fitting it with a honest lens from another age “giving” you noticeable vignetting, so-so sharpness, lack of coating by comparison with today’s lenses (please, do photograph against the sun for a test. I am sure the results with the 7artisans 35 mm (f. 2) will look better and the Leica’s rangefinder will work with it!), obsolete design. I am saying that because my approach and the one I advocate when asked have always been in the opposite direction and I would not like the innocent readers to be (in my opinion) misled into repeating that experience if they were looking for a decent lens for their Leica: buy a reasonably-priced sturdy and reliable body (a Leica M2 or 4 to stay within the same corpus for instance; after all a good film camera is just a dark box equipped with a reliable shutter) and fit it with a really good lens (the latest iteration being probably the best). The reason most of us have invested in a Leica camera (leaving aside the mystique, the exceptional range-finder and built and only concentrating on results) is the fact they can be fitted with a Leica lens whose rendition of light is specifically unequalled. Using a Canon (screw-in) 28 mm designed in the 1950s on a Leica M7 (also meaning you cannot rely on the M7’s range-finder) does not make much sense to me except sharing with us your curiosity for older lenses, from a time when Canon and Nikon were manufacturing range-finders to compete with… Leica. By the way, a used but recent Leica 28 mm aspherical is definitely less expensive than your M7. With the same budget, when results matter I would have opted for a cheaper Leica and a more recent Leica lens. The reason is simple: we can always make a bad print out of a good negative taken with exceptional equipment but it is definitely harder to make a good print with a bad negative produced by a mediocre lens — given, let us be fair, that both configurations are used by the same photographer. I am mentioning this to avoid any foreseeable bad faith argument such as “it is not the camera or lens that makes a good quality image but the photographer” when we are comparing equipments. As seen above with film I value lens over camera and investing in a good lens in the first place has happen to be a long-lived investment that I have never regretted (the opposite, which I have also experienced, was a very frustrating experience, one I swore never to repeat). However, I understand the fun of research and discovery, of the quaint “trouvaille”…. for what it can be, a fun experience… but probably not a long-lived investment.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Lukas
    November 15, 2019 at 6:11 am

    What a stunning little lens, really nice shots and very smooth bokeh. All the Canon Rangefinder lenses i have tried so far were gems. Especially the 35/2 „Japanese Summicron“

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Ashley Carr
    November 15, 2019 at 8:28 am

    I think the fact there is hardly any info about the Canon 28/2.8 is because it’s completely overshadowed by the Canon 28/3.5 which is supposed to be a much better lens in every respect. It’s also why the 28/3.5 is more expensive.

    Either way I’m pretty much a fan of most of the Canon LTM lenses but there are a few dogs in their too.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Patrick Abe
    November 15, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    I used a Canon 28mm f/2.8 lens on a Leica IIIa and Canon P LSM rangefinder bodies in the 1970’s. I see that the light falloff in the corners at maximum aperture isn’t a problem for you, which is good. Back then, such vignetting was covered up by Kodachrome and Ektachrome slide mounts, and if edge-to-edge coverage was necessary, I stopped down to f/5.6 to “keep the darkness at bay.”
    There weren’t too many sharp, contrasty, and affordable 28mm lenses for Leica Screw Mount available back then. I’ve heard that light fall off was also a problem with the 25mm Canon lens, but that optical gem was pricey even back then. Have a great time using your optical gem, it’s a great companion piece with the 50mm f/1.8 Canon lens that came with the Canon P.
    There are Nikkor lenses in LSM, as well; I have a 105mm f/2.5 with a tripod mount which is/was a great portrait lens during my film years.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Roger B.
    November 17, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    Some fine photos, photo-g-rap-her. Now if you really want to have some street shootin’ fun, find yourself the 28mm f3.5 Canon LTM lens. It dates to the 1960s and can be had for abut $350-$300 on that Famous Auction Site. Dial this lens in at f8, set the focus so that your DOF puts infinity at f8, and fire away from waist level, knowing that virtually everything you see will be in the frame and in focus. I use this lens on my Canon 7 and VL2 bodies with fine results. I do use a little aftermarket 28mm shoe-mount viewfinder for the VL2 in case accurate composition is required – say for a landscape shot. But for street candids, that’s an unnecessary luxury.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    David Hill
    November 17, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    I’m impressed by these examples — more than I expected to be :). Some obvious weaknesses but at its best its sharp and clear, nice contrast, lovely character. I’ll keep an eye out for one ..

    For what it’s worth, here follow my very brief review notes on LTM 28s:
    * 28/2.8 Canon: A relatively good lens with a good reputation, chrome only. The 3.5 is sharper.
    * 28/3.5 Canon: Serenar or Black, an excellent lens but hard to find; sharper than the 28/2.8. (Tiny, great street shooter.). [Also “Canon CT” Contax mount, chrome, very rare.]
    * 28/3.5 Nikkor: At least as good as the Canon, but higher price

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