$125 glass vs $800 glass how does it compare?
Today the USPS brought me a Canon 28-105 f3.5-4.5 USM Macro, that I purchased for a friend who is doing me a GIANT favor. This lens is very highly regarded on sites like fredmiranda.com, and the samples on PBase seem to back up the lens' reputation as a solid performer. Mine has a few small specks of dust inside, which garnered me a huge discount. Total cost: $127 shipped. These can typically be had from reputable used lens dealers like KEH for about $200.
Out of the box, the lens is built similarly to the other middle range Canon lenses (i.e. far better than its price tag would indicate). It has the Canon flat black plastic finish of the 17-85, and 28-135 IS'. It is light weight but doesn't feel cheap like the newer batch of digital and film kit lenses. It is nice and compact, mating quite nicely with the Digital Rebel XT.
I compared it to the only lens that I own that covers a similar focal length, the Canon 28-70 f2.8L. Compared to the heavy plastic of the L lens, this lens feels dwarfish and lightweight, but then again, the L is a bit unwieldy on the small XT.
This lens features Canon's USM for fast, quiet, accurate AF. When testing these two lenses against each other, they both seemed to focus just as fast and locked onto the soda can the first time. They were both virtually silent.
So far the $125 lens is keeping up with the $800 one, but what about image quality...?