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What's the difference between the Canon EF 35mm f/2 lens that was available in 2008, and the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM lens now available, apart from the £200 extra price difference?

  • 1
    Don't you suspect IS and USM mean something? – osullic Nov 5 '17 at 22:14
  • @osullic To be fair to the OP, I edited the question title and body to refer to the correct lens model names. OP didn't include "IS" as originally written (although, I think they did include "USM"). – scottbb Nov 6 '17 at 3:33
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The lenses are two totally different designs for the Canon EOS EF mount that have the same focal length and maximum aperture. They share little else in common.

EF 35mm f/2:

EF 35mm f/2 block diagram

  • Introduced in 1990 shortly after the introduction of the EOS system in 1987.
  • 7 lens elements in 5 groups.
  • 5 blade aperture diaphragm.
  • 0.25 meter minimum focusing distance with 0.23X maximum magnification
  • 67.4mm wide x 42.5mm long weighing 210 grams.
  • Arc form micro-AF motor with no full-time manual focus. (Turning the MF ring while the lens is set to AF can damage the AF motor or gearing)
  • Fewer internal lens surfaces have anti-reflective coatings.

EF 35mm f/2 IS USM:

EF 35mm f/2 IS block diagram

  • Introduced in 2012, 22 years after the EF 35mm f/2.
  • 10 lens elements in 8 groups including a glass mold aspherical lens that effectively corrects for various aberrations, including curvature of field, making possible higher image quality than its predecessor.
  • 8 blade circular aperture diaphragm.
  • 0.24mm MFD with a 0.24X MM.
  • 77.9mm wide x 62.6mm long weighing 335 grams.
  • Ring type Ultrasonic Motor AF with full-time manual focus.
  • Multi coatings on most internal lens elements to reduce flare and ghosting.
  • Image Stabilization rated at four stops.

The newer EF 35mm f/2 IS USM is a modern lens design created for use with digital cameras. The EF 35mm f/2 was a film era lens that, while a good value and performer for its time, shows its age a bit when used with digital cameras and held up to the higher level of scrutiny expected by most photographers today.

There's also the newer (2015) and more expensive EF 35mm f/1.4 L II USM that is a significant improvement over the legendary EF 35mm f/1.4 L USM introduced in 1998.

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