Canon’s original EF-S 18-135mm lens has been offered as a kit option for years, but despite the utility of the zoom range, the optical quality has left many of us disappointed. In light of this, the announcement of the new Canon 18-135mm STM lens is particularly welcome.
The lens bares little resemblance to the earlier model, in fact. The new EF-S 18-135 STM lens makes use of Canon’s new “Stepping Motor” focusing system, which promises to be fast, precise, and nearly silent. Designed with HD Video production in mind, the lens also has a special image stabilization mode that is automatically initialized while shooting video, called “Dynamic Image Stabilization”, which allows a wider range of stabilization movement for smoother video. Presumably, this comes at the cost of sharpness, the loss of which would be imperceptible even in full HD 1080p video (2 megapixel resolution), but would be apparent in 18 megapixel still images. For still images, the IS system provides approximately 4 stops of stabilization using an intelligent system that can detect whether you’re panning the camera or holding it still.
Optically, the lens contains 16 elements in 12 groups, including one UD glass element, and one PMo (precision molded optics) element, and of course Canon’s latest coatings.
The lens is, however, significantly more expensive than its predecessor, at $549 (vs. about $320 for the older lens), though Canon also lists its ESP as $499. It is expected to ship at the end of June.