The version of the panoramic photo that you see here has been resized to give you a taste of it. My Digital Rebel with a Speedlite 580EX flash mounted on top and oriented for bounce-flash operation. Their light weight, small size, wide image stabilized focal length range and very good image quality made this combo a great choice for long periods of carrying.
I had this small, light camera and lens combination with me for one these just-in-case situations.
That is an impressive nearly 4 stops of improvement at 18mm and better than 4 stops at 135mm.
Of course, just because you can shoot at these long shutter speeds doesn't mean you should. The quietness and smoothness of the 18-135 STM's image stabilization implementation make it especially well-suited for video capture. This IS system is silent – I don't hear any IS sound even with my ear next to the lens – the T4i's in-camera stereo mics do not pick up IS sounds.
It is also well behaved – IS does not cause the viewfinder to jump – also helpful for video capture. As always with in-lens IS, the photographer is presented with a stabilized viewfinder (or LCD). The 18-135 STM also features auto-panning detection – a switch setting is not required for the lens to stabilize in one direction only. Canon recommends turning IS off when using a tripod (to conserve a small amount battery life) and leaving IS on when using a monopod (to assist in stabilizing the image).
My previously-scheduled trip to Maine did not allow lab evaluation of the 18-135 STM prior to leaving, but I wanted to try this lens out while traveling – and did so. My laptop's monitor is too sharp, but even taking this fact into consideration, the 18-135 STM results while traveling appeared reasonable – as expected. The lab-grade, repeatable results from the ISO 12233 resolution chart testing usually tell the full story of a lens' image quality. In the lab, the 135 STM is very nicely sharp from the center into the corners throughout the entire focal length range – with some modest softness at 85mm. I was not disappointed, but my excitement was tempered somewhat by some softer corners being noticeable. Outdoor comparison testing between the new and old 18-135mm lenses indeed showed some complexity to their image quality with these lenses showing more-similar results overall. Often one lens was sharp on one side of the frame while the other lens was sharp on the other side – asymmetry is an indicator of less-than ideal construction quality. I could easily create a comparison that made either lens appear to shine against the other. The Standard Picture Style was used with sharpness set to 0 (low – and equal to 1 on previous APS-C DSLR bodies).

The tree branch crops are taken from a top left area of the frame and the rock crops are taken from an area near the bottom right. My 18-135mm IS STM Lens delivers a better image on average, but it is not better enough to land it in a higher class than my pervious version 18-135mm IS Lens. Full frame-compatible lenses used on APS-C sensor format bodies typically show little or no vignetting – or distortion. Vignetting decreases to about 1.4 stops as the focal length is increased to 35mm and then remains relatively steady through 135mm. Though these numbers are slightly higher than from the previous 135 IS lens, they are not bad. As is typical for a zoom lens in this focal length range, the 18-135 IS STM Lens exhibits relatively strong barrel distortion at 18mm.
Increasing focal length dials in barrel distortion reduction which takes the form of pincushion distortion beyond the approximately 24mm crossover focal length. The 18-135 STM shows nearly no flare over the entire focal length range (except at around 35mm) with a wide open aperture.
Chromatic aberration is rather strong in outer portions of the image circle at the ends of the 18-135mm IS STM Lens' focal length range.
With relatively narrow apertures at their max, this is not the best lens to select for blurring the background. The 18-135 IS STM received an extra aperture blade – now featuring a 7-rounded-blade aperture (up from 6). Designed with video recording in mind, the 18-135 IS STM focuses very smoothly while in continuous Movie AF mode. The stepping motor does not seem quite as fast as the Ring USM implementation in the EF-S 15-85mm IS Lens, but it seems faster than the Micro Motor. It is however, much quieter than the 18-135 IS lens' noisy micro motor – and even quieter than the 15-85mm IS Lens' Ring USM-driven motor. Also important for video capture is that focus breathing is not a problem with this lens – subjects do not change size as they go in and out of focus. And also helpful for video capture is that this lens tests to be essentially parfocal, meaning that focus distance settings do not change as focal lengths are changed.
Of course, the depth of field at this lens' relatively narrower max apertures makes this feature less challenging to achieve – but it is still very helpful for shooting video.
As this is not a made-for-action photography lens, I have not stress tested this lens in AI Servo mode. FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is available, but only after AF completes in One Shot mode with the shutter release remaining half-pressed. No focus distance setting information is available on this lens – there is no focus distance window. Upgraded is the 18-135 STM's minimum focusing distance and its corresponding maximum magnification spec.

The 18-135 STM features a simple, smoothly-shaped exterior that is practically all zoom and focus rings. Again featured is a quality plastic barrel with an attractive finish and the usual ribbed-rubber-covered rings. Noticeably improved from the 18-135 IS is that there is practically no play in the 18-135 STM's extended lens barrel – and essentially no play in the focus and zoom rings. The more-rear-set focus ring is a nice improvement – this is a more-easily usable location for this ring. The STM is slightly shorter when retracted, but slightly longer when fully extended at 135mm and the STM is slightly heavier.
The differences are not enough to matter – both lenses are relatively small (especially narrow) and light.
For many more comparisons, review the complete 18-135 STM Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.
The size and weight of the 18-135 STM are such that you can take this lens everywhere without much effort.
The same lenses are shown below in their fully extended states with their lens hoods in place.
The optional petal-shaped Canon EW-73B Lens Hood is relatively compact, but not so much that it does not provide protection for the front lens element. Even the side-pinch-only Canon version I lens caps are not difficult to install or remove with this hood in place.
In reality, the 18-55 IS II is a good value – but the 18-135 STM is a much better lens in many ways – including its AF and MF capabilities and the longer focal length range. I feel that the upgrade to the 18-135 STM is worth the extra cost – especially when it is available in a kit. And it has now traveled the northeast US coast including Kennebunkport, Maine (below) as a travel lens – a purpose for which it is well-suited. It is a small, light and reasonably-priced lens with effective image stabilization and a great general purpose focal length range. Please support this site and my family by using the links provided throughout the site to make your purchases. The process is correct, but to my not reaches perfection, reasons: some centered, and some loss of detail in the branches. Thus, I depend solely on the commissions received from you using the links on this site to make any purchase. Maybe some steps to the right and view turning more to the left side to hind the power pole behind the silo and get the silo to the right edge.

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