This is the standard lens that came with my Canon Digital Rebel. There is also now available a USM version of this lens that comes with some cameras, so check what you get before you buy. The USM version is the ring type so it does not have full time manual. This is a decent little lens, and it’s actually quite handy so I keep it in my camera bag at all times.
This lens is all plastic and feels cheap in construction. Because it has a standard focusing motor it also focuses slowly and is quite loud. The upside is that it is very light, and very cheap for a wide angle lens.
Being a fairly wide angle is one of the saving graces of this lens. There are times I want to take wide angle shots, and this lens comes into its own. An 18mm lens becomes roughly 28mm when you consider the 1.6 crop factor of current Canon digital SLR’s.
I actually did some sharpness tests with this lens at different f-stops. The lens actually performed pretty well. It held it’s own with my 28-105 wide open, and the results of my copy were actually surprisingly close to my 50mm 1.8. If you’re on a budget I would definitely get this with the body of your camera in a kit. If however you plan to buy the Canon Ultra Wides such as the 17-85, 17-40, or even 10-22 than you could skip this lens. But for roughly $100 more than just a body it’s hard to skip.
Another thing to keep in mind is this is what Canon calls an EF-S lens. Which means it won’t fit all Canon bodies, only those that can take EF-S lenses such as the Digital Rebel series and the 20D. I have seen some modifications on the internet though where you can shave some of the plastic off and get a fairly decent and super cheap lens for your higher end bodies. I’m not sure why someone would buy a $5000 body and use a low quality lens such as this though.
Still, it’s a great wide angle lens with just a hint of distortion at the wide end and something I would always recommend.