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  Reviews by: Ulan  

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Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 PRO DX SD

Review Date: Jan 13, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp (especially in the center), strongly built, f/2.8, affordable, delivered with sun hood, very nice to use
systematic chromatic aberration, flare when shooting with lights or sunrays

Canon EOS 50D

Review Date: Dec 16, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: nice features such as micro AF adjustment, beautiful LCD screen, useful LiveView, good IQ, quiet shutter, DPP is the software to use (especially for NR), reactive and accurate AF
no built-in control for wireless flash system, not totally tropicalised (but that is it exist?); battery autonomy is not as good than with 30D;

So many negative or mitigated reviews have been written on the internet (but not in specialised written magazines) about the 50D that I almost felt guilty after my purchase. It is true that, after one week of camera use, I experienced a kind of Error 99 that compelled me to remove the battery at once and replace it subsequently. I also had the impression that dynamic range was sacrificing IQ in difficult and contrasted light with some highlights being washed out. But that was before the upgrade of the firmware. Now after two months of extensive use I am coming to get another picture of the 50D. Battery : seems to me autonomy is much less than 30D (even not using LiveView).

At first you have the new features. For someone already owning a 30D the improvements are really noticeable. The anti-dust system for the sensor is more than satisfactory. The shutter is quieter, a good point for animal photographing. Sadly enough there is no remote control shutter release (like you have with the 450D).The LCD screen, larger and with many more pixels, is impressive and it is now really possible to check the quality of focus. The HDMI slot enables to connect the device on a HD TV, but you must buy the wire yourself (an extra-investment). You have live view, a nice feature for macro or landscape photo (you can activate it by just pressing the AF-On button), but the system drains your battery. Autocus seems quicker and more precise than with 30D. AI/Servo works well in good lighting conditions (not really possible to follow birds between branches in low light). Menu is much more user friendly than before, and a great feature is the quick control screen which allows you to manage quickly photo parameters with the joystick. Build quality feels about the same than 30D, though I noticed some extra-protection for the battery and CF slot with rubber reinforcement, but maybe this is not enough against rain or sand. Of course it would have been nice to have the body fully tropicalised. Something not very useful was added : a CA mode, a marketing fish-hook for beginners, maybe not that appropriate for a semi-expert camera. Built-in flash : you can fix a 1/60-1/250 speed and pass control for first or second curtain. Unfortunately the flash is not conceived for a wireless flash network. C’est vraiment dommage ! Also interesting : you can use UDMA Compact Flash cards. Files are transferred much quicker to your PC, I noticed that, but you pay the price (once more!).

Now what about IQ. I am no expert in the matter and I can only share my personal and humble view. A big complaint on the forums has been noise at high ISO. Well it is already nice to have ordinary possibilities up to 3200 ISO, and even up to 6400 and 12800, something you would never have dreamt of in the good old times of predigital photography. I would say photographs are really useable up to about 2400, maybe up to 3200. You have chromatic noise, but nothing you cannot fine tune with a software. More than 3200, and certainly 6400, you have heavy noise and even banding). By the way, for RAW processing, I would recommend using DPP above any other software : noise reduction is much better. DXO, recently upgraded for 50D (though not for all lenses), gives good results. With the 30D I only used Elements 5.0 or 6.0. I also feel that Canon 50D is a camera that gives the best results with RAW. What about resolution ? Well, details are so much better with the 50D, a good thing for enlargements or cropping, something bird lovers will appreciate. Some reviewers recommend using only the best quality lenses with the gear. But this has always been the issue with other cameras ! Anyway focusing has its importance, and by the way, the camera has the micro-AF feature which enables fine tuning of your lenses (something that helped me recover use of my Sigma 50-150 which started front focusing after several months). Exposure seems to be OK, not that much different from 30D, there are some problems in high contrast situation and the highlight priority feature doesn’t address the issue in a perfect way (you ‘ll need DPP or DXO or resign).

What with white balance ? The automatic AW control is suitable for most conditions, except for tungsten or fluo, two weak spots you will have to control manually or in DPP or other software. Image style : the best is to program your own settings.

Conclusion : Canon 50D is a gear one must learn to handle and use before appreciating it. I am pleased with the product.

Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Jul 3, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Handy focal range, acceptable sharpness (especially when you stop down), good IS, satisfying build quality
heavy distortion at 17-20 mm focal range, not luminous lens

I bought this lens two years ago to replace the 18-55 mm kit lens that came with my new Canon EOS 30D and was rather soft. I used it in Peru and it performed its duty as expected. It resisted extreme conditions in the coastal desert and in the Amazon, no dust, no problems either wit the altitude, the AF always responded fastly, accurately and adequately. Build quality seems better than the 17-55 mm f/2.8 which looks rather frail in comparison. Sharpness is OK when you stop down. At lower focal range, distortion is dramatic and it's not easy to correct in post-production. Colours are well restituted, contrast also. Of course, not the tremendous optical quality of the 17-55 f/2.8, but you must consider the price which is twice as cheaper... The focal range makes it an appropriate walk around lens.

Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC HSM APO

Review Date: May 24, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, crispy and contrasy images, fast AF, light, easy to carry along, good build quality, not too expensive
no IS (but you know it before buying it)

An underrated lens, yet I never had to complain about it, except in low light (indoor) when an IS would be so useful to allow higher speed. Everything works well : I never experienced front focusing, actually my sample is pretty AF accurate, silent and fast. Pictures are cristal clear. I took it on my trip to Yucatan instead of my Canon 70-200 IS 2.8, as the Sigma much lighter and easier to carry (yet I really love the Canon lens, images are fabulous). Bokeh is wonderful, colours are well treated, good contrast, very good sharpness.

Sigma 105mm f2.8 EX Macro 1:1 Lens

Review Date: May 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharp, very sharp, wonderful pictures
AF hunts but I always use macro with manual focus

Seeing the results I understand what the word "prime" means for a lens.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Review Date: May 14, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp pictures,fast, accurate and silent AF, very well built, good IS
expensive (but worth it), heavy,focal range is more suited for full format than APS-C (but it is according to your use)

Pictures are cristal clear, very sharp, excellent even at 2.8. Un piqué splendide ! as we say in French. Bokeh is nice, contrast and color are wonderful. Before buying it wouldn't believe the reviews and the hype about the lens, but I must I am deeply impressed. I don't use it as a walk-around lens as it is too heavy and on trips I rather use Sigma 50-150 which is lighter but with focusing not always accurate and without IS), yet good pictures quality. This 70-200 L IS is a jewel.

Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

Review Date: May 14, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: very sharp, fast, very good IS and AF
expensive (no hood included), moderate build quality

So far, I haven't had dust problems. Optic is very good, no complaint about it, except distortion at lower focal. Didn't experience flare nuisance up to now. IS works well and helps at lower speeds (yes, you gain 3 stops). f2.8 helps you isolate your subject from the background while quality is very good at the centre (and good at the edges). Really harp pictures at closed apertures (f5.6). AF is fast and accurate.

Build quality is not up to the price, it could have been a L construction even if it meant a little more weight. And you have to pay an extra money for a hood (which, by the way, is not very resistant, mine split too easily in two in one of my luggages...).

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

Review Date: May 14, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp pictures, good contrast,well built,excellent IS and fast AF, very useful focal range
heavy, not tropicalised,expensive

I travelled with this lens to the coastal and amazonian part of Peru, to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico (visiting natural reserve of Punta Sur in Cozumel and Siaan Kan) , to the Zwin in Belgium. The lens resisted the humid weather, the sand of the beaches and the sea wind. I could obtain sharp pics of birds, crocodiles, mammals (especially at f/8, which means you need a good light). IS proved to be very helpful when I suddenly needed to take a photograph without having time to use a tripod or a monopode. With a monopode and IS off, I could get good pictures of birds (stalks, egrets,...). I like the colors and the contrast of the images obtained. AF was fast and acurate.

I had no problem to get used to push and pull system, except when switching to manual focus. The tigth/untight lock is sometimes annoying but one can adapt.

It is a heavy lens, but what else can you expect from a versatile lens with such a focal range ? It is expensive, but you pay quality and buid quality though I think Canon should have tropicalised the product.


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