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Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Oct 2, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp! L Quality. Reasonable price.
f/4, but hey, does that really count?

I was really torn between f/4 IS and f/2.8 IS... Finally I got f/4. For low light situations I'm sticking to primes. This is probably the sharpest zoom Canon has. Its sharpness is off the charts, definitely puts a lot of primes to shame. This lens is definitely sharper than my 17-55 f/2.8 IS and 85mm f/1.8 and I'm positive it's sharper than 70-200 2.8 IS at equivalent FL/apertures. I have read that at MFD some people were getting softness at f/4 in different extreme ranges. My copy is very slightly softer at f/4 70mm at MFD. Really only visible at 100% and a lot of pixel peeping. Compared to 2.8 IS this lens is light. Build quality is very good. If you're at a dilemma whether to get 70-200 f/4 IS or non-IS, get the IS version, definitely pays off, really no matter what your shooting style is. 2.8 vs. f4 dilemma is hard. If you are a reporter, shoot primarily inside no flash or shoot stage performances, by all means get the 2.8 one. Everyone else should get this one. For outdoor portraits I find myself reaching for the zoom rather than the 1.8 prime, DoF and all... Enough said.

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

Review Date: Aug 23, 2007 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated


Well, 6 months later I have to revoke my previous 10 and give an 8 instead... Why? Because of DUST!

EF-S 17-55 is my primary lens these days. I've owned it for about 9 months now. Dust has slowly been building up, but since it has never appeared in photos so far it was good. Not until a tiny piece of lint somehow made it and stuck onto the back of the front element. Guess what? I now have to use the healing brush on every landscape shot above f/5.6 9 (those clear skies.. not). Absolutely unacceptable. Since this is obviously a design flaw I really think Canon should do a recall or at least offer some kind of free of charge (unlikely Sad) Just because this lens is not weather sealed doesn't mean it should suck in dust like that in a way which is out of control for the user. In addition the IS started to produce image jumps in the viewfinder, though it still works properly. I haven't abused the lens in any way either... This may be just me though. Don't get me wrong -- it's still a great lens wrt to image quality, but the dust issues makes me sad.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Apr 12, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $330.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very fast AF, good IQ, good build quality
CA in certain situations, could be sharper, bit too long on a 1.6x

That was my third lens, with the 70-200 2.8 IS now locked on budget allowing.

I was using the EF-S 60mm for portraits, but then figured, all positives aside, I needed the 85mm. It's f/1.2 brother is in a league of its own. So as far as FL was concerned it had to be the 85mm f/1.8.

The good: A compact prime, good build quality. I really enjoy the AF speed, especially in low light. AF is very accurate, very fast and generally superb. The bokeh you get is superb for this FL. Since this lens if about 135mm on a crop (equivalent that is), I've been using this lens heavily for stage photography with excellent results. This lens could be almost sharp to very sharp -- still don't quite get when it decides to behave better than average. It's usable at f/1.8 (which usually goes hand in hand with ISO 1600). It gets really good from f/2.2 onwards with f/2.8 being the aperture at which it really starts to shine.

The bad: It's not as sharp as my EF-S 60mm or even my EF-S 17-55... Guess I am spoiled :-) Seriously, it's an old design and costs $300. Don't get me wrong IQ is generally good to excellent, but sometimes it just sucks, even at high shutter speeds and f/2+ apertures... The hood is flimsy too -- I got the ET-65III hood which has some sort of textile padding, but clipon hoods are hopefully dead as far as I am concerned. Every time I put the hood on it feels as if it will break off the next second :-) Next -- CA can be a BIG problem with this lens... it only shows in certain high contrast situations and truth be told I only rarely experienced it, but when CA shows it SHOWS. On another note, 85mm on a crop could be a bit too long, so think again if you intend to use it on a 1.6x crop in a studio -- you'll need the distance.

Generally, I am quite happy with this lens. Sure, the f/1.2 II is way better in terms of sharpness and low light capability, but I hear its AF is slower for one, plus it costs BIG. I never played around with the 50mm Canon primes, but I never missed them either (since I have the EF-S 17-55 :-) 100mm is too long for portraits IMHO. So there you have it -- another happy user.

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Review Date: Dec 12, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $380.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, IQ overall is great, compact, light 1:1 macro
AF is slow. AF fails to lock where it should. AF pretty weak in low light. (That's why it gets a 9)

That's the second lens I am getting for my 30D (the first one being the EF-S 17-55). I promised myself I wouldn't get any other EF-S lenses after the 17-55, but now I am getting the EF-S 60mm :-) (What's next guess the 10-22 :P) Seriously, EF-S or not, these two EF-S lens are really good. First impressions? It makes my 30D look cheap!! Yeah, and I consider this a good thing actually. If the camera is facing you it certainly doesn't impress (52mm). In truth, I don't think the build is much different than that of the 17-55, but in the case of the 60mm it does feel better. Maybe because the lens is more compact and doesn't extend.. Weight? It's pretty light. I think it's more balanced for 350D/400D bodies, but it still is OK on x0D bodies.

Image Quality? I'll have to repeat everything said so far -- this lens is SHARP 2.8 to 11 (f/16 is good too, diffraction kills anything higher in terms of f-numbers). Contrast is great, colors seem natural.. Simply outstanding (and that's why I got it ;P). Really outstanding.

Negatives? AF speed is pretty low -- kind of sucks when you are shooting fauna and humans.. who usually get impatient quickly ;P Then again, it's a macro. Low light auto focus is pretty bad too, gets half way decent with my 580EX's AF assist.. It's funny but obviously contrasting objects fail to get AF to lock too.. (and I guess that's the worst to be said about the AF's shortcomings). When I compare it to my trusty 17-55, I can really feel the difference in all noted departments... I also guess Canon can sell it for around $300, but all in all given the IQ you get it's well worth the money.

So... why did I get it instead of say 50mm macro, or 100mm macro or 180mm macro or 50/85/100mm? These are all lenses I considered -- and what one does is identify needs. Well, what I needed was a sharp prime, preferably designed during this century with 1:1 macro capability, but also great for portraits:

50mm macro was out of the way -- no 1:1 magnification out of the box. I guess I could've gotten the 100mm macro it's a great lens from what I've read -- but a bit too long for portraits on a 1.6 body. 180mm macro - arguably the best macro lens, but too long for portraits and far more expensive.
50mm 1.8? Mmm no thanks I already have the 17-55 2.8, don't think I'll be getting any 50mm primes any time soon. 85mm? Now, I was almost drawn into getting the honorable 85mm 1.8 -- however the CA were way worse and it wasn't as sharp -- 100mm f/2 on the other hand was too long (and seems like a fine lens otherwise).

So there you have it, again -- highly recommended unless a FF upgrade is not in your immediate future.

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

Review Date: Nov 28, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,050.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great contrast, color, IQ, good to great AF, IS rocks
-$1k, bit heavy, build quality could be better etc.

First lens for my 30D... I was about to get the 24-70, but I did some thinking and finally got this one. No regrets so far (the regrets are that I my budget doesn't allow for a 5D, but that's another story really). IQ on my copy is top notch -- color, contrast, sharpness all great (and that matters most to me).

As many have already stated -- constant 2.8, IS, USM, does it get any better? Well it does, sure - there is vignetting (which I hate at 17mm), there's flare (but the flare problem isn't that bad, vignetting is worse IMO). Build quality IMHO is ... well, it's decent, as in good. Nothing to brag about, but it isn't poor. I've only had the lens for a week, so can't comment on the dust problem (hope I don't get any!). I do think this is the perfect walk-around lens for a 20D/30D body, and the weight is just right for such bodies. It's a bit heavy, but given that the 24-70 weighs about a kilo, you can't really complain...

Price? Well, it's $1k, but all in all, I think it's worth the money for the IQ (+ IS) you get. Highly recommended.