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  Reviews by: J.D.  

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Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Apr 23, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Optical performance, IS performance, weight for focal length, AF performance, performance with 1.4 converter.
Cost, weight, foot flex, focus ring a bit rough in manual mode, hood design.

Seems almost pointless to criticise this lens for cost and weight: it goes with the territory. Price-wise, you get what you pay for and it is still generally cheaper than a Nikon. Weight is not exceptional either but it is something people need to be aware of if they are stepping up from say a 70-200 or even a 200mm f/2.

Flare resistance is outstanding and this lens out performs my EF 300mm f/2.8L at all apertures above f/4 in backlit situations. IS performance is so good I can hand hold it in still conditions at 1/500 without too much difficulty.

Canon's hood designs have never been a strong point, although they seem better than the telescopic Nikon equivalent.

Performance with 1.4x TC is virtually indistinguishable from normal, even wide open.

More reach than a 300mm and lighter than either the 400mm f/2.8L IS or 600mm f/4L IS, this has been described as the sweet spot for cost/weight/performance and I, for one, agree.

Canon EOS 40D

Review Date: Nov 10, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good AF, 6+ frames/sec, build quality, features, ergonomics.
LCD resolution, battery grip integration.

I already own a 10D and decided to bypass the 20D/30D because I did not rate the advantages highly enough to warrant buying one. The 40D is a more significant upgrade from all sorts of perspectives over the others and was the best choice by far for me. Some of the new features, such as the EOS Utility, confer an enormous capability increase and are a boon for macro photographers because the entire operation, other than composition, can be controlled remotely with the camera hooked up to a computer. The advantages are massive and might even convince this die-hard that macro is worth a try!

Handling is consistent with the 10D, making virtually no difference in feel between the two. Battery grip integration is inferior to the older 10D and the rubber grip strip is missing from the battery compartment door. However, it is unfair to criticise the 40D for this as it is a battery grip issue. The grip needs to be redesigned.

Menus are nicely arranged and far more encompassing than on the 10D. Navigation is via a variety of means including wheels and joystick. It's all pretty simple and intuitive but the poor resolution of the LCD screen is a bit of a joke. Canon needs to work hard on fixing this, especially if they envisage photographers using it as a focussing aid for macro work or in other Live View applications.

The motor drive is not quite the claimed 6.5 frames per second but it's not bad and the "clack, clack" is a lot quieter. Build quality is very good, though the CF card door feels pretty flimsy to me.

All in all, a pretty good effort from Canon and in spite of a few minor niggles, it's well worth the upgrade.

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Review Date: Oct 29, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $674.95 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Compact, virtually distortion free, light weight, good image quality especially for price, reasonably fast, very wide, fun.
Zoom ring in different position to 17-40/4L, not a constant F stop, some chromatic aberration in corners.

Really good, lightweight ultra wide for EF-S mount cameras. The lens is pretty well constructed, though it's not quite as good as my 17-40/4L. From an operator point of view, this lens is very, very wide. I have a 16mm Fisheye in my old film kit and this is the widest lens I've used short of that. The biggest handling problem I've had is that the zoom ring and focus ring are reversed compared to the 17-40/4L which makes it easy to hit the wrong one when in a hurry. Fortunately, with this lens, that is not something I would expect to have to do quickly in most cases.

Image quality is very good. In common with other lenses of this type, there is some image fall of towards the edges and corners. Chromatic aberration, vignetting and loss of edge sharpness are all present but none is excessive and overall, the lens performs very well for such an extreme wide angle in a small format. The centre of the lens gives excellent results in all major areas and there should be little cause for complaint. Probably the most significant achievement is its lack of barrel distortion, which is not easy to achieve in a lens so wide.

This lens is very wide and I find it enjoyable to use. On the other hand, because it is so wide it requires a certain amount of self discipline to achieve good results. I found the best way to use it is to shoot at F8. Because it is not a constant F-stop, I find it better to stay away from wide open settings. Although it's almost distortion free, it still produces distortions which common in this type of lens. Shoot along a paling fence to see what I mean. It produces a sort of twist. In comparison with the 17-40/4L, it actually has less barrel distortion for a wider angle of view. A remarkable achievement.

Because it is small and light, its speed is a definite advantage over other ultra wides but it must come down to the individual to decide whether it is worth the extra cost. I would recommend this lens but I should point out that it suited me better than the other offerings which are out there.

Even though it is my first non-L series Canon lens, this is a lens I could actually grow to love.

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

Review Date: Feb 5, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,595.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp, very fast and accurate AF, IS, build quality and finish, depth of field effects, fast constant F2.8 aperture.
Weight(!), cost.

Top quality lens at a rather high cost, especially given that the non-IS version is disproportionately cheaper. Very fast autofocussing and excellent IS make it an ideal medium-to-long telephoto for DSLR's. Constant F2.8 is a real standout and images look very good when wide open. This is a lens which must be handled carefully. Because it is so heavy, I would recommend that the lens alway be supported as the torque forces on the mount would be very significant if the whole package is handled only by the camera body. Even though I see this lens virtually every day of my working life, it still took me some time to get used to its size and weight.

For what it's worth, I have considerable experience shooting with stabilised lenses from helicopters; mainly the Schwem gyro-stabilised television lens but I have also shot with the Canon stabilised television lens. The stabiliser is not as effective as the Schwem but the picture quality is vastly superior; to the point where there is no comparison worth making. Compared to the Canon television lens, the 70-200mm's stabiliser has about the same level of effectiveness. This method of stabilisation is probably better suited to still photography than television pictures.

For anyone seriously considering this lens there is one thing which I think needs to be considered very carefully. This is, as I have said, a large and very heavy lens. There are plenty of other lenses on the market, including Canon's own 70-200 F4L, which are a lot lighter and more convenient to use. If portability is an issue then you should think very carefully about whether or not you need the features it offers. If you do then this one is the bomb.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Feb 4, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Pin sharp, great saturation, excellent build quality, constant F stop, price.
Mild barrell distortion at wide settings.

Really good, useable alternative to 16-35mm F2.8. Price is very reasonable and on a cost/performance basis, works out extremely well. Has excellent build quality and optical performance is of a very high standard though it exhibits very mild barrell distortion at wider settings, say from 17-25mm.

Great price for L-series glass.