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  Reviews by: Simon Elwell  

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Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Aug 11, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Build quality, image quality, versatility
none - in a parallel universe the same lens but lighter would be nice...

Have lived with this lens now for 2 and a half years - it has become my always-on-the-camera lens; my default. Unfailingly good images, bright vivid colours and sharp as you like.

Don't harp on about "when will canon build this lens with IS?" it doesn't need it and maybe that's why it is so long-lived.

It's one of my least glamorous bits of kit - but it delivers time and again. The only good reason not to buy this lens is if you can't afford it. If you can - buy one.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Review Date: Dec 18, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great image quality, build quality, aperture, all the things you'd expect
Heavy, expensive, CA in contrasty shots wide open, slow and hunty autofocus, manual focus only works when autofocus powered up

This lens doesn't disappoint but you have to learn how to use it:

It isn't a sports lens - the autofocus isn't quick enough and the manual tweak not precise enough for me.

It is a fabulous still life, portrait, street life, whatever else you want to shoot lens.

Images are sharp down to f2.0. Below that, it softens a little and at f1.2 you have a tiny depth of field and focus is v hard to nail. Images are v acceptable though and you'll get shots you wouldn't be able to get without flash. Used with a good high ISO sensor, this lens can virtually see in the dark!

I took some really contrasty shots at f1.2 that showed purple fringing and wider CA but this was not evident at 1.4 or higher. Software corrected the problem which didn't occur in shots of lesser contrast either.

Buy this lens if you want to invest in a top quality fast lens and learn how to get the best out of it

Canon EOS 7D

Review Date: Jul 25, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great image quality, good low light performance, fast drive, superb video
None - but see review

I've been using the 7d for 8-9 months now.

It's a big step up from my 30d and I had to be reminded of the basics of focus, exposure etc as early output wasn't that good. the 19 AF point thing really needs getting used to. In the end (and in common with many other users I think) I switched to spot focusing as it was too difficult to work out what the camera was focusing on. 19 point af is fine if you're shooting with a big d.o.f. - say f8 or more... even then make sure something in the foreground hasn't grabbed a focus point. When you stop down to shorten your d.o.f. you need to be in spot focus and be precise about the focus point of your shot. This seems basic but I'd grown lazy. With an 18mp resolution if you get the focus wrong you'll see it - no room for errors with this level of IQ. The high resolution also magnifies camera shake, so remember too the basics about minimum shutter speeds.

I used the micro-adjustment to make sure all my lenses were spot on - it's worth doing.

This is a classy camera and unless you need full frame it's everything else most people will need. You'd have to be a way better photographer than me to outgrow this!

Video is great - HD TV quality - need a tripod really to shoot anything that doesn't look amateurish. menu options and set up are all easy enough and in use the buttons all become pretty intuitive.

Build quality is top notch - rear screen plenty bright enough.

Raw files are 20mb+ so buy a big CF card (I use a 32gb card) and a big, fast hard drive to store images.

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

Review Date: Apr 8, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, good colour, lightweight

Use this lens for portraits and for general shooting. It's sharp with good contrast and colour and the IS works visibly in the viewfinder.

Not too heavy to lug around.

Canon EOS 30D

Review Date: Mar 13, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great image quality; good screen; good AF; quality feel
v poor kit lens; useless print button

This is a great camera that consistently churns out high quality images. You need to forget the kit lens and buy something decent. I bought the 50mm 1.4 and it complements the camera beautifully.

One reviewer pointed out that his jpgs were sharper than RAW - I suspect this is because jpgs have some in-camera processing applied including sharpening. Once I've added a little sharpening in camera raw the images are tack sharp.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: Oct 16, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: very sharp at f5.6 and up quick, quiet can work in low light
depth of field scale missing (except f22) soft below f2.8

I read the reviews here, bought the lens, and found that pretty much everyone is right.

It's soft below f2.8 but great above that and from f5.6 it's razor sharp.

Good colours; no vignetting I can discern and haven't found any colour cast yet although at f22 I experienced some flare which was resolved by a lens hood.

As I don't have the 1.8 I can't compare the two but this feels like money well spent