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  Reviews by: CGrindahl  

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Nikon 70-210mm f/4-5.6D AF

Review Date: Mar 17, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $185.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Wonderfully sharp with fine color and contrast
A bayonet hood would be nice, but the screw on Nikon hood is certainly quite elegant.

I bought this lens largely based upon positive comments on the FM review site. I hesitated to drop $1,100 for a new Nikon lens in this focal range that I use occasionally and so opted for a used copy of this lens, a D version in mint condition, I found on E-Bay.

I'm very impressed with the lens which is built extremely well, much better than the consumer glass produced by Canon. It focuses quickly but at times seems to hiccup, missing focus or hesitating. That happens rarely, however, and doesn't pose a problem. Also, I've been playing with some of Nikon's GREAT manual focus glass and enjoying the experience immensely, so I occasionally do the same with other lenses, including this one.

This lens is very sharp with great color and contrast. Here's a shot I took the first afternoon I mounted the lens on my D700.

These lenses can be had very cheaply and at least from my experience, are outstanding performers. Since I use this range exclusively during the day out of doors, I don't need faster glass. This lens fits the bill perfectly. I couldn't be happier!

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM

Review Date: Jul 12, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Wide aperture, unbelievable build quality, color and contrast as good as it gets and incredible sharpness in the focal plane, which, thankfully is VERY narrow.

I note that one person posted TWO reviews giving this lens FIVE POINTS! WHAT????

Yes, the lens is heavy and yes, it focuses slowly, but when you have a piece of expensive glass as big as the one in this lens, what did you expect?

This lens has limitations. I wouldn't dream of shooting sports with this lens, for example. But who in their right mind would? If you're trying to capture your kid running around in the back yard, do yourself a favor and stick to the 85 f/1.8. This is a portrait lens among the best available from any manufacturer for any camera. The images it produces are so luscious that I take every opportunity I can to have this lens on my camera. Where the image is sharp, it is perfectly sharp, but where it is blurred it is GLORIOUS. It produces bokeh that is perfection. Focusing is never a problem once you've initially established the range. Slight movement of the subject requires only minimal movement of lens elements resulting in easy focusing. It is only when going from one distance to a significantly different distance that one will experience delay. Is that so hard to understand?

If I could own only one Canon lens, this would be it. Thank heavens that is not a requirement, however, so I can enjoy all those wonderful L lenses. But this beauty is first in the heart of this man...

Canon EF 20-35mm f/2.8L

Review Date: Jan 10, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent color and contrast with fine sharpness; solidly built and nicely balanced on camera; great range on full frame camera
Noisy focus that is slower than USM but not a problem in my experience

I loved the 17-40L when shooting on a 20D but when I bought the 5D I became intrigued with the faster and much older 20-35L. I don't really need the extra width of the newer lens for the kind of shooting I do so when I was able to pick up an excellent used copy of the 20-35L I decided to try it out. It certainly hasn't disappointed me in any way though I have yet to decide whether I like it well enough to sell the 17-40.

The 20-35L has a metal barrel so despite its smaller size it weighs a bit more than the newer lens. Yet the size and weight work beautifully with the 5D and I love using it as a walk around lens. The color and contrast are excellent though not quite as rich as the 17-40. Sharpness at the center of the image is impressive but there is some fall off toward the edges, as one would expect from a wide-angle lens. Since my post-processing work flow generally includes a judicious application of Unsharpen Mask, the slight softness is not a serious problem.

It does not have USM focusing but despite a bit of noise as it moves, the lens focuses quickly. I've had no problems though I should note I most often use the lens while shooting landscapes. Of course, I'll likely use an even faster prime if I'm shooting portraits or in low-light situations and they all have USM which is lightening fast.

One caution given to me when I was considering this lens is the fact it has been out of production for so long that it might be difficult to get parts if repair is necessary. Yes, this is an old lens, but like its companion the "Magic Drainpipe" it is a great performer and certainly worth consideration if you find one in good condition at a fair price.

Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Dec 28, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great color, contrast and sharpness; excellent build quality; nicely balanced on camera

I've owned two copies of this lens. The first was sold after comparisons on my 20D demonstrated the Tamron 28-75 performed nearly as well. When I bought a 5D I thought I'd try the lens again after stumbling on one for sale locally at a very good price.

The full-frame camera really takes advantage of the quality of this classic lens. IQ is exceptional, reminiscent of Canon's finest primes. The Tamron is no slouch, but it simply doesn't offer the same corner to corner sharpness when mounted on a full-frame camera. It also loses light at the edges. The 28-70L performs beautifully under every condition. It is solid and well balanced on the 5D. It is heavier than any of my other lenses but not too heavy to use as a walk around. I recently picked up a copy of another classic, the EF 20-35 f/2.8L and am very pleased with this combination.

I know the 24-70L is well regarded but I'm not certain the additional 4mm is worth the extra weight and expense on a full-frame camera. If you find a 28-70L in good condition for a reasonable price it is certainly worth checking out. It is an absolute winner!

Tamron 28-75MM F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF)

Review Date: May 23, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $309.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fine sharpness, fast, accurate focusing, good color and contrast, constant f/2.8, exceptional price/quality ratio, good size, excellent range for walking around on a cropped camera
Movement while focusing can be distracting at first, but one gets used to it.

I likely own the most expensive copy of this well regarded lens due to the fact I dropped it on the pavement and ended up paying almost as much to repair it as I paid when I bought it new. Since it was my favorite walk around lens on a cropped Canon DSLR, it made sense for me to repair it. Happily, it came back in perfect condition with performance that remarkably seemed even better than when new. I assumed the calibration they did after reassembling the lens was spot on. Perhaps they figured it was the least they could do considering my investment in the lens...

I bought the lens based on fine reviews and the recommendation of a local salesman after the arrival of two L lenses ruined my tolerance for soft lenses like the Canon 28-135 IS I owned at the time. The Tamron proved to be a significant upgrade and I happily used it first on the Digital Rebel and then on a 20D. When I bought a 5D this spring I anticipated the loss of cropping on a full-frame camera, as well as the demand such a camera places on lenses, that the Tamron would need to be replaced. My concern over range proved justified, but what amazed me was the outstanding performance this lens offers on the 5D. The images are remarkably crisp and beautifully colored. I loved the honest width at 28mm even while I missed the length at 75mm, which was no longer cropped to 120mm.

I'm still looking for a walk around lens with a bit longer range, but I've yet to find a lens that holds up to this particular Tamron. Frankly, the thought of spending over a thousand dollars for the Canon 24-105 f/4L IS to gain 30 mm on the Tamron seems an unnecessary extravagance. I don't know how my lens alignment will be modified as I work more with the 5D, but it is hard to imagine that this Tamron will not remain in my kit. It is that good!

Canon EF 28-105 F/3.5-4.5 II USM

Review Date: May 2, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Well built but with small size and weight, useful range, shockingly low price, good sharpness, color, contrast
Stiff zoom ring a minor nuisance

I recently bought the full-frame Canon 5D and have been reassessing my lens collection, in particular the middle of the range. I'm happy with the Canon 17-40 with this camera and the 70-200 f/4L is fine as well. I'm delighted with the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 but without the cropping factor on the 20D I find myself wishing for a wider mid-range telephoto lens. I've already sold a copy of the Canon 28-135 that just didn't measure up in terms of sharpness, so that clearly isn't the solution. I've toyed with the idea of spending $1200 for the Canon 24-105 f/4L but reviews have been mixed and frankly, it feels like a budget buster. Enter the Canon 28-105 f/3.5-4.5.

I read the reviews on FM and, remarkably, they're close to those for the new L lens with a similar range. I found a used copy at Digital Grin and decided it would be worth checking out.

This is not a professional quality lens but then I get great use out of two other consumer lenses, the 85 f/1.8 and a 50 f/1.4. Neither of them is built any better than this telephoto lens. Interestingly, all three take a 58 mm filter. The telephoto is a bit bigger than these two but its smaller than the Tamron. It balances very nicely on the 5D. The zoom ring is a bit stiff, but then I didn't expect L quality in a lens that costs less than a quarter of its new competitor, as well as half the 28-135 which I found to be no competition at all.

I'm pleased with the sharpness of images while color and contrast are fine. It focuses quickly and seems reasonably comfortable finding focus in relatively low light. I'd be happier with a bit more range but this might be the lens that solves my need for walking around. I'll give it a good workout this summer before deciding whether to resume my search. It is a fine choice for anyone with a limited budget and a desire for crisp images.

Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Mar 20, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $429.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Excellent walk around range, good build quality, reasonable weight, IS for low light situations
Must stop down for acceptable sharpness

My sense is that folks reaction to this lens has much to do with their experience with other lenses. While this lens is much better than many of Canon's offerings, it suffers in comparison with Canon and third party lenses that exhibit fine sharpness.

This was the first lens I bought after purchasing a 300D with the kit lens last summer. It took me some time to get the most out of the lens and eventually I was happy with the images I captured. At that time I was using the kit lens, as well as an EF100-300 mm loaned by a friend. In comparison with those alternatives, the 28-135 was by far my favorite. THEN I took advantage of Canon's rebate program last December and purchased two L lenses. The moment I saw the images produced by the 70-200 f4L I was lost! It is wonderfully sharp. The 28-135 lost its lustre when I discovered what a sharp lens can do. That motivated me to search for an alternative to this lens that could bridge the gap between the two L lenses. As my profile notes, my choice was the Tamron AF28-75 f2.8 Di LD. This lens lives up to its reputation and I am more than happy with this trio. Thanks to all the folks at FM whose reviews helped me make that decision!

The 28-135 gave me fine service for six months, but it will likely be passed along to someone else in the future. It is a good, not great lens.