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Canon Speedlite 550EX TTL

CA550EXU_1_
Review Date: Dec 25, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Reliable, well-featured, and versatile.
Cons:
Battery life is better on the newer 580EX, but I just carry spares.

I bought two 550s off sellers on this board about 7 years ago, and after hundreds of shoots and tens of thousands of activations both are trouble-free and still going strong. I've thought of replacing them, but if it ain't broke . . . .

 
Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM

ef200_f2lisu_586x225_1_
Review Date: Aug 13, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $6,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Image quality and sharpness are astonishing. Image stabilization works better than on any previous IS lens I have used. Handles beautifully; a joy to use.
Cons:
Canon should consider building a double-dovetail into the foot, to eliminate the need to buy an RRS or equivalent replacement foot.

The 200 f2 is my bucket-list lens purchase, my if-not-now, when? splurge, and after using it for two months, I am greatly impressed with its performance.

I considered getting a used 200 f1.8 for around $4000, but decided that having IS, a Canon warranty, repairs by Canon if needed, and a newer, lighter design were worth the extra $2000 in the long run.

In shooting dance and theatre productions in highly variable, often dim lighting, I have found the sharpness and IQ of the 200 to be significantly better than that of my trusty 70-200 f2.8 zoom, to a degree I would not have thought possible.

The IS works amazingly well, and enabled me to get presentable shots of the chorus in a recent musical who were positioned on the stairs to the stage, illuminated only by a bit of random light spilling their way.

One small gripe: Canon could safely assume that any shooters buying their 200mm to 800mm primes is using Arca Swiss-style plates (RRS, Kirk, Wimberley, etc.). Why not build a double dovetail into the lens foot to eliminate the need to buy plates or replace the entire foot?

That said, I love shooting with this lens, and am looking forward to the upcoming volleyball and basketball seasons even more than usual.