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

ef70-200lisiiu_586x225
Review Date: Jun 6, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,850.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: See below
Cons:
See below

What's good:

It has superb IQ:
- sharp already @ wide open @ every focal length
- little CA and fall-off
- some distortion
- excellent colors and contrast
- excellent human skin rendition
- great bokeh

It handles great and is built to last. 4 stop IS rules. AF is very fast and spot on most of the time (5D2).

Downsides:
- heavy and big
- it screams 'here I am'
- EXPENSIVE Sad

I traded my f/4 IS, 100/2 and 135L for it. No regrets whatsoever. I needed something faster than the f/4 zoom and missed IS greatly on the 135L. Besides, 2.8 is more than enough for me. Plus I needed the flexibility. I didn't find any noticeable negatives in IQ between these lenses and the 70-200 II IS. Rather the opposite.

Great lens. Easily one of Canon's finest zoom lenses!


 
Canon EOS 5D Mark II

5DII_1_
Review Date: Apr 26, 2010 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: See below
Cons:
See below

A few months after my 1st horrific 5D2 experiences (I tried three kits and none of them working as they should - see some pages back), I bought another 5D2, because I still needed a FF back-up cam to my 1Ds3. At the moment of this "update review" I have used my 5D2 intensively/profesionally for about 9 months. This 4th body works as it should and deserves a "proper" review. So, here it goes:

Image Quality
Overall I am pretty happy with the 5D2's IQ. Especially at higher ISO's (1600-6400). I shoot RAW and convert in Lightroom/ACR. There are a couple of things that bother me though. Firstly, Caucasian skin tones are rendered too red and need a seperate color correction in PP. Secondly, when exposing for the highlights in high contrast situations you end up with deep shadows that show banding once you open them up in PP (fill light, curves, etc). Not all the time and in every case, but it is there sometimes. This means that the effective Dynamic Range is limited when the banding pops up. Thirdly, the files are a touch on the contrasty side for me. Most of the time I am toning down contrast in PP.

Autofocus
The 5D2 inhereted the AF hardware of the original 5D. A shame really. Because in the meantime Canon has released the 7D, with a much better AF engine. This 7D AF engine will most probably end up in the 5D3. But atm the 5D2 must do with a "crippled" AF.
On the positive side, the center AF point works very good under all kinds of circumstances: from low to good light, in AI Servo (with or without 6 assist AF points) and in One Shot. Of course this also depends on the lens.
On the negative side, the outer AF points are really only usable in One Shot with good light, good contrast and smaller apertures. Want to use them in AI Servo @ f/1.2...? forget it. Want to use them in One Shot under low light? Forget it. Etc Sad
The 5D2 is basically an one AF point camera...

Built quality
I like that the 5D2 is small and relatively light. Coupled with a 24-105L or a few primes it makes a pleasant travel kit. Its built quality is sufficient for most tasks. Other than that, there are a few annnoyances:
The CF door is built flimsy and creaks when you load the 5D2 with lenses heavier than 500 grams. I don't trust the weathersealing of the 5D2. I can't read the VF info in bright daylight.
The battery grip is a ergonomical disaster. It handles like crap. Besides that, the grip sometimes causes communication problems that shut my cam down or give false battery status info. The grip also loosens after heavy usage and is way too expensive. So, why use a grip then? Because when I mount my 24-70L the bare grip is so small and crappy that it will hurt my hand after longer periods of time... and make the CF door creak like a madman :D

Responsiveness
The 5D2 has a relative (compared to 1 series or xxD series) long VF black-out time and shutterlag. This is mostly annoying when tracking/shooting fast erratic moving subjects. But you wouldn't want to do that with the 5D2 anyway, because it's AF has troubles keeping up as well. The 5FPS doesn't help either. For all other shooting the slower responsiveness isn't much of an issue.

Other features...
I like the back LCD. Even though it has a slight green color cast, it is still better than the one I have on the 1Ds3 for checking focus. The LCD playback times are really fast too. HDVideo is nice to fool around with. Battery life for photography is great (about 1000 RAW exposures per battery).

Conclusion
Despite that the 5D2 is a somewhat limited body (features and IQ in some cases), I use it with pleasure. It is simple and straightforward in design and just works... at least once you accept it's boundaries and adapt accordingly. It is still the cheapest high rez FF cam out there Smile


 
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

24-105lisusm
Review Date: Apr 25, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Built, IS, focal range, size/weight, decent optical performance thoughout its range, short MFD, AF accuracy
Cons:
Pretty expensive for what it is (if you payed the premium), optical performance at 24mm (corner softness and heavy distortions), lenshood only effective for wider angles, AF tends to hunt in low light and isn't a fast tracker (not even in good light) on my 5D2

I have tried a few copies over time, and decided to keep one for travelling and general (good light) photography. All showed (roughly) the same optical performance:

It is sharp wide open throughout it's entire range in the center of the frame. Stopping down makes it only a little bit sharper here. I get sharp extreme corners in the 35-70mm range when stopping down to about f/8. Extreme corners at 24mm and 105mm remain somewhat soft (even after stopping down).

At 24mm there are heavy distortions. At 24mm and 105mm there are corners CA's. But they can be corrected in PP for 100%. Contrast and colors are very good at all apertures/FL's. Bokeh @ 105mm f4 is pretty good for a standard zoom of this class. Certainly usable Smile

Built quality is excellent. Although I am not a fan of the external extending barrel. It balances nicely on my 5D2 (without grip). It's relative small size and light weight makes it perfect for travelling. A 5D2 + 24-105L will fit in a lot of different small shoulder bags. The hood is not very useful for the tele end. It is basically designed for the wide angles.

AF is accurate but not super fast. When I use this lens on my 5D2 it isn't able to track fast and erratic moving subjects. It also tends to hunt in low light. But that is to be expected from a f/4 lens. IS works great and is nearly silent. Another cool feature is its very short MFD (semi macro) for close-up work.

I got mine after some substantial price drops on the market. Many sellers spilt up 5D2 + 24-105L kits and sell the lens apart. I got such a lens and that saved me about 250 euros. Price / quality ratio is balanced this way. If it would have been more expensive, I probably wouldn't have bought one.

All in all a convenient travel / general purpose lens with decent IQ for when there is good light. A fast prime or flash (AF assist beam) to go with it isn't a luxury, but rather a necessity for when the lights are low.


 
Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM

ef100mmf_2usm_1_
Review Date: Apr 24, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: IQ wide open, small, light, inconspicuous, cheap, AF
Cons:
fringing, no hood supplied

A small, light and inconspicuous lens with very good optics.

It is already sharp and contrasty at f/2. Only negative is the rather heavy fringing at high contrast situations.

Focus is fast (a little bit faster than the 100L) and accurate. MF ring feels great. Built quality is compact and sufficient.

Great (portrait) FL on FF cameras. Cheap. Love it Smile


 
Nikon D90

pic_001
Review Date: Nov 5, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: See below
Cons:
See below

This is one fine little cam. For it's price it is hard to beat...

Pro:
- excellent IQ - clean up to ISO1600, ISO3200 more than usable. Sharp and crisp files with nice colors and contrast right out of the cam.
- excellent DR (can also push exposure/shadows in PP considerably without any severe penalty).
- consistent and reliable metering.
- excellent handling.
- small and light but with a more than decent grip.
- long battery life (about 1000 RAW exposures + some chimping).
- excellent LCD.
- pop-up flash.
- with fast CF cards, fast write and playback speed.
- playback zoom with one touch during review image.
- LiveView.
- 4,5 FPS (enough for me).
- PRICE.
- excellent choice of "cheap" DX lenses.

Against:
- limited AF: outer AF points not as accurate/reliable as the center one. The center AF point covers a relatively large area, so very precise AF isn't possible. Tracking and low light AF also leaves something to be desired (accuracy/sharpness).
- high ISO RAW files always have some NR applied to them, even if you have deactivated NR in the camera-menu. Results are very good up to ISO1600 though. At ISO3200 you will see some loss of detail because of this.
- no focus fine tune.
- no weathersealing.
- ackward position ISO button (have to take cam from my eye to adjust).
- only 96% VF (otherwise OK for a 1.5x crop cam).
- only SD cards.
- limited Video mode.
- relatively small write buffer.
- 1/200 flash sync speed.
- 1/4000 limited.


 
Canon EF 35mm f/2

ef35mmf2_1_
Review Date: Aug 18, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $15,000.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: excellent IQ, sharp @ f/2.0, quick/accurate AF, small, light, CHEAP!!!!
Cons:
flimsy built quality, no manual focus override

Ha ha, I am laughing my @ss off... in a good way Wink

What a little jewel is this lens Smile

Small, light and VERY cheap. Sharp already at f/2. Stopping down makes it as sharp as a knife. Even in the corners. All on my 5D2. Good colors and contrast. Hardly any distortion. CA's and fringing (wide open) are well controlled. Exellent IQ for it's price.

Focusing makes some noise... but is very quick and accurate. Focus ring is on the small side. And no manual override. You have to push the AF/MF button first.

Built quality is... well... did I already tell you it is small and light? Ok, it is built a bit flimsy Wink

It is just a simple design that works. Perfect for when you don't want to take all your big, heavy and expensive lenses BUT don't want to compromise IQ.

Nothing beats shooting in indoor lit rooms without flash at f/2, 1/60 and ISO3200 Smile


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

2875mm
Review Date: Aug 17, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 1 

 
Pros: Weight, size, price
Cons:
Weird AF problems made it unusable

I got this one used for a couple of bucks.

It showed two problems on both my 1Ds3 and 5D2:

1) I had to micro adjust the AF on both bodies. But at MFD it needed no MA, at medium distances it needed +8-10MA and at infinity it needed +15MA.

2) When using the lens in portrait mode, I only got hazy unsharp results. No matter what MA values I tried. Using the lens in landscape mode generated sharp results at the correct focusing distances/MA values.

I liked the weight, size and price of this lens, but if it can't focus...

Maybe I had bought me a "lemon". Luckily I could return the lens to its previous owner.


 
Nikon 18-70 f/3.5-4.5G AFS DX

DX-18-70_L
Review Date: Feb 21, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: See below
Cons:
See below

I got my 1st copy of this lens with my D70 as a kit lens. After I sold my D70's, I used it on my D200 with great pleasure. Have been using Canon since then, but recently bought a D90 as a travel/vacation cam. I tried the 16-85VR. I liked the IQ, but it had nasty focus issues. Got me a 2nd copy (used) of the 18-70mm to replace it. No regrets here. Like my 1st 18-70mm this is an excellent lens for its intended purpose.

Sharpness is already very good wide open across the entire focal range. It is best stopped down to f/5.6-f/8. Corner sharpness is very good as well. Contrast and colors are excellent. CA's are almost non existent. This lens takes crispy pictures Wink

Distortion at 18mm is the heavy barrel type. PS can't correct it entirely because of it's wave characteristics. No big deal for me. I am not planning to shoot architecture with it. From 24mm to 70mm distortion is typical for standard zoom lenses: decent/OK. Another "negative" could be the vignetting wide open. Although this is easily to correct in PP.

AF is fast, silent and accurate on my D90. IIRC it was the same on my D70's and D200.

Built quality is only so so. After time/usage the inner lens barrel loosens up considerebly. This doesn't affect performance though. It just feels... well... fragile. For travel it has a nice size and weight. It balances great on my D90.

But all the "negatives" aside... I used to own a AF-S 28-70 2.8... You would be hard pressed to see any difference between this "beast" and the 18-70mm at comparable apertures/focal lengths. What I am trying to say is, this lens offers the most bang for the buck I have ever seen in a "consumer" lens. Highly recommended!


 
Canon EOS 5D Mark II

5DII_1_
Review Date: Feb 6, 2009 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: See below
Cons:
See below

This a follow-up on the review I wrote earlier on...

The reviewed 5D2 appeared not in a healthy shape. It had a vertical purple line running through the back LCD continuously. Besides that, the kit lens (24-105L) was very soft beyond 70mm.

I returned the 5D2 kit and got a full refund Sad

Picked up another 5D2 kit from another seller. The cam was OK (apart from a creaking CF door), but the kit lens had a stuck diaphragm blade. So I returned the second kit for a third one... Sad

The third 5D2 came with a missing light shield plate... :O

I couldn't believe it... they sold me a 2500,00 cam MISSING A VITAL PART. WTF are they doing at their factories?

Again, I got a full refund. But three times trying is enough. No more 5D2 for me Sad

I contacted Canon NL about it, and they said there were more problems with the 5D2 related to built quality (creaking CF doors, etc), total shut down issues and missing parts than with every other cam right after its release. A bigger percentage than the usual margin of error for newly released cameras. All they can do is report back to Japan, hoping something will change in the production process.

I have tried all three cameras though (I didn't notice the missing light shield plate of the 3rd 5D2 at first, so the mirror got pretty banged up). All came with FW 1.0.6 installed. The first two were upgraded to FW 1.0.7. The third one was not.

The 5D2's with FW 1.0.7 installed gave worse IQ than the one with FW 1.0.6 installed. More shadow noise at lower ISO's and magenta casts/spots over the entire frame, especially in dark and low-contrast areas of the frame. I shot RAW and converted with LR 2.2 and DPP 3.5.2 (no difference there).

Maybe the difference in IQ was FW/RAW converter related or maybe there was something wrong with any of these cams. Well, there was something wrong with two of them... but I mean some sort of software/hardware errors that affect IQ.

Too bad I already rated this product a 8... Because after what I have been through, I wouldn't want to rate it higher than a 1. Canon is in big trouble and needs to get its act together sooner than later IMHO.

If you want to buy a 5D2... shoot a lot and keep your eye out for missing parts or other weird things. For me, I have lost faith in Canon and its 5D2.


 
Canon EOS 5D Mark II

5DII_1_
Review Date: Jan 28, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,500.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: see below
Cons:
see below

Don't like (limited to photography - I don't need/use HDVideo):

- limited/crippled AF
- long VF black-out
- long shutter lag
- slow FPS
- unreadable VF info in bright light
- bleeding AF points
- small grip without enough room for my pinky - uncomfortable to hold without grip for longer periods of time
- I have to upgrade to LR 2.2 (which is much slower in performance than LR 2.1 on my iMac (?) - not Canon's fault, but still annoying)
- not 100% VF
- no pop-up flash
- no AF assist light
- questionable weathersealing

What I do like:

- resolution
- IQ in general but especially at high(er) ISO's
- LCD / LiveView
- Micro Adjustment
- Battery life / info system
- ISO button next to shutter release

Conclusion:

For shooting still or posing subjects/objects and when you can take your time, the 5D2 is sufficient and will give you great IQ. So, for landscape/product/macro/studio photography and when you need the 21MP resolution, this cam is a great value.

For shooting subjects/objects that move (fast) and/or when you must respond quickly to your surroundings (reportage, news, events, sports) the 5D2 isn't very capable, mostly because of its limited/crippled AF and slow responsiveness (VF black-out, shutter lag and FPS).

The funny thing is, for the areas of photography where the 5D2 excels, clean high ISO performance isn't of much use. And for the areas of photography where clean high ISO performance is a must, the cam is severly limited by its AF and responsiveness...


 
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L

ts243_1_
Review Date: Sep 6, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: see below
Cons:
see below

When shooting landscapes or architecture I normally use my 1Ds3 + 24-70L and straighten things out in PP. Recently I got the change to test a TSE 24mm against my 24-70L @ 24mm. Tilting for landscapes/architecture would mean less degradation of IQ in PP. So I was interested in how the TSE 24mm would perform...

In default mode (without tilting or shifting) the TSE 24mm is a tad sharper in the center of the frame than my 24-70L @ 24mm (at all apertures). However, my 24-70L @ 24mm is noticebly sharper in the extreme corners of the frame (at all apertures). The TSE 24mm showed a tad more CA's than the 24-70L @ 24mm (at all apertures). Both lenses showed little distortions, but the 24mm did a tiny bit better than the 24-70L in this regard. IMO the 24-70L @ 24mm had better contrast and saturation than the TSE 24mm. Unfortunately I didn't test for flare.

I found that when tilting or shifting the TSE 24mm, there wasn't a noticeble decrease in sharpness compared to the default mode. Maybe contrast suffered a bit when tilting. I also didn't notice any increase in CA's when tilting or shifting. All in all, IQ remained of excellent quality.

I really love the built quality of the TSE 24mm. Very sturdy and durable. Built to last. It is a manual focus lens. But with LiveView it is very easy to focus. The effects of tilting and shifting are shown live on the LCD when using LiveView. You will have to meter before tilting or shifting. But when you can check the histogram, you can easy correct for any underexposure.

Of course the TSE 24mm coolest features are the tilting and shifting. Opening up a lot of creative possibilities. But after reading mixed comments, I was surprised to see that IQ is excellent in default mode, but more importantly, is more than acceptable when tilting or shifting.





 
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III

1dsmk3
Review Date: Aug 12, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $6,700.00

 
Pros: see below
Cons:
see below

The first one I got didn't recognize the batteries nor the AC adapter. I returned it to the store and received a second one (without any complaints from the seller). This second one had some nasty AF issues. It suffered from weird, erratic and random mis-focus on all the 19 selectable AF points with all my lenses. Canon Service calibrated the body and all my lenses to it (three times), but the AF issues remained. Probably some kind of internal (either software or hardware) malfunction. Finally they swapped my second copy for a third one. This last one has no issues at all and functions fine (date code May 2008, FW 1.1.2). At last!!!

A proper working 1Ds3 is a joy to use. A malfunctioning 1Ds3 is a nightmare. I was kind of shocked to find out that there were these severe QC issues with Canon's (very expensive) flagship.

Now on to my review (of a proper working 1Ds3):

Autofocus: the AI Servo is surprisingly stable. There is almost no reason to use One Shot anymore, expect when the area of focus has lots of fine details. In that case AI Servo hunts (as expected). Also, I am under the impression that lenses and body must be carefully calibrated. If there tolerances are too loose, AF reliability and accuracy take a severe penalty. Especially when using outer AF points on wide angle lenses like the 35L and 24-70L (under 50mm). This is a precision tool. Which is good when everything is adjusted properly. It also seems that lenses that have the latest AF algorythms (like the 70-200mm f/4 IS, 16-35mkII) generally perform better (more reliable) on the 1Ds3 as opposed to older lens designs. I am not impressed with low light AF. I think my 5D does slightly better in this regard. The 1Ds3 AF also seems to have some difficulties with strong backlighting and when shooting through windows. All in all I would say, if you keep it's strengths and weaknesses in mind, the AF is at least just as reliable and accurate as that of other DSLR's. And there is always the big and bright VF to make MF very easy and enjoyable Wink

Handling/ergonomics/built: this cam really fits my hand (the grip is fantastic). The buttons are well placed. I can change the ISO while looking through the VF easily. I like the dedicated AF-ON button for keeping the AI Servo activated while releasing with the shutter. I also like the AF point selection by using the joystick (FW 1.1.2). The whole body feels like it is made out of high quality materials. Sturdy and durable. Good weather sealing. The batteries last forever. The LCD is big enough, but more resolution is desirable for judging critical focus/sharpness (especially with wider lenses). The camera menus are easy to navigate.

Features: I love using LiveView. In fact, if the situation calls for it, I mount the cam on my tripod, switch to MF and use LV (10x magnification) to get supersharp pics. The Micro Adjustment is a big help. It has helped me to get most of my lenses spot on. It is especially useful with fast primes where DOF is really thin. However, zooms are a bit more tricky to micro adjust. In order to get them spot on over the entire focal range, I prefer to rely on a proper calibration by Canon Service. Also, when not all the AF points are properly alligned MA is almost useless, because it shifts all the AF points at once. In order to make things really perfect MA should work individually on all 19 AF points - would probably be way too complicated though (LOL).

Metering: metering is very accurate and most of the time spot on. The AWB is very good under natural light. But under mixed indoor lighting it tends to be off. In these cases it is better to use one of the WB presets or custom WB.

Shooting: it must be the high pixel density in combination with large number of pixels, but when shooting this cam I need at least double the focal length as a shutterpeed to be on the safe side when shooting handheld (with longer lenses). However, it is possible to use lower shutterspeeds and get good results, but there is a higher risk involved in comparison to shooting with a 5D for example. In low light situations a flash, IS or a tripod comes in very handy. For what I use this cam for (mostly people photography), 5FPS is more than enough. I have shot some BIF with it and got good results. But when shooting 5FPS RAW the buffer will fill up very quickly. Using the fastest cards will stretch the buffer to some degree. Shooting sRAW or JPEG will of course also stretch the buffer.

Image quality: 1Ds3 files are BIG and wonderful. The color rendition is very natural and realistic. Tonal graduations are subtle and smooth. The resolution is awesome. You have so much room to crop and still get a decent sized pic. Capture of incredible detail is possible. Lots of preserved detail in areas of (deep) shadow too. RAW files are already very good straight out of the cam (LR/PS CS3) and need very little PP. But if extensive PP is needed or desired, the files can take a lot of it before they fall apart. The JPEG quality is impressive too. Shooting JPEG at ISO 1000 doesn't even need a cleaning. You better make sure to use the best lenses and have them properly calibrated (or use MA for that) in order to get the most out of the resolution. When done so, images are very sharp straight out of the cam. Just a sharp as with my 5D. When upgrading 5D files to the size of 1Ds3 files (or the other way around), I would say both cameras show the same amount of noise at higher ISO's. The color noise is easily corrected. The luminance noise looks very film like. The 1Ds3 is very clean up to ISO800 and very usable at ISO1600 (when color noise is removed). At ISO3200 1Ds3 files need a bit of cleaning IMO (color and/or luminance noise - depending on the output/look).

Coming from a Canon 5D, the "upgrade" was more than worth it. Better AF (expect for some minor details), better handling/ergonomics/built, better metering and better features (LiveView and Micro Adjustment). However, when not doing extensive PP or printing under 50cmx70cm, the differences in IQ between the 5D and 1Ds3 are only marginal. It is only when doing a lot of (intensive) PP or when printing above 50cmx70cm that the 1Ds3 will be a big improvement over the 5D. YMMV Smile


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

85II
Review Date: Nov 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Superb IQ (already wide open), build, reliable and accurate AF
Cons:
Some fringes wide open, not the fastest AF in town (although very reliable and accurate)

Well, what can I say... It's this lens that made me switch from Nikon to Canon. It's glued to one of my 5D's perminently. I use it primarily for available light portraiture and some landscape photography.

It is sharp already wide open. At f/2.0 it becomes insanely sharp and stays that way up to f/8. Bokeh is the best I have ever seen on a (D)SLR system. Contrast and colors are top notch (even at f/1.2). Beautiful shadow rendition, deep colors and smooth transitions of tones. The 3D look is definitely there: subjects are really jumping off the frame. Distortions are nothing to worry about. The 85L II also handles flare well: in landscape shots pointing towards the sun, I didn't see anything that made me worry. There is some fringing in high contrast areas when shooting wide open. But by f/2.0 these are mostly gone. CA's in the (far) corners of the frame are not an issue.

The 85L II is built like a tank. I really like the materials used. Lots of metal and some kind of rubber on the outside of the barrel. It's rather heavy. But because of it's weight the lens provides excellent stability (on a 5D with grip): I get keepers even with 1/30 seconds! AF is a little on the slow side when focusing from up close to infinity. But when doing a pre focus, it's speed is sufficient enough (for shooting portraits / landscapes). Also, the AF (on a 5D) is very reliable and accurate. Real handy when shooting at f/1.2 - f/2.0. It simply never misses.

It's an expensive lens for sure. But well worth it. I'd say it's Canon's finest... Highly recommended!


 
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

ef135mmf_2l_1_
Review Date: Nov 26, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $940.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: IQ (especially wide open), build, AF, versatility
Cons:
Contrast and colors not up to the same level as the 35L or 85L (although still good)

I bought the 135L to accompany my 35L and 85L for shooting people. The 135L is used mainly for tight portraits on a 5D.

It is sharp already at f/2.0. It becomes really sharp at f/2.8 and stays that way up to f/11. Fantastic performance. Definitely this lens greatest strength. Contrast is good, but not as excellent as the contrast of the 35L or 85L. Same thing for the colors. In PP I find myself often tweaking contrast and colors of 135L files. Bokeh is excellent, especially at f/2.0. Distortions and fringes/CA's are no issue at all. There is a little bit vignetting at f/2.0.

The build quality is excellent. The 135L has a good size and weight, and balances well on my 5D (with grip). AF is fast as lightning and accurate. Manual focusing is a joy because of the broad rubber focus ring. The 135L is also a very versatile lens. Performance remains good when used with a 1.4x TC. With a 25mm tube it also can be used for some rather creative macro photography (DOF becomes insanely thin).

This lens asks to be used at f/2.0. Here it really shines. Although IQ is very good, it is not up to the same levels as the 35L or 85L. It misses some of that magic. But if you are in need of a fast tele prime, look no further...



 
Canon Speedlite 580EX II

580exii
Review Date: Nov 16, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $385.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Exposure, easy to use, build, power, creative possibilities
Cons:
Expensive, no omnibouncer included

Coming from a Nikon SB-800 I was a little worried about this flash. Mainly because it got some confusing reviews. Turns out I am really happy with it.

When using P or M mode on my 5D the flash is almost always spot on with it's exposure. Unless there is a large dark or light subject in the frame. But then it's easy to adjust flash exposure by turning the dial wheel (I love this design, it's simple and quick). Only negative thing about using P mode (the dummy mode) is that you can't change the given aperture and shutterspeed values yourself. You really have to use M mode for that. Av or Tv mode the flash is only to be used as a fill-in. Works like a charm, especially outside. High speed sync also makes it possible to flash at very short shutterspeeds when using the flash outside (naturally at the cost of range / power).

Flashpower is great. Using M mode 400ISO, f/8, 1/200 I can get a properly exposed dark room (in the evening) with a 35L lens. Lots of creative possibillties in Multi Mode and when using second curtain sync.

Build quality is super. Good sturdy construction. It feels and looks well made. I also love the battery door and hot shoe locking mechanism. Both can be operated with one hand. Too bad an omnibouncer isn't included in the package. You'll have to buy that seperately.

A really good flash that's easy to use. A bit on the expensive side though, compared to what Nikon or 3rd party manufacturers (for Canon) offer.










 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Nov 16, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $330.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Price, good (not excellent) IQ, sharpness, light, inconspicuous
Cons:
front focus issue, AF accuracy, build, no lenshood included

I bought this lens because the 35L wasn't in stock and I needed something for full body shots in available (low) light. I had it checked by Canon Service. It turns out the lens had a front focus. But since the 50mm 1.4 is an old design, it isn't possible to calibrate it by using software, like with newer lenses. Calibration is possible, to some extent, by making changes to the actual lens itself. The technician couldn't get it set to "zero". For that he had to take the lens apart. So even after calibration a slight front focus remains.

Now, how does this front focus show? When I shoot flat test objects like a newspaper on a wall, it only comes into focus at around f/2. Up till f/2 it is very soft (unusable). But, in real life shooting the front focus strangely enough doesn't show up. I even get properly focused and sharp images at f/1.8.

So when focus is right, I would say the 50mm f/1.4 sample I have is already sharp at f/1.8. At f/2.2 it becomes noticebly sharper. From f/2.8 and further it is really very sharp up till f/11. An excellent performance. But sharpness isn't all. Bokeh is smooth under f/2.8. Above f/2.8 it is average. Colors are good, so is contrast. Not up to the same levels as my (L) primes, but still good.

AF is fast. Sometimes it has difficulty grabbing on to something. Particularly when contrast is low or when there isn't enough light. Maybe the slight front focus has something to do with this. Maybe the lens uses outdated AF algorithms. In any case, AF accuracy could be better.

Build quality is OK for the price. Lots of plastics, metal mount. Good feel on the MF ring. Very light and inconspicuous. Perfect for travelling. Too bad a lenshood isn't included.



 

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