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Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM

ef_180_35_1_
Review Date: Dec 12, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Incredible colors, FANTASTIC sharpness, focus speed - especially for a macro!
Cons:
None yet~

I recently sold my Sigma 150/2.8 Macro in order to move up to this lens. As I did my research, I began to wonder if it was a good move. After all, it's more than double the cost, one third the warranty and a stop slower.
I've read all the reviews from here, to Amazon to Photozone and elsewhere. Some folks make it seem like it's on a par with other macro lenses out there, while others seem to think it's the holy grail of macros.
If I may, a short recap of the Sigma: AWESOME bokeh, terrific image quality, high build quality. On the downside, it often hunted for AF. True, most macro shooters won't use AF in critical situations, but it is a negative.
Since many reviews seemed to indicate the Canon 180 was on a par with the Sigma, I was concerned I'd gain nothing and lose a stop of light.
OK, now I've had a chance to use the Canon. Folks, it's not a fair fight. The Canon is head and shoulders above the Sigma. It is everything an L series lens should be.
Excellent build quality. Incredible, simply incredible image quality. FAST AF! I don't know what the other folk are expecting, but my goodness! I was amazed at the AF speed! Now, does it compare to my 24-105? Not really. Does it beat the Sigma? Hands down! I'm quite certain it's quite adequate for all but the fastest of moving subjects. Locks on like a smart bomb and gives great shots.
This is my sharpest lens, by a measure. It is the holy grail of macros, period. If you're thinking of getting it - and you can - don't think about it anymore. You'll be amazed.


 
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

ef_24-70_28u_1_
Review Date: Oct 5, 2007 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Design, hood, 2.8, bokeh
Cons:
No IS, short focal range

I reviewed this lens in July of this year, having just received it after trading my 24-105. No doubt the brick is a great lens and the debate about it and the 24-105 will rage until either the brick gets IS or the 24-105 becomes a 2.8.
That said, I recently traded my brick for my beloved 24-105. While 2.8 is nice, once you're at that aperture, and have used all the ISO range you can (or want to use), then there's nothing but slower shutter speeds. On the brick, with it's weight, that means blur. Sure, you can shoot at 1600ISO and 2.8 and get some really good shots even in low-light. But with the 24-105, you can take the same situation and move ISO up.
The difference is one stop - 2.8 vs 4.0, but with IS, the 24-105 wins. OK, let's be fair - there are two situations where 2.8 will beat 4.0/IS: portraits and low-light with moving subjects. Portraits benefit from the bokeh, no doubt. I won't argue that. And IS doesn't stop moving subjects, so concert shots are better done with the larger aperture. To tell the truth, of course, 2.8 isn't really enough for low-light anyway. Ask anyone shooting indoor highschool sports.
Then there's the 70mm vs 105mm. There's just too many times for me where that extra 35mm is needed. For a walkaround on my crop, the brick just wasn't long enough. Or short enough, honestly, tho the 24-105 shares that con.
Like my recently reaquired 100-400, I'll never again sell the 24-105.


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef70-200_28lisu_1_
Review Date: Jul 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Build, AF speed, Bokeh, even the hood...
Cons:
Weight

So now I've owned all the 70-200's except the non-IS 2.8 version. To me, this was the pinnacle of the model. Sure, on forums you read that the non-IS version is a bit sharper, but not in most print sizes. This is the lens you want if you want to have it all. The only advantage you'll be missing out on is lightweight. The f4IS version is so sharp you can cut cheese with it and half the weight. But you can't get the bokeh - or in low-light - the shots with the f4 version, IS or no.
This thing is built like all products costing this much should be. When you think about it - and I don't suggest doing that - you could buy a hot tub for what this bad boy costs.
Anyway, out in the field or under the canopy of trees, in a studio or the confines of an auditorium, this lens performs. Once you've used it, you start to notice it everywhere. On TV you'll see it on the news, commercials - everywhere. There's a reason for that. It's simply the choice for pros.
One other thing, while you'll hear tell of 100-400's and 16-35's and many other lenses going in for calibration or front-back focusing, you just don't hear that much going wrong with this lens. Canon has it all together for this one.
If you can spring for it, there is no substitute. Period.


 
Sigma 150mm f2.8 APO Macro DG EX HSM

Sigma_150_macro
Review Date: Jul 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: IQ, build, macro ability
Cons:
Focus speed

OK, so I picked this up used from a guy who took 1 picture with it. I'm still not sure why he bought it, but I got a pretty great price on it. After not having a 'true' macro lens for some time, I am so happy with this purchase.
The pluses are the great working distance, the image quality, the bokeh and the build. Man, this thing is how lenses should be built. (I think I know a little about lens build quality as all my other lenses are L's) The built in tripod ring is a nice touch, but the lens is not so heavy as to be a requirement.
The minuses are nit-picky with one exception: focus speed. You might argue (and have a point!) that macros are either supposed to manual focused or not expected to have fast AF. Well, then this lens is spot on. I've seen some folks say that you could use the lens for most any short-tele need. Um, ok. I don't see how as the AF is painfully slow. When used in macro shooting, AF will hunt all over the place. Not too cool when you're trying to get bees and they're already jumpy cause you're two feet away.
Bokeh is awesome, simply awesome. I'd had the f4 lineup of Canon L's (17-40, 24-105, 70-200) and this was my first move back to 2.8's since I sold my Tammy 28-75. The bokeh from this lens prompted me to sell my 24-105 in favor of the 24-70. (I regret that now, btw) The shots you do get (I'm refering to AF speed here) are just incredible!
The only lens in Canon's lineup to offer the working distance is the 180/3.5. The AF there is often mentioned for it's lack of speed. And it would be at least double the price of this lens. Plus the loss of 2.8.
Nah, I think this was a great purchase and if I had to do it all over again, I'd do it in a heartbeat. It's a complete no-regret purchase.


 
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

ef17-40_4l_1_
Review Date: Jul 5, 2007 Recommend? | Price paid: $525.00

 
Pros: Out of the box wow factor, build quality, weight
Cons:
The HOOD!

This is a follow-on to my previous review. I've now owned a number of L's and a number of 'consumer grade' and third party lenses. I've taken thousands of shots. My L's have included: 24-70, 24-105, 17-40, 70-200 (all verions but the 2.8 non-IS), 100-400.
With the sole exception of perhaps, perhaps! the 70-200/4IS, there's not been a lens that simply WOWED me like this one has. When I glance through a days' shots in ACDSee, you can immediately see which were taken with this lens. It's that good.
Lightweight, fast focus, 'hella good' (as my daughter would say) image quality - this lens has it all. While I have sold my 100-400 (huge mistake) and now own the 70-200/2.8IS after owning both the f4 versions, trading my 24-105 for a 24-70, I've never once considered selling this lens. I might, for some reason I've yet to fathom, get the 16-35/2.8, but this lens will be right next to that one in the bag. You ain't never getting me to part with my 17-40!!


 
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

ef_24-70_28u_1_
Review Date: Jul 5, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Size, weight (for helping damp movement), build quality, image quality, hood!
Cons:
Weight (for carrying all day)

OK, so I traded my much used 24-105 for this beauty. If you read my review for that lens, you'll see I spent a good amount of time deciding between that lens and this one when I did the initial purchase. The 24-105 has IS and the extra reach. This lens has the 2.8. I thought, like many do prior to using both, that those were the differentiating factors. From a 'reading the specs' viewpoint, those are the differences. From a 'looking at the shots' viewpoint, there's just something...extra...with the 24-70.
My 24-105 was sharp - both wide open and at both ends. Great color, contrast, clarity. Shots took USM well. And I used it all the time, everywhere. I used my 17-40 inside for group shots, but the rest of the time, I had on the 24-105. But there always seemed to be something missing. I don't know, occasionally it wowed.
The 24-70, however, seldom seems to fail to wow. In that regard it reminds me more of my 17-40 than the 24-105. This is a wonderful lens!
Then there's bokeh. The 24-105 had decent background blur in situations where you allowed for it. Close to subject with some distance to the background. Decent, but not special. The 24-70 provides absolutely amazing bokeh - and while shot composition is always going to play a part, this lens delivers the goods consistently, especially at 2.8.
I actually like the hood, like the weight except on 110 degree days when the strap is making my neck sweat like a water fountain, love the build and USM focusing.
Now, with having used both, I will still stand by my statements in choosing either: unless your shooting style demands the 2.8 this lens offers (for instance low-light concert shots where the extra stop is the only way to get a shot) or the extra focal length of the 24-105, it's purely a personal choice. Both lenses offer great IQ, L quality and are terrific to shoot with.
I think I'm keeping this one, tho!


 
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

ef100_400l_1_
Review Date: May 31, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,250.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: IQ, focal range, IS, push-pull zoom (really!)
Cons:
Weight, older IS system

I bought my copy used back in October of 2006. I used it a couple of times and was initially very frustrated. I really didn't have good long lens technique and consequently, I wasn't getting clear shots. After spending $1250, I was expecting clear shots! Finally, I took some time, slowed down and used a tripod. I got some really nice pictures.
Sadly, I sold the lens last month (April, 2007) in order to finance other lenses. My thought at the time was that I wasn't really going to continue to shoot birds. I have some mobility issues and if you can't get around, it's difficult to get good birds shots. What I didn't realize at the time was just how versitile this lens is.
Sports - especially watersports and airshows are also the domain of this wonderful lens. I have done nothing but pine for it since it's departure.
I plan to take care of that later this month and buy a new one. Probably cost me a bit extra, but damn, I miss this big boy! Which is perhaps the one negative - WEIGHT. Make no mistake, trying to handhold this bugger at 400mm is near impossible. At least for me. It's heavy. It's long. And even with IS, it will bounce all over the place. And I'm still going to buy it again.


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

ef70-200lisusm
Review Date: Mar 16, 2007 Recommend? | Price paid: $1,249.00

 
Pros: Huge number of keepers; incredible IQ; build quality; weight
Cons:
None after 5 months

As a follow up on this lens -
I've bought a 1.4x tc and even with that on, this is one sharp lens. Truly a wonderful piece of equipment. I was out shooting birds with this and my 100-400 and sadly, I must say this is far far better than even the best shots with the longer lens. Sharpness is simply unreal and contrast and colors will blow you away.
The real prize is when you can compare it to another lens. Do yourself a favor and check it out. And we're not talking pixel-peeping here - just look at any shot taken with it.
Now don't get me wrong, now that I'm somewhat more knowledgable, the 100-400 turns out some nice shots. But they simply can't compare with this lens.
Worth every single penny and I paid 20% more than they cost now.


 
Canon EOS 30D

Canon_30D
Review Date: Jan 19, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $950.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: AF speed and accuracy, spot metering, picture styles, LCD size - everything!
Cons:
None yet

After my XT for two years, this is the best. Solid, robust feel in your hands. Perfect ergonomics. I even like the shutter sound. Great in low-light. A real boost up from the XT. Viewfinder is SO much brighter! The LCD size makes it so my old eyes can actually see the shot I just took. AF speed is amazing and write speed, even shooting raw + large is incredible.
A real deal.


 
Canon EF 28-105 F/3.5-4.5 II USM

ef_28-105_35
Review Date: Nov 14, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $170.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Fast focus, very nice IQ, excellent value, good FL
Cons:
For the price? None!

I needed...wanted something with more on the long end than my 28-75/2.8 Tamron. This lens was available here for about $170. Even tho it was used (I was actually the third owner) and so inexpensive (and not an L) and no longer under warranty, I'd heard good things about it and so I jumped on it. At the time, my only experience with USM was my 85/1.8 and I loved that. This was no different.
Fast, fast on the money focus. Decent fast lens, in good light. Small, nice build. Like several other Canon "consumer-grade" lenses, this is a great find. The 58mm filter size is nice, too, for inexpensive filters from just about every manufacturer.
"My copy" (I believe that's a bit overused) had very nice IQ with a good build quality. Unless you're a pro, blowing up shots to poster size frequently, you could use this lens forever and never need to be pining away for an L.


 
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

ef17-40_4l_1_
Review Date: Nov 14, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $525.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Color, contrast, sharpness, IQ overall, weight
Cons:
None yet!

I bought mine used from a fellow FM'er. This is simply awesome. Really, with over 300 reviews, what am I going to say that someone else hasn't already? At this point, I think it's more of a matter of relating your actual experience and thoughts.
This was a Canon refurb and I must say, I do love refurbs. I usually buy any expensive item I need through refurb - that way someone else has worked out the bugs. That holds true for this lens. It's just incredible. My first L was the 24-105, then the new 70-200/4IS and now this. The 70-200 makes you go WOW. So does this lens!
Build quality is legendary, but I'll second everything positive anyone's said about it in the past. Man, is it built solid. Everything, from the zoom and focus rings to the switches feels quality. One nice thing about this lens is the price - it won't kill you to get incredible quality.
I have/had (depending on when you read this!) a Tokina 19-35 and I often felt that replacing it was simply not necessary. It had great IQ and low distortion. While I still feel that way, it doesn't compare to the 17-40 - and perhaps it shouldn't. After all, it is one fourth the price. What I'm pointing out is that the IQ of the 17-40 is world's away better than the Tokina and the Tokina had good IQ!!
Is there anything more to say? Wonderful lens. If you're on the fence, jump off. Buy it and don't look back. If you don't like it for some bizarre reason, the rest of the world will pay you most of what you paid new - basically forever. It's a no lose purchase. How often can you say that?


 
Tokina 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF 193

af193
Review Date: Nov 2, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $144.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Cost, IQ
Cons:
None...

What more can you say about the "Fantastic Plastic"? Almost the same zoom range as a 17-40 for about 1/4 the cost. No, it's not a constant f4, nor is it weathersealed, but it's a great lens nonetheless! Took me a while to warm up to it, but I'm really happy I did.
Really nice IQ with good colors and nice contrast. Could it be better? I'm sure it could. If your bread and butter is wide angle shots, you should probably invest in the L. If you're going to use this FL range occasionally, I can't think of a lens to recommend more highly.


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

ef70-200lisusm
Review Date: Oct 29, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,249.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Same IQ as non-IS (which means fantastic), 4 stop IS, lightweight (especially when compared with 2.8 version), weatherproof
Cons:
Cost

Second day with the lens. After owning the non-IS version for just a week and knowing I was going to exchange it, this was my choice. I could afford either version, but the 4.0 won for lightweight, fantastic optics and size. I'm not doing night sports or events, so that means the 4.0 should be fine in most cases.
The IQ is terrific and the build fantastic. Sure, it could be cheaper, but I am not complaining! If you're torn between 2.8 and 4.0, look at your shots. How many are at 2.8? If not many, this is a GREAT alternative.
Wonderful lens!


 
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

24-105lisusm
Review Date: Oct 6, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,173.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Lightweight, great build quality, terrific IQ!
Cons:
Perhaps cost

My first L lens. I had the hardest time deciding between this and the 24-70/2.8 primarily due to the 2.8. Since I actually sat down and analyzed what I shoot, however, I decided the IS would take care of the extra stop. Plus, I really wanted the extra reach of the 105.
This replaces my 28-105/3.5 and that wasn't a bad lens at all. I appreciate the build and image quality of this lens and I think it's just the first L I buy.
So far, IQ has been just fantastic. Great colors and contrast. And the option of handholding down to 1/15sec is simply amazing! Sure, the 2.8 could have let me go to 1/30, but that wasn't going to be clear, not without IS! I'm totally impressed.
To boot, it's light and incredibly well made. Really, aside from a bit of a price break, what more could you ask for?


 
Tamron 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF

1935mm
Review Date: Dec 25, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $140.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, nice contrast. Great colors! Incredibly cheap!
Cons:
Feels a bit plasticy.

Maybe we should rate it lower so Tokina doesn't get wind of this fine lens and decide it's worth more. After all, there doesn't seem to be any relation between production cost and selling price for most products - it's perception of value.
And this lens is a VALUE. Great shots from a $150 lens. I can only compare it to the (in price/performance) 50/1,8 Canon.
If you need a wide to wide zoom and aren't worried about not carrying an "L" rated lens, this is for you.


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

2875mm
Review Date: Oct 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Size, sharpness, everything!
Cons:
None I can think of!

Fantastic lens. Only wish it had internal zoom, but it's a minor complaint.
Sharp as a tack, built well, focuses fast.
No comparison for price vs Canon!


 

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