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  Reviews by: FredericB  

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Canon EOS 20D

Review Date: Jan 29, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,399.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Fast at startup, goof battery life, hi iso quality, overall image quality (in raw), ease of use. E-TTL II
Built lightly, AF not 100% reliable (not bad though), only 6 shots in raw, needs the battery grip to feel "balanced"

This is my first digital SLR and coming from the eos 3 I was really worried but decided to give it a try anyway.

I am happy I gave the eos20D a chance.

The main reason: image quality is just amazing in raw (and my reference is a provia 100F scanned on a nikon ls4000 ...). Details are very high and the file is sharp to start with (at least with my copy of the 24-70 Ff:2.8 L) - but where I got blown away is the ability to extract details in the shadows way beyond what can be done with slides.

The second reason: it is so fast; you shoot, you come back home, you see the results. That is sweeter than I had believed, not to have to wait for 5 days...

I was worried about light measure. The 35 zone masuring system from canon and I never managed to get along - but this one is just as reliable as the 21 zone of the eos 1 and 3 series (ok except for the lack of spot measure which bothers me a bit). Whatever they did to improve it, they did right.

My second worry was for the AF. And the 20D is good in that regard, but not as good as an eos 3. It seems as good (or rather as bad) in low light, but I caught it on occasion delivering out of focus pictures even with 1 sensor selected and located on a contrasty area of the picture... in this kind of situation the eos 3 is 100% accurate and the eos20D probably 98% - nothing to cry about, just to be aware of.

There are a few things that could be improved to make it easier to use; the iso in the viewfinder would be nice, a button dedicated to change quality or parameters (I know I have the SET button for that but it does one or the other, not both...).

There are many small differences in the way to operate the 20D vs an eos 3 but overall it does not take long to feel at home with it.

Finally the ETTL II has proven highly reliable.

The banding at high iso with the internal flash is present even with the latest firmware but it is only annoying at 3200 and even at that setting it goes away fairly easily with a good noise reduction software. In a jpeg, it is visible from 800iso and up but not really annoying below 3200.

And that is my final comment: JPEGs are crappy. Colours are off (at least in P1) and shadows really dark. Anything outside of P2 delivers poor JPegs (in my eyes) and even P2 (all parameters at 0) is not outstanding.

I find canon's software unusable but I have Adobe camera raw and that works like a dream...

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Aug 15, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,249.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, colour, built
Big hood but very efficient

Almost my best lens (it is a close call with the 70-200 f:2.8 L) - just amazing details and colours in conjunction with Velvia 50. On a tripod for scenery I have never seen so much detail. Just incredible.

I need to try it with velvia 100F - it might become my combination of choice in a near future if the velvia 100F delivers what the name promises.

Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Aug 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp, sharp, sharp, beautiful bokeh, cheap
loss in quality w/ *1.4 multiplicator

The afordable lens to enter IS and wildlife photography. For the money it costs, and w/ the incredible improvement brought by IS it is the best starter lens for nature photography.

And w/ an eos 10d it even turns into a 480mm f:4 L IS for $1000 - a miracle.

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

Review Date: Aug 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Versatile (100mm to 400mm), nice minimum focusing distance (6 ft), sharp, shooting handheld at 400mm at 1/60s made easy !
Not as sharp as I had been told, heavy

A very nice lens that I bought to replace a 300mm f:4 L IS.

I gained in flexability and versatility but I lost in sharpness and quality of bokeh.
At 300mm the zoom is clearly not as sharp as the prime and 1 stop slower - at 400mm the match is more even between the zoom and the 300mm + *1.4 multiplicator which both open at f:5.6

When I look at my slides I do regret my 300mm when I am after sharpness but most of the time the ease of use akes me forget about the slight loss in details.

With the *1.6 croping factor and the fact that only the center of the lens (sharpest) is used - it should be the perfect lens for nature photography with an eos 10d (that I hope to get soon). But I also think to complement it w/ a 300 f;2.8 L IS for my trips to africa.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Aug 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: very sharp from f:2.8 to f:22 at every focal distance, fast, not that expensive
Heavy the IS did not exist when I bought it...

The best of all my lenses - from 70mm to 200mm it equals the primes... what else to say: the AF is extremely fast.
I use it for sports, reporting and landscape, I use it all the time, I use it more and more

What else could I want? The IS version at the same price ...

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

Review Date: Aug 1, 2003 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

Pros: IS, range
too soft from 28 to 35mm and 100 to 135mm, poor contrast, poor color restitution

From the people I talked to, it seems I got a bad copy of this lens - still it is very soft at wide angle and lacks any kind of contrast above 100mm.

I use it as my "familly" reunion lens when I do not want the "inperfections" of the skin to show (no risk) and the IS is helpful in difficult light situations.

I am waiting to change for the 24-70 f:2.8 L and I will not miss the 28-135 IS at all.

Now that I have upgraded to the 24-70 f:2.8L for a few months I am not using the 28-135 at all any more. I wish I had a little more reach (like 24-100) but I did give up the reach without regret for such an upgrade in quality.

Sigma 105mm f2.8 EX Macro 1:1 Lens

Review Date: Aug 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, cheap
Slow AF but it's a macro lens so who cares ?

Very sharp from f:4 to f:11, still very good from f:16 to f:22 (forget using it down f:22).
Colour and contrast are excellent - won't see the difference w/ the canon until f:22 and lower.

AF is slow but macro is not about AF anyway so it never bothered me.

Sigma 17-35mm f2.8-4 EX Aspherical

Review Date: Aug 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: Cost, Focal Range, Sharpness when stopped down(at least 2 to 3 stops)
very soft at 17mm and / or if not stopped down, HSM noisy and threatening to die after 4 years of use (not intense)

I would recommend it but under some restrictions:

*use it w/ manual focus and a table of hyperfocal distenses for as mentionned above, AF is unprecise and unpredictable (pre-focus on the same spot 3 times and you'll get 3 different distances) and does not seem to last too long.

*not fit for reporting for it takes at least 2 to 3 stops down to express its potential for sharpness - if you use it for landscape at F:11 or 16 it is a great lens.

It seems that digital brings the worst out of it when it is really decent on film at f:5.6 or up.