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Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Jul 15, 2010 Recommend? no | Price paid: $860.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Reasonably Sharp. Very Useful Zoom Range.
Overall Build Quality Seems "Cheap". Lack of Weathersealing. Colors not as Vibrant as other L Lenses.

I tried one of these lenses about 3 years ago and ended up sending it back. I really wanted a lens with this zoom range, so decided to give it another try. For an "L" lens, this one is dissapointing overall. The build quality reminds me of a cheap kit lens. It just doesn't seem solid like all my other L's. Colors seem a little more muted and less vibrant than my other L's as well.

On the positive side, the lens is reasonably sharp across the whole zoom range, and the zoom ring and focus are very smooth. The lens does exhibit quite noticible vignetting at 24mm as well as moderate CA in the corners, but both are easily corrected in post (LR3's built-in lens correction does a nice job). This lens is a step up from the 28-135 IS, but in my opinion it isn't worth four times the price.

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM

Review Date: Jul 17, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $6,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image Quality. Image Quality. Did I mention the image quality?
None noted. Well okay, the case won't close with the quick-mount adapter plate attached to the foot.

This is a killer lens for live theatre. Unbelievable sharpness even wide open. A+++

Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM

Review Date: Jul 17, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,849.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image Quality. Zoom Range.
Push-Pull Zoom Action. Size & Weight.

This is my first refurb lens (purchased from Adorama) and I'm quite happy with it. The lens arrived in pristine condition with all original accessories except the box. Looking at the lens I can't tell it isn't new. My copy is razor sharp and required no micro focus adjustments. I'm guessing that some Canon tech hand cleaned, tested and possibly calibrated it as part of the refurb process.

This will be a great travel lens when I want to go "light" with only a single lens (if you can call this lens on a 1Ds3 "light"!!). It's every bit as sharp as my 24L and 35L primes on the wide end, but slightly soft when compared to my 300/4L or my 70-200/2.8L IS on the long end. Still way better than any of the third party zooms of this range.

I am a little concerned about the "dust pump" effect of the push-pull zoom, but I'm trusting that this won't be a serious issue.

In the two weeks that I've had this lens, it has replaced the 24-70L as the lens that "lives" on my 1Ds3. Well done, Canon!

Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye

Review Date: Jun 25, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $540.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Razor sharp!!! Nice size. Good price. Fisheye effect is less that I expected.
Not USM. No full-time manual focusing.

I was astonished how sharp this lens is. I'm using it on a 1Ds3, and the detail captured is simply amazing. One of my first shots was in my library (with 3 of the 4 walls in the frame!), and at 200% I can read the titles to every one of the roughly 1000 books in the image!!! It is sharper than many of my L lenses.

While not a rectilinear lens, the "fisheye effect" is less that I was expecting. This lens will be a good choice for really wide landscapes. I also expect it to be useful for some (not all, obviously) interior work.

All in all a great value for the price!

Tamron 14MM F/2.8 Aspherical (IF) SP AF

Review Date: Aug 5, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $460.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Reasonably sharp wide open and quite sharp by f/5.6. Solid feel. Can be found used for about half of new cost.
Really bizarre combination (half) pouch and lens cap. Very very noisy focusing. Can't manually focus when in auto mode (ala the Sigma 20/1.8).

I have the Sigma 12-24 zoom, but wanted a 14mm large aperture prime. Couldn't justify the price of the Canon so that left the Sigma and the Tamron. I really would have preferred the Sigma, but now that they have been discontinued they don't show up too often. Found this Tamron on e-bay for a good price and seem to have gotten a good copy.

Sharpness is slightly better than the Sigma 12-24 and not as good as my Canon 16-35L. There is quite noticable barrel distortion, even on a 1.6 crop body. And occasional wicked CA at very high contrast boundaries such as the edge of a window in daylight when photographing dark interiors.

Build quality is overall good with a nice solid feel. But the focus motor is very noisy and high pitched. Rather whiney in fact. And you can't manually focus with the lens set in auto mode. Finally, Tamron really missed the boat with the bizarre half-pouch/lens cap combo. This lens really needs more protection that this affords. A slip-on solid cap and a full sized pouch would be a much better solution.

Canon EOS Rebel (300D)

Review Date: Oct 3, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $940.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Price, image quality, reliability - over 11,000 cycles and going strong!
No mirror lock-up, no flash exposure compensation, size (it's a little small for my hands) and weight (a little heavier would be easier to hold steady).

I bought one of the first DRebs to hit the market nearly two years ago. I have put mine through over 11,000 cycles with flawless performence. I routinely enlarge to 12x18 (on a Epson 2200) with absolutely no visible digital artifacts whatsoever. This camera is one of the best price/performance values in digital photography, and I recommend it (and it's succsssor, the DReb XT) without hesitation to anyone looking to get into digital SLR photography.

I just returned from 3 weeks in Italy where I shot a bunch of ISO 1600 cathedral interiors. Some noise there, but not bad at all, and easily addressed with CS2. Took a single Sigma 18-200 lens for the trip, and I was amazed at the images. Good contrast, vivid colors, generally sharp as a tack. This is a great camera/lens pair for travelling very light. Although there were times when I wished for my 16-35/2.8 on a full-frame body, especially for interiors.

The camera is a little light for my preference, but adding the BG-E1 battery Grip pretty much takes care of that (along with doubling your battery capacity). I was a little concerned about using heavy lenses like the 70-200 2.8 IS (or the Sigma 120-300 2.8) with this camera bacause of the plastic body, but I haven't had any troubles - just hold your heavy lens/camera combinations by the lens!

All in all, this has been a great camera. Reliable, great images, and reasonably priced. I plan to keep mine as a spare body even after I upgrade to the 5D. Given the number of cycles I've run mine through with no problems, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a used one - and there are some really great prices on e-Bay these days!

Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM

Review Date: Jul 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,085.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Everything.

THIS is THE macro lens to own. Astoundingly sharp images.
Yeah, it's heavy, and you're gonna have to use it with a good, solid tripod. Get some rails (I use 2 Manfrotto 3419 Micro Positioning Plates mounted together at right angles) for focusing and lateral adjustments and you'll be happy.

I use this lens quite a bit with the MT-24EX Macro Ring Light (which really isn't a ring light at all but rather 2 fully adjustable small flash heads that attach to the front of the lens), and my only complaint is that the working distance of this lens is so long (great for not scaring your subjects) that the flash angle tends to be somewhat flat (as compared to using the MT-24EX on the 50mm Compact Macro, for example). Need to find (or make) some flash arm extenders...

This puppy is expensive, but well worth the cost is you're seriously into macro work.

Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 EX DG Aspherical HSM

Review Date: Jul 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $580.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Wide, Wide, Wide and FULL FRAME! Great lens cap design.
Somewhat slow variable aperture. No way to protect front element with a filter without serious vignetting.

This is a great super wide zoom. I bought this lens a year ago to use on a Digital Rebel - at the time it was the widest lens available in the Canon mount (now surpassed by 10-20mm zooms. A big bonus is that you can use this lens on a full-frame film body for truly amazing (122 degree wide) shots. Optical quality on my copy is excellent. Very, very slight softening at the corners (on full-frame film) wide open. On the DR it's sharp enough wide open for 12x18 enlargements with no problems. At f/8 it compares very favorably with my 16-35/2.8 L at all settings from 16-24mm

I gave Build Quality an 8 only because the front element moves in far enough when zooming to create a small gap between the front element assembly and the lens barrel which has the potential to admit dist and moisture.

A little barrel distortion at 12mm, which can be easily corrected with the PTLens plug-in in Photoshop.

This lens takes a little getting used to - it is so wide you think you're getting a lot of distortion (rounds near the frame edges turn into rather exaggerated elipses), but this really isn't distortion, just the laws of optics suddenly becomming REALLY visible! This lens can provide some amazing results, but it will take some practice to master it!

The lens cap design is great - it's 2 peices, an outer ring that fits (friction fit) over the built-in petal hood, and a conventional snap-in cap that fits into the ring. If you're shooting an aps-format digital you just remove the conventional snap-in cap. You only have to remove the whole assembly if you're shooting film (or a full frame or 1.3x sensor). I'd like to see the ring a little larger in diameter in order to allow conventional front filters when using it on a 1.6x sensor camera - the front elements sticks WAY out there and screams for some protection.

All in all, this is an outstanding value for the cost.

Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 EX DG HSM

Review Date: May 31, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,815.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Optical Quality, Build Quality, Internal Focusing, the new tripod mount design.
A wee bit on the heavy side (but then again, think about what you have here!). Would like to see a real lens cap. Also would be great to have OS!

This is one amazing hunk of glass! Focusing is as fast and accurate as any of my Canon L's. Background blur at 2.8 is wonderful - this will be an awesome portrait lens. My copy is tack sharp across the whole aperture range at all zoom steeings. At the 300mm setting I can't see a whole lot of difference between this lens and my 300/4 L prime, and even at the 135mm setting this isn't much worse than my 135/2 L prime (the 135/2 does beat the Sigma in the corners, especially at f4 and wider - duh!).

This lens could really benefit from OS - while it's possible to hand hold this beast, you really ought to plan on a (sturdy) tripod.

I bought this with the Sigma 1.4x tele, and the combination is also tack sharp, as is the lens when used with my Canon 2x. Autofocus works perfectly with both extenders.

All in all this is a great lens for sports photography and I expect to use it for nature and portraits as well. This is the best priced 300/2.8 on the market, and you get the zoom as a bonus.