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Canon EOS 5D Mark III

5DIIIs
Review Date: Aug 28, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: accurate AF (finally!), large viewfinder, great IQ, in-camera RAW processing
Cons:
AF slow in low light, no in-camera cropping tool

I've always been somewhat disappointed by the AF accuracy (even One Shot AF) of my 1D Mark III and 7D bodies. The 5D Mark III finally gives me the accuracy I need. I did notice that AF in low light can be quite slow compared to the aforementioned bodies, especially when using slower (f/4) lenses.

Image quality is nothing short of amazing. Detail at lower ISO settings is stunning and usable ISO 6400 images open up many new possibilities.

The in-camera RAW processing functionality is great for quickly delivering a processed JPEG to a client. The image rating system makes it easy to make a quick selection of deliverable images as well. Exposure, white balance and many other parameters can be changed after shooting the RAW file. Greatly missed is the ability to crop the image, though! I would thank Canon on my knees if they included this functionality in a firmware upgrade.

The 5fps continuous shooting speed is very good for a full-frame camera of this price point, but the difference with my 10fps 1D Mark III is very noticeable when trying to capture fast action.



 
Canon EOS 1D Mark III

1DmkIII
Review Date: Mar 24, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Great IQ, build, viewfinder, menu structure, battery life, spread of AF points.
Cons:
Not possible to evaluate critical sharpness on LCD (too few pixels), AF not as faultless as hoped, danger of accidentally changing settings.

In many ways this is the great camera that it looks to be based on its specs. The image quality is fantastic, especially noticeable at lower ISOs. Very little sharpening is required for tack sharp and detailed images, so there is little danger of artifacts showing up. Even at high ISOs there is a lot of headway when making parts of the image lighter in post processing. At high ISO, I get maybe a 2/3 stop advantage over my 20D in terms of noise. ISO 3200 is now useful in most situations for newspaper and magazine publications.

The menu is just great. My Menu is very useful and I also love the fact that the camera remembers the function you last selected in each menu tab, so little scrolling is necessary. Battery life is very long. So long, in fact, that I sometimes forget to check it. But the indicator of the percentage of battery charge remaining is very useful.

The 1.3 crop factor has many advantages for me. I use the 19 AF points very often, especially when shooting portraits or when tracking a subject in AI-servo mode. Due to the crop factor, the AF points are spread out more than they would be in a full-frame 1DS. The range of the 16-35mm lens on this camera is great for photojournalism and the 70-200 lenses still have plenty of range too.

My main complaint is the low resolution of the LCD, or that of the images displayed on it. It's still impossible to evaluate critical sharpness which is very annoying if you're out shooting and you want to know if you nailed the perfect shot already or that you need to keep trying.
AF performance in both One Shot and AI Servo is good, but not perfect. It may have something to do with the AF issue, for which my camera will be sent to Canon because its serial number is within the possibly affected range. Despite the inconvenience that this brings, I must say that I'm very pleased with the way the repair facility has treated me so far. Even though I'm no CPS member, the camera will be picked up at my house by a courier service and delivered back within a week.


 
Canon Speedlite 580EX II

580exii
Review Date: Mar 24, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $630.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Vastly superior build quality compared to original 580EX
Cons:
User interface takes a bit getting used to

Got this flash alongside my 580 EX I and 420 EX as a third unit for wireless E-TTL. The first thing I noticed was the superior build quality compared to the mark I. Not only is the hot shoe weatherproof and more solid, the buttons feel a lot more solid also. Nothing wrong with the exposures either. What took a bit of getting used to was the user interface for the wireless E-TTL master/slave functionality. Lots of button presses, but you get used to it. Great product!

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

ef100_400l_1_
Review Date: Oct 30, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,600.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very stable and reliable optical performance; sharp enough at any focal length and aperture! No CA whatsoever. IS is a dream!
Cons:
Weight and size, AF could be faster

This lens may not be the sharpest L, but it's definitely sharp enough and performs very evenly across its range of focal lengths and apertures. Where I'm somewhat hesitant of using some of my other lenses at their widest apertures, with this lens I know that the results will always be good, unless I screw up myself.
By the way, in a quick test I did at the store, this lens outperformed the 300mm f/4 IS with a 1,4x teleconverter in terms of sharpness.

This is quite a slow lens in terms of apertures, but faster lenses are soooo much more expensive. IS really works miracles in that regard. It's really true that you can handhold 4x longer shutter speeds with the use of IS.

The lens is rather big and heavy and I've held on to my Sigma 70-300 APO for travelling purposes. Only when I go out for some dedicated telephoto work, like birding, do I bring this lens. Definitely something to think about if you're considering buying this lens.

On the subject of the push-pull zoom design I'm rather neutral. I don't especially love it nor hate it. A positive point is that it allows for fast zooming. A negative may be that the IS on/off switch may be harder to reach when your hand moves away with the extending lens. I haven't noticed any significant amounts of new dust on my sensor after using this lens.



 
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

ef17-40_4l_1_
Review Date: Jan 8, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Very sharp around about 28mm, even wide open. Good colour. Build quality.
Cons:
Disappointingly soft at the wide end. Some CA in the edges, some barrel distortion. More occurences of flare than I was bargaining for.

I may have gotten myself a bad copy of this lens and if I'm able to get a better copy I'll update this review. However, some reviews I've read elsewhere seem to confirm some of the negative points I've come across.
Basically, I bought this lens for wide angle landscape work. And when tested against my 18-55 kit lens, the wide angle performance of the 17-40L is really disappointing. I couldn't see any improvement in sharpness over the kit lens at the widest focal lengths at all apertures, in the centre and in the corners! CA in the corners is stronger with the L! Barrel distortion is equal.
Of course the L's build quality is a big plus. Weather sealing, the fact that it doesn't extend when zooming and the front element doesn't rotate, FTM focus ... these are nice features. But I expected a much better image quality at the wide end (at around 28mm there is actually a huge improvement) from a lens that's about 7 times the price of the kit lens.
Actually, I don't mind the hood as much as some other people do. One thing to watch out for is that even without the hood the size of the lens can block the light from the internal flash on the camera (I have a 20D). This is no fault of the lens of course, but it's something that a potential buyer that doesn't own an external flash unit may not think of.