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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Sep 9, 2012 Recommend? no | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Not very expensive, light, sharp in the middle from f/2.
Cons:
Too expensive for what you get. Fragile focussing action, mushy and dull in the corners.

Focussing manually or via AF was never smooth nor accurate, then it started binding and refusing to AF under 3ft. Was told that repair was pointless, as these lenses had issues with the focussing. I'm glad I listened, as a number of acquaintances also had problems which in the end didn't get resolved by Canon.

Got the 50/1.8 and have been happy at least about the price/performance ration.

I have a number of other 50's from other manufacturers and I would rate every one of them higher.


 
Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L

17tse
Review Date: Aug 16, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: $2,460.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Huge image circle, excellent flare control, very good optical performance considering large image circle, good implementation of tilt and shift controls and relationship between them.
Cons:
Size, unnecessarily large lenscap making stowage difficult, unprotected front element, far corners could be better.

I've had lots of shift lenses from other systems, and some tilt and shift lenses from Canon, starting with the 35TS, which was outstanding optically but a bit clumsy to operate. Later I got some of the current TS-E lenses, including the 24 which was marginal optically. The 24MkII is a huge improvement, and the 17 is just as good, which is astounding.

This lens has the same angular coverage as an 11mm lens for full frame would have; it puts to rest some of the criticisms that Canon can't design a decent wide angle. Finally, a very good very wide lens!

This is a very practical lens in tight spaces and almost a necessity for any serious architectural photographer. I won't use the tilt much on this focal length, but the shift capability is amazing.

I would have killed for this lens in my film days, but even on digital you can't get what this lens provides any other way.

My faith in Canon is restored.


 
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II

24tse
Review Date: Aug 5, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Much improved image quality over the MkI version. Very useable on 21mp FF cameras. Improved handling over MkI as well.
Cons:
Size, weight. Far corners could still stand improvement.

I've used or owned most shift lenses made over the last 40 years, and still have 5. The best one for 35mm was the old 35TS for the FD mount. I had bought the 24TS-E with the expectation that it at least wouldn't embarrass itself in comparison. Unfortunately, it did. I used it on film when nothing but a 24 shifted would do, but usually I preferred using a 28PC Nikkor and later a 28 Schneider SA on Canon EOS to the 24TS-E.

When Nikon came out with their new 24TS and their 14-24 zoom, I seriously thought about getting back into Nikon. Fortunately, I hung in there and now have the 24TS-E MKII. It is everything I had hoped for with the first one, and then some. Image quality is generally excellent, with extremely low levels of CA, and when stopped down has at least decent image quality right into the corners. The very far corners when shifted are usually not quite as important in any case, so I'm not concerned. For the most part this lens can make reasonable use of the 21mp FF cameras, although the sensors could handle a bit more resolution than this lens can provide.

The new mount is very good. Handling is still a little clumsy, but it has been much improved with the tilt lock and the easily adjustable axes.

In any case, here finally is an excellent wide angle lens from Canon. No need to look to Nikon. My 17 should be here shortly, and I can get rid of some of the old manual focus third party lenses. My faith in Canon has improved.


 
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L

ts243_1_
Review Date: Aug 5, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

 
Pros: Very useful on film; one of the reasons I got into the Canon EOS system. Good distortion correction. Decent flare control. Good construction.
Cons:
Soft in the center, and it gets worse into the (extended) corners. Lots of CA. Not a good choice for a digital camera or digital workflow where distortion correction is possible in PP. Somwhat clumsy handling.

I'm an architect and architectural photographer, and I've used view cameras all my life, and own or owned almost every shift lens made. I still have 5.

The 24TS-E has the poorest IQ of the shift lenses I still have, and only a few other shift lenses I have used in the past were as poor or poorer. The redeeming feature set (24mm, tilt capability) still made the lens indispensable on film, but with digital it has become pointless as a shift lens, my most common use. PP correction of a better lens can almost always provide the required results, and with better IQ in the end.

I had high hopes for this lens, because the old 35TS for the FD mount had the highest IQ of any shift lens I've used for 35mm. I only used it for film, though.

The lens is almost useless at f/3.5, which is fine with me for my purposes, but it isn't good enough at f/11 where it should be excellent.

The unfortunate thing with the Canon system is that there are few decent wideangle options below 35mm. The early 16-35 was very poor, worse than the 24TS-E, and while the 17-40 and new 16-35 are better, they're not really good. I now use a reasonably good copy of the Sigma 12-24 which is only decent at f/11 or so, and a variety of manual focus lenses from other systems, which is a bit of a kludge.

As a shift lens, the handling is rather clumsy compared with Nikon's shift lenses or the Schneider SA. Only part of that can be blamed on the additional tilt mechanism.


 
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM

ef_16-35_28_1_
Review Date: Mar 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: Well built, fast, nice range.
Cons:
Mediocre optical quality. Doesn't get acceptably sharp until f/11 in the corners; low contrast even at smaller apertures.

I bought this lens when it came out for film, and now use it mostly on FF bodies, but have also used it on 1.6x bodies.

This lens is better than the 17-35 that came before, but again shows that Canon can't/won't buckle down and produce a truly good wideangle. Some fixed focal lenses from the FD days were decent and competitive, but the offerings in the EF line have been poor.

For higher performance in this range I use 15/3.5 and 20/2.8 Nikkors, even though the former has flare issues and is a 30 year old design. My Sigma 12-24 has better performance at f/5.6 than this lens, even though it has a much wider FOV. On 1.6x bodies the lens is better, as the central zone is fairly sharp even at larger apertures, but contrast is still fairly low.

My reference standards for performance are various current Leica-M lenses, 30mm Xpan, and a range of high performance large format W.A. lenses, as well as 10-20 year old Nikkors.

I have tried 3 samples of this lens, and they all performed similarly, with only slight variation.

I would recommend this les because it is a convenient, fast lens that can produce reasonable quality if stopped down, and the options in the Canon range are otherwise limited.