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Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS

35f2is
Review Date: May 1, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Light, well-built, very reliable AF, high contrast and sharpness even at 2.0, great IS.
Cons:
One may think it is a bit expensive.

I had first bought a Sigma 35mm 1.4 because many people said it was so great and not much more expensive, but that lens front-focused and was not well centered (looked like some kind of field curvature), and Sigma did not want to fix or replace it (blamed my camera which focuses perfectly well with my 10 other lenses). So I got a refund and then bought the canon, and was amazed by how good it is.

Not only is it sharp at 2.0, but esp. the contrast (which is often more important) was very impressive wide open. It is sharper than then Sigma at 2.0 (see link at bottom if you don't believe me). Mechanically, the lens is great too. And the IS is just fantastic. Within weeks it became my favorite lens.

A note: having a 1.4 is attractive because of the coolness (status symbol) aspect, but I have found that I do not need it. Of course 1.4 stops more subject motion, but with the shallow DOF at 1.4 a moving subject is very hard to get in focus. And if I need shallow DOF I just use a 85mm or longer prime. I don't really like shallow DOF on wide angle pictures that much.

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=824&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=0&API=0&LensComp=829&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=2