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  Reviews by: Jack Flesher  

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Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,350.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp, great color, low distortion -- Best zoom I've ever owned to date.
Slight propensity to flare, but not horrible considering it is a zoom.

This lens -- at least my copy -- is very sharp all the way through the zoom range and through all apertures. Also, I notice little in the way of distortions or other troublesome optical abnormalities. The "BUT!" ...I have heard conflicting comments from other users I respect, so I am of the opinion some sample variation exists in these lenses. If you get a good one, it's a definite keeper! I'll even go a bit further out on a limb and claim for all intenets and purposes, this zoom is as good as the primes it replaces in this range.

Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: T and S ;)
Manual focus only.

Outstanding optics combined with tilt and shift ability, combined with reasonably close focus abilities make this a VERY flexible and useful lens. In fact, due to the added DOF control enabled by tilts, I am finding myself using it more and more for macro, and using my 100 USM less and less. This lens works very well in conjunction with either converter and/or extension tubes. I is also useful for "throwing" the plane of focus in portraiture.

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Tilt and Shift :)
Exhibits slight CA in the corners when shifted on my 1Ds (full-frame). Manual focus only.

I like this lens for its ability to correct perspectives and increase DOF -- In this vein, it gives the DSLR user some abilities usually left to users of Large Format systems. The lens is perhaps slightly less sharp than my 24/1.4, but its TS abilities more than compensate for this slight loss in resolution. To further clarify, the corners are visbly soft until about f4.5, with the sweet-spot being f8 where everything appears crisp. There is also some CA visible at thee corners and this is exacerbated by shift as the edge of your image goes even further off center. HOWEVER, you can use this to slight advantage at times depending on where your main subject is located, since this will IMPROVE the imaging charachteristic at the opposite edge of the frame since it is now closer to the center of the field. Also, I find these slight corner anomolies go undetected in the typical sweeping landscape shot, where the bennefit of the added DOF from a slight tilt is clearly noted.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $475.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very sharp throughout the entire magnification range, making it useful for more than just macro.
Exhibits slight barrel distortion, somewhat slower focus than other USM lenses.

A sharp lens, but since I do only occasional macro work, owning a dedicated macro lens is somewhat of a luxury. Ultimately I sold it as I am able to use my 90 TS-E with tubes for macro.

Update 03/2004: I recently got a good deal on an older non-USM verison of this lens, and thought I'd leave some remarks here FWIW. The non-USM lens is a normal extension-focus design, while the USM is an internal-focus design. Extension-focus moves the lens group forward, allowing closer focus while the internal focus designs alter (shorten) the focal length slightly to achieve closer focus. In normal applications, there is not a significant practical difference between the two, other than IF is faster. With macro however, these differences do get exaggerated. In the IF lens, the focal has to be reduced pretty significantly to get down to 1:1 -- in the case of the USM it become about a 70mm lens when focused to 1:1. The EF lens remains 100mm, but the extension robs light and thus the EF designs become slower by a stop or more of effective aperture at 1:1. So pick your poison Smile

Anyway, the non-USM lens is also VERY sharp and may offer a less-expensive but high quality alternative to those of you who, like me, only do occasional macro work.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Speed, decent optics

A decent performer for the money. Great lens for portraits/people -- however, where ultimate resolution is the goal, the 85/1.2 or the 135/2 L are better choices IMO.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Speed, price.

Not the sharpest lens in my stable, but one of the fastest, and it still delivers VERY good images. Good to use when I want a one-lens simple snapshot outfit. In contrast to other users, I find the slight edge "softness" at f1.4 on my FF and 1.3x crop camera a sometimes asset -- especially if you use it to compositional advantage -- a "look" I like. But I agree it performs better from f2 - up.

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, reasonably lightweight for its size.

What can I say, I LOVE this lens! It is a dream to use and like the other big L guns, it focuses rapidly and delivers excellent images. Additionally, when either converter is stacked behind this lens, image quality remains VERY high. In fact, stacking BOTH converters behind this lens still delivers very useable images.

Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Light, compact, great image quality, IS

Incredible lens for the money. My copy works superbly with the 1.4xII converter -- even wide open -- making for a very compact pair of hand-holdable teles. With the 2xII converter, stop down one or two stops for acceptable performance. IS is a real benefit to this lens, easily adding 2 or 3 stops of hand-holdability to this focal. One sometimes-overlooked advantage to this lens over its big brother, the 300/2.8 IS, and other long L glass is its relatively close MFD, making it a superb option for small creatures up close. It is also an excellent medium 'macro" lenss when combined with tubes and/or the 500D diopter.

Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $225.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Fast f-stop
Build quality and so-so optical performanc wide open.

For what it is, it's a fine lens. Performance improves when stopped down to around f5.6, but below that it suffers in the corners -- but then again, I'm picky...

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $225.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very good optical performer for its price.
/somewhat flimsy build feeling to it.

For the money, a very good performer. Just don't expect L build quality or USM focus speed.

Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? no | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: It's a 20...
Barrel distortion, not-so-great edge resolution.

Had it, tested it, used a little, wasn't impressed, sold it. At the time my 17-35 was a better 20... But then I shoot with FF and 1.3 crop factor cameras.

revision 06/10/03: I just obtained a second copy of this lens, and it is significantly better than my first one was. This one has very good center performance, and edge performance about equal to my Tokina 17. This 20 still shows some CA at the corners, and significant vignetting at f2.8, notable vignetting at f4, and slight vignetting at f5.6, but the center performance is significantly better than my previous lens. I would rate this one a 3.5 overall if I could.

Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $650.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp. Very sharp. Fast focusing.

Great handling and very sharp lens. I love it!

Canon EOS 1Ds

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $7,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Resolution and detail are Incredible! Truly medium format image quality in a DSLR form factor.
Price and weight?

You know it all already -- Incredible image detail -- more than necessary for web -- fast handling, infinitely customizable with custom and personal functions, and in use it becomes an extension of your mind.

Canon EOS 1D

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Speed. Frame rate speed, CF write speed, AF speed, shutter-lag speed, and "use it subconsciously" speed.

I love this camera. It is built like a tank, handles like an extension of my mind, and delivers exceptionally clean and smooth images. The 1.3x crop factor is a plus for sports, action and wildlife photography.

Canon Extender EF 2x II

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 2x magnification, works VERY well with my 500/4IS
Fairly large

This converter seems to work better on some of my lenses than it does others. For example, it performs exceptionally well on my 500/4 IS, very well on my 70-200/2.8 IS and 300/4, yet only marginally so on my 135/2 L and my 300/2.8. However, it is a great way to extend the versitility of nearly any lens in your bag when you want to travel light.

Canon Extender EF 1.4x II

Review Date: Apr 1, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $220.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Compact, incredible optical quality, weather sealing gaskets

This is a superb quality converter, giving barely any notable loss of image quality when attached to any of my "L" lenses other than the 300/2.8 where the image degraded notably.


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