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Canon EOS 40D

Review Date: Sep 12, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $825.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Cost-Benefit analysis is second to none
This seems to be the Canon model where body size starts to become noticeable to those around you.

Although I just acquired this camera yesterday, I think it's amazing. I had a great deal of fun learning the ropes with my XTi, but after only a few hours with my 40D, I've immediately noticed the expanded capabilities.

I won't go into excessive details, but it seems like every option in this model is an improvement. Discussing specifics, there doesn't seem to be any individual function that is monumentously better than my Rebel, but I feel the cumulative upgrade results in an exponential improvement.

I have no idea what bells and whistles the 50D can claim over this camera, but I can't imagine they are significant enough to warrant nearly twice the price of the older model. For those willing to wait, I'm sure the price savings will increase significantly over the next month or two...which will only change this from a great buy to a must buy.

Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Aug 16, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $925.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: My favorite lens. I like everything about it. Although it left me eating Ramen for quite some time, it's still a great value with lots of bang for the buck.
You'd better know what you want to shoot, because unless you're into shooting trees from a distance, a fixed 300mm distance can be extremely frustrating.

This was my first, and remains my only L-lens. My primary interest is college sports, and initially I purchased the 70-300 IS for those purposes. Needless to say, after 2 or 3 events I felt I had to mothball it. In consideration of a "modest" budget, this lens immediately presented itself as the perfect fit.

I used it throughout the college baseball season, and initially it made me miserable. Honestly, I don't think I have any pictures worth the space they consume on my hard drive until the last couple games of the Super Regionals. However, after I became familiar with its abilities and limitations, it has proven to consistently produce my best pictures by significant margins. It should also be mentioned, that the built- in hood, although a minor addition, is a great intangible!

I'm about as equally qualified to discuss photo jargon as I am any other subject dealing with numbers and equations, but I find there's a significant improvement in clarity and color over my other 4 or 5 non-L type lenses. At the same time, since I'm also that meatball people smirk at as I pass by with a long tan lens attached to my trusty Rebel, using an entry level camera targeted at novices really seems to highlight the differences both performance as well as the increased capabilities L-lenses offer.

Although I am at a loss for any complaints, there are a couple of aspects of the lens where I find myself daydreaming of improvements.

First, I'm not sure how useful the autofocus will be for other sports. Although most of my unsatisfactory results are directly related to inexperience, I did notice my results significantly improved if I manually focussed at times when I knew there would be increased motion. That aspect combined with the fixed distance of the lens could prove to be a significant hurdle for any quick paced sports.

Second, although it's not really a shortcoming, so much as a limitation, but I found the f/4 limit of the aperture often left a distracting background. But, I also discovered that a basic competency with CS2 significantly narrows the gap to the next level of L lenses, which aside from being significantly more expensive, I've been told are also much heavier as well as bulky.

Finally, I haven't found any significant uses for the IS function. If the non-IS model is the same, I'm not sure what the justification/motivation is to spend substantally more for this version is.

All in all, I do not foresee myself parting with this lens anytime in the distant future.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Aug 16, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: It consistently takes solid quality pictures. Its autofocus is quick, and it is well built and compact (and heavy...which to some people seems to be an important factor).
None, it's a solid lens for any average user.

I don't find the focal length very useful. I think the $90-50mm f/1.8 is far mor practical without any significant loss in picture quality.

If I didn't enjoy shooting basketball in the winter, this would never come out of the closet. Consequently, I think this lens is a must for any hobbiest who enjoys indoor sporting events.

All factors considered, due to the random manner in which I accumulated my lenses...but, I'd imagine hobbiests that possess any modicum of foresight for building their lens collections, would ultimately find this lens falls into a gap, and consequently, the $350 price-tag is ultimatly unjustifiable.

Other than its lack of utility for my interests, I have nothing negative to say about its functionality or price v. value.