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Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Nov 7, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Weight, Size, Sharpness, Weather Sealing, 4 stop IS, Sharpness, Colour and Contrast. Oh... did I mention it's sharp too? ;)
UK Price, Tripod mount is extra.

I was in two minds about the 70-200mm f/4.0 L IS USM lens on it's announcement. I felt it was going to be a good lens, but Canon's UK retail price was way in excess of what it should actually be selling for, and that the value for money say the least...s~#te.

I have a non IS F4 and a 2.8/IS also. The 2.8/IS is a great lens, but i sometimes feel it's a bit bulky for certain situations, problem is, when I took the F4 non IS instead, I always missed the IS. So, my conumdrum was - I would probably use the new F4/IS alot, but...paying 990.00 in the UK for this lens was a no go - further exacerbated by the fact that the the equivalent retail price in the USA for the lens is around 680.00.

Conundrum Solved:

After a quick check with the highly recommended "Flash Camera" shop on eBay, I found myself with a new 70-200 F4/IS for 799. They had stocks in the UK, and I had picked one up within an hour or two at a saving of nearly 200 over the cheapest UK retail outlets. Top marks for service!

The Lens:

Build is of the usual high standards we've come to expect of canon L series products. To all intents and purposes, the lens feels almost identical to the F4 non IS version, but with IS and weather resistance added. On start up, my first impression was that the IS mechanism was pretty noisy compared other Canon IS lenses I own, but everything works fine, and you soon adjust to it. The recessed switches on the lens are an improvement too, as there's less chance of accidently moving them.

Sharpness accross the frame is stellar, i'd go as far to say that it's better than the 2 other 70-200's I own. This lens is sharp wide open from corner to corner even on a full frame body. There is actually very little improvement when stopping down - the F4/IS starts out sharp wide open, and stays that way.

The Bokeh is great too, the new 8-blade circular aperture creates a very pleasing foreground/background blur quality. Out of focus specular highlights are nicely rounded blurs, even when shooting at narrow apertures. Having a constant f/4 aperture at all focal lengths is a very nice feature too.

The 70-200mm F4/IS USM's colour and contrast are up to the usual excellent levels. CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very well controlled. Some mild barrel distortion is present at 70mm and mild pincushion is present at 200mm. The change from barrel to pincushion is gradual with approx. 95mm being the focal length of the crossover. Distortion is nearly identical between the two 70-200mm f/4 L lenses. I've noticed that the 70-200 f/4 IS controls flare very well - slightly better than non-IS f/4 and more importantly, it's noticeably better than the f/2.8 IS.

To all intents and purposes we have a stunning performer here, I'd go as far to say that I may not be using the 2.8/IS and F4/non IS that much from now on. So...would I recommend the 70-200mm f/4.0 L IS USM - YES, resoundingly, but UK buyers should go the route I went, it's much better value for money and you won't feel ripped off by canon's UK pricing structure. Thank god for eBay.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Sep 12, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent performance. As sharp as my 70-200 F4.0. Extra 100mm and IS is very handy. Excellent value for money.
Could be slightly better built, but can't complain for the price. Focus is slightly slower than my L's.

I bought this lens for my girlfriend. I tested it out before giving it to her and I could not believe how good it was for the price. I have a 70-200F4 and F2.8 IS and this lens gives them a very close run quality wise. Any small difference in contrast is easily made up for in post processing.

A tip: I found that the hood makes a visible difference in contrast. get one, it's worth it.

The L's I own focus slightly faster, and are obviously better built, but this thing is as sharp as both of them. A big surprise-as I did not expect this lens to perform so well.

I was thinking of getting the new 70-200 F4 IS, but I will buy one of these instead, and use the money saved for something else.

Kudos to Canon for providing a great lens at the price.

Tokina 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF 193

Review Date: Sep 12, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: very sharp center, a tiny wee bit soft at the edges. Well built. Amazing value for money.
None at the price.

Bought one of these for 60 used. I am amazed at how good this lens is for the money. Used it on a 5D with great results. very sharp in the main, a wee tiny bit soft at the edges, but not a great deal worse than my 17-40L is. If you are on a budget, you cannot ask for more.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Mar 14, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, Lovely Bokeh, Nice size & weight.

I use mainly L and Zeiss primes on full frame. This lens holds its own. Brilliant value for money. Get one.

Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 XR Di Zoom AF

Review Date: May 11, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Brilliant value for money...
...If you get a good copy

I kept reading good things about this wee lens so I decided to splash the cash and try it. I use L lenses normally so it had a lot to live up to.

When I purchased it (from Warehouse Express) I immediately noticed it wasn't focussing properly at 28mm at all apertures. Rather than replace it at the dealer I returned it to the UK distributor for calibration. When I got it, what a difference. It is easily on a par with my 24-70L for picture quality, altho it is (slightly) slower to focus.

I am truly amazed at the quality of this lens for the price. I would have no hesitation using it on a professional shoot.
If you have a good copy it kinda makes a mockery of the 24-70L's price. Crazy, eh!

I am tempted to try their 17-35 against my 17-40L now too.