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Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

ef85mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Jul 26, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Very sharp, fast autofocus, descent bokeh, small size
Cons:
fringing on metal surfaces and areas of high contrast, non existent DOF at f/1.8 at minimum focusing distance

I bought this lens based on the many positive reviews found here. But I felt there were a few things people left out about this lens and its more about the usage than the actual lens.

For one, when I first placed it on my camera I thought I'd try it out at f/1.8 just for some tests. I shot a few objects about 5 feet away...instantly went to my laptop to view the samples and to my amazement absolutely nothing was in focus...I mean nowhere! I thought, maybe I have a bad copy of this lens which has never happened to me in any of my other lens purchases. So I packed it back up and was ready to take it back today.

Then later in the day I thought I'd give it a second try. I tried the same shots (5 feet away) with varying apertures (f/1.8, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11) and believe it or not there was nothing in acceptable focus until about f/5.6 at that distance. A light bulb went off in my head...at minimum distance from my subject a very small aperture is required to get any acceptable focus at all because of the paper thin DOF this lens creates.

So next I did the same test outside and took shots from 25-50 feet away...and low and behold f/1.8 even produced sharp results at this distance (beware of chromatic aberations though).

So let me tell you that this lens is not for close shooting wide open...if you do, stop it down quite a bit...but at farther distances use it wide open all day. So I figured out that this lens is for low lighting situations when there is a great distance between you and you subject. I'd be better served to use my 50mm f/1.4 at a closer distance.

This might be useful info to other newbies to fast lenses like I am!


 
Canon EOS 5D

5d_586x225_2_
Review Date: May 15, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Full frame, resolution, soft shutter sound, spot metering
Cons:
Expensive

I currently own the 20D also but was always unimpressed by the quality of wide angle shots. I just don't think the 8 MegaPixels could handle it. I purchased the 5D for better resolution at the wider end. Now I can use my 17-40mm f/4L lens for wide angle shots rather than the 10-20mm Sigma I was using with the 20D. Just a note, I find that this is not a total replacement for the 20D unless you buy a longer lens for telephoto shots...I've kept my 20D to use with my 70-200mm f/4L which produces excellent results.

A few things right off the bat about the 5D. The images that come right out of the cam seem to have much better color than the 20D. I always noticed the 20D to produce flatter, grayer images...the 5D to me seems closer to what film produces. I compared the 2 cameras at ISO 1600 (on screen not print) and the 5D won hands down...Now this is probably because there was more info in the 5D file when scaling down than the 20D. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say.

I also noticed the images are sharper right out of the camera. I'm not sure if Canon reduced the effect of the anti-aliasing filter or not...but I noticed I sharpen alot less in PS...I actually had to add guassian blur to an image I posted online because it was too damn sharp. And I'm a sharp freak so I was quite happy with this result. I mean as photographers we should determine the sharpness of our images...not some filter to do it for us.

The feel of the camera is exactly the same as 20D...barely a learning curve. I'm happy that I also have a spot meter now.

The viewfinder seems huge, although I don't know if its really any different than the 20D...I noticed the info at the bottom is alot smaller so I presume it is.

I think if you like wide angle photography, and want the resolution to handle it...this is a great cam. I think it will keep me happy longer than my 20D did.

A few sample photos:
http://ic1.deviantart.com/fs10/i/2006/134/6/b/Fem_by_LanceUSA.jpg
http://ic1.deviantart.com/fs10/i/2006/127/c/f/Clouded_Voyage_by_LanceUSA.jpg
http://ic1.deviantart.com/fs10/i/2006/126/9/1/Signals_by_LanceUSA.jpg
All my work can be viewed at http://lanceusa.deviantart.com


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

ef70_200_4_1_
Review Date: Mar 7, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, sharp, sharp. High quality images. L glass! Price. No telescoping (see below). Allows for close proximity to subject when set.
Cons:
Its longer and heavier than I originally imagined. Its quite intimidating...has a very professional look to it (I like to be low key).

I registered today because I read reviews here all the time and I thought I'd contribute my experience as well.

I just bought this lens yesterday for my Canon 20D and I was blown away by the sharpness of the photos. You'll find that in low lighting conditions it won't perform as expected but thats what ISO boosting is for. I took hand held photos at ISO 1600 indoors that looked great. I find its as sharp as my 50mm prime lens but with the added benefit of me not having to stand 3 feet away to fill the frame...and thats very helpful when you have a kid with sticky fingers coming at you!

If you're considering this lens its the best I've seen in this price and focal range. One other thing I really liked was it doesn't telescope out when adjusting focal lengths...it does it all internally. I also like that you can be 1.3 meters (there is a switch to toggle minimum focusing distance) away from your subject when shooting which makes for nice looking macro shots. This was a surprise to me since I didn't know the lens could do that. Note that the focusing speed severely decreases in this situation, but I don't think shots of flowers demands a very fast focus speed Wink.

Build quality is the highest of any lens I've ever held or used. Motor is near silent.