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  Reviews by: Mark Ormerod  

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

Review Date: May 20, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Size and weight, sharp at F8, nice colours and contrast. IS really really works. Price. Image quality, not "L" but close. Pair it with a 500D for an IS macro(ish).
Soft wide open, 300mm not enough. Rotating element, no FTM.

This lens is a compromise - and a brilliant one. Its not perfect - the colours and contrast aren't as good as my 24-105 but they're pretty close to my 100-400L at F8. The negatives are all outweighed by positives - sure you need to stop down to get sharpness, sure there's no FTM, sure the bokeh is going to be not as nice *but* it delivers excellent quality images even at 300mm. The IS really works - and more importantly look at the size of the lens compared to an L. Its a cracking travel zoom - and when you're in good light and don't need 400mm it's pretty much spot on for the money.

The compromises it makes to keep cost and size down are more than worthwhile.

Despite picking up a 100-400L I've kept this beauty. There's times I want something light, compact and this delivers in spades. A lot of lens for the money.

The following taken at F8, 300mm, handheld shows why this lens shines :

Also worth mentioning is that pair it with a Canon 500D and you've got a perfectly servicable image stablised almost-a-macro. Google it and you'll see what I mean.

300mm, handheld, F8 with 500D.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: May 20, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Colours, colours, colours ! Sharp wide open, excellent IS, excellent contrast. Solid but light.
Nothing comes to mind. In an ideal world it would be wider and longer but no ones yet made that 10-600mm IS walkabout F2.8 lens yet.

I'd discounted buying an "L" lens from fairly early on. I really couldn't see what the fuss was about - it seemed like a huge difference in cost to upgrade. Like others on here I'd been using a 28-135 and thinking were the rubbish images me or the camera. I realised it wasn't me when I was getting consitently better images with my 70-300. I finally after a lot of review reading decided to take the plunge and coughed up for this as my general lens.

I wish I done so from the start. Razor sharp at 4 - across all ranges - and the colours and contrast just blew me away. I've never seen colours or contrast like it. The IS really works (no shock there) and build quality is excellent. This is hardly ever off my camera. 24mm is definitely wide enough for my type of landscape work - I'll probably stick the 10-20 back on for Scottish / Welsh mountains but I've not touched it for my landscape work in Cornwall.

A couple of images to show the colour / contrast :

Worth every penny. The only time it ever comes off is when I need longer than 100mm for wildlife.

Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: May 20, 2008 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

Pros: Image stabilisation, good build quality.
Soft even stopped down (at least my copy was), dull colours and contrast. 72mm filters. Old IS could be better. Not wide enough on APS-C.

The build quality is good - better than the 70-300 IS although not up to "L" or "EX" standards by any means and the lens takes 72mm filters - so you'll need to buy a separate set or use extension rings. The focus and zoom rings feel solid as indeed does the lens as a whole. The lens features a distance scale and the front element doesn't rotate. Its also capable of full time manual. Quality wise this is an alright lens - whilst it doesn't feature any specialist glass stopped down to F8 it produces acceptably sharp images with good to middling contrast and colour - which is fine for well lit outdoor photography. The IS is equivalent of up to two stops - which combined with higher digital ISO's helps make up for the slow aperture and the need to stop down.

The image quality isn't anything special - I can spot the difference between an image taken with this and with my other (non "L") lenses without a problem. My 70-300IS is consistently better. I have had the occasional sharp image but the majority of the time its been too soft for me. I find the colour flat and contrast equally so. I really noticed the difference when I switched to a 24-105. The move highlighted just how poor the images were that I was getting from the 28-135.

I've found that in terms of image quality the photos are fine for non-photographer friends - but blown up to 10" x 8" or larger for me, the image softness and flat colour begin to show up.

This is a "compromise" lens that dissapointed me. Save your money for better glass.