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Canon EOS 20D

Review Date: Dec 12, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: 8.2megapixel, Good high ISO performance, 5fps, AF speed and price/performance ratio. Good build quality
Shutter noise, lcd, loosing images when cf card opens, small LCD

I bought this lens about a year ago and have been very satisfied with the overall experience. I have used it for portraits, weddings, studio work and some landscapes. including dusty environments in deserts in the middle east. It performed beyond expectations. It will go in the next couple of weeks to north canada and I'll see how is will perform in extreme cold conditions.
It is a very good value for your money in comparison to the 5D. That may be diluted with the introduction of the D200 this week.

What’s hot
1. 8.2 megapixel sensor which I found to be very decent quality for enlargements up to 11x14 and sometimes 16x20 (without any cropping from the original images). I took images of the same scene and similar distance to compensate for the crop factor and did not see any difference between the 20D print and the canon A2E ones. I did not appreciate much difference in quality between the 20D and IDMkII. I have not done any resolution tests but gave the pictures to many people and no one could tell the difference from film and digital
2. 1.6x crop factor: of course if you are a landscape photographer you would list that under the cons/disadvantages. It gives you better reach esp. for portraits with relatively cheaper lenses. The option of EF-S lenses really makes this an insignificant problem at this time.
3. Very good high ISO performance, albeit a little soft at 3200. ISO 1600 very usable and definitely better than any ISO 1600 film and my previous Nikon D100.
4. 5 frames per second: In order to get good speed you really do need a fast card. I have compared the speeds on the ultra II 1gb (rated 9MB/sec) and Hitachi 3gb microdrive (rated at 9.14MB/sec), the ultra is much faster in real life
5. Excellent manual white balance setting.
6. Good viewfinder in comparison to the XT (more tunnel vision there)
7. Very good autofocus speed.
8. X-Sync speed of 250 is great for almost all studio work. Many people consider this a disadvantage and compare it to the d70. The D70 has a minimum ISO of 200 and the 20D has a minimum of 100, so they are equal.
9. Excellent and accurate colors

What’s Not
1.Lacks a separate ISO button. Multiple buttons to change ISO
2.The AF selector button you need to activate a separate button prior to using the selector. It would have been more convenient to just change it directly using the selector or better a command like button.
3.No LCD screen protector
4.Opening the battery door with loose unbuffered pictures.
5.The spot meter circle is around 7-9%. Would have been better if the meter was more focused
6.Not very discrete in quiet environments due to the loud shutter noise.
7. Smallish LCD screen

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Nov 15, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $334.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Superb value for money Very sharp and fast Ring USM and FTM
No included Hood Minimum focus distance of 3 feet

This lens is probably the best lens for the money from Canon. Optically it is superb (the other 2 lenses are the 135 F/2 and the exotic 200mm f/1.8 which are in another price bracket). It becomes a 136mm f/1.8 on a 20D which is a poor man's solution to the 135 f/2.

Focusing is accurate and quiet in addition to the FTM which comes in handy. The lens is quite usable at its maximum aperture of 1.8 and becomes superb at 2.8. I have used it mainly indoors in studio environments and its performs admirably with a 1.6x FOV DSLR. It shines for portraits and sometimes the pictures need a little softening in post processing as all the pores and facial blemishes show through.

On the downside, the minimum focus distance is about 3 feet which does not give you much magnification. Canon should include the hood with the lens as Nikon does with their lenses. The hood costs an additional 23.95 and it is required.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Nov 13, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,030.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fixed 2.8 throughout the entire zoom range Excellent contrast and sharpness Weather sealing
A little on the heavy side Price

This is my first Canon "L" Lens. I was skeptical at first because of the price and some of the reports about the variability in quality control. After reading multiple reviews here on FM and other sites I decided to take the plunge and buy it. I have not shot brick walls or resolution charts, but in everyday photography .color contrast and sharpness at around 4 to 5.6 are great with almost no post processing needed. I have used it in studio environments as well as in desert conditions in the middle east and its as good as primes in this range. I could not notice any issues from 4x6 all the way to 11x14.

The build quality of this lens and the weather sealing are superb and it makes me feel that all the other lenses I have (85mm 1.8 and Macro 2.8 USM) pale in comparison.

Price wise its reasonable when you compare the competition's similar offering of 28-70 at $1350. The resale value of it makes is a good investment if you decide to sell later and upgrade to the 24-105L.

Highly recommended