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  Reviews by: Michael Watt  

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Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L

17tse
Review Date: Aug 20, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, Scheimflug principal employment,
Cons:
Unprotected Bulging front element requires extreme care when using

Forget snap crackle pop auto everything photography, being manual focus this lens will slow you down and bring you back to optical basics. Using this lens coupled with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and live view it feels like Iíve returned to my college days of using a view camera. Although it does not have the diversity of manipulating the sensor plane the scheimpflug principal can still be achieved and with stunning results. I love this lens. My previous lens for landscape work was a Canon IF 17-40mm f/4 L USM Lens that proved to be a good workhorse but could never achieve the depth of field that I lusted for in landscape captures. The engineering in this lens is superb which is why it burns a huge hole in your wallet. But once coveted and the laws of Scheimpflug take hold you donít look back. Also the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4 L Tilt-Shift Lens controls CA (Chromatic Aberration) very well. My only gripe is that you have to be extremely careful with this optic as it screams out to be scratched and damaged with itís bulging front element. Also no lens hood can be employed to help protect the lens and minimize lens flare. However the creative possiblities that this lens offers will soon transform itself from a tool to a toy that will find you still playing with it well after ever other lens has gone home.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/96804393@N06/9498156958/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/96804393@N06/9498148972/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/96804393@N06/9464356246/

The above are some takes using this lens.


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Jul 28, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Fast apertures, pleasing background blur, relatively inexpensive,
Cons:
Prefer internal focusing, don't like the lens extending during focusing as this captures dust.

Canon 50mm EF f/1.4 USM Lens. I donít know why many photographers choose a far more expensive L series lens, only to produce results that can easily be emulated by their much cheaper counterpart. I have never been impressed by the mineís-bigger-than-yourís, so it must be better rational when it comes to optical equipment. Even if I could afford the 1.2 version of this focal length, the results I get from this lens are optically pleasing and are acceptable to me. Given the comparative apertures above 2.8 the results are similar. Apertures greater than 2.8 at close distances are difficult to use and border on the impractical for this focal length. I find this lens sharp (in the centre) wide open when the Lens plane and focal plane are parallel. Focus is fast and accurate and if needed the bright viewfinder produced by this lens permits easy manual focus. For general photography this is a highly recommended optic and preferable to the expensive 50 mm 1.2 lens. If required the eight blades and fast apertures produce a pleasing background blur to isolate the subject.

Studio results using this optic :-
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mw_photography/3757813902/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mw_photography/3749415320/


 
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

ef_35_14_1_
Review Date: Sep 7, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: 1.4 Aperture, Sharp, bokeh (circle of confusion)
Cons:
Quality control : one should not expect focusing problems with a band new L lens, price

In light of all the positive reviews this lens has received I was disappointed to discover my copy had focusing errors. After paying top dollar one should not encounter focusing problems with an ĎLí lens. Sadly this was my experience.

However after this lens was calibrated and returned from Canon I can now join the chorus of praise for this optic. What you pay for is 1.4 to 2.8 apertures as this focal length is covered repeatedly by other canon zooms i.e. 24-70 F2,8, 24-105 L F4,ect. This lens offers the unique feature of combining a wide angle lens (on a 1:1 sensor) with a fast aperture. This enables the photographer to capture subject matter against a wide bokeh (circle of confusion) background. The ability of this moderate wide angle lens to separate a foreground subject from the background is a feature of this lens. Bokeh is not normally a strong characteristic of a wide angle lens. Although the bokeh is not as prominent as using a longer focal length, it is still pleasing and adds, if desired, a separation with the background (or foreground) without confusing the background recognition.

After calibration I was able fully appreciate the sharpness of this lens. Even wide open at 1.4 this lens is sharp although care has to be taken when focusing especially in low light. This is a highly recommended optic for low light work and environmental portrait studies.


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

ef85mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Apr 25, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Cost, relatively more affordable then the 85 1.2 L, Light, quick focus, still very fast at 1.8
Cons:
A bit soft at 1.8

I drooled over the Canon 85 1.2 L. My hand hovered over the credit card ready to order. Stopped, decided I didnít want to die. My wife would kill me when she saw the credit bill. Iím sure many a man has settled for the marriage saving 85 1.8. Ok it is not huge or sporting pretty a red ring, but if used wisely, combined with understanding of the optical limitations of apertures larger then 2.8 this lens can be just as much fun it bed. Enough about marriage.

Having purchased and used this lens, I am now thankful that I didnít go down the ĎLí path. I donít doubt the 85 L is a fine lens but I do debate if it is worth the thousands for an extra f stop.

I found that using this lens that the closer the subject the more prone it becomes to focusing error, especially using large apertures greater then f2. Depth of field (DOF) is razor thin. At times I found this demanding especially with a moving subject. Although this lens ( or any lens) can only focus on a two dimensional plane the circles of confusion are much smaller, the further the subject. To create the pleasing bokeh (background blur quality) a large aperture combined with a close subject is required. This combination I find difficult. At times I even had to resort to careful manual focus to hit the mark. If you are prepared for careful methodical work beautiful captures can be obtained with this lens.

example : http://www.flickr.com/photos/mw_photography/2420111589/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mw_photography/2373204362/


 
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

ef135mmf_2l_1_
Review Date: Jan 22, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, Beautiful background blur, Ideal for portraits on a full frame or 1.3 sensor
Cons:
No image stabilizer, Cost

This lens is a pleasure to use, especially for portraiture. Background blur is beautiful. However I find I have to be careful with focussing especially shooting tight under f4 and using this lens widest aperture of f2 demands careful focussing. At these apertures depth of field is razor thin. In portraiture even the distance between the nose and the ears is enough for auto focus to miss the mark which I normally centre on the eyes. I find I have to resort to manual focus in these tight situations and or stop down. If focussed correctly I find that even at f2 this lens is acceptably sharp. Two stops down to f4 and this lens is awesome. Highly recommended.