about | support
home
 


  Reviews by: MikeBinOKlahom  

View profile View recent posts View reviews Add MikeBinOKlahom to your Buddy List
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

ef100_400l_1_
Review Date: Apr 19, 2005 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Flexible, tolerable image quality (awesome quality on a 1.6 crop body), luggable
Cons:
Klugey push-pull zoom and locking ring, softens up a bit at 400mm and f/5.6, autofocus isn't the fastest

This lens was practically glued onto the front of my D60 when I first took up serious nature photography. I still like the lens, but don't adore it as I did back then. Image quality is good even on a 1Ds if I back off slightly from 400mm and stop down a bit (preferably to f/8).

The only reason I carry the lens nowadays is if flexibility is all-important. I love it on the rare occasions I get to go whalewatching. If I want a one-lens solution to take on a hike, it sometimes comes out (you can even use it for macro if you screw a Canon 500D on the front). I don't use it a lot, but I can't bear to part with it, so I keep it around. An expensive lens to use a few times a year, but when it is useful, it excels! Still gets an overall 10 for flexibilty and (relative) affordability.

I listed several small negatives above, but the only one that is really serious is that autofocus is a bit slow--I don't have much success with bird flight shots, and I suspect a sports shooter wouldn't be happy with this lens.

Image quality of the bare lens is decent, but I've never had satisfactory results shooting it with a teleconverter.


 
Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 with Softfocus

ef135mmf_28soft_1_
Review Date: Apr 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light, sharp, and cheap!
Cons:
Unlike a 70-200 L lens, it will break into tiny pieces if you let a horse step on it! More seriously, the minimum focus distance is kind of long.

I can't comment on the soft-focus feature, I've never used it. But this is an excellent short telephoto lens. I like to carry it along with my 50mm macro and 16-35L as a minimum kit for landscape and some macro shooting (I'm a nature photographer, obviously!). The 135/2.8 and the 50mm share the same filter sizes, which is convenient.

Highly recommended for those who want a lens in this focal length.


 
Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo

mp_e65_28_1_
Review Date: Apr 17, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: It is by far the easiest way to do macro photography at greater than 2x. Fairly compact and not too heavy, so you can carry it in addition to a more conventional lens or two.
Cons:
All the disadvantages inherent in photographing at 1x or greater--Massive light loss, miniscule depth of field (around 1mm at 5x), and short maximum focusing distances. As others have pointed out, this is an extremely specialized lens that only macro specialists can really justify owning. In addition to buying this lens, budget for a macro flash (MR-14 or MT-24 preferred) if you don't already have one.

To restate what others have said, this is an extremely specialized lens, and it can be frustrating to use. Do not buy it as your first macro lens. If you are thinking of buying it, try photographing with a 180mm lens and a 2x teleconverter (manual focus of course). If you find this to be EASY and not at all frustrating, you will probably find the MP-E-65 useable.

The maximum distance the lens will focus is less than five inches in front of the objective. And this is at 1x. The maximum at 5x is a bit over an inch! And your flash will probably stick out further--When photographing ants with this thing at 5x, I frequently rub the macro flash in the dirt. I haven't crushed my subject (accidentally!) yet, but I'm sure it will happen eventually.

Image quality is very good, the biggest problems you will probably have are with light (getting enough, yet without glare) and DOF (if your subject is moving at all, or if you even breath lightly, you are likely to get completely out of focus at 4 or 5x).

I love mine, but I never go on a shoot with this lens and nothing else. This is the specialized tool, pulled out when nothing else can accomplish the purpose.


 
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef300mmf_28_1_
Review Date: Jan 17, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,100.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Awesome image quality. Lightweight and inexpensive for a supertelephoto. Awesome image quality. Close focus for a supertelephoto. Awesome image quality. A good travel telephoto lens. And oh yes, the pictures from it, especially with no teleconverters really pop. It has awesome image quality.
Cons:
Being light and inexpensive for a supertelephoto is sort of like being the fastest bulldozer around. It's still heavy, and still more expensive than some good cars! I sometimes ask myself: "Why am I carrying this turkey around to gain one extra stop over a 300/4?!?!?! You need both teleconverters to get full value from this lens. You can handhold it briefly, but don't--Except for the occasional flight shot. You'll lose a bit of that wonderful image quality, and your composition will suffer. The provided case and lens cover are shameful, and of no practical use.

Amazing lens for high-powered wildlife photography. Many sports shooters like it as well. Still has outstanding image quality with a 1.4x teleconverter, and good image quality with a 2x teleconverter.
Please resist the temptation to shoot this handheld in any except dire emergencies. It'd be a shame to throw away the great image quality. Choose the IS version over non-IS, and hang the expense!
As mentioned in "negatives" above, immediately upon receipt, you should throw away the manufacturer-provided lens case and canvas cover, and buy a lowepro or kinesis long lens case to keep this baby safe. Only thing I can figure is that a saboteur from Nikon designed the case and cover used for all of Canon's supertelephotos.


 
Sigma 14mm f2.8 EX Aspherical

14mmEXhsm_1_
Review Date: Jan 17, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $650.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: The affordable way to get wide-angle on a consumer DSLR. Decently sharp, and focuses very close. But I've only used it on a Canon D60 and 10D, so can't address performance on full frame cameras.
Cons:
Susceptible to flare, and with a fair amount of distortion--The flare is inherent in this type of lens, not a flaw of the Sigma itself. The bulbous front lens is fragile, and unfortunately the lens cover seems to easily come lose. But I haven't had a disaster with the lens yet.

It's affordable (though not cheap). It's very, very, very wide. It has a peculair two-part lens cap that is prone to come loose. It has reasonable image quality on a cropped consumer DSLR. The close focus lets you do a sort of wide-angle macro (not truly macro, of course).

I recommend it if you want a really wide-angle lens, but I'd try a 20 or 24mm first.


 
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

ef100_400l_1_
Review Date: Jan 17, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Flexible, light, affordable (though not cheap).
Cons:
Push pull zoom is awkward, may suck dust, and can sometimes adjust your focal length without you realizing it.

I think of this lens as the nature photographer's belly button. Everyone has one! It is possibly the best one-lens-kit for those who do wildlife photography.
Mine is decently sharp, I handheld the 100-400 and my Canon D60 for an airshow photograph of a stunt biplane buzzing the crowd. With minor sharpening to the image, you can read the letters on the pilot's helmet! But it is NOT as sharp as a good prime, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Based on experiences of others, I believe there is signifcant quality control variability on this product. If you get one and it is not sharp, try to trade it in for another before giving up on the lens.
Some people report great results using this lens with 1.4 and even 2x teleconverters, but I've never gotten a satisfactory shot using a teleconverter.
As mentioned in negative aspects, the push/pull design is not the best, but I highly recommend this lens nonetheless.


 
Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM

ef_180_35_1_
Review Date: Jan 17, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,239.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Outstanding quality. Compatible with Canon teleconverters. No worries about future compatibility issues with new Canon bodies.
Cons:
My Gawd, the price! I have the nagging feeling that I should have gone with the cheaper Sigma or Tamron alternatives. IS would be a great help in allowing handholding.

This is the big one for Canon Macro shooters! It is an excellent product, as my rating shows, but for cost-effectiveness I'd rate it only "fair", due to the inexpensive alternatives. I've had it for about a year now, and have used it for some great insect macro pictures. Don't forget that you can use this lens for landscapes also, though.
In theory, I guess you could handhold this in excellent light. But I invariably end up shooting from a tripod. Ninety percent of the time I use an adapter ring to mount Canon's MT-24 macro flash, which I recommend if you want to use the 180 for macro work. Only quarrel I have with the combo is that the adapter ring sometimes starts to unscrew, making your dual flash flop over to the side of the lens. Using an adapter ring to mount is not the best available solution. Not a real hazard, but annoying, and I've lost a shot or two while re-adjusting it. I'm thinking of using Loc-Tite or a similar product to fasten the adapter ring in place!