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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: Oct 31, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: compact, cheap, sharp, fast.
soft wide open

I've had several copies of this lens over the years but never wrote a review so here it is...

I've used this lens on 20d,30d,40d,5d,1dMkII-n.
The lens is soft at f/1.4-1.8.
From f/2-2.2 is very usable. I'd go so far as to say that this lens is an f/2.2 because from there on in it's wonderful.
This is not to say I don't use this lens at it's widest apertures, I do. Sharpness is subjective. The bokeh is beautiful.

Focus is fast. I've used it for ringside sports without a hitch.
I also use this lens for portraiture on a crop body and it has never let me down. Renders fine detail nicely.

For the price you certainly get your money's worth from the 50 1.4.

Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM

Review Date: Sep 26, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp wide open, small, light, fast.
sigma cast, hood.

Being a huge fan of Canon's 35L & 24L I was skeptical about buying this lens for my crop body camera (40D). I was surprised... this lens is sharp wide open, nice. For less than half the price of a 35L it's also much lighter and much smaller, making for a more compact/portable discreet camera. I love it.

It does have the Sigma signature warm cast but I always shoot RAW so no biggie there. Besides, I've seen this cast on a few of sigma's lenses so it's not like it is this particular lens' trait. The hood on mine doesn't lock in like Canon's do. I does click into place with a half turn but comes loose fairly easy. Not a huge thumbs-down but it's there.

Why I like this lens:
It is sharp, it is small, it is light, it is cheap (comparitavely) for a fast prime lens. I've gotten great large prints from it on a 40D at wide (1.4 - 2.2) apertures.

I would not hesitate to reccomend this lens but would suggest testing for front/back focus based on other reviews written on this lens.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Review Date: Nov 13, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: fast, sharp, relatively small.
big expensive filter

Well worth the dollars. I've owned 2 16-35 MkI's and was never happy with either of them. The 17-40 trumped it but I couldn't be stuck with an f/4 lens so used the ef-s option at that time.

Took a chance with the new MkII version of this lens and am very glad I did. To me it's a completely different lens. It's everything I wanted from the MkI but never got. It is sharp and very contrasty (sic?). It seems to peak at 16mm, second place goes to 35mm and a close 3rd at 24mm. I feel like I got 2 wicked primes for the price of a zoom... bonus.

This lens is glued to my 5D 90% of the time. Highly recommended.

Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X 107 AF DX Fisheye

Review Date: Sep 4, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Zoom from ultrawide fish to normal fish, Very sharp, Great color, solid build.

Right off the bat I must admit I'm not a big fisheye fan. Why I love this lens is it's versatility. At 10mm it's as fishy as Bush's reasons for invading Iraq.
At it's widest is has severe line distortions as a true fisheye is supposed to have. Very awesome for artistic endeavors. At the long end (17mm) it still distorts but not as severe and actually in a way you'd want it to for accentuating depth etc...

Amazing build quality, solid and smooth focus. Very sharp too. I like the colors much better than the sigma 15 fish which were a tad too warm for my taste. I wasn't sure a zoom of this type would have any merit to it but now that I've used it I see tremendous ability for artistic freedom rather than being stuck at 15mm with just a prime fish or a prime ultra-wide.

A great investment, highly recommended.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Review Date: Mar 16, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: IS works wonders, f/2.8, rotating collar.
maybe price...naw, it's worth it.

I've owned several copies of this lens (I'm a gearhead yes) and all of them were fabulous. Never seen a bad copy. I've used the 70-200 2.8IS on 30D, 1DMkII-N, 20D. This lens produces superb bokeh, has very fast focus. This lens and the 35L are my two most used and altime favorite lenses. I prefer using the zoom over 85L/135L combo because of the flexibility and prime quality this zoom offers. The 85L admittedly is in a class by itself though and comparing it here is somewhat inapropriate.

I love that the tripod collar can be loosened to rotate camera into portrait position but really would've liked an alignment mark for vertical position like it has for horizontal. This lens is sharp wide open. 2 IS modes, and yes an off switch makes 3, make this lens highly versatile for all kinds of shooting. I've used it extensively for sports, candids, portraits and stitched panos @ 70mm. I couldn't see the f/4 version as being an alternitive purchase because of subject movement.

I highly recommend this lens. I buy and sell alot of lenses but this and the 35L tops on the seller's remorse list. Wink

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Mar 1, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: fast focus, cheap price.
overly hyped.

I've read alot of reviews comparing this lens to the 85 f/1.2L. Some say the f/1.8 is a good alternative, I say poppycock. The two lenses are not in the same league. After using many different copies of both the 1.8 version and 1.2L (MkI & II) I feel I can now give my honest appraisal based on experience.

The 1.8 is faster focusing without a doubt. The contrast and colours are not in the same league as the 1.2 but very good. The 85 1.8 (the copies I used) is only acceptable wide open with no post processing and doesn't get any wow factor until at least 2.2, 2.8. From there on it's spectacular. In comparison, the 85 1.2L is very acceptable wide open f/1.2 and by 1.6 it's astounding. The minimal depth of field at these open apertures of course is particular to the type of shot you want to take. That being said, If I buy a large aperture lens it's because, well... I want to use the large aperture right?

The 85 1.8 is priced right and is not a crappy lens by a longshot. It is however non-L for a reason and you get that impression after using the 85L's extensively. When I need faster focus I stick to a 70-200 2.8IS for that range, otherwise it's the 85L all the way.

Canon EOS 30D

Review Date: Feb 17, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: price, 8mp, fps, light/compact
cheesy rubber cover, see below.

Bodies I've owned relevant to this review:

I love this camera, it is my favorite. Every shooter needs to define what tool best suits his/her shooting style and that's probably the most difficult part when choosing a body because most, if not all, of us like to shoot everything. At least once in a while. I'll start by telling you why through process of elimination I ended up with the 30D as my choice.

The 20D, while a great body has no spot metering and the lcd is damn small, practically useless. Image quality is at par with the 30D though and at the time I switched it wasn't worth the bucks spent to step up. Nowadays however 30D's have come down to very reasonable prices so that's a no-brainer.

The 5D is a beautiful camera with a not so beautiful price tag. I cannot tell the difference between prints up to 12x18" compared to 30D's. In fact, I've found very fine detail renders better on the higher pixel pitch of the 30D sensor. ISO Noise is only slightly better on the 5D but needs post cleaning just the same, so what's the big deal? Full frame advantage? Ever heard of EF-S? The ef-s 10-22mm is arguably better than any canon lens in that range for ff body. Some shooters claim better focus ability on 5D but I found the difference to be negligable and only in situations where it would be tough for any camera... except for the 1DMkII-N... read on....

The 1DMkII-N, wow... what an amazing camera. Blows the socks off anything I've ever used. The dynamic range is slightly better than 30D's. I found the ISO noise to be much more acceptable too. Focus ability is simply astounding. I just love this body. So why did I not go with the 1D? Ergonomically it sucks. It's huge. It's heavy. Damnit, the battery is even heavy! It doesn't transport well. It doesn't hang from my body well. It's just so darn bulky. This may sound trivial but think about it a minute - If this body was used for it's primary purpose 'sports shooting' then of course it's the best tool to use. But if your shooting style is less defined than that and it'd be your only body, well, think again...

The 30D is right smack dab in the middle of all these bodies. It's got good fps (5fps), good MP (8mp), decent noise handling at high iso's (-640 is very clean), handles all the EF and -S) lenses canon makes. Did I mention it's light? IT'S LIGHT! Compact and has it's own flash (I could've done without one but it gets used every so often). The price is great too. I love this 30D and highly reccomend it. I use the E1 handgrip and carry it around glued to my paws. This body is highly underrated these days, grab one!

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: Dec 23, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Amazing bokeh, great on a 1.6 crop.
Edges a little soft until f/1.8 or 2. Copy variation?

This review cites experience with a 24L on both a 20D & 30D body.

I've owned 3 copies of this lens over the last 2 years. I found my first two copies identical in their inconsistent focus and not so sharp (at least nothing to brag about). This 3rd copy is different. It has very accurate focus and it is very sharp. The edges are decent sharp (very acceptable) wide open and stunning by f/2.2. Midframe is surprisingly sharp at 1.4. When shooting the main subject on the side of the frame I've found it best to stop down to 1.8 for very pleasing results.

The bokeh on this lens is amazing. It's the closest thing to 85L OOF Blur I've used. Meaning that 'painted' look really comes out in prints.

I find this lens a perfect focal length for a 1.6 crop camera. It's wide enough to get a decent amount of surroundings for your subject. This lens really shines when framing your subjects with the amazing background blur the DoF that 1.4 lets you achieve. f/1.4 is miles away from 2.8 and it really shows in this lens.

Alot of people compare this lens with the 35L when deciding which to buy. I feel they are not comparable lenses because they have very different perspectives and produce very different feelings from their respective images (which is kinda strange being that they are only 11mm apart in focal length!), but it's true. Where they are similar is in their outstanding L colour and contrast.

It's very easy to get artsy with the 24L. A 7" minimum focus distance is great for up close and wide shots. It distorts a little but for me very acceptable, unlike anything wider than 24mm in my experience. A landscape lens? Not for me. I'd go the ef-s 10-22 route for that. The 24L is great for city walkarounds, people, and yes... artsy fartsy stuff too.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Review Date: Sep 3, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: f/1.2 and sharp there.
heavy and costly.

The MkII version is more of the same and then some (as you no doubt already know). Still not fast enough for sports in my opinion, but... fast enough for candids - which is great. I found the MkI not even good for that. My shots typically had to be set up.

This version gives the same look and feel images as the prior copy. Outstanding sharpness even wide open. The best color rendition and contrast of any lens I've used (all canon). It's pricey and heavy. I'd love to use this as a walkaround lens for the many possibilities of 85L type image I could get but it's just too darn heavy for that. It's not exactly stealth either, big glass.

I've owned a few copy's of the MkI version and had alot of great shots using them. The nice thing about this lens is you can buy one and sell it when you can't justify the cost anymore. There always seems to be a demand for this lens and for good reason.

Currently using it on a 30D.

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Review Date: Aug 29, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp wide open

I can't keep from thinking of this lens as what the 50 f/1.4 should have been. I know, I know... this is a macro lens - it's different - yadda-yadda. I've owned more than my fair share of 50's (either 1.4's or 1.8's) and was never satisfied with sharpness until f/2.2 at least!

The efs 60 macro is sharp wide open 2.8. Who uses macro wide open? Well I do, that is when using it indoors with the iso bumped up... and it rocks! Although 2.8 is less than ideal for indoor/no flash it's still nice to have that wide of an aperture. The 'happy point' is f/8 imho. Critically sharp. If they made this lens f/1.4 at 3 times the price I'd buy it in a heartbeat. Ok, you may stumble upon a rare supreme copy of one of the ef 50's that's decent sharp wide open but what are the odds?

For macro you've still got to get pretty close to fill the frame with 'ole bug-eyes. Steady hand and high shutter speed are welcomed. Macro shots I've taken reveal extremely fine detail, excellent color rendition/contrast. It somehow looks different than classic L color/contrast. But very much like the ef-s10-22's, which is an ef-s version of an L anyhow.

I'd recommend this lens highly. Cheap enough to keep in the arsenal, very light and small and has lots of uses. A big thumbs up from this crop shooter!

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Review Date: Aug 19, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Ultra-wide finally! Super sharp.
no hood included.

Canon's best ef-s lens in my books. It's definitely an L version for us crop dudes. I've owned 3 copies of this lens, all stellar. Very sharp wide open.

My only complaint aside from no hood being included is:
If I'm in Av mode at 22mm and dial down wide open f/4.5 then zoom wider - the Aperture stays at 4.5. It won't automatically give me the widest f/stop. It's just getting to know your tools though and this is one fine piece of glass.

Highly recomended.

Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

Review Date: Aug 19, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: IS, f/2.8, nice and sharp on the long end.
Not the greatest below 35mm unless stopped down.

I bought this lens as my ultra-wide solution on a 30D. Also it would have possibly replaced (the irreplaceable) 35L I own. NOT! It's a good lens, just not great like the raving going on about it in some of these reviews. From 35mm - 55mm it kicks butt. Very sharp wide open, nice color/contrast yada-yada. But from 30 down to 17 it sucks wide open.

Obviously softer at those focal lengths. Stopped down it gets better but what the heck, I paid for f/2.8 throughout the range and it would've been nice if it was useable. For really wide people shots the sharpness isn't such a great factor, I suppose the same goes for landscapes when you'll be stopping down too.

I found the IS to be nowhere near as effective as the IS on 70-200 2.8 and at such a longer focal length I imagine it's really gotta do more stabilizing than a puny 17mm length right?

Overpriced and no hood make this lens even worse of a purchase. A better option would be 10-22mm and 24-70mm. Me, I got the 10-22 and kept my 35L for lowlight wide open- as it should be for that price.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Feb 18, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,090.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great focal range, fast.

I love this focal range for all around use. It's my walkaround lens and I definitely bring it when travelling. I'm on my 3rd copy. My first one was tack sharp. Second copy was a little soft on the wide end but nothing to complain about. My 3rd is awesome on the whole range. I sold the previous copy's to fund other purchases otherwise this is definitely a keeper lens.

Very good L saturation and contrast. Having used this lens on and off for 18 months I'm at ease saying it's very worth the price. It has helped me produce stunning images as far as superior color rendition and sharpness go.

I've also used this lens in poorly lit sporting events with great success. My preferred lens for this is the 35L but if I needed the range I'd be happy to have this lens in the bag.

Used on: 20D, 1DMkII-N

Highly reccomended

Canon EOS 1D Mark II N

Review Date: Dec 24, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent focus, spot metering, frame rate, dynamic range.
Heavy, lots of buttons needing 2 hands for most functions.

After extensive use of this camera with many different lenses I can now compare it to my previous 20D body. I'm finding I have many more keeper shots ( ~ 50% more ) due largely in part to the amazing focus system. Spot metering on the focus point is just incredible, especially for fast moving work that leaves little time for thinking.

My post processing time has halved since using this body. I always shoot in RAW, aRGB and so expect to pp but often find myself just converting as is with a little USM and it's good to go. As a less experienced photographer than the many pros posting on this site I feel this body helps me accomplish what I want done. That's not to say it's an easy tool to learn, it's not. It's just that it can do a whole lot more than I'm used to being able to do. Changing settings takes getting used to as you'll need at least 2 fingers to do so.

Compared to 20D, high ISO is not as nice in the dark areas. At least that's been my experience. I find I'm able to shoot scenes with greater dynamic coverage without blowing highlights like was more common when shooting with my 20D.

Flash with a 580EX: I am very happy with the results. I'll add I am not proficient with flash and cannot elaborate much here as I really prefer natural lighting (who doesn't?).

For the money it's a little on the 'hard to justify' side if your primary income isn't photography. But, if you are serious about your work/art, and divorced, you could probably get away with saying to yourself "It's a pro body with tons of pro settings that I'll be able to grow with for the many years it will last"... at least that's how I did it!

A final note: I am very happy with this upgrade from a 20D. All in all I am able to capture better images, the 1.3 crop is very welcome. I loved the 1.6 crop of 20D for telephoto but don't miss it at all. I've had no desire for a full frame so this 1.3 crop is a nice middle ground.

Happy shooting,


Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: Oct 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,050.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Clean, sharp edge to edge. Low light ability.
none found

I'll spare the technical jargon for those better equiped to tell you about it. I've owned this lens for 2 weeks now. At first I wasn't too impressed with it. It wasn't bad at all but there's alot of hype over this lens so anything below super-duper fantastic right off the bat is a letdown.

After using the 35L in numerous situations and applications I am now convinced it is indeed super-duper. I've just finished printing a stitched pano taken with this lens. Wow, very sharp. Compared to my now sold 24-70, 17-40 lenses, this baby is noticeably sharper, very contrasty, and color is defined ummm well... super-duper!

I have never been this floored by sharpness before, especially at this FL. Had I paid more $ for this lens I'd still be pleased.
It delivers!