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Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T*

Review Date: May 26, 2015 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: resolution, sharpness, contrast, 3D, Bokeh, color, no aberrations whatsoever, smooth precise MF, built like a tank
lens cap sucks (flipping off your hand due to longitudinal(!) ribbing); replaced mine immediately with that for the Otus Distagon 55 f/1.4 (it’s 77mm too, has good grip and is planar).

I use this lens on a D810 and I have many years of experience with premium lenses such as, e.g., the Leica Apo-Macro-Elmarit-R 100 f/2.8.
End Intro.

My best lens in 30 years. Period. Rivalled by quite a few modern tele lenses as of f5.6 or f8 in various aspects but second to none (to no non-Otus) with respect to the combination of all of its qualities - and at full aperture (which is f2 here!), second to none in any quality (don’t know the Nikkor AF-S 200 f2 -beast thought). Especially at medium to longer distances, the Zeiss Apo Sonnar’s f2-capabilities shine. At these distances, its 3D rendition and Bokeh really makes a difference.

Btw: It’s been reported (by Zeiss) that this lens actually is an Otus class lens. It just came along before the Otus series (and name) was inaugurated.

@arthury: Why your 9-points rating? In your review you say that you have no complaints (except the cap) ...

Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR AF-S Nikkor

Review Date: Jan 12, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: razor sharp throughout the frame, perfect size, very effective and silent VR, smooth zoom ring, min focus distance (and max. reprod. ratio)
Bokeh in transition zone better than with the 2,8-VR II version, esp. around the short end (70mm), but still nervous and not quite as pleasing as with Canon's EF 4/70-200L IS; expensive tripod collar

Intro: I've used quite a few "70-200" lenses in the past 25 years. On DSLRs I used, e.g., the Leica-R 4/80-200 (5DI&II), Zeiss Contax N Vario-Sonnar 3,5-4,5/70-210 (5DII), Canon EF 4/70-200L IS (5DII), Nikon 2,8/70-200 VR II (D800). end intro

I use this f4-Nikkor on the D800 and prefer it over all the others named above.
It's as sharp as the Leica throughout the frame, with similar micro contrast, but with AF/VR/auto aperture -> more keeper...
Towards the edge/corners it is even sharper than the 2,8 VR II Nikkor (at f4) and has a more pleasing bokeh in the transition zone (like the Leica), yet not as pleasing as the EF 4/70-200L IS, esp. near the short end. It is sharper than the EF though. It features much less focus breathing than the 2,8 VR II.

I prefer the f4 over the f2.8 for versatility (weight) reasons. I perfectly know the benefits of fast lenses but this range of focal length I also use a lot when hiking/travelling. So, for me, this lens was a long awaited and welcome Nikkor.

It pairs perfectly with the TC14E II converter.

Price tag is ok but the tripod collar is a bit overpriced but, well, way better than the cheaper alternatives I've tried...

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

Review Date: May 10, 2011 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: focal range, AF speed, IS, overal performance and versatility
rather low contrast; short end at f4 on FF with severe vignetting & corners could be better for an L-lens; sample variation!

Meanwhile I need to update my review about this lens.

So far, I used two samples of this lens on a 5D MkII. While I rated the first one an 8 (see my last review why), the 2nd one is considerably better concerning corner performance (better than the 1st one; full aperture corner performance on FF is still unworthy of Canon’s L league, but maybe I'm too much used to Leica standards).

So, the 24-105 can be better than that of my 1st review, but this is an embarrassing fact for Canon at the same time, ie for Canon’s quality control. Such sample variation is just an unreasonable demand, especially with lenses with such a price tag.

Still, as mentioned before, the 24-105 is a very useful and a good all-around lens. I still like the AF and IS performance very much.

I'd rate it now a 9 (can't edit the rating with this 2nd review!?)

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

Review Date: Mar 9, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: focal range, AF speed, IS
low contrast, on FF (esp short end & f/4) blurry corners and severe vignetting

I used this lens on a 5D MkII for about one year.

This is a very useful and good all-around lens! I liked the AF and IS performance very much!
I found it not that sharp though (less than the 24-70L which I had before and which I had to buy 3(!) samples of before I had a centered one) but I liked very much using it as a travel lens.

It is a pretty ‘weak L lens’ at full aperture (corners are totally useless, esp at the short end). It is pretty good at f/8 but I expected more from an L lens and I have no understanding for expensive zooms that are not able to produce at least ‘somehow useful’ corner sharpness at full aperture, even not on monitors or small prints (‘full-aperture-crisp-corner-zooms’ do exist, they feature no red ring and no L but a red dot and a name that starts with L...). This makes this lens rather useless for images with shallow DOF where the focused subject is outside the center area.

To prevent misunderstandings, I liked using this lens. It’s optical performance, focal range, rapid AF and good IS altogether make it a very versatile companion.

Finally, however, I sold it in favor of a Zeiss Contax-N Vario Sonnar 24-85 (Conurus converted to EOS) which, optically (color, contrast, tones, 3D, Bokeh), outperforms both the 24-70L and 24-105L with ease (with f/3.5-4.5, no IS, and a bit slower AF though).

Sigma 100-300mm f4 EX IF HSM APO

Review Date: Nov 13, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very impressive image quality, a real bargain lens
Edge/corner sharpness wide open, color rendering a bit on the warm side

IQ of this zoom lens is really impressive. Edge/corner resolution is a bit weak wide open, esp at 300mm, but very good from f8. Center quality is a pleasure throughout the range and at all apertures. Color rendering is, like with many Sigmas, a bit on the warm side. Centering of my sample was excellent. (‘was‘, because I use now the Leica-R 105-280, which is beyond comparison but, unlike the Sigma, no bargain...). The Sigma has a very fast ultra sonic AF, but on my 5D it was often not accurate. Not an issue for me because I rarely shoot moving objects and focus mostly manually anyway, but it’s a bit annoying esp. with such a (potentially) sharp lens. Maybe this was an unusual phenomenon, to a large extend just due to the individual pairing of my samples of lens and body.

In a nutshell – highly recommended!

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

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

Pros: IQ - IF YOU MANAGE TO FIND A GOOD SAMPLE..., built quality
sample variation (hardly acceptable in this price league); weight is not a con that Canon could change but just physics - don't go for fast rigid zoom lenses if you don't want heavy lenses

I went through three samples before I had a good one. The first two were severely decentered (ie, uneven sharpness at/in different edges/corners; one was more or less blurry throughout the frame at 24mm)! This is inacceptable, (not only) in this price league. If you manage to get a good one, however, the results are veeery pleasing. There is probably no better EF-mount-AF-zoom-lens of this focal range and speed.

Resolution declines noticeably towards the edge/corner, especially when wide open, but this seems to be the case with virtually all (faster) non-Leica zooms. So nothing special to complain. Stopped down to f8, IQ is impressive.

It's heavy. Of course. It's fast and built like a tank. Thus, weight is not a con that Canon could change. It's just physics – just don't go for fast rigid zoom lenses if you don't want heavy lenses.

I finally sold it, not only because severe sample variation is more than annoying at +1000,- Euro. I got for less(!) than the EF24-70's sales revenue a Leica-R 4/35-70, AND an OM 3.5/21, AND (in case I need AF) a Sigma EX 2.8/24-60. Btw, if weight is an issue, the first two are together lighter than the Canon. The first outperforms the Canon by far at any focal length and aperture, as well as the some 20-years old OM does compared to the Canon is at its short end, esp at/in the edge/corner, and the Sigma is not far behind the Canon at a fraction of the price.

Anybody who wants a fast rigid EF-mount-AF-standard-zoom, and who gets a good sample, will probably be very happy with this lens!

My rating is for the good sample.

Lowepro Toploader 70 AW

Review Date: Jan 13, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very practial. Robust. Reverse-open lid.
Original harness/strap not very comfortable.

My comments are also for the 75AW, which is a bit bigger. Of course it is relatively big (long). So what? It is supposed to hold, protect, and provide quick access to a pro body with a quite big tele lens. And it does a fairly good job.

It’s my preferred bag when I go for a tele-shooting-walk. It perfectly holds an EOS 5D with a 100-300 APO Sigma or a 4/250 Leica (2nd), the latter even with extender, both with an ArcaSwiss plate attached (I also tried the 70AW but it is too short for these lenses and a bit narrow for pro bodies). It even holds a Speedlite 580EX simultaneously in the main compartment so that the exterior compartments are still free for further (small) stuff.

I don’t use the chest harness though. It isn’t very comfortable for me. The same goes for the original shoulder strap. I use a neoprene shoulder strap (also on my camera, if any) which is much more comfortable (coushioned!). I attach one end to a lateral plastic ring and the other end to the posterior ‘handle’ of the 75AW. In this way, the top of the bag is oriented a bit forward and the camera is easier to get to.

I would rate the 70AW the same as the basic idea and its realization is the same and I cannot complain that it is too small for my body/tele lenses when it is just not made for them.