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

16-35II
Review Date: Jan 18, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: + sharp + bright + fast and accurate AF + weather sealing
Cons:
none really

I only give this a "9" because it's slightly less sharp than the 70-200/2.8 IS which is not surprising. However I feel that 9 is still plenty. This lens has finally brought me the wider half of the Zoom Holy Duo (the other naturally being the 70-200). The only time this lens failed me was really my own fault: I dropped it and it became soft on the right side from the damage. Now, after being repaired, it's as good as ever.

Oh, and one more thing. A lot of people are complaining that lenses like this are too heavy for travelling and buy lightweight junk to replace it. For me, it's an ultimate travel lens because it's reliable and weather sealed. If you're going to a place you're pretty sure never to visit again in your life, the last thing you should be doing is trying to cheap out on photo gear, unless your true intention is to laze in the sun sipping mojito and not to take great pictures.

Regards...


 
Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X 124 AF PRO DX SD

atx124afprodx
Review Date: Oct 1, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $420.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharpness, build quality, great range
Cons:
CA (and lots of 'em), 24mm/f4 setting not very sharp

This (and its 11-16 sister) is the best current choice for an APS-C ultrawide, at least in the Canon scope. It's sharp, it's decently fast (f/4 vs. f/4-5.6 or even f/4.5-5.6 as the Sigmas) and it's built well. Typically Tokina.

Another typical Tokina feature, though much less desirable, is the amount of chromatic aberrations. Also the lens is getting noticeably less sharp towards 24mm wide open, but it wasn't a deal breaker for me. Stopped down to about f/6.3 it was fully sharp again. The 12mm/f4 combination was excellent.

Eventually I sold it as I didn't want an ultrawide at the time and envisioned switching to 1D in the future. Now I wish it had been compatible so that I would have kept it.


 
Canon EOS 1D Mark II N

1d_mkii_n
Review Date: Oct 1, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: IQ, build, speed, responsiveness, reliability
Cons:
menu system not terribly user friendly doesn't slice bread... oh wait... seriously, nothing else at all

I believe this is the most terrific deal on the used market in the Canon scope now. Some are sold below $1000 even in my parts, and you're getting an unbelievable camera for the money. Mine was in great exterior shape with 60K clicks. I have to regrettably say that the mirror started to get stuck sometimes and so the camera will have to see a camera doctor in the near time, but it can be remedied in the field so it never spoiled the game for me once I know about it. But that has nothing to do with the device itself which is the most badass camera that I've ever seen.

Name an attribute of a good stills camera and the 1D Mark II N will have it in spades. Spectacular IQ? Check. Fast and reliable AF? Check. Instant responsiveness? Check. Bombproof build? Check. Great LCD screen? Check (as opposed to the non-N, at least for me - I'm used to these 2.5" units over years). Customizability? Check (OK... I wish I had the option to toggle some options right away and not through the Personal Functions that require a computer and EOS software... but the annoyance isn't big).

This camera has been with me for 10 months and went through a few trips, apart from working steadily for me at home. If I can choose just two pieces of equipment that I can take to my grave, the 1D Mark II N will be one of 'em.


 
Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

ef_24-85_35_1_
Review Date: Sep 28, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $225.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: great range, sharp, compact,
Cons:
build quality not stellar

This is a great walkaround lens on my 1D Mark II N. Very good focal length range means that I can put it on the camera and take nothing else with me unless I really need to shoot ultra wide angles.
Even when used alongside the 70-200 and the wideangle lenses it finds its uses. This lens is really sharp when slightly stopped down (I'm yet to use it wide open so I'll hold my judgement), the colors are maybe not as good as the 70-200/2.8 L IS but not objectionably so. The barrel distortion is noticeable at 24mm. At longer focal length I have to be careful to avoid motion blur, being used to stabilized longer lenses.
The lens is very compact and this helps with stealthier shooting in some areas. The double extending barrel looks flimsy though and the lens will probably collect dust through the holes between its elements though. Ring USM is a pleasure to use, always fast and precise and silent to boot.
For the money, it can't be beaten. Maybe FF owners would find the border quality lacking but most lenses don't fare well on FF at wide apertures, or at all, so there's little to be desired. It's a pity that Canon has discontinued this lens in order to shove $1000+ L lenses down our throats. Me, I'm lucky to have snatched this little gem.


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef70-200_28lisu_1_
Review Date: Jun 26, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,600.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: + everything really.
Cons:
- heavy and bulky; - white.

Uh, this is THE lens for me. Hard to fault on anything, and really, hard to find any words that wouldn't sound banal. Name a good attribute of a lens and the 70-200 has it in spades. Bright? Check. IS? Check. Sharp? Double check (and f/2.8 is fully usable to boot). Fast and accurate AF? Check. Tough build? Check. Anything else? Check.

Maybe it's heavy and bulky, but it's my problem, not that of the lens. At times I regretted not going with f/4 L IS, but then I found myself shooting lots of dark indoor venues and never been in doubt since.


 
Canon EF 17-35mm f/2.8L USM

ef17_35_1_
Review Date: Jun 26, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: + great build; + fast AF; + good sharpness, at least from about f/4.0 but usable wide open as well.
Cons:
None really. I wish it had been sharp at f/2.8 but for the price, I can't complain.

I chose this over both 17-40 and 16-35 because I wanted some leeway above the f/4 aperture of the former and the latter (mk I version) was $300 more. So I found a guy who was selling a very decent copy of this lens and... it's been with me for over 1.5 years. It wasn't terribly wide on a 30D but since I switched to an APS-H body it's been great, just what the doctor ordered. My copy is excellent even though it was made in 1996; the only problem is the slight difficulty with zooming at some point around 30mm.
I'm shooting this at f/4 or narrower and can't fault the image quality. With 17-40, I would have had to use f/5.6 or narrower all the time and it's not always an option. The 17-35 is noticeably heavier than the 17-40 but I don't mind.


 
Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

l217_efs1755
Review Date: Jun 26, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: + Pin sharp, f/2.8, IS - all contribute to the great image quality; + Convenient range on APS-C cameras; + fast and responsive AF.
Cons:
- It's plastic; nothing wrong per se but for the price it should have been better; - QC issues? My lens had IS quit on it after only two months; - No hood supplied!

This was my first Canon lens ever, and I loved it. It helped me to get started in this business and the only reason I moved on was that I don't use APS-C cameras anymore. It was sharp, it was fast, it was unbelievably cool to shoot with.

The downsides are annoying but not lethal. First of all, my specimen quickly gathered a small amount of dust behind front element. Second, Canon's QC guys have apparently taken a hike when it was made. After only two months the IS in my lens got broken and then it started to cause Err99 to the camera whenever I zoomed past about 30mm. I got it fixed by Canon eventually but the amount of irritation was unbelievable. And finally, this $1100 toy comes with no hood! Well, Canon's policy on this is ridiculous, and I never got around to finding a hood for it. Well, didn't make matters any worse for me; f**k you Canon! Smile

Well, aside from being a little overpriced (more so considering the fact that it comes with no hood), this lens is a gem and a default choice for any APS-C shooter.


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

ef50mmf_18_1_
Review Date: Jun 26, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: + sharp + compact + bright
Cons:
- pentagons in highlight bokeh - awful build quality

Seriously, this is one of the best Canon lenses. It's sharp, it's bright and it's lightweight / compact.

The only real downside is build quality. Mine got broken twice from falling onto something hard and had to be repaired the second time. Nevertheless, it still continues to provide sharp pictures.

Not a real downside, but I find myself using this lens only rarely since I got a 1D Mark II N. It has become a little short for facial portraits and many shots end up in no man's land between the wide angle and telephoto / portrait (just as I'm using this lens in between 17-35 and 70-200 zooms). But that's just my style of shooting, I guess.

I got it out again for the recent Cirque du Soleil shooting session. It's amazing that this little dude got me a few great shots over both L lenses I won.


 
Sigma 14mm f2.8 EX Aspherical

14mmEXhsm_1_
Review Date: Jun 26, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $645.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: + wide + decently sharp stopped down + faithful color rendition; not yellowish like many Sigmas + solid build + HSM, quiet and accurate
Cons:
- front element easy to get wet, dirty or damaged - FLAAAAAAAAARE - corner sharpness not satisfactory until about f/8 - pricey and rare

It's one of those wacky "specialty" lenses that our hearts sometimes long for, in spite of logic and thin wallet. I have a 17-35mm L but I wanted something wider - not so much for the casual work, but rather for really cramped spaces, or to get weird architecture shots. After a long search I found it on KEH and bought it (the amount of irritation the delivery cost me is another story).

It's a fantastic lens for journalistic use and allows me to get some really nice photos when space is very limited. The image quality is technically mediocre overall but you have to keep in mind that this is a full frame ultra ultra wide. I believe I've never taken a shot with it at anything less than f/4.5. At f/5.6 on my 1D Mark II N, the corners are still muddy. At f/8, it's becoming better. At f/13, the lens is impeccably sharp.

The biggest downside is flare - must be the reason this lens is no longer made as Sigma couldn't solve the problem. In addition to bright color spots, the lens can produce heavy veiling if the sun is positioned in the frame. Overcast weather is the best environment for this Sigma. You need to be aware of that and just learn to live with flare or even use it creatively.