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  Reviews by: Tim Dollear  

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

ef100_400l_1_
Review Date: Sep 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,150.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp until 350mm. IS works incredibly well. it's an L. af accurate.
Cons:
It's an L (it's white and conspicuous), learning curve, heavy. not super bright (f5.6 pretty early on in zoom). slow to focus.

I think for the price this is an incredible lens. Consider the key features:
1) image stabilization (2 types but i almost always use 1)
2) 400mm peak zoom. 560 equiv on a crop body.
3) compact when locked at 100mm.

But really if the lens isn't sharp, it's not going to get used. When I bought this lens about a month ago (used on RM buy/sell forum) and it really took me about 3 weeks to get pictures I would consider sharp. I almost sent it in to be calibrated

I am not sure exactly what I have learned but the pictures are MUCH better now than when I got the lens. I will say the lens isn't as sharp over 350mm. I will also say that it gets heavy to carry it around (tho taking off the tripod mount helps w/ weight and carry-ability). But still I was at a bird sanctuary last weekend and I shot birds in full sun out on the lake but also birds of prey and owls which were in cages and often in very low light. I was incredibly happy to see the pictures that came back.

So the push/pull zoom: you will get used to it. You might even learn to like it (I do) but even if you don't love it, you will learn to use it because it's worth it for the iq out of this lens.

Here is one sample of 1600 ISO shot in low light, 340mm, 1/200 of a second
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3289/2877296372_0dc90c5ede_b.jpg .

other shots here (all from this same weekend)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/timdollear/2876462633/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/timdollear/2876461307/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/timdollear/2877243509/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/timdollear/2878076608/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/timdollear/2879124358/



 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Jul 29, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $330.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: F1.4 opens lots of indoor no-flash possibilities. solid build and nice feel to the focus ring. Fast autofocus. takes 58mm filter size.
Cons:
Pretty unforgiving if anything is just slightly off.

I have had this lens for about 6 mos. It's hard not to compare it to the 50mm f1.8 (which is a great value but, let's face it, not a great lens). I have been really happy with a lot of the pictures I have taken, especially indoors. I also am sometimes disappointed with the pictures I take. It could be my lack of skills, but when you are shooting at less than f2.8, you have a razor thin focal depth. there's no way around that.

I also have the 100mm f2.8 macro and in my mind the two lenses compliment each other perfectly. They both take 58mm filters so you can share a polarizer. Filters in general are less expensive at 58mm, so I just replaced both cheapo UV filters (tamron) for B&W for about $30 a piece. I digress.

50mm is a great length on a crop camera (I am sure it's also great for FF but I don't own one). I take a lot of pics of my dogs and you can pretty much hold them back at arms length and get the full head in frame. If you have to use a prime for a walkabout lens, this would probably be the one.

While this isnt' an L lens, it feels really solid, esp compared to the all-plastic 50mm 1.8. I think as I get more skilled with this lens, I will improve my keeper rate.

Here is a picture of my weiner dog taken indoors with light from a picture window providing illumination. This was at F4.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/timdollear/2626801540/in/set-72157605638689767/


 
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

ef_28-135_35_1_
Review Date: Jul 15, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Very good walk around lens. Especially for the price. IS give you an extra stop. Relatively sharp for the price and because front element doesn't rotate, polarizers are easy to use. FTM focus is nice so you can touch up focus after AF lock in one-shot mode.
Cons:
a bit wobbly (at least mine is). 72mm filters are unusual so you don't get to re-use your other polarizers. Lens hunts in low light and max aperture of f5.6 at 135mm is suboptimal indoors unless there is a lot of light, you have a flash or you jack up the ISO. The focus ring is not ergonomical at all.

This lens takes a bit of a beating from many reviewers on this site and elsewhere. I think part of the reason this lens is under-appreciated is that the market is flooded from kits (people buy the bundled kit and then sell the lens to net a lower price on the camera body). I certainly don't blame anyone for doing it but because of this trend I think you will never get back what the lens is actually work.

While this lens will never be mistaken for an L lens, it's a great mid-level walkabout lens that's surprisingly sharp esp at the mid to longer focal range. I have found this to be a good people lens.

Sample pics with this lens:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/timdollear/2640499281/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/timdollear/2640482715/


 
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

ef_100_28_1_
Review Date: Sep 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very sharp, telephoto means you can be back a bit from your subject, useful as normal prime (esp at 2.8 for indoor/no flash)
Cons:
expect to use manual focus often.

I am pretty new to photography (SLR photography anyway) and this was the first non-kit lens purchase where I had to shell out any real $$..

I really wanted this to be a portrait lens and maybe get into macro photography. I had been using the 28-135 kit lens for portrait stuff, which was OK but not very sharp and really required flash for anything indoors.

As a portrait lens this lens is quite sharp, with the caveat that the focus is very touchy, so it's easy to get a less than tack-sharp shot. In general expect AF to be somewhat flaky. The good news is the focus ring is quite wide and placed well (esp compared to the 28-135).

About a week after buying the lens I noticed a spider who was in the early stages of reeling in an insect. Over the next 20 minutes or so, my interest in macro was born.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/41322474@N00/sets/72157601804882762/

So maybe this lens isn't quite as versatile as I had hoped (I think I am going to buy the 70-200 for portrait and general purpose work), I strongly recommend this excellent macro lens.