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  Reviews by: Tony Rogers  

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Canon EOS 1D Mark IV

canon1dmarkiv
Review Date: Jan 2, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: low light photography capability is extraordinary. Has everything I liked about the 1D Mark III, but more so. Screen is massively improved in resolution and readability.
Cons:
Need to turn off "Automatic Lighting Optimiser" to see real image - annoying when shooting RAW.

Not cheap, but being an early adopter never is Smile

I have a 1D Mark III (and 1Ds Mark III). I never had trouble with the focus on the Mark III, but that's because I only use One Shot, not AI Servo. This camera is at least as fast and accurate as the Mark III.

The user interface is almost identical (except that the back screen is hugely improved), so I could start shooting immediately. However, it's critical to read the manual cover-to-cover - they have added so much functionality that there are a few tripwires. One of these tripped me: Auto Lighting Optimiser (ALO) makes bad exposures look good, which is bad when you are shooting fast (or sloppy - I admit it! I was shooting at the zoo to try the camera out...), because the RAW images won't look as good. I recommend turning ALO off except when you want to shoot JPEGs (and maybe even then).

Auto ISO is very effective - it's like getting program modes that will set the ISO as well as the aperture and shutter speed. Being a tad conservative, I'll probably shoot with a fixed ISO a lot of the time, but it's cool to have the option.

I bought this camera to get low-light/available light shooting options. I got a whole lot more than that. I may even play with video one day Smile


 
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

ef_35_14_1_
Review Date: Dec 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharpness, speed. Perspective distortion (when desired)
Cons:
Perspective distortion (when NOT desired!)

This lens made it possible for me to stop relying on the 24-70mm f2.8L. I use it mostly for full-length shots in the studio, where I'm running around f8. It is noticeably sharper than the 24-70, and focuses more quickly (probably because f1.4 lets a lot of light hit the autofocus sensors).

Have to be careful about getting too close to a model while using this lens - unintended perspective distortion is unflattering :-) Apart from that I have nothing bad to say about this lens.

I suspect Canon don't sell a lot of these because people buy the 24-70 or 16-35 instead. Pity, because this lens is very very good. Just wish the 24 f1.4 was as good.


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

85II
Review Date: Dec 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Superb sharpness, brilliant bokeh, focusses well (albeit a little more slowly than other lenses). Excellent lens in the studio.
Cons:
Heavy, but balances well on a 1D series body. Expensive!

It took me a long time to buy this lens, because I'd tried it a couple of times on a 5D. For some reason, it doesn't seem to focus as quickly on a 5D. Put it on a 1D3 or 1Ds3 and it seems to focus faster (still noticeably slower than a 135 f2, but pretty much everything is!)

Glad I finally got one. This lens completed my conversion to shooting primes (begun with the 135 f2 and 200 f2.8). Forced me to buy a 35 f1.4 and 50 f1.2 (such a shame!).

I would not recommend this lens for shooting sports - it does not autofocus fast enough. This lens was designed for use in the studio, and it takes on all comers there.

One warning - if you buy this lens, be prepared to become dissatisfied with all your zooms...


 
Sigma 8mm F3.5 EX DG Circular Fisheye

149_small_1_
Review Date: Jul 11, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: a full hemisphere in a circular image (on full-frame) - works well on Canon 5D
Cons:
learning to keep my feet out of the shot! Must switch off auto-focus to focus manually.

I haven't had this lens long - I will try to edit this review after I have more experience with it.

The lens feels solid and well made.

It has an unusual "lens-cap + ring" arrangement, because the front element has to protrude to be able to shoot a full 180 degree (horizontal and vertical) image. You can remove cap+ring together (it just tugs off)

It auto-focuses quite quickly and quietly. It does NOT have full-time manual focus - you must switch off auto-focus to use manual focus.

Although this lens can be used for scientific purposes, I intend to use it mostly for special effects. It's certainly not something you would use as a general purpose lens.



 
Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM

1ef200mmf_28_1_1_
Review Date: Jul 9, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light weight (much lighter than the 70-200 f2.8L), sharp, clear, fast auto-focus
Cons:
it's not the 200mm f1.8L :(

I would love to own a 200mm f1.8L. If Canon ever start to make that lens again, I will be very interested in buying one.

In the meantime, I have one of these. It is much lighter (good strong build quality, but light), and it works very well. I have used it on a 5D and a 1D Mark III (where ISO 6400 makes up for f2.8!) - on the Mark III it is a 260mm-equivalent.

This is the cheapest or second-cheapest L series lens. That is not because it's bad, it's because it is a simple, effective design that doesn't cost a lot to make.

This is much easier to carry all day than the 70-200 f2.8L IS.

I have heard arguments about whether this lens is as good as the 135 f2L; I don't think it is, quite, but that's a high benchmark. This is a fine lens, and very useful.


 
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

ef135mmf_2l_1_
Review Date: Jul 9, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Closest thing to a perfect lens. Sharp, limpidly clear, fast autofocus. Works superbly opened all the way to f2.
Cons:
Want to use it for full-length shots, and the studio isn't long enough.

This is my favourite lens. I use in the studio for portraits, head-and-shoulders, sometimes head-to-waist shots. If my studio was longer, I'd use it even more.

This lens is very highly rated - that is no accident.



 
Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM

ef_180_35_1_
Review Date: Jul 9, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Excellent image quality, ability to get 1:1 macro at a greater distance, usable as a 180mm prime telephoto
Cons:
Not a lightweight lens, tripod almost a necessity for macro shots, some difficulty finding a suitable tripod head when used with a battery grip or a 1D series body - the body interferes with many heads (eg: Manfrotto 410 geared head) - I'd rather the tripod collar lifted the lens higher.

This lens is awesomely sharp, as all good (true) macro lenses are. It can be used for things other than straight macro shots; it makes an interesting lens for portraits, but it can be cruel, because it shows every slight imperfection in the skin.

I am not using my 100mm Macro lens any more.