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  Reviews by: Xavier Rival  

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Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T*

21mm
Review Date: Apr 5, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Excellent image quality (sharpness, contrast, color, absence of CA), perfect built quality.
Cons:
Moustache distortion...

This lens delivers fantastic shots in a very wide range of conditions. It is very hard to criticize the image quality (sharp from center to corners, even at wide apertures, contrast). The lack of CA is very impressive, even in shots where I would expect to see quite a bit of it. The bokeh is pretty nice too, which makes some creative shots possible (even though such a wide angle is not prone to reduced DoF photograpy, we can still create some nice effects).
The only issue is the moustache, but it is not a big issue at all, unless one plans to use it for architecture only. Compared to my Canon lenses with similar focal length (17-40L and 24-105L), this lens represents a very dramatic improvement.
The build quality is second to none.
It is expensive, but obviously we get what we pay for here, so it is well worth saving up for.


 
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

24-105lisusm
Review Date: May 3, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Good standard lens on a 5D; decent image quality in all points of view except for distortion at the wide end; very effective IS; great build quality; sound price.
Cons:
No big negative point, when one is aware of the compromise this lens achieves (IQ is always decent but never perfect).

I have bought this lens one year ago, to use mainly with my 5D. It is a great standard lens for a full frame camera. When I do not want to take too many lenses, I usually take this and either my 17-40L or my Sigma 150 f/2.8, or both (I found this three lens team a wonderful kit for various trips including a trekking in the Himalaya).

I found image quality to be decent in all points of view, even if the distortion in the wide end can be a bit disturbing. Even at 24mm, the 24-105 does a good job though, since sharpness and contrast are still there. I would never rate the image quality of this lens as excellent (only primes or shorter range zoom can actually get "excellent" results), but it is always good enough to make rather large prints (I regularly do 13"x19", with some cropping). It is just not a lens for pixel-peepers; except for this, it is fine. Given the range this lens provides, I do not think one should complain (this lens is a bit like the 100-400: not perfect but it works quite well for so many different things that it is extremely useful overall).

F/4 is NOT a large aperture, but this lens has a very good, very useful IS. It and allows to do some low light photography except when the subject moves of course. I found the IS of that lens very effective : when the shutter speed is higher than 1/10s, I get mostly sharp pictures, whatever the focal length. Leaning against a wall allows to get even better results (sharp pictures, with close to 1s shutter speed).

Build quality is excellent, in line with the recent L lenses.

Overall, I can only highly recommend this lens. It is very good at what it is designed for (standard lens for FF cameras, backbone of a travel kit).


 
Sigma 150mm f2.8 APO Macro DG EX HSM

Sigma_150_macro
Review Date: May 3, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness, contrast, build quality (overall), great mid-tele at a reasonable price.
Cons:
Coating of Sigma EX lenses tends to wear over time

I purchased the Sigma 150 macro EX a year and a half ago, when I was about to start doing some macro work. I have found this lens to work very well not only for macro, but also for many other mid-tele works including portraits, some landscape shots, etc. After this macro work was over, I found that I was still taking this lens much more often than my 70-200/2.8 (so that I often take just 24-105 + 150 if I do not intend to photograph wildlife) which may go for sale sometime soon. The 150 is very convenient to travel with.

I have never found any issue with this lens in the image quality point of view; it does deliver great sharpness and contrast, including at large apertures, and good color rendition too.

The design of the lens is very good, and so is the build quality. Except that the Sigma EX coating is known to wear off after a few years of use (this has happened on my 70-200 already; on the 150 it is not falling off yet, but it already start to show sign of fatigue) whereas a Canon L lens would still look like new.

Overall, the accessories do the job, especially the tripod collar which can be removed very easily, and locks securely thanks to the knob. It is a bit hard to put the lens cap on when the hood is on, but that is not too big a drawback. The lens bag is very well padded but not very convenient to carry (bad strap). Ideally, Sigma would make this compatible with a belt system (such as TT).

For the price, this lens offers a very sound package, and I can only recommend it.


 
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

ef17-40_4l_1_
Review Date: Sep 23, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Wonderful landscape lens. Good optics, sharp, little flare, good colors. Great build quality. Price just right for a great lens, which is not f/2.8. Standard 77mm filters. Appropriate for close-ups.
Cons:
Hood is a little large, but one gets used to that.

I have owned this lens for 15 months, and used it with a 10D. My main interest in this range are landscapes and scenics; the 17-40 performs very well in these areas. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it also delivers some nice close-ups at the minimum focusing distance (28cm). It works also very well as a standard lens for a 1.6x crop camera.
Build quality is great; the size is ok (except the hood is a little large).

Highly recommended!


 
Lowepro CompuTrekker AW

CompuTrekker
Review Date: Aug 9, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very convenient for traveling with laptop and camera (especially in airplanes), A lot of room in a not so big bag, Great build quality, AW design.
Cons:
Tripod loading not convenient at all

Bought 8 months ago.

Perfect fit for my current kit:
- powerbook 15"
- 10D + 17-40 + 70-200 f/2.8 + flash
- AC, batteries, card reader, mouse, ...
- too many books

I envisage to add a wildlife lens (eg, canon 100-400) and it should fit OK (I could even imagine adding even one more small or standard sized lens).

When you consider the bag from outside, it does not look so big, but can become very heavy if loaded full. It works very well as a carry-on luggage in airplanes or trains.

The build quality is great (lifetime warranty on the material), and the AW design (with the protection for rain) is a nice addition.

Only downside, I do not like attaching a tripod to it (not convenient).

Overall, I strongly recommend it.