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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

85II
Review Date: Nov 1, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Incredibly wide aperture and low-light capability; sharpness and creamy bokeh.
Cons:
Slow autofocus and "focus-by-wire" mechanism.

I purchased my 85/1.2L II last June after looking at the unit owned by a fellow photographer.

For some time I had dismissed the 85/1.2L II as viable for the sort of low-light photography for which I wanted a fast tele-prime: Bands. Movement plus low light makes autofocus a challenge. I previously owned the 85/1.8, which has a much more rapid autofocus.

However, after looking at this lens again, I decided that the AF speed wasn't quite the show-stopper I had originally declared it to be, and that I had to have it; so I went and bought one very soon after.

I've used it for a band shoot, as well as numerous portrait sessions. It provides an extra stop over my since-sold 85/1.8.

The irony is that I use off-camera lighting for much of my portraiture, and it's simply not possible to take advantage of the depth of field (or lack thereof) with an f/1.2 aperture. Perhaps if I stacked ND or CP filters, I could get away with it; but that presents focus issues, and at any rate, for a lot of portraiture, an ultra-narrow DOF isn't necessarily desirable.

It's well known that this lens's autofocus is very slow. At the other end of the scale, the 135/2L's AF is ready before I am. I've not experienced such a rapid AF before, and it may even be quicker than my 300/2.8L IS.

Despite the 85/1.2L II's slow AF, one can adapt to work with it. Sure, there's a learning curve, and it may be necessary to shoot more, especially if shooting wide open. I wouldn't recommend it for sports, but I've not actually used it for this application; mine gets a lot of use for portraiture and the odd still-life subject.

It's a heavy, expensive lens, but feels comfortable (to me) to use. I don't mind heavy lenses, and weight is par for the course with a lens of this beauty's specifications.

I cannot say I'm keen on the focus-by-wire mechanism, but I can live with it.

If you're into portraiture, this lens is probably the most capable optic money can buy. The 135/2L is also a fantastic portrait length, and provides extra reach for more telephoto compression or more distance from the subject. Both produce very creamy background blur which so beautifully isolates the subject from an indistinct background.

Now, for some examples.

At f/1.2:

http://www.xenedis.net/viewimage.php?i=2974173182
http://www.xenedis.net/viewimage.php?i=2596469511
http://www.xenedis.net/viewimage.php?i=2810306749
http://www.xenedis.net/viewimage.php?i=2617721547
http://www.xenedis.net/viewimage.php?i=2852017531

Stopped down:

http://www.xenedis.net/viewimage.php?i=2954683718
http://www.xenedis.net/viewimage.php?i=2958091916
http://www.xenedis.net/viewimage.php?i=2827825332
http://www.xenedis.net/viewimage.php?i=2852968032

More images taken with the 85/1.2L II:

http://www.xenedis.net/viewalbum.php?a=72157600060851672

If like myself you're drawn to ultra-fast primes, this one is not to be missed. If you're after a lens of this focal length suitable for indoor sports, the 85/1.8 would be the better choice.

I'd recommend the 85/1.2L II, as it delivers a magical, dreamy appearance to portraits when shot wide open.

When shot within its capabilities, it's a tool that will deliver exceptional results; but for the beginner, there could be a learning curve, and the narrow DOF wide open could result in OOF shots.

At its not-great minimum focus distance of 0.95m, this lens has a DOF of around 1cm when shot wide open. Very little room for error, but when you get it right, it will impress.

J.


 
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef300mmf_28_1_
Review Date: Sep 15, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Incredibly sharp, and produces fantastic images with beautifully diffused backgrounds. Contains all the features of a professional telephoto lens.
Cons:
Expensive, but worth the price.

I have owned my 300/2.8L IS for a little over three months, but it's only been in recent weeks that I've begun to use it more.

I took it on a trip away last weekend, and created some very pleasing images with it.

I also used it to photograph the total lunar eclipse on 28 August, 2007, and it delivered very pleasing results.

The images this lens produces straight from the camera are stunningly sharp, even wide open, which is how I tend to use my primes. Stopped down to f/5.6, it is tack sharp. It's not necessary to stop down to achieve a very sharp image, and I would only stop down to achieve a greater depth of field.

The lens is built like a tank, focuses quickly and accurately, is fantastically sharp, is as fast (aperture-wise) as you can get at 300mm, contains image stabilisation, weather-sealing, auto-focus stop and focus preset. The three-position focus limit switch is also handy, and improves the AF speed.

When shot at f/2.8, the lens produces beautifully diffused backgrounds which are thrown totally out of focus. If, like myself, you like to isolate your subject from the background, this lens will not disappoint.

Compared to the 300/4L IS (which I owned, and sold not long after purchasing the 300/2.8L IS), this is a large lens. The hood makes it look so much larger.

At over 2.5kg, it's not a light lens, but I find the term "heavy" to be relative. I personally can comfortably hand-hold this lens (and typically do so). Some people consider the 70-200/2.8L IS to be heavy, but the big 300 makes the big 70-200 feel small and light.

The rotating tripod collar (which can also be removed) makes tripod or monopod usage very convenient.

The included lens trunk is solid and provides a good storage mechanism. I haven't used it to carry the lens around, but a lens case would be of interest. It fits in my Lowepro Mini Trekker AW (without the hood) with other lenses present.

The big 300 takes the 1.4x tele-converter quite well. I don't own the 2x tele-converter, so I cannot comment on that. I am interested in that, however, to achieve 600mm reach.

As mentioned above, I used to own the 300/4L IS, which itself is a fantastic, sharp lens with which I achieved some very pleasing images.

The high quality and brilliant performance of its big brother is unquestionable, and frankly, there's nothing bad that can be said about it. However, one particular feature the 300/4L IS has over the 300/2.8L IS is a 1.5m minimum focus distance, as opposed to the 2.5m MFD of the latter lens.

In a lot of people's case, the size, weight and cost of this lens are going to be the main considerations.

If these considerations are not obstacles, then buy this lens; it will not be a decision to be regretted. It delivers fantastic results and is a pleasure to use.

It's a definite favourite of mine, and I look forward to exploring its capabilities more.

In closing, here are some of the photos I've taken with the 300/2.8L IS:

Profile of an Egret
http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/1384448689

Partial Eclipse of the Moon
http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/1256966787

Orange Flowers
http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/1389346937

Noisy Miner
http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/1354131197

J.


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef70-200_28lisu_1_
Review Date: Feb 2, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,845.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fast (for a zoom), very sharp, IS, good focal range, compatible with the teleconverters, built like a tank, feels great, and has 77mm filter size (consistent with most other L zoom filter sizes).
Cons:
Vignettes wide open, and is expensive, but it's worth the money, and delivers.

I have owned my 70-200/2.8L IS since October, 2006, but have shot with one before, and achieved very pleasing results.

I previously owned the 70-200/4L, which was a very sharp lens, albeit a stop slower and with no IS. It was my first L.

I decided to upgrade, and not long after, sold my 70-200/4L.

I've used mine on my 20D and 5D, again with pleasing results.

I've found that the 70-200/2.8L IS is one of my most frequently used lenses. I absolutely love working with it. It's large, long and heavy, but feels great, and performs very well indeed.

When using one, the size, weight, construction and feel of the zoom and focus rings make it clear that you're using serious gear. This lens is a staple in photojournalism and sport photography circles, but is also used by many amateurs.

The extra speed and the IS are desirable and beneficial. I mostly shoot wide open with this lens, and its focal range is quite useful to a shooter like myself who prefers longer focal lengths. The wide (for a zoom) f/2.8 aperture is also useful for shooters who like narrow depth of field.

It seems to be universally accepted that the 70-200/2.8L IS is a very sharp lens. Mine certainly is. There's a lot of glass in it, and it is a zoom (a great zoom), but its sharpness is up there with my L primes (35/1.4L, 135/2L and 300/4L IS). All of these are known for being sharp, and the 35/1.4L and 135/2L have what I call "wow effect". I've not done any testing to compare the sharpness of the zoom vs. these primes, but my own experience and results tell me that the 70-200/2.8L IS is right up there with these excellent L primes. I expect the difference in sharpness (if any) to be very negligible.

This lens is able to resolve a high level of detail, produce crisp edges and really isolate a subject from the background. Just what the doctor ordered.

The 70-200/2.8L IS is a very expensive lens, and if money is no object, then for some people, size and weight certainly may be. I don't mind heavy lenses (and this is my heaviest), but if compactness, lightness and discretion are important, this lens won't deliver in that regard. If sharpness, speed and quality are priorities, then it absolutely delivers.

I bought the 1.4x teleconverter at the same time, but tend to use it more with my 300mm L prime for extra reach.

One other point worth mentioning is the 77mm filter size. All current L zooms (excluding the two 70-200mm f/4 lenses) use 77mm filters. Apart from the 14/2.8L and the super-teles (300/2.8 IS and above), only three L primes use 77mm filters (24/1.4L, 300/4L IS and 400/5.6L), with the remaining primes using 72mm filters.

If you happen to own several lenses (L or otherwise) which use 77mm filters (I own three), the common size is both handy and a cost-saver when it comes to more expensive filters, such as circular polarisers.

The only negative comment I can make about the 70-200/2.8L IS is that there is noticeable vignetting on full-frame cameras when shot wide open, especially if there is a lot of sky in the corners.

Otherwise I cannot fault it.

Recommended.

J.


 
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

ef_35_14_1_
Review Date: Jan 19, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,100.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Speed, sharpness, focal length (on a full-frame DSLR), bokeh and all else that goes with L.
Cons:
Price, vignetting and plastic shell.

I shoot with a 5D, and have 50mm, 85mm, 135mm and 300mm primes. What I was lacking was a fast, wide prime. The 35/1.4L filled that gap, and very nicely indeed.

I've started to get into some band gig photography, and wanted a wider view than 50mm.

The 24/1.4L and 35/1.4L were both up for consideration, but from the reading I'd done, the general consensus was that the 35/1.4L was the better lens.

I did have a chance to try a 24/1.4L, and it performed well, but I felt that 35mm would be a safer focal length. I have the 24-105/4L IS, so I have the wider FOV when I want it. However, 24mm comes with some trade-offs.

I bought the 35/1.4L without having even tried it, but I knew it would be good. What I didn't know was just how good it would be.

It has been described as one of the best Canon primes, and deservedly so.

I shot with it a lot today, and while I bought it primarily for low-light shooting, it's far more versatile, and deserves to be used even in good lighting.

It unquestionably handles low light. I look forward to using this at my next gig shoot, and for more general street shooting. I also look forward to using it in other low-light environments, and I today experienced its capability in a very dimly lit Cathedral.

What I've observed about the 35/1.4L in the weeks I've owned it is that it is very sharp straight from the camera, and requires little or no sharpening in post-processing. Colour is good, too.

The fast f/1.4 aperture allows isolation of subject from background, but with the wider focal length, there's more room to breathe as far as depth of field is concerned. Background blur is smooth and creamy, and the eight-bladed aperture ensures great bokeh.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it vignettes at wider apertures. Mind you, I do use a 5D, and even my 70-200/2.8L IS vignettes on that.

I was surprised to discover that the lens's shell is made from plastic (albeit a strong plastic) rather than metal. I was also surprised at how heavy this lens is for its size. It is a large lens for its focal length, but it does contain a lot of glass (11 elements).

Below is a gallery of some of the images I've captured with this lens:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/tags/canonef35mmf14lusm/

If you want a good, wide, fast prime and need or want the 35mm focal length, I'd recommend the 35/1.4L without hesitation. I can see myself going out with just this and the 135/2L. Together, these two make for an unbeatable minimalist low-light combination. Throw in a 50mm or 85mm prime to cover the middle ground.

All in all, this is a fantastic lens, and I'm very pleased I bought it.

J.


 
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

ef135mmf_2l_1_
Review Date: Oct 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Extremely sharp, very fast (for its focal length), creamy background blur and smooth bokeh, well built, compatible with the Canon EF extenders, and inexpensive in the scheme of L lens prices.
Cons:
None whatsoever. However, it would be nice to see IS in a lens of this length.

In July decided I wanted a fast telephoto prime. The 85/1.8 and 135/2L were both on the list. The 135/2L is not a common item in the stores, but I found an 85/1.8 which proved to be very sharp, so I bought it.

In the same month I also looked at the 135/2L in a store. I was floored by the absolute sharpness wide open, straight from the camera.

Barely two months later, I bought one. It's a beautiful piece of hardware which can achieve some stunning results. There is presently nothing in the Canon EF lineup which can match or exceed this lens's capability.

Here are some examples of the shots I have achieved with this fantastic lens.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/243695862/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/245198939/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/258341512/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/258321705/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/257127740/

(See http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/tags/canonef135mmf2lusm for all of my available shots taken with the 135/2L.)

Shooting with a fast telephoto lens requires more skill than shooting with slower lenses or at wider focal lengths, so there may be a learning curve, but when you get it right with this lens, you'll sure know it, and will marvel at the results this lens can produce.

For anyone who wants a fast telephoto prime, I would unhesitatingly recommend the 135/2L. The focal length may not be to everyone's liking, but that's par for the course with primes; if you need to get in closer, use a longer lens (or move, if you can); and conversely, if you need a wider view, use a shorter lens, such as either of the Canon 85mm primes.

The 135/2L is compatible with Canon's 1.4x and 2x extenders, but as I have the 70-200/2.8L IS, that feature is not particularly beneficial (although if size and weight were a concern, it would be useful). Aesthetically, the combination of black camera, white extender and black lens looks odd.

Regarding the price, Canon L lenses are expensive in Australia, but for the quality the 135/2L offers, $1,700 is a small price to pay in comparison with the significantly more expensive 70-200/2.8L IS (even though I own that too -- I bought it only very recently).

In summary, the 135/2L is a great lens which clearly lives up to its fine reputation. It firmly belongs in the arsenal of any serious amateur or professional.

I've given it top marks in all categories.

J.


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

ef85mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Jul 7, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Lightweight, small, fast, quick to focus, very sharp (even at f/1.8), nice bokeh, and it's inexpensive.
Cons:
Lack of hood, but this is standard for non-L lenses.

I have only owned the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens for a few hours, and have not yet taken any photos other than the test shots I took in the store.

Looking at those test shots (taken mostly at ISO 400, and all at f/1.8 under less-than-optimal fluorescent light), I am floored at the sharpness of this fantastic lens.

The background blur is very pleasing, and the edges of subjects are sharp. It delivers excellent performance for a relatively inexpensive non-L lens.

This lens is a keeper, and I'm looking forward to using it for proper photography. I can see this lens being used for gig (music) photography, candids, portraiture, and for subject matter for which I want a very shallow depth of field.

I wanted a fast telephoto prime, with the intention of using it wide open as much as possible, and I think this lens will do the job quite well indeed.

The Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM was also on the list of candidates, but I didn't get to inspect one of those today. However, the 85/1.8 on my 20D provides a field of view almost identical to what the 135/2L would do on a FF DSLR, it's a third-stop faster, and significantly less expensive ($AUD 1,650 or thereabouts for the 135/2L, vs. the $AUD 640 I paid for the 85/1.8).

Optically the 85/1.8 contains nothing special (ie, UD glass, aspherical elements or fluorite), but this does not prevent it from delivering surprisingly sharp results straight out of the camera.

I'm sure that unsharp masking, contrast and colour adjustments in post-processing will enhance the quality of its already fine results.

Thoroughly recommended, and I've given it a top score on all counts.

My review might be somewhat premature based on my very limited experience with this lens, but if the pleasing results I achieved in a busy store under fluorescent lighting provide a taste of this lens's capability, I cannot wait to see the results in real-world situations.

J.


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

ef50mmf_18_1_
Review Date: May 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light, inexpensive and fast, and a good performer optically.
Cons:
Plastic barrel and mount, slow focus speed, awkward focus ring, only five aperture blades, lack of distance gauge and lack of USM

It's not called the Plastic Fantastic for nothing.

The EF 50mm f/1.8 II is a fantastic little lens which every (D)SLR shooter should have in their bag.

On the negative side, the physical attributes of this lens leave much to be desired: its construction is cheap and plastic, and it has no distance gauge or USM. The focus ring is awkward and badly positioned, and AF is slow.

However, on the positive side, this lens comes at a bargain basement price and while optically it contains nothing special, it's sharp and performs very well.

It's a fast 50mm prime, which is probably quite easy to make.

I've used it for portrait shots and shallow DOF shots, and it's fantastic for this sort of shooting. I also used it for a landscape sunset shot (stopped down to f/8) and achieved very pleasing results.

Unlike its third-stop-faster cousin, this lens has only five aperture blades, perhaps resulting in pentagonal bokeh highlights, which some people may not find very appealing. I don't particularly mind.

Here are some shots I've taken with this lens:

1. http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/133335311/
2. http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/107975671/

Note that I'm using it on my EOS 20D, so it's behaving like an 80mm lens rather than a true 50mm lens.

Despite the cheapness in its physical attributes and the lack of some features, this is a very usable lens, is dirt-cheap, performs well, is very fast, is a prime, and is well worth having.

To land a fast, very usable prime at such a cheap price is a "no brainer".

Recommended.

J.


 
Lowepro Mini Trekker AW


Review Date: Apr 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Good quality (it's a Lowepro, after all); good size; allows me to conveniently, comfortably and safely store and carry all of my gear; flexible internal configuration.
Cons:
Expensive, but I got a good price.

I recently bought a Lowerpro Mini Trekker AW. It's my third Lowepro product (I also have the Topload Zoom 1 and Lens Case 3). I have a decent amount of gear, and didn't have an optimal method of carrying it if I wanted much more than my walkaround rig (20D and 24-105/4L IS), which fits nicely into my Topload Zoom 1.

The Mini Trekker AW allows me to carry all of my gear and keep my arms and sides free. it also has an enormous amount of room for accessories, such as flash cards, power and data cables, battery charger, filters, Giottos Rocket-Air blower (a must, in my opinion and experience), and plenty of other doo-dads. I keep pretty much everything in it.

Here is a picture of my bag and my gear arranged inside it:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/115712712/

If I add any other lenses or a flashgun, internal space will be a problem, but thankfully Lowepro's modular approach will allow me to attach my Lens Case 3 (which I bought specifically for my 70-200/4L) to the side, which frees up a decent amount of room inside for extra gear. There's still room to attach another lens case in the future.

In the Australian market this bag is not cheap, and the prices can vary. The most expensive price I've seen is $AUD 265, but I landed mine for $AUD 190.

I didn't initially realise that it had the ability to mount a tripod. Since learning about that, I've attached my Manfrotto 190D/141RC, but I haven't carried these on a shoot. So far, I've only taken the entire bag on one shoot, and it's nice to have everything available to me.

I'd recommend this bag to someone who has the amount of gear I have (or marginally less, but with room to grow), and wants to store and carry it all at once.

J.


 
Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

ef300mmf_4_1_
Review Date: Mar 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Light (relatively), sharp, well-constructed, image stablisation, easy to carry around all day, very hand-holdable, relatively short minimum focusing distance, practical hood, and of course, it's L-series.
Cons:
Plastic hood, but that's no big deal.

I recently took delivery of a 300/4L IS, after a longer-than-expected waiting time.

I took it out for a shoot last week, and had a fantastic time with it.

I hadn't owned a 300mm lens before, so the experience is naturally different to that experienced with shorter lenses, and I've learned a few things along the way.

My main focus (no pun intended) that day was candid people photography, and for that, this is a terrific lens, as it allows one to tightly frame people's faces, beautifully blurring the background.

Of course, on an EOS 20D, the field of view is that of a 480mm lens, which is plenty large.

I took it out exclusively, leaving my walkaround lens (24-105/4L IS) at home, as I wanted to force myself to learn to shoot only with a prime (it's my second prime), and a long prime at that; and also see what sort of shots I could achieve. I'm happy to report that I've achieved some very pleasing results so far.

It's sharp, fast to focus, and having image stabilisation is an absolute lifesaver. In my view, image stabilisation is essential on a 300mm lens for hand-held work.

From a usability perspective, this lens is very hand-holdable, and comfortable on the EOS 20D. I walked around town all day with this lens, and its weight and size were never a burden. It's very comfortable to use, and delivers nice results.

I like the retractable hood, although I'd prefer if it were made of a lightweight metal rather than plastic. However, that's only a minor issue.

The relatively short minimum focusing distance of this lens (1.5m, substantially less than the 300/2.8L IS) makes it a good choice for macro photography (flowers and the like).

Here are some of my favourite shots taken with this lens so far:

1. http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/104394442/
2. http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/104155706/
3. http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/104138623/
4. http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/98614997/

While it would be great to own the f/2.8 version, besides the small issue of the huge price tag, it's somewhat bigger and bulkier, and is not the sort of lens I would want to carry around all day, whereas the f/4 version is very easy to carry, and is only a little larger than the 70-200/2.8L IS (sans hood).

I'd recommend this lens.

J.


 
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

24-105lisusm
Review Date: Feb 15, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Versatile focal range, L-series quality, IS, build quality, constant f/4 and sharpish results.
Cons:
Not f/2.8, and the price could be a little lower.

There seem to be a lot of people who aren't too happy with the 24-105/4L IS.

However, I'm sitting on the other side of the fence, for I am content with mine.

I was a very early adopter, having purchased mine within a day or two of its release. It was arguably a gamble, as the lens was brand new, and had no history. However, I wasn't particularly worried about that.

What prompted the purchase was the dreadful, frustrating experience I had with a former lens. Its replacement was to be either the 24-70/2.8L or the 24-105/4L IS, which at the time hadn't been released.

I came extremely close to buying the former, but eventually chose the latter after much deliberation, as the extra reach, IS, smaller size, much less obnoxiously-sized hood and significantly lower price made it a far more attractive package. The only selling point the former had was an extra stop worth of light, which I didn't consider as important, as I am predominantly an outdoor scape shooter.

I am happy with this lens. Whilst mine is a very early, flare-prone copy (which I have not had "fixed"), I have not yet experienced the flare. Granted, I haven't tried to produce it, and I probably haven't shot in such a manner as to accidentally produce it.

I haven't performed any extensive testing by taking photos of brick walls and the like, but from my real-world experience shooting with it, it's a good, quality lens which can produce some nice results. I've certainly taken some very nice photos with it.

Below is a link to one of my albums, whose shots were all taken with the 24-105/4L IS. Naturally, I have applied unsharp masking and adjusted the contrast and levels, but in my experience, this is necessary for all shots.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/sets/72057594052064839/

The lens does at times exhibit a small amount of CA/PF in high contrast areas (trees against skies, etc.), but in my opinion it's well controlled, not "in your face" (unlike that which I experienced on my previous walkaround lens) and certainly isn't a showstopper.

The 24-105/4L IS is my walkaround lens, and lives on my camera a good 90% of the time.

I recommend this lens, and it suits my purposes well, but of course, it's not the lens for everyone.

J.


 
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

24-105lisusm
Review Date: Feb 14, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Practical focal range, sharpness, good build quality, size/weight and IS.
Cons:
Not f/2.8, and could be a little less expensive.

There seem to be a lot of people who aren't too happy with the 24-105/4L IS.

However, I'm sitting on the other side of the fence, for I am content with mine.

I was a very early adopter, having purchased mine within a day or two of its release. It was arguably a gamble, as the lens was brand new, and had no history. However, I wasn't particularly worried about that.

What prompted the purchase was the dreadful, frustrating experience I had with a former lens. Its replacement was to be either the 24-70/2.8L or the 24-105/4L IS, which at the time hadn't been released.

I came extremely close to buying the former, but eventually chose the latter after much deliberation, as the extra reach, IS, smaller size, much less obnoxiously-sized hood and significantly lower price made it a far more attractive package. The only selling point the former had was an extra stop worth of light, which I didn't consider as important, as I am predominantly an outdoor scape shooter.

I am happy with this lens. Whilst mine is a very early, flare-prone copy (which I have not had "fixed"), I have not yet experienced the flare. Granted, I haven't tried to produce it, and I probably haven't shot in such a manner as to accidentally produce it.

I haven't performed any extensive testing by taking photos of brick walls and the like, but from my real-world experience shooting with it, it's a good, quality lens which can produce some nice results. I've certainly taken some very nice photos with it.

Below is a link to one of my albums, whose shots were all taken with the 24-105/4L IS. Naturally, I have applied unsharp masking and adjusted the contrast and levels, but in my experience, this is necessary for all shots.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/xenedis/sets/72057594052064839/

The lens does at times exhibit a small amount of CA/PF in high contrast areas (trees against skies, etc.), but in my opinion it's well controlled, not "in your face" (unlike that which I experienced on my previous walkaround lens) and certainly isn't a showstopper.

The 24-105/4L IS is my walkaround lens, and lives on my 20D a good 90% of the time. Of course, it's not the lens for everyone, but it suits my purposes well.

J.