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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

ef50lusm
Review Date: Dec 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,499.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: f/1.2, "L" build quality, bokeh, contrast & color, sharp at f/1.2, size & weight, internal zoom
Cons:
Cost, sharpness, AF consistency/accuracy

Taken completely out of any other context and evaluated on its own, this is a very nice lens and one I would recommend. For many, myself included, the 50mm focal length is very useful for many things and the speed of an f/1.2 lens is likewise handy. Add to that the great build quality of this lens and the (IMHO) nice size & weight considering what's built into it, and the new 50L really shines. Users of existing Canon 50mm lenses will appreciate the much nicer bokeh and internal-zoom construction as well.

The only issues I've had are a problematic AF/MF switch, which seems to have gone away but leaves me worried, and sub-optimal sharpness and AF consistency/accuracy. The cost is no small barrier either, and when one considers the context of other Canon lenses it brings into question the value proposition of this new 50L.

For example, the 50mm f/1.8 costs an infinitesimal FRACTION of the 50L and comes with plenty of optical quality (sharpness, AF). It's clearly lacking in the bokeh & build quality departments, though, and those things certainly have value. Those issues are addressed with the moderately-price 50mm f/1.4, which also provides more speed. The f/1.4 still has build issues, however, such as the cheap-feeling MF ring and lens extention during focusing.

While the 50L is sharp wide open and this is probably very important to most potential buyers, it actually seems to lose sharpness between about f/1.8 and f/2.8 -- at least my copy does. Moreover, the AF accuracy/consistency doesn't seem to compare well with the f/1.4 version. I simply got more consistently-successful results with the latter.

Another factor in the value equation is Canon's own track record and how that affects one's expectations. Most people would expect the 50L to perform on the same level as the 35L and 85L, for example, but that was certainly not my experience. Therefore one simply must question Canon's rationale at this price point.

So the bottom line is what you've already heard several times -- this is a great lens to buy if the following things are important to you:

* The 50mm focal range at ultra-wide aperture
* Having the best contrast & color
* Internal zooming
* Build quality
* Bokeh

It would not, IMHO, be a good investment for those happy with their 50mm f/1.4 lenses. If they already work well for you, I'm not convinced the new 50L offers you enough improvements to justify the steep price increase.


 
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM

ef75_300usm_1_
Review Date: Sep 12, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $199.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Price, weight, sharpness, metal lens mount, value.
Cons:
Focusing & zooming mechanisms, zoom ring size & position.

Wow! I just got this lens from a discount dealer on eBay, brand new for under $200. I wanted a light zoom lens for travel and started out with the 70-300mm DO IS, which is about $1000 more than I paid for this little gem -- and not as good at 300mm!

I realize this lens doesn't rate as high as many others, but on a 1.6x camera I think any edge problems will be mitigated. I can't speak for CA, as I never really run into it much -- with any of my lenses, but optics on this lens are GREAT for casual and vacation use. Very lightweight for carrying as well, and because of the price it won't ruin your week if it gets broken or stolen while you're away. :-)

One thing I dislike is the way they made the zoom ring/handle. It's nice that it's big, but the portion where you must hold the lens in order to twist it onto the camera is impossibly small. I'm always holding the zoom ring when I go to attach it, which results in zooming instead of attaching. Very frustrating, since fixing this problem wouldn't affect the price or anything else about the lens.

The other thing I don't like is the fact that the whole lens turns and moves when zooming and focusing. It makes filters problematic, but I knew what I was getting into at this price point and I'd just as soon have the good value.

But the other problem this causes, and it does so even with some of Canon's more-expensive lenses, is often the lens will be "extended" due to close focusing when shut off. You must remember to manually focus it back into position or focus on something far away before turning off your camera. Otherwise, the lens sticks out when you remove it, exposing the innards to dust, possible breakage, etc.

ALF


 
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM

ef70-300_45-56doisu
Review Date: Sep 8, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Awesome IS; great overall lens quality, especially in the short & mid range; Size, weight, color, portability, etc.
Cons:
Priced too high, VERY soft at 300mm, zoom action a little stiff (but that's better than not stiff enough), and too slow

I didn't run into any of the flare issues, but I did see the ghostly halo effect in a number of my images. I kind of liked it, though, as it made for a soft-focus effect that was pleasing for "creative" photography. But $1200 is a bit much for something I wouldn't use in most of my picture taking.

I really liked the size and stealth of the lens and would have kept it just for travel if it weren't for the extremely soft images I got at 300mm. And it wasn't just my copy -- I've heard/seen others complain of the same problem. Add to this that it should have been and f/4 or better (3.5-4.5?) across its range, and I just couldn't see keeping it.

But if none of those things bother you, this is an otherwise excellent lens.


 
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM

ef_16-35_28_1_
Review Date: Sep 8, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very nice size & weight. Great color and amazing sharpness on my 20D.
Cons:
Price, price price. It was very difficult to justify over the 17-40L.

Without a doubt one of the sharpest lenses I've had (and I've gone through about every one Canon makes). I was surprised based one the previous reviews here and elsewhere, but maybe the newer production runs are better quality. Either way, this thing blows away my 24-70L and 17-40L. The only lens I have that consistently performs better is the 135L f/2.

The downside is price. I really couldn't justify paying 3X the price of a 17-40L, but I decided to sell off several other lenses to do it. I'm glad I did, as everything in my "normal" bag is now f/2.8 or faster. But for 90% of people out there, the 17-40L will serve just fine at f/4. For those who do pony up the $$$ for this lens, however, you'll be happy.


 
Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

EF17-85
Review Date: Aug 23, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $599.00 | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: Optical quality at 35mm-70mm, new 3-stop IS, focal range, build quality, size & weight
Cons:
Optical quality at 17mm and 85mm, SLOW lens

This lens should have been the perfect walk-about and vacation lens, especially when you want to carry just one lens with you. It's focal range (17-85) is almost perfect (going to 105 or 135 would be perfect, for me at least). IS

Unfortunately, these positive features are marred by poor optical performance at the ends, and S-L-O-W minimum f/stop. Even the IS won't save you in a museum!

I'd still recommend the lens, however, for casual photographers who aren't concerned with large prints or low-light photography. I really, really liked all of the non-optical parts of the lens!

ALF


 
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

EF10-22
Review Date: Aug 23, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Lightweight, reasonably priced, good build quality, 77mm filter size (common with my other L glass), SUPER-CRISP images even at f/3.5, and wide enough to do some really special work.
Cons:
Should have been an f/2.8. Speed, Canon, we need more speed! :-)

What can I say? This lens rocks!

On my 20D this lens is as sharp as the 17-40L most of the time, and sometimes sharper. Presumably this means it's an L but not an L because it's EF-S. It even has the common 77mm lens cap size, so you know Canon knows that we DSLR owners with an affinity for L glass are looking for a super-wide to add to our toolkit.

If you're looking for something wider than 17mm on a 1.6x lens, this lens is (IMHO) reasonably priced for the quality you get. I would not hesitate to recommend it.

ALF