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Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

ef300mmf_4_1_
Review Date: Feb 1, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,039.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: a little better sharpness and contrast than even the great 135L and 200 2.8L; minimum focusing distance of 4.9 ft. allows for killer close-ups; IS comes in handy a lot; lightweight; versatile; great IQ and overall value at a very fair price
Cons:
focusing is a little slow; focus tracking with moving subjects is a little hit or miss with 5D (and thus lower-end bodies), not sure about 1DIIN; my copy needed to be sent in for calibration (came back much better); older IS (2 f-stops vs. newer with 4 f-stops); finally, it's not the 300 f/2.8L IS so i can't give it a 10

sample images and ramblings:

http://alfieri.smugmug.com/gallery/2310142


 
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM

ef_16-35_28_1_
Review Date: Jan 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,370.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: better IQ and focus reliability than the 17-40 f/4L; extra stop; very good colors
Cons:
not quite good enough for the price; too soft on the wide end

sample images and ramblings:

http://alfieri.smugmug.com/gallery/2384081

in the end, ended up getting the 5D + 35/1.4L.


 
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

ef17-40_4l_1_
Review Date: Jan 23, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $680.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: good value; reasonably solid performer; 40mm comes in handy
Cons:
a little soft, particular on the wide end; the 16-35 f/2.8L and 17-55 f/2.8L EF-S IS are much better

sample images and ramblings:

http://alfieri.smugmug.com/gallery/2384229


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef70-200_28lisu_1_
Review Date: Jan 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,700.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: built like a tank; very solid performer, one of Canon's very best zooms
Cons:
IQ (sharpness, color, contrast), bokeh, focusing speed and reliability, weight, and low-light usability are a notch or two below good prime combos in the same general price range

sample images and ramblings:

http://alfieri.smugmug.com/gallery/2386134


 
Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM

1ef200mmf_28_1_1_
Review Date: Jan 15, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $625.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: all the greatness of the 135/2L except at 200/2.8; price; weight; focus speed and reliability; no longer need to use the 1.4x TC with the 135/2L (not that it's a very noticeable loss in IQ)
Cons:
lens hood hard to get on and off (could be my sample only); wish it had f/2 and IS for less than $1500

sample images and ramblings:

http://alfieri.smugmug.com/gallery/2333587

if you like the 135/2L on a 1.6x crop body, you'll like the 200/2.8L II on a full-frame body. 135/2L on FF is great, but less useful since i got the 85/1.2L for portraits, so i sold the 135/2L.

the 200/2.8L II does not get the attention that it deserves.


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

85II
Review Date: Dec 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,680.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: the hype is all true, this lens is magical; colors and skin tones met my very high expections; contrast and sharpness exceeded them; f/1.2 renders paintings; f/2 and up render very sharp, contrasty, 3D images; audible focusing motor helps signal when i'm closer than minimum focusing distance; no issues with focus speed; the lens is well worth its price and weight (2.25 lbs); IMHO, it blows away the excellent 85/1.8
Cons:
minimum focusing distance of 3.2 feet

sample images and ramblings:

http://alfieri.smugmug.com/gallery/2256513

85/1.8 sample images for comparison:

http://alfieri.smugmug.com/gallery/1210969


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

ef85mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Dec 6, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: fantastic value; must-have prime on 1.6x crop body; great sharpness and contrast; pretty sharp down to f/1.8; very fast and accurate AF even on 20D/30D; very lightweight
Cons:
135mm/f2L is better choice on full-frame 5D (same FOV); 85mm/f1.2L has better colors and blokeh if you're willing to pay $1750 for it

sample images and ramblings are here:

http://alfieri.smugmug.com/gallery/1210969


 
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

ef_35_14_1_
Review Date: Dec 6, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Canon's best wide-angle prime; excellent colors; love the perspective on 5D and 20D; very sharp at f/2 and higher, good down to f/1.4; particularly sharp on 5D, though not as sharp as 135/f2L or 85s; no issue with the weight or handling
Cons:
front external glass seems to collect dust more than other lenses; vignetting is noticeable below f/2; the lens could be a little sharper and I'd more for that

sample images and ramblings are here:

http://alfieri.smugmug.com/gallery/1655634


 
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

ef135mmf_2l_1_
Review Date: Dec 6, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: best Canon telephoto under $1000; very sharp with excellent colors and contrast; sharp at f/2; particularly wonderful on the 5D; great blokeh; extremely versatile; negligble loss with 1.4x extender; lightweight
Cons:
none in this price range; it can always be sharper, but then you're getting into the 200mm f/1.8L at $4000-$5000 and 6.6 lbs.

sample images and ramblings:

http://alfieri.smugmug.com/gallery/1210977


 
Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

ef400mmf_56_1_
Review Date: Dec 3, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,060.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: very sharp at f/5.6; amazing value in this price range; very lightweight
Cons:
would like IS; would like f/4 for nearly same weight and price (if possible)

sample images and ramblings are here:

http://www.alfieri.smugmug.com/gallery/1655672


 
Canon EOS 5D

5d_586x225_2_
Review Date: Jul 5, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: big step up from 20D/30D. close to 1DsII in quality at less than half the price
Cons:
sometimes i wish i had a 20-frame buffer

Just get this camera, even if you have to sell a lens.

Positives:

- BIGGEST SURPRISE: ISO 1600 is like ISO 400 on 20D (or ISO 200 on 10D and most Nikons); i rarely use a flash; i have yet to use Noise Ninja on any images; this is amazing and quite liberating

- 12 Mpix + good lenses + lower pixel density ==> very noticeable improvement in sharpness

- flawless auto focus - i use AI servo and its extra AF points along with CF4.1 for manual focus control and separation from AE; hard to imagine the 1DsII being much better here

- full frame + 35mm/1.4 ==> no need to mess with mediocre wider-angle lenses; 35mm is wide enough for me and a great lens; i have even zoomed into some shots and been amazed at the sharpness up-close, and this is not known to be a super sharp lens

- almost as good resolution as $6500 1DsII

- images are sharp out of the camera and require minimal processing compared to lower models

- fine-grain ISO comes in handy sometimes (can do ISO 1250 instead of ISO 1600 sometimes)

- spot metering

- modest improvement in dynamic/color range

- light-weight

- same menu system as lower models

- same batteries as lower models

- larger buffer than 20D

- $2500 after rebate - this is a great deal, i don't understand why everyone is complaining about the price

- i have no desire to upgrade to the 1DsIII when it comes out this Fall; this camera is so good, i feel i can wait until the 1DsIV


Problems Others Have Mentioned But I Have NOT Noticed:

- edge distortions - i have good prime lenses and haven't seen any, but i also haven't looked closely

- blown highlights - all DSLRs have this issue and i think the 5D is probably a little better than the 20D on this one

- viewfinder dust - don't have any yet

- dirty sensor - i have only prime lenses and still haven't hit this (yet)

- banding - no instances yet

- aliasing - no instances yet


Wish List for Canon High End:

- huge improvement in dynamic/color range

- real-time transfer to CF card(s) so one can shoot continuously like film

- 48 Mpix (2x improvement in each dimension)

- variable ISO with a programmable upper limit

- mode to expose for highlights with an option to use spot meter to point to brightest desired highlights