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Canon EF 24mm f/2.8

ef24mmf_28_1_
Review Date: Mar 23, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $650.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Fairly sharp, physically small, zippy focus
Cons:
Somewhat soft in the corners, purple fringing in high contrast shots, vignetting wide open (a non-issue for me), distorts a little, loud focus mechanism (I don't really care about this either)

I have owned this lens for quite a few years now. It replaced the wide end of my 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 USM II zoom lens. It's not a perfect lens, but for its cost, there really isn't a better lens available which auto focuses. The biggest problem with it is softness in the corners. From what I've seen, the 24mm f/1.4L II is much better in the corners. But, then again, it really should be for the price difference.

The 24mm f/2.8 does vignette wide open, but that doesn't bother me at all. It can be fixed in post. In fact, I often add more vignette to my photos.

I only notice the distortion when I'm photographing buildings. It's not really too bad. It seems to be about twice as bad as the EF 50mm f/1.4, but being a 24mm lens of a nearly 25 year old design, it's pretty good. Again, this is fixable in post.

It does show a little purple when photographing under high contrast conditions, but again you can easily fix this afterwards. I notice it mostly when photographing trees in winter. The bare branch tips tend to go purple when silhouetted against the sky.

Built quality is decent. I've dropped this baby on the floor a couple times (hardwood) and there have been no ill effects. Try that with a 50mm f/1.8 II! The focus motor is buzzy, but it's quick!

My only real complaint is softness in the corners. That bothers me. It bothers me that I'd have to spend $1700 Canadian to get something substantially better (a 24mm f/1.4L). From what I've seen online, the new 24mm f/2.8 IS is only just marginally better. It doesn't seem worth the upgrade. The EF 24mm f/2.8 looks like it's better than the 16-35 f/2.8L II at 24mm in the corners, so despite my complaints, this lens is certainly not pathetic. I'd just like my corners a little sharper, that's all. Check it out here:

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=246&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=0&API=4&LensComp=412&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=4

Will I replace it? I might get a second wide angle lens, but I don't think I'll get rid of it. Is it a bad lens? Heck no! I'd say the worst thing about it is having to explain to people what it is. It seems to be a forgotten lens. Overall, it's sharp and wonderfully small and light. I can pocket it as easily as I can pocket my 50mm f/1.4. That's the beauty of it: it's only 9.5 oz. and less than 3" long. It's great for travel! The lens hood that you can buy for it is tiny too.

This lens certainly has its uses, and I think I'll be using it for years to come, especially when I want to travel light. The complaints that I have are minor. The same problems can be found on much more expensive lenses. From what I've seen in lens tests online, this lens is better than the 24-70mm f/2.8L (I), the 24-105mm f/4L IS and the 16-35mm f/2.8L II. If you're looking for a good used lens, I think this lens is a bargain. The 58mm filter size keeps the cost down as well. It may not be up to the standards of todays newest L lenses, but it can be had for $300 or less too. To quote The Who: "I call that a bargain!"


 
Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

ef300mmf_4_1_
Review Date: Jun 19, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: It's very sharp, even wide open. It's not heavy for it's focal length. The IS works very well--I have gotten sharp shots down to 1/45 of a second! The built in hood is great! I like the fact that it can focus down to 59". It's very solidly constructed. Finally, it's relatively inexpensive for its focal length.
Cons:
The lens is great. I don't have anything to complain about. It could be cheaper, but compared to other lenses with comparable focal lengths, it's pretty reasonable.

My wife encouraged me to buy a longer lens, and for the budget, this is probably the most versatile fixed focal length moderately long lens that I could have bought. I often found myself needing something longer than the 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro lens which was my longest lens. I'm a prime lens freak, so I had the EF 200mm f/2.8 II in mind. My wife thought that something a little longer would open up new opportunities for me. As it turns out, she was right.

At first I was hesitant: would I find an f/4 lens useful? I usually shoot with rather wide apertures, so f/4 seemed very slow. I bought it thinking that there was a good possibility of returning it. Boy, was I wrong!

Looking through the viewfinder with this lens attached is such a joy. Backgrounds disappear into beautiful spherical highlights and soft blur. I didn't understand how much focal length effects the perceived depth of field. I'm blown away by this lens! They say the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM is better in every way, but I am very pleased with what the f/4 version can do.

When I say it's sharp, I mean it's SHARP. Let me show some examples:

wide open: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4011/4693722944_2c59232bbb_b.jpg

at f/5.0: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4043/4692849658_007afe0c82_b.jpg

and here's another at f/4.5: http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4067/4692217473_a5c04e7679_b.jpg

Just for fun, to show you what it does with out of focus highlights (shot at f/4.5): http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4062/4715553807_74d7100bea_b.jpg

The IS makes the lens very useful. I don't tend to use a tripod as much as I should, so IS allows me to use this lens on a regular basis. If I didn't have it, I'd have a bunch of blurry photos, and I'd be disappointed. I use this lens as I use any other lens in my collection--mostly hand held. If you like to be spontaneous and rarely use a tripod, like I do, you'll find this invaluable.

All in all, I'm really thrilled with the EF 300mm f/4L IS USM.

So what's wrong with it? It's not the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM. I'll admit it. I like to have the best. It pains me that I cannot afford the best at this time. That's okay, though. I'll get many, many great photos while I'm waiting.