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Canon EOS 30D

Review Date: May 23, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality, huge buffer, precise AF, RAW+JPG option nice for preview
Need many 4GB CF cards to save your photos when shooting @ 5fps in RAW mode; mine came with dust on the sensor, which is unacceptable for such a camera. They should clean it at the factory just before putting it in the box.

I was just blown away when I first handled this precious thing. I'm coming from a 300D and the differences are simply incredible:

1. Shooting at 2.5 fps for 4 shots (300D) is different than shooting at 5fps forever (30D) It sounds a bit like a hand gun compared to a machine gun.

2. The LCD screen, besides being larger, is brighter and the image quality and colors are really nice.

3. You can feel the quality! The 300D with the kit lens looks like a toy compared to the 30D with the battery grip and a 24-70L.

4. The RAW+JPG option is wonderful. I really needed that. My computer is pretty slow and opening each RAW only to see the picture was unfocused took me forever. I can now open the small JPG preview (less than a 1MB) and filter good shots much faster.

I knew I would see a lot of improvements compared to my old 300D, but I'm still surprised at how well this camera performs. It really looks pro, especially with an L-lens on it Smile

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Jan 29, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,050.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: exceptional optics; not as heavy as I expected; worth the money
price, but like I said, it's worth it :)

I'm glad I purchased this lens. I originally had the 18-55 kit lens (which is terrible) and then replaced it with the 28-135. I needed a bit more sharpness, and the 24-70 was my answer Smile

I did a few test shots and at f/8 and 28mm, the 24-70 was about 3 times sharper than the 28-135, which was 2 times sharper than the 18-55.

With the 18-55, I had to reject more than half of my shots because of lack of sharpness. With the 24-70, more than 90% of the shots are perfect.

Highly recommended!

[Note to myself: never buy another kit lens again]

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Review Date: Nov 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: IS, f/2.8, quality
weight, price, color (yellowish-white paint instead of pure white)

I didn't buy this lens yet, only rented it to be able to evaluate it. While not as exceptional as I expected, this lens has a wonderful focal range which can be easily expanded to a 100-300mm F/4 IS equivalent using the 1.4x converter. If you have a 1.6x crop factor DSLR, that would mean even more: 160-450mm.

I noticed some auto-focus imperfections on the copy I've rented. On half the pictures, details are ok but far from being perfect. Light conditions were very bad the day I've shot with this lens, and I had to rely on the large aperture and IS, but I still had to shoot at ISO 800 (and I HATE noise). IS is great, but I expected a bit more.

A positive point is that it's so heavy that after a full day of shooting, you won't need to go to the gym for a week! Smile

Another consideration: while IS could be useful, I've heard the optical quality of the IS version is a bit less "perfect" that the non-IS version. And considering the IS version costs about $600 more, is heavier and bigger, you really have to be SURE you need that feature. I didn't find it very useful in my case (wildlife)

Here are two sample shots of a Bobcat. You can view the details by zooming in (click on the picture)

Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Jul 28, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: price/quality ratio; IS; versatile focal range
average sharpness (definitely not an L lens); not wide enough

My expectations were quite high after reading a few reviews on the web. Maybe I expected a bit too much, but I don't find this zoom lens as precise as I would've wanted. However, it's still much better than the 18-55mm that came with my 300D in terms of build quality and sharpness.

IS works well but don't expect to shoot at ISO 100 at night at F/11.0 while having an exposure of 1/200th sec. In other words, don't expect miracles from IS Smile

Here are some examples of photos taken with this zoom lens:

Quebec City:

Long exposure 1:

Long exposure 2:

Long exposure 3:

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Review Date: Jun 9, 2005 Recommend? | Price paid: $450.00

Pros: quality, lifesize, f.2.8, affordable, makes a good portrait lens
none except working distance and sometimes slow autofocus

At first, I thought I had a bad copy of this lens... That was before I got used to it. With some experience, I now see the true qualities of this lens.

It's true that when using extension tubes, this lens becomes extremely sensitive to movement; however, without tubes, I find it more and more easy to take shots with this lens.

The image quality is almost comparable to a L lens. The price isn't. Overall, I'm very satisfied of this lens. I love insects so I can't afford to go shooting without it.

If you're looking to buy this lens, I'd consider it for insects, flowers, portraits, and birds that are relatively close.

About a week ago, I tried the manual focus. I'm more than satisfied with the results. I thought it would be much harder. Give it a try if you have the chance Smile

Example of a fly (lifesize, without extension tubes, no flash, MF):

Example of a fly (lifesize, without extension tubes, no flash, AF):

Example of a fly (1.72x magnification, with extension tubes (72mm), no flash, AF):

Example of ordinary table salt (1.72x magnification, with extension tubes (72mm), no flash, AF):

Canon EOS Rebel (300D)

Review Date: May 1, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: quality/price ratio; features
silver-colour body made of plastic (black would have been better)

I'm more than satisfied with this camera; I bought it about a year ago and almost never made any photography before. However, since I have that camera, I'm going to places I would've never been, and look at things differently.

Here are a few shots I took with this camera in the last year. For most of them, I used the 18-55mm zoom lens that came with the camera:

If you're like me and never made serious photography before, I suggest buying the whole kit, with the 18-55mm zoom lens. It's not the best zoom I've seen, but it does the job well and is versatile. You can buy additional lens anytime and either sell the 18-55mm or use it in situations where you think your lens may be damaged (crowds, etc.)

Personally, I replaced the 18-55mm zoom lens with a 28-135, but it's bigger (and of course pricier) which makes the camera less portable. I also bought other lens for specific situations and a thing I like about this kind of camera (compared to Point and Shoot ones) other than the fact that you can change your lens is that you can control all the settings.

Finally, what I found out after buying it is that there's a "hacked" firmware on the internet that unlocks many features that were specific to the 10D and higher models (ISO 3200, Mirror lock, Shutter release without CF card, etc.) In other words, it's like having a 10D camera, for the price of a 300D. The only difference remains the body. But is it really worth hundreds of dollars? If you're curious, the address for the modified firmware is:

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

Review Date: May 1, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $70.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: price, weight, size, f/1.8
build quality

This is in my opinion the best value Canon prime lens. For about $70, you get very professional results that will really impress people (especially at f/1.8)

It makes an excellent portrait lens and the optics quality is simply perfect.

Here's a sample portrait I took with this lens:

I admit that I don't use it very often (because I'm not a portrait photographer) but for the few times I had to take a portrait, it was more than worth using this lens.

If don't have one, please buy it; you won't regret it. I wish all lens were at this price Smile

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Review Date: Mar 18, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: quality, lifesize, f.2.8, affordable, polyvalent (makes a good portrait lens)
very sensitive to movement (like any macro lens i guess); slow AF at lifesize

This lens sure is a must-have for any insect-lover.

I bought Kenko extension tubes and are more than happy with the results. They are made in Japan and are high-quality while being quite cheap compared to Canon extension tubes.

The technique for this lens takes some time to master. For example, I found out that the tripod is essential, even with natural light.

I took about 300 sample shots to better understand how this lens works.

One negative aspect (but I guess it's the same with every macro lens) is that moving only an inch away from the subject will make it go from 1x to 1/2x

After many tests, I also discovered that this lens is best at F9, while being great at other apertures, but not perfect in my opinion.

Here's one of the samples I took (this is ordinary salt):

The angle is not perfect; focus is on the center of the image. The corners are a bit blurred.

This is my first macro lens, and I just can't wait for spring time to shoot some bugs Smile

Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM

Review Date: Mar 1, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $175.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: very cheap; quality is ok (for non-professional use, this lens performs well)
you've got to buy a big memory card because you'll need to take a lot of shots to have a few acceptable ones

Ok this is not the sharpest lens around. For under 200$ for such a focal range, I can understand that.

However, at 300mm I achieved what I consider as great results with great light conditions and a great subject. Here's an example:

My biggest mistake on that shot is that I set ISO to 100. It should've been to 400 to make the photo a bit sharper. I was a beginner when I took that... Wink

Very great value if you need that focal range and can't afford a $1000+ lens. Don't forget however that you'll need perfect photo conditions to take nice shots with this zoom lens.