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Canon EF 20-35mm f/2.8L

ef20_35mm
Review Date: Oct 5, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Small, lighter than the newer versions but solid as a rock. Fast focusing despite old arc motor. 20mm is really wide! 2.8 a huge help in indoor shooting.
Cons:
No service on this lens, no USM meaning no full time manual.

I passed up on a 16-35 ver 1 in good condition and was really kicking myself, but didn't have an extra grand to drop on it. A few months later I find this little one for half the price. Sold.

It's much more solid than lenses of late. Feels much more "metal" - hard, smooth, and compact. The zoom ring turns smoothly and easily. Manual focusing is alright, but you need to flip the switch (which is really HUGE compared to recent lenses by Canon - I had a laugh about this one!).

AF is nice and speedy, Canon's signature. Yes there is some noise, but no it has never been a problem for me outdoors, indoors, etc.

Image quality is great. Very sharp throughout on my 30D, nice warm colors and contrast. L glass - you get what you pay for. On my EOS 1-N the corners start to pull but that's normal for an ultra wide. If you've never used anything beyond 28 or 24mm you're in for a treat! 20mm is really quite wide! Don't think you NEED 16mm or 17mm, 20mm will do you well if you know how to use it. Slides look stunning, as do negatives.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chub84/3506467311/in/set-72157617771350842/

That was taken at 20mm, 2.8, must have been about 1/5 of a second on Fuji ISO 100 negative film. Love wide angles for their steadiness!

Here's an example of it at 32mm (20mm on my 30D):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chub84/3757450784/in/set-72157621709958275/

All in all for half of what the 16-35 was going for it fills in just fine. Don't abuse it as Canon won't fix it for you.


 
Canon EF 28-70mm f/2.8L USM

ef_28-70_28s_1_
Review Date: Sep 1, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $620.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: 2.8, outstanding color and contrast, reverse extending zooming, solid build quality, AND sharp to boot!
Cons:
Heavy if you're not used to it/don't lift weights/use for extended periods of time, used copies generally see more wear than 24-70 2.8, 4mm longer on the wide end

I found this lens used for $US 620. I immediately went home and read all the reviews on FM and decided I had to have this lens.

I sold my 17-85 IS and bought this instead. It seems at first like an odd decision, seeing as I work on a 1.6 body, but looking at my photos and thinking things over I didn't use the wide all that much anyway. With a FF upgrade in my future in the next 2-3 years I didn't want to pass up on this one. Even at 44/45mm (28 on a 1.6) it's enough for group shots with maybe a step or two back.

The color and contrast totally blew me away. I read it was good, but I didn't know it was that good! With saturation at +3 it really works it's magic. My copy is quite sharp, even wide open, but I don't even bother pixel peeping because looking at the images full screen is just so satisfying.

This is a BIG lens - if you're used to the EF-S line (say 18-55 or 17-85, or even the 17-55 2.8) you're going to notice and feel the difference - especially with the huge hood! It's the little brother to the "brick" - I call it the "brick ver.1", affectionately of course :D I lift weights regularly, and use the 70-200 2.8 handheld alot, so for me it's not a problem, but just picking up my camera with one hand, which used to be a piece of cake with the 17-85 or 50 1.4, , makes me say "wow! this is one hunk of glass".

This lens has seen a bit of wear, and has some small bits of dust under the front element, but all that is forgetten when I load up the pictures onto my computer.

This lens WILL frighten people if you ask them to take your picture with it.

My advice is if you can find a copy, get it. I doubt there are that many out there that will do you wrong, and at the price they are going (sometimes even half of what the $1200 24-70 costs) you can't get a better bargain.


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM

ef70_200_28_1_
Review Date: Jul 24, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $950.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Excellent build quality, addictingly fast AF, f/2.8, noticeably better color, contrast, and sharpness (even wide open!)
Cons:
Expensive, as big and heavy as it looks in the pictures.

I bought mine used, and it's been working fine for the month or so I've had it.

First L lens. Sharp sharp sharp, even at f/2.8!! The colors and contrast are so pleasing to the eye. I took the shots at same aperture, shutter speed, ISO, angle, etc against my 100-300 4.5-5.6 and comparing the images is like comparing night and day. No question you get what you paid for!

Which means that the lens is hefty. It's definitely hand holdable, but I would think a monopod would help with long shoots, especially sports or events, festivals, etc.

Because the lens performs so well natively, when used with my 2x extender image quality and AF still perform very well. I am pleased that I can have both the 2.8 and 400mm if I need it.

Zooming is easy and the lens does not extend while focusing or zooming.

You will want to shoot telephoto for almost everything once you touch this lens, but realize that you'll have to take it off your camera eventually when you want to shoot wider than 70mm :D


 
Canon Extender EF 2x II

Extender_2x2_1_
Review Date: Jul 6, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $213.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: cheap alternative to buying another lens, versatility, small and light package
Cons:
Adds length to already long (hard to hand hold steadily) lenses; 2 stops down and a slight loss of image quailty

I picked up this teleconverter the day I also bought the 70-200 2.8, both used, from my local camera store. Played with both for about an hour, and was convinced that the image quality was no worse (a bit better actually) than my 100-300 4.5-5.6. For only 200 dollars more, the versatility of being able to have a 400 5.6 sold me.

Great points of this telecon:

1. Light! Small!
2. Gives me the 400mm (640mm on my 30D) when I need it, but allows me to keep my 70-200 2.8 as a stand alone lens.
3. Cheaper than shelling out another 1,600 or for the 100-400 L, or for a long prime.
4. Great image quality when used properly.
5. Weather sealing when used with appropirate lens and body.
6. Matches with all off white L lens :D

Not so great points:

1. Having to deal with two more lens caps (front and rear) when you want to use it.
2. 2 stops down and some loss of image quality - if you want autofocus capability do your research first before posting rants on the forum...
3. Hard to hand hold a long lens together with the telecon.

In summary:

Don't let the "loss of image quality" fool you into thinking this will make your lens soft - it's much more dependant on things such as how steady you can hold your lens, or the inherent sharpness of the original lens. Most people get this lens to make their long lenses even longer - but that means the big lens just bigger, heavier, and more unwieldy. Get your tripod out!! Don't rag on a 250 dollar telecon.

I had my doubts at first, when I was looking at my images zoomed up on my camera, but after seeing them on my computer screen I was blown away. Yes, there is a loss of sharpness compared to the original lens (which is pretty damn sharp!), but you'd have to zoom in pretty far to really notice that, and no one should spend all day zooming into 100 percent crops. Enjoy the photo as it was meant to be seen! You can get great, sharp and clean images with this! Just remember - it's never a substitue for the real thing, so if you want the last word in image quality, be prepared to pay for it (i.e. the next lens up).


 
Canon EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM

ef100_300f45_56_1_
Review Date: Jun 18, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Lightweight, metal mount, Ring USM, full time manual
Cons:
zoom creep, soft when pushed to its limits (but that's why they're called limits...)

I was looking for a cheap, sturdy telephoto zoom to complement the 70-200 f2.8 I plan on getting this summer. I wanted something that I wouldn't mind throwing in the bag and maybe getting a little dinged or dented - field work, packing light on a hike, causal sporting events.

This lens didn't disappoint, especially at the price I got it for. I

I bought this lens used, in Japan, for JPY 9,000, or at the current exchange rate, $US83. There was no hood, box, or manual included.

I don't use hood anyways, nor read the manuals, and the box would just collect dust...so I got this at one hell of a price!

It's easy to use, and zooms very easily (too easily! It creeps alot when pointed down). What sold me though was the rear-focusing Ring USM - I'm into sports photography, particularly ultimate frisbee. I had tried the more expensive 70-300 IS but was disappointed with the AF speed, and found that more than being a little soft on the long end, many of my pictures were actually out of focus! (The lens couldn't keep up with the subjects, so I'd get nice clear backgrounds and out of focus subjects) While this lens gets soft at 300mm, you'd have to be peeping to not be pleased with the quality you get from 8x12 or A4 size prints. And AF is blazing fast - Canon's famous AF does not disappoint in the least.

For less than US$90, I got a lens I won't be afraid to take with me to messier, dirtier sporting events, with great color and bokeh and more importantly awesome AF. If you can get this at a good price, you won't regret it.