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Canon EOS 40D

40d
Review Date: Feb 3, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fabulous dynamic range, ease of use, speed, resolution.
Cons:
none so far.

I previously owned a 30D and was expecting only a slight upgrade. A couple more megapixels and a few extras that I wouldn't really have use for (live view being one).
My first outing with the camera was in the snow and thought I would humiliate it by pointing it back straight into the sun and the white snow on the ground, whilst also capturing the dark trees that had no snow on them. I was positively shocked to see the preview on the LCD, which had the sun, with flare coming off it, all the white snow, and not only the black trees but also the shadows within them! The dynamic range is utterly stunning. My 30D, which was a favourite, would have given up when pointed at the sun and given me dark snow and lost the trees completely. Coupled with the fact it handles noise expertly I don't see an upgrade coming any time soon!


 
Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC HSM APO

sigma_50-150
Review Date: Jun 25, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Light weight, f/2.8 throughout (obvious I know), Price, Range on a 30D (1.6x crop)
Cons:
Bearing in mind the price there really aren't any, but if you are expecting 1200 "L" glass then you will find the AF slightly slow but in real terms very fast compared to other non-"L" lenses.

I had previously owned a 70-200mm f/2.8 from Sigma and was expecting this to fall way short, bearing in mind the price is about 200 less. I was wrong. It is a good match, quick AF, brilliant IQ, and built surprisingly well - a lesson Canon might want to learn for lenses in this price range.
It is light, and hence very useable hand held, whilst the 70-200mm was quite heavy after a while, especially at weddings.
Basically you are getting a 80-210mm f/2.8 in FF terms on a 30D, and it is a combination I would recommend.
Well chuffed! Get yourself one now!


 
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II

1dsmarkii
Review Date: Jun 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality, Image quality, Quality!!!
Cons:
Heavy, even more with a large lens attached. Small screen. Menus (much better operation on 1D N)

I took the plunge and got the best camera Canon make at present - and I'm not disappointed. Like the 5D it is full frame, but unlike the 5D it doesn't seem to have metering "mad moments", and the focus is pretty much instant.

It is however a massive camera, and weighs a tonne with a big white "L" glass on the end. It is also pricey and I can't help feeling this will seem very expensive in a year from now when more models appear and prices fall.

If you want to go all the way for quality of image and camera then go for it - if you want 90% then save yourself a fortune and get a 5D.


 
Canon EOS 1D Mark II N

1d_mkii_n
Review Date: May 18, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Speed (focusing and burst rate), Image quality, Weather proof, dual memory cards.
Cons:
Price and weight

Bearing in mind I once owned a 350D you can imagine how much bigger my muscles are now I own this camera!
It is big, and it would seem only to accommodate the battery really, as most of the guts of the machine are housed in a kind of 5D sized body above the battery.

Anyway, the camera itself is a dream - it's like you would design your own camera. I defy anyone to take a bad photo with this - it pretty much won't let you. Straight out of the box it focuses on everything you point it at, and all the information you need is staring at you through the incredibly bright and large viewfinder. Tracing birds in flight with a 70-200mm IS f/2.8 is a dream, and the burst of 8fps or so means you don't miss a thing.

The only thing that I might have wanted was full-frame, but at the moment the 1ds is twice the price and only 4fps, and not worth forking out for just a bit extra in the pixel dept. Let's face it, sports journalists use these and printing them out at A4 you are not going to see any difference.


In conclusion, it is like someone took my favourite camera (the 20D) and said "How shall we customize it for you?". I would want faster burst, quicker focusing, another memory card slot, spot metering, and the ability to take it out in bad weather. I got my wish.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef70-200_28lisu_1_
Review Date: Apr 29, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Picture quality, IS, f/2.8, if it was 16-300mm it would be the only lens necessary in the whole world!
Cons:
Weight, price

I suppose you get what you pay for. I paid over 1000 for this but I have to say it is my best lens by a long way. For wedding photography I have the 24-105mm and this one, and I don't think I would ever need anything else.
I didn't find the images with a teleconverter to be that successful, as I know some people use this for wildlife too, and the thought of a 400mm f/5.6 with IS does sound like the business, but teleconverters are teleconverters...
Recommended to those with the budget definitely.


 
Canon EOS 5D

5d_586x225_2_
Review Date: Mar 10, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: FF, Viewfinder brightness and clarity, HUGE LCD screen (like looking at your photos on the TV!), shutter action, basically EVERYTHING!
Cons:
Price (but you get what you pay for), No flash (although for a 1500 camera, spending 165 on a 430EX is well worth it.

What can I say? I nearly fainted when I looked through the viewfinder. The difference between the 5D and the 20D is just incredible. The fact that on a FF my 24-105mm is now an amazing wide angle lens (I would have needed a 15mm on the 20D to get the same view) is just the tip of the iceberg. The image is like someone turned the lights on! Focusing is almost like just using your own eyes - like there is no camera at all! The 20D now looks quite poor (although at the time I was impressed with that!) and you feel like you are part of the capture process, rather than just pointing a camera at something.
When you take a photo the first thing to hit you is the shutter sound, or lack of it. There is a gentle squeeze of the button, followed by a more gentle clunk, unlike the 20D "slam".
Once the photo has been taken, the image fills the enormous rear LCD, which is like the difference between looking at a 14" TV and then a 32" Widescreen. Very often in low light I would think an image looked ok on the 20D only to find out on a PC later that is wasn't as sharp as I thought. Well there's no hiding on the 5D - clear bright detail, and large enough to see too.
Using a "walkaround" lens and framing your pictures properly shows off the extra pixel resolution in stark reality. The detail this camera captures in nothing short of stunning. I could go on forever about the picture quality, but just look on the internet for examples - there are thousands.

I can't recommend this camera enough - I was in doubt whether to upgrade from my 20D but I'm glad I did. It makes photography more real, the action of taking the photos more pleasurable, and has given me new confidence and a desire to take more pictures than I did before. 10/10 !!!


 
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

24-105lisusm
Review Date: Mar 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: IS - best yet. Weight and size - balance is perfect. Image quality razor sharp.
Cons:
Bit pricey - but I even forgot that when I was using it, worth paying for this quality!

Wow - a word I used 10 times in the first minute of using this lens.

To put it into perspective - I have a 24-70 f/2.8 which is razor sharp and being f/2.8 it was the best I was going to get in low light, correct? WRONG! The IS on this 24-105 is amazing, and not just compensates for f/4 instead of f/2.8 but I can take better, sharper and stable images at 1/20th at f/4 than any speed the f/2.8 could be cut down to.
The colours seem more vivid on my 20D than before, and it has inspired me to use the camera more than I did before as it is such a pleasure to use.

I get this overwhelming sense that I am cheating by using it!

If you are in any doubt about which lens to get to cover this range then don't be! Save up, sell the wife, re-mortgage, whatever you need to do - provided you get a sharp copy (and you should always do that whichever lens you buy!) you will have no regrets at all.