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  Reviews by: curiousgeorge  

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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: Oct 16, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp above f1.8, compact size, good colour & contrast, nice bokeh
Unusable at f1.4 due to CA and softness, AF not great

Shooting outdoors has revealled terrible IQ at f1.4. Bad CA (purple fringing) and an image that looks completely out of focus.

For many people this seems to be an inherent trait. But then it's not really meant to be used wide open outdoors.

When used indoors you still get the softness wide open, though not as bad as when outdoors. It might be me not being used to such shallow DOF and I might just need some practice, but I wouldn't use anything wider than f1.8 unless the light demanded it.

At f2.0 and above, sharpness, colours and contrast are very good. It makes an ideal portrait lens for me on my 350D and it fills the gap nicely between my 17-40 and 70-200.

Focus is a bit noisy and seems clumsy, but this is no L lens. Build quality seems fine and it's the perfect size for the 350D.

Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: May 17, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

Pros: Feels solid, IS, fast and silent focusing, versatile 'always-on' lens
Less sharp than the kit lens at most apertures and focal lengths, excessive purple fringing, images look slightly washed out, slightly too heavy for the 350D

I read many reviews before buying this. I wasn't impressed because it was apparent the lens was generally not very sharp but I bought it anyway because I needed a greater zoom range.

I hoped my copy of the lens would be good, but my worst fears were confirmed when I compared images to the kit lens.

At apertures of f8 and larger, the lens is less sharp than the kit lens until you get to 50mm. You have to stop the aperture down to about f22 to get decent images at smaller focal lengths.

The contrast is also not as good as the kit lens, and you get much more purple fringing.

The barrel distortion at wide angles is acceptable for most shots. If you shoot window frames you will notice it.

I've sent my lens to Canon and hopfully they'll callibrate it. But I'm expecting them to return it and say there's nothing wrong with it. I'll probably keep it anyway, because of the zoom range, the IS and the fast focusing. If you really need decent picture quality, this lens is unacceptable, so go for an L series lens. I would have but there just isn't one with a good focal range for a 1.6 crop camera.