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  Reviews by: danks  

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Canon EOS 20D

20d
Review Date: Jul 17, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Resolution, autofocus system, magnifier button and joystick function for previews, button for fast ISO selection.
Cons:
I just can not justify the cost of a Mk II body now as the 20D really offers so much of the same performance at so much less cost. (Jokingly offered as a "negative aspect.")

I bought a pair to replace my D60 bodies. A worthy upgrade in every respect. Both bodies have been fine . . . no "freeze ups," no BG-E2 problems on the one with the grip, no significant problems at all really.

 
Canon Extender EF 2x II

Extender_2x2_1_
Review Date: Aug 3, 2003 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Well, it works but . . .
Cons:
Softens and destroys contrast.

I use this thing sparingly. I ran tests to confirm what I already knew . . . this converter may be as good as 2X converters get, but you pay a very significant price in terms of sharpness and contrast whenever you use it. I use it on both the EF300/2.8L IS and the EF600/4L IS lenses. I find, invariably, a whole lot of USM masking in Photoshop is necessary to try to restore sharpness.

This is markedly different to the 1.4X Canon converter which seems pretty darn good in test shots carefully compared to those without a converter. With the EF2X II, there is no doubt. You can readily see the degredation. Not to be too negative, on occasion I have to use it and it works. An example is the full frame great blue heron at:
http://danks.netfirms.com/1200heron.htm

Still, I caution anyone selecting a lens, even an excellent fixed focal length lens, thinking they can use this converter as a matter of routine and get sharp results. Not only do the optics of the 2X muddify things, you also lose two full stops. You must resort to either shooting the lens wide open or longer shutter speeds than would be the case otherwise. This all conspires against getting good images.

Buy one, by all means. But keep it for occasional, not habitual use.


 
Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM

ef_180_35_1_
Review Date: Aug 2, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Working distance and high quality of images. Removable mounting foot for hand holding, but . . .
Cons:
I sure wish it was an IS lens! Slow to focus too.

This was my second Canon lens. I was surprised and disappointed at how slow the auto focus was on it compared to my EF300/2.8L IS. Sure, I know "real" macro photographers always focus manually anyhow. Still I was disappointed.

I have no regrets about the lens however. For some unusual fun, I mounted the EF1.4X teleconverter and two extension tubes on it and photographed a cranefly at high magnification. The result is at
http://danks.netfirms.com/cranefly.htm The detail in the insect's eye is amazing. I thought you needed a microscope to do that!

My only other macro lens was a 55mm focal length. This one allows you to achieve the same image scale without crowding the subject so much.



 
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

ef_35_14_1_
Review Date: Jul 28, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Everything!
Cons:
Nothing!

Just can't say anything much. Everything is excellent about this lens.

That said, I find I use the 16-35 f2.8 more often. Why? Well certainly not because it outperforms the 1.4 at 35mm! Just convenience I guess.

This is an EXCELLENT lens! I think all agree about that. Its wide aperture allows even AF-challenged bodies like the D60 to focus swiftly and surely in low light.


 
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM

ef_16-35_28_1_
Review Date: Jul 28, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Convenient!!
Cons:
Well . . . read on.

First off, I have never been a fan of zooms and feel they offer a trade off . . . convenience over quality.

This one is no exception to what my experience has taught me over the years.

I do not have any ultra wide primes to test it against but I did test it against the EF35mm f1.4L. I'd say the 1.4 was about as sharp AT f1.4 as this zoom was at f2.8! Stop the prime to f 2.8 and it was clearly, to my eye, sharper than the zoom, and significantly so . . . ON A BODY with a 1.6 CROP!! I can not say what the corners on a full frame would look like.

Stop 'em down to f 8 and they look much the same of course.

Still, a marvelously convenient lens. I will keep, and use it despite the obvious compromise it represents. It is likely as good as wide angle zooms are likely to be for quite some time. When you look at a cross section through these lenses, any of the ultra wides, it is a wonder they work as well as they do. The curvature of many of the elements is extreme! Designing these lenses must be tough!


 
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef300mmf_28_1_
Review Date: Jul 28, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $5,400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Image stabilization and hand-hold-ability.
Cons:
None.

I have owned this lens for several years now. I tested it out with teleconverters shortly after buying it. Those findings are still available at
http://danks.netfirms.com/istest.htm

Noting has happened in the interim to change my mind about the lens. It is excellent in every respect. I offer a caveat about hand-holding it. It is tough . . . very tiring. But it CAN be done for short periods and the results are worth it. A recent shot of a captive eagle taken, wide open and hand held is at http://danks.netfirms.com/eagle4137.htm

I also have great success using it as a macro lens! It is a butterfly killer! Shots of butterflies taken with it are at http://danks.netfirms.com/butterflies.htm

To use it for small critters, close up, I mount both the EF25 and EF12 extension tubes to get the lens to focus more closely.

This lens is superb and, best of all perhaps, the price has fallen quite a bit since I bought mine shortly after it was introduced . . . the first of the then-new IS "super teles."

Recommended without reservation.



 
Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM

ef600mmf_4_1_
Review Date: Jul 28, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $8,600.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Image stabilization makes this long lens preferable to all competing products.
Cons:
None really. Of course it DEMANDS adequate mounting.

I have used this lens since May, 2001. I bought it in lieu of the 800mm f5.6 IF-ED Nikkor which I had used for years. Fortunately, for new buyers, the price has dropped considerably from what I paid back then.

There is little to be said about the lens really. It does everything it is supposed to do. The IS is the feature that made it an irresistible choice over the long Nikons and I do not regret the switch. The community, I feel at least, has progressed way beyond the point of a few years ago where the questions were: “Does the IS work?” and “Does the IS degrade the image quality?”

One thing . . . images with the EF2X II teleconverter are soft. I try to avoid using the 2X but, in a pinch it works. For the curious, an image using the 2X converter on the EF600/4L IS is located at http://danks.netfirms.com/1200heron.htm