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Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* SAL-2470Z

Screen_Shot_2013-11-18_at_7_05_51_PM
Review Date: Apr 15, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: good color, contrast. Fast AF
Cons:
not weather seal if I am being picky

Not much to say, as good as Canon 24-70L ver. 1. However, Canon has release a ver. 2, but Sony keep increasing the price without releasing a new version. This is why I give 8 for the price rating.

 
Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T*

Screendd_Shot_2013-11-13_at_2_09_32_PM_copy
Review Date: Apr 15, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Good image quality (color, contrast, 3-D)
Cons:
slow, noisy screw driven AF

Well ... I like this lens. The only complain is the screw driven AF. However, this is better than the 85 Zeiss. The AF is more accurate, and much less chromatic aberration. Image quality is very good, very sharp, good color, good contrast. I like this better than the Canon 135L.

 
Sony 85mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Planar T* SAL-85F14Z

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Review Date: Apr 15, 2014 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: good color and contrast and 3-D image quality if it is focus correctly and no chromatic aberration.
Cons:
screw driven, slow, noisy AF. severe chromatic aberration. inaccurate focus

Well ... I am a big fan of Zeiss lens because I feel it gives more 3-D look. However, this lens has some negatives when pixel peeping. First of all, it is a screw driven lens and the AF is slow and noisy. I also found out the AF is inaccurate, but this can be my camera, or due to the screw driven AF. And it got pretty bad chromatic aberration. However, the picture quality is good if it is in focus and no chromatic aberration.

 
Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

image_copy
Review Date: Sep 3, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $850.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: smooth bokeh
Cons:
inaccurate focus

I first tried the Canon 85 1.8, somehow, the color and contrast is not good. then bought the 85L MK I, color and contrast are excellent, but the focus is too slow to take picture for my kids. And I don't want to spend $2000 on the 85L MK II so give this lens a try. the color and contrast are good, better than the Canon 85 1.8, 90% of the 85 L. Focus speed is very good. Bokeh is smooth comparable to the 85 L. My copy is front focus by 2-3mm at MFD at F1.4. This is not a big deal in real life unless I shoot at a poster, because at f1.4 at MFD, taking picture of my kids at an angle, the DOF is so thin that focus on the right eye the left eye will be out of focus anyway, so front focus by 2-3mm is not noticeable in real life. Overall, I am happy with this lens. At least 90% picture quality of the 85L with less than half of the price.

 
Tamron 17-35MM F/2.8-4 Di LD Aspherical (IF)

1735mm
Review Date: Jun 22, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $225.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: cheap, sharp through-out
Cons:
so-so build quality, so-so focus speed

I had a Sigma 15-30, but sold it due to lack of use. Then I am planning on a vacation and looking for a wide angle lens for my 5D again. There are no too many choices out there for a FF compatible wide angle lens. Did some research on this one, and thanks to the FM rating, this seems to be a reasonable good lens, so, decided to try it out. I find this refurbish copy on eBay with a price of $225. I used it for my trip, and the result far exceed my expectation. The focus is spot on, and it is sharp throughout the 17-35 range. It is light and small as well. I don't take landscape very often, so, I don't want to invest too much on a WA lens, but this lens really surprise me. It is better than the Sigma 15-30 I used to have. I think you can't find FF compatible WA lens cheaper and better than this.

 
Sigma 15-30mm f3.5-4.5 EX Aspherical DG DF

15_30f35_45_1_
Review Date: Jan 22, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $266.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharp, very wide and work on FF
Cons:
if I am picky that is can't use a filter, don't have HSM

this lens is a hidden gem in my opinion. I am trying to find a wide angle on my 5D just for fun, so, I don't want to invest too much. I found this lens used on eBay selling less than USD $300. Since I want to get this lens for landscape where I will likely shoot at F11/F16, it is less prone to AF issue, so, decided to take the risk and get it from eBay without testing. To my surprise, it is a very good lens. It focus accurately, and image is sharp even at 15mm in the center. I think for less than $300, this is a steal. Even I don't use it that much, I don't mind to keep it around.

 
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

ef135mmf_2l_1_
Review Date: Jan 9, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: unbeatable optic quality, incredible, creamy bokeh at F2, relatively good price
Cons:
non so far

I bought this lens after seeing some samples with the incredible bokeh at F2. On my 5D, it is a incredible portrait lens. Of course, I think the 85mm 1.2 is still THE portrait lens, but the $2000 price tag drove me away. I am very satisfied with the $1100 price tag for this one, for the optic, and the build quality. No complaint.

 
Sigma 105mm f2.8 EX Macro 1:1 Lens

05_105mmEX_1_
Review Date: Nov 14, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: cheap, sharp, light
Cons:
slow and noisy AF, AF hunts sometimes, image somehow seems washout

I just got this lens used on Craigslist and did some test. It is very sharp wide open. The AF is slow and noisy, so it is not possible to double it as a portrait lens to be used on my 16 months son. I am trying to get a cheap macro lens to play around, so far, the sharpness of the image exceed my expectation. AF hunts and cannot focus sometimes also, but, I think there is no other way out except getting the Canon USM which is significantly more expensive. It is a good lens to start with to learn macro photography.

 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

ef70-200lisusm
Review Date: Sep 4, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharp, IS, relatively smaller at this range
Cons:
IQ depends on the focus distance, soft at FL=135-200 at short focus distance (1.2m-3m)

In general, I am quite happy with this lens. very good build quality, and relatively small that I am ok to carry it around. IS is very useful at long range. One limitation is this lens cannot used to take macro type of shots. it is very soft at FL=200mm at its minimum focus distance. However, it is very sharp if I use it as it is designed for. For taking portraits, I will usually stand far enough that it will be sharp.

Also, I feel the image is a bit soft in general at 200mm, but it is acceptable.


 
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

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Review Date: Sep 4, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: very sharp, fast and accurate AF, build quality, can do some macro shots
Cons:
heavy

I have tried out the Tamron 17-50 and 28-75, but both of these doesn't make me happy. I usually take portrait pictures of my family, so, the range of 35-70 is the most useful for me. Despite of all the good reviews, the Tamron 17-50 is a bit short, and it is soft at 50mm. The 28-75 basically is the same, soft from 50-75. So, I eventually bite the bullet and get this Canon and I am amazed. This lens is sharp at 2.8 at all ranges. And the AF is accurate and fast. Another big plus is it has macro capability that it has very short minimum focus distance.

This lens is definitely expensive, but it really has good quality .. so .. I think it's worth it.


 
Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF]

1750diII
Review Date: Jun 11, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: good price, very sharp wide open at F2.8 for a zoom lens
Cons:
quality control, build quality is just ok

The first copy I got has front focus issue, image is soft. Since I bought it on internet, it takes me 4 weeks to get a new one. Luckily, the 2nd one is focus properly. I am very impressed by the sharpness of this lens, very sharp. A little bit softer than my Canon 50mm F1.4 when zoom in 100%, so, I don't think you can see any different in a normal print.
My rating is based on the good copy, so, make sure you buy from somewhere you can return or exchange.


 
Sigma 28mm f1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro

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Review Date: Jun 11, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, cheap, good build quality, macro, no turning ring
Cons:
Big and heavy, expensive 77mm filter

This is the first lens I bought, I hesitate a bit reading focusing issue on 3rd party lens. I originally want to buy the Canon 35mm F2.0, but it is out of stock. With budget in mind, I give Sigma a try, and I am happy with it .. maybe I am lucky, my copy focus properly. The image is sharp, and the price is good. I enjoy the macro capability also. Not too many lens has macro.


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Jun 11, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very sharp image at F2 and up, ok and very usable below F2, reasonable price, fast focus, focus is spot on, small and light
Cons:
Focus hunt at low light situation

This lens is very good lens, very sharp and very reasonably priced. highly recommended. But I am surprise with the auto focus hunts too much at low light, even more than my Sigma 28mm.