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Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM

Review Date: Dec 1, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, good contrast, well made, weatherproofed
Poor quality control (the first lens I tried was very soft). Not quite the world-beater I was expecting but good nonetheless

As the owner and longtime user of the 17-40L I was intrigued by this lens - would it 'blow away' the 17-40L ?

The answer is yes and no.

Stopped down there is very little difference in IQ, the 16-35mm IS wins very slightly in the corners but in the centre the two lenses are more or less identical in performance. You wouldn't tell the difference in a print made at f11 in my opinion.

At the wider apertures and wide open yes the 16-35 is noticeably better, especially in the corners and the image stabilisation is very good indeed, so if this is important to you then this is the lens to buy.

If you will nearly always be stopped down the difference is really not as great as you'd (or I'd) expect.

Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM

Review Date: Dec 1, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Astonishingly good IQ for the money, light, sharp, cheap, good image stabilization
A bit slow for maximum aperture, rather limited focal length range (just 10mm to 18mm) build quality definitely not brilliant, but no rattles or wobbles - it's fine but I wouldn't want to get it soaked.

The new range of Canon lenses seem to be universally excellent. This is no exception.

Canon have never been known for making quality wideangles but this is amazing value for such a good lens.

The lens occasionally needs to 'wake up' if the camera goes into standby and it will only manually focus if the camera is active, but that's no real problem if you know about it.

If you don't have a 10-22mm and you mainly use the crop Canon bodies just buy one.

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III

Review Date: Nov 1, 2014 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Build quality, low ISO image quality, reliablity, in-camera backup, battery life. I can trust it to deliver again and again, good big viewfinder
Relatively poor LCD, dust removal not reliable, either 2 or 10 second timer, nothing in-between, basic live view, no built in level, I wish the pc socket cover was detachable (it is but getting it back in is very awkward)

This cost me a lot of money new back in 2009. I questioned if it was worth it.

But quality lasts. I have used my 1Ds3 hundreds and hundreds of times under all sorts of conditions on all sorts of pro assignments and it has never let me down.

I tend to try and keep it to 800 ISO or less, it doesn't have the high ISO abilities of the newer cameras and the LCD is of poor quality and small by modern standards but it just keeps on ticking off the frames, doing the job, earning the money. Even the AF system that seemed so complex years ago looks a bit puny compared with my 5D3 but it does the job ok.

I still think at 400 ISO and under it has the best Canon IQ too, as of 2014, with the most manipulable RAW files by far.

I have to get the sensor cleaned professionally fairly often as the dust removal doesn't really work and to be able to have an adjustable self-timer would be good but these are minor quibbles.

If you are in the market for a workhorse and you can get a good lightly used 1Ds3 get one, they are truly great digital slrs

Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

Review Date: Oct 6, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very small, sharp, good IS
Has a lock function, you have to release it every time you want to use it, maybe a bit expensive. Plus we don't really know if Canon will go on making cameras with the EF-M mount. Maybe a bit slow

A very good small wide zoom. The future of the EF-M mount is uncertain and the M isn't the best of it's type available but if you want to use the Canon flash system etc this is your only choice right now.

Edit: I have now been using this lens professionally in conjunction with my full frame gear for a few months. It's absolutely fantastic and worth twice the price if not more.

Sharp, great contrast, good IS in a tiny little lens. It's worth buying the M just for this lens

Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM

Review Date: Jul 24, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Surprisingly sharp, light, cheap, wide, quite well made, decent contrast, silent autofocus USM
Sharpness doesn't extend to extreme corners under about f11

This lens has really surprised me. I briefly owned a new copy in 2004 but I didn't like it and sold it.

I picked up a used copy as a vacation wideangle and with careful RAW processing and lens profiles it's really very good indeed, comfortably the equal of my 17-40L (at 20mm, obviously) although the extreme corners are very soft at the wider apertures, they falloff quite badly under about f11. The falloff isn't gradual, all 4 corners go at the same rate, the extreme corners are simply very soft, as mentioned at f11 and smaller it's fine.

The lens might not do well against test targets but for me it will now do a job on holidays and as a work backup wideangle.

In short, it doesn't deserve the trashing it so often gets, in my opinion

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

Review Date: Nov 27, 2013 Recommend? no | Price paid: $100.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Better built than it's predecessors, fractionally better image stabilization
Everything else, simply woefully unsharp at 18mm even stopped down, never really sharp at all, a horrid nasty lens that does modern Canon sensors no favours at all, Get a Tamron 17-50mm non-OS instead

I've now tested five Canon kit lenses in my quest for a good one, one non-IS which was hopeless, three IS versions and now the STM.

Very little to choose between them, they are all terrible.

I fear these lenses are so poor they may mask the camera's abilities for some inexperienced users who will think this is the best their camera can do.

Get a Tamron 17-50mm, or some other better lens instead and open up the abilities of your sensor

Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Review Date: Jul 31, 2013 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Small size, useful range, good IQ (see below)
Average build quality, zoom creep, extends a lot, no IS, old design

I first wrote a review of this years ago, back in 2004. I found the lens poor to average on a 10D.

This is an updated review after using and testing the lens on a 6D with RAW (lightroom 5) processing.

In short, it's really very good indeed and more or less indistuinguishable from both my Tamron 28-75 and my Canon 24-105L.

Of course the difference is the processing. Use the available LR lens corrections together with LR's CA and sharpening controls the lens can really sing.

Yes there is a small loss of detail in the extreme corners at 24mm at all apertures but the rest of the frame is very crisp. At 85mm it is very sharp indeed.

In short, this is an older, average lens with a superbly useful zoom range that can be vastly improved by modern technology and should not be consigned to the scrapheap just yet

Canon EOS 6D

Review Date: Jul 10, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,750.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Small size and light weight, great LCD, superb low and high ISO image quality in RAW, all the AF points work accurately even in low light, takes SD cards, GPS & Wifi there if you want them, microadjust at both ends of zoom. Better shadow detail if pushed. Fantastic silent shutter.
Not 100% viewfinder, oddly placed stop-down button, only one way level, loss of the multi-controller, the smaller in-ring one is fiddly with gloves on. A couple of extra FPS would have been nice, not really a sport camera. Not much to worry about.

Just an excellent camera that really shows some development from the 5D2.

An excellent compromise if you can't stretch to a 5D3 or if you are coming up from a crop camera - although you'll probably need to invest in a small flash for fill-in.

GREAT high ISO image quality - virtually noise free at 6400 with good exposure, RAW and lightroom, astonishing.

Shame it's only a one-way level and the viewfinder doesn't show 100% but the silent shutter is fantastic and the focusing system is simple yet works pefectly.

Thoroughly recommended by me.

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Pancake

Review Date: Jan 4, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Light, cheap, sharp, quiet focusing
Not as small as I'd expected, slow focusing, only f2.8

The Canon 'pancake' is really more of a shrunken standard lens, it is't acually that slim, not that it matters, it's a very good sharp lens for the price with good contrast. The new focusing system isn't great on a full frame camera but it's accurate.

It's a very nice focal length on FF though, very versatile. I like the lens a lot.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Review Date: Nov 8, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Build, image quality, features, dual cards, LCD, focusing system, customization, 2-way level, improved shape for holding, almost everything
Awkward way of zooming in review and liveview, too expensive at launch (better now), few extra pixels over the 5DII

Simply a fantastic camera, a real upgrade to the 5DII in speed, AF, features, LCD screen, build, weatherproofing, dual card slots - everything really.

Very similar in use to the 7D the 5DIII has moved the 5 series on by a huge amount, this feels like a very modern product.

A bit overshadowed by the D800 it would have been nice to have more pixels than the 5DII, 1 meg makes very little IQ difference at low and medium ISO's

If you are on the fence and have a 5DII it is worth the upgrade in my opinion.

Canon EOS 7D

Review Date: Jun 26, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Very well designed, fast in use, 8FPS, lovely LCD, video, Solid build, pop-up flash, remote flash control, very customisable
Image quality not quite there yet, no better than 550D. Not bad but noisy if files are manipulated much - needs good exposure. Would much prefer 5 Frames Per Second option rather than just 8 or 3. Focusing system effective if over-complex. Only 3 frames auto-bracketing and then only 3 stops, why not more in a semi-pro model?

This is a good, but not great camera.

The IQ is essentially exactly the same as my 550D so I knew what I was getting, the body is vastly superior, well built and very fast in use with a lovely LCD. The lack of dual card slots is a shame.

The RAW files tend to fall apart very easily with post processing, noise becomes a problem much more quickly than with my full frame Canons.

I would also much prefer a 5FPS option than just 8 or 3 with nothing in-between, how hard would that have been Canon?

Some of the button-press combinations needed to register AF points are absurd, including pressing the light switch! Far too complex. However being able to set different points in horizontal and vertical orientation is excellent and useful.

The AF system always gets it wrong when the camera chooses the AF point, it ALWAYS goes for the nearest thing, this is confusing a lot of people. Much better just to pick one AF point, which is a shame at this level of camera.

There's no doubt this is the best of the current Canon APS-C cameras and Canon have seen fit to include this sensor in all their new APS-C models, so it's now been in the 7D, 550D, 600D, 650D and 60D, so Canon feel it's good enough. It's nowhere near as good as a 5DII sensor though, not even close.

All in all, I'm a bit underwhelmed. It's good but it's not great. But then I got mine cheap.

Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Jun 13, 2012 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Class-leading image quality even in 2012. Just great digital files (using RAW)
Slow, clunky body, slow FPS, no sensor cleaning, no live view, no video, not 100% viewfinder, average focusing system (centre point only in reality), poor LCD, old-fashioned menus, no weathersealing.

An update to my first 5D review from 2005 (I think).

I've owned three of these over the years partly all at the same time, they are just fantastic digital cameras.

Don't expect to be spoiled though (which is a good thing) you actually have to set your own ISO (which is perfectly usable up to 1600 ISO with correct exposure and noise free at 800), you really have to use manual focusing or the centre AF point, I don't trust the others.

But it takes great pictures with a very convenient file size and no fuss. I've never had one fail.

It's a classic for a reason, it's supremely good at it's basic purpose, taking pictures. Use RAW and your brain and you won't be disappointed.

Tamron 28-75MM F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF)

Review Date: May 2, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, good contrast, useful range on full frame, constant f2.8 max aperture, comes with a hood
No full time focusing, no 24mm at the wide end, no image stabilisation, buzzy AF motor, extends quite a lot

I'm not sure why there are two Tamron 28-75mm lenses listed here in the reviews as I think they are actually the same lens.

My copy was bought used and is really very good. I use it on a 5D and 5DII and it's sharp, light and reliable.

I've mentioned that it's buzzy and doesn't have full time focusing but the IQ is the important thing and that's surprisingly good.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: May 25, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Light weight, good image quality, excellent image stabilisation
It's white, it's too expensive, it's f4 (but that's why it's small). It doesn't come with a tripod collar.

This is a very good lens. It's not quite the earth-shattering experience I was expecting, but it's very sharp throughout the range has excellent contrast and is nice and small.

Is it worth twice the cost of a 70-300IS ? Well it isn't twice as good, although it's better so that's a matter of opinion but I'd say no.

I'm not exactly disappointed, I'm just not overwhelmed.

Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM

Review Date: Apr 6, 2011 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 3 

Pros: Reasonably well built.
Everything else. Soft, heavy, expensive for what it is

I wanted to love this and use it as a general purpose lens, but it's VERY soft, much heavier than it's non-OS predecessor and expensive for what it is.

Maybe I got a bad one (which seems to happen a bit too much to me with Sigma lenses).

Steer clear.

Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS

Review Date: Feb 25, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Quite sharp, very cheap, very light, decent IS
Not very well made, no full time manual focus, slow

Bought one of these very cheap and it has surprised me, it's quite sharp and has quite good contrast. It certainly does what it's supposed to do pretty well.

Much better than I expected, without being stunning.


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