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Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III

Review Date: Apr 28, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $9,200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fantastically well built, smooth lines, improved interface, huge number of pixels, big viewfinder, can use USB (not just firewire), ISO in Viewfinder, My Menu, more latitude in 14 bit RAW files, sRAW, configurable backup, ISO button
Ridiculously expensive (twice 1D3, come on Canon), no mirror lockup button, not significantly better than 5D at high ISO's (although needs less enlargement obviously), dodgy Canon Windows software, expensive batteries

This is a great digital SLR, no doubt about it. But it is TOO EXPENSIVE, especially in the UK. I could have bought in the US but I was concerned with the warranty.

Coming from a 1D2N this feels much more modern, most functions are now one handed and it is easier (if not easy) to use mirror lock up.

Live View is good but a bit incongrous, once you have focused (only manual available) you press zoom-in to zoom-out, daft. Why not a proper grid? If you're going to offer one, why not make it useful for architecture?

It's beautifully made and seems to work well and shift data at a massive rate.

Is there a MASSIVE improvement in image quality? Well, there are an awful lot of pixels so you need to enlarge less and can crop more, but the files are very typically Canon - a bit red heavy and oversaturated by default to my taste.

If I sound disappointed I think I was expecting just a bit more for such a huge amount of money. If it were cheaper I'd have given it a 10, as it is it's 9 for build and features and a 4 for value.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Mar 28, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Cheap, sharp, good focusing, IS works very well, relatively light
Extends a LOT, no full time focus, a bit slow at the long end, no included hood

A very good general purpose telephoto zoom. Not in the same league as my 70-200 2.8L but much smaller and cheaper.

The IS works very well and enables me to shoot as low as 1/20th at 200mm.

The lens extends hugely upon zooming and sadly doesn't have full time focusing but at this price that is acceptable.

It's good to see that the 5.6 max ap doesn't come in until quite a long way out, unlike the 17-85 for example.

This is a much better lens than I expected it to be.

Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.5 DC MACRO

Review Date: Feb 29, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $430.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good range, decent build, included hood, good general sharpness & contrast
A bit slow except at 17mm, extends a lot for a 70mm lens, wide front element means a big hood, a bit patchy - mine has a weak spot around 35mm

This is a much better lens than I was expecting. I have owned (& sold) two previous Sigmas, the 18-200 non OS and 18-125 and both were dreadful - couldn't focus, poor in the corners, low contrast. I have been looking for a good smallish general purpose lens (hate the term 'walkaround').

This lens does fit that bill. It is consistently sharp and contrasty, focuses accurately and has a very useful range. Mine has a dodgy patch around 35mm where it loses some sharpness but I can live with it.

It's good to see it come with a hood (come on Canon).

All in all this is the best of it's type that I have found for a crop camera. 24-105L's and 24-70L's are vastly better lenses but they are just too long to provide a proper wideangle on a 1.6 crop. My Tamron 17-50 is probably slightly sharper, but I do value the extra 20mm so I will probably sell it.

All in all, very good.

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

Review Date: Apr 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $430.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: f2.8, comes with a hood, decent contrast, pretty good at longer lengths, cheap
Needed re-centering by Tamron, now excellent

Not great until it went back to Tamron, clearly they have some QC issues but now it's a great little lens, small, fast and sharp

Canon EOS Rebel XTi (400D)

Review Date: Apr 10, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $692.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good image quality, Small size, large rear LCD, speed of use, sensor cleaning, excellent and accurate focusing, range of features & functions, sensibly placed on/off switch
Awkward and small grip, very small viewfinder. only 3 frames per second with relatively small buffer, silly mirror lock-up, flash exposure control stuck in menus (unless you use a custom function), awful kit lens

I've owned a lot of Canon dslr's including the 350D/XT and I really like the 400D/Xti. It is still very small and light but is bristling with every feature you could need, all for a knockdown price.

The viewfinder is very small, too small for manual focusing (although the autofocus is really excellent) and the grip is best used with a camdapter and hand strap or an optional battery grip but hey, this is supposed to be a small light, cheap camera that takes good pictures and thats what it really is.

Image quality is very much the same as the 8 meg Canons and I find I really like the dual-use rear LCD as it gives a much bigger info screen than the dual screen models do, on a bright white background

It is very typically Canon, it's menus, dials, commands etc are all very familiar and work well enough.

Canon will rightly sell millions, but any kit buyer will surely have to replace the dreadful kit lens, which does the camera no favours at all, silly.

Canon EOS 1D Mark II N

Review Date: Oct 16, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Build, speed, dual card slots, in-camera backup, focusing, customization, weatherproofing, big LCD
Image quality (compared with a 5D and a 1DSII), interface, firewire needed to upload personal functions, still no proper mirror-lock-up, price, weight, big battery and charger

My second foray into the 1-series world after selling my 1DII for a 5D. I love the 5D image quality (which really is better) but I missed the 1-series build, speed, focusing and in-camera backup.

It doesn't have quite enough pixels, but the ones it has are of very high quality - big prints no problem as long as you don't need to crop.

It is a bit expensive I think, although the 'N' has answered most of my criticisms with the original - weaker anti-alias filter means shrper shots by default, selectable recording to memory cards, bigger screen (although why we can't have a big histogram I still don't know)

I'm going to keep this one!

Canon EOS Rebel XT (350D)

Review Date: Oct 7, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent value, great image quality (same as 20/30D really)
A shade too small, silly way of changing flash exposure controls & mirror lockup (again), rear buttons could have been better thought out

I bought the 350D as a travel cam and it is just great. Very small (a little too small perhaps) fast in use and with excellent image quality.

Working at the top of a tall tripod I actually prefer the 1-series style rear menus to having stuff on the top.

I wasn't sure about doing without a rear dial but I've got used to it and the batteries and charger are really small too. Considering what this little camera can do I think it's probably underpriced!

If Canon could have incorporated an easy way to alter the flash control without having to delve into menus I'd have given it 10's all around

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Aug 2, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Build quality, zoom range
Pretty much everything else, see below

The first copy had to be replaced by Canon as it has a large blob under the front element and wouldn't focus properly either. The second copy is barely tolerable for a lens of this enormous price (for an f4 zoom).

There is significant barrel distortion and vignetting at 24mm on full frame, it isn't anywhere NEAR as sharp and contrasty as my 24-70 2.8L.

I really wanted to like this lens and use it as a good general purpose tool, but for the vast price it just doesn't do it at all. Frankly my old 24-85 is almost as good, almost as fast (faster at the short end) and far lighter.

Don't waste your money.

Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Jan 6, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Full frame, big viewfinder, superb image quality (with good lenses), smallish, lightish, well made, fast in use, good ergonomics, big LCD
Sill mirror lock up procedure, odd C mode issues, awkward fiddly socket covers

This is my second review of the 5D after a few months of intense professional use. I spend so much of my time espousing the merits of this camera in the forums I thought I might as well just do it here.

This is a REALLY fine digital camera, when used carefully and exposed correctly the images are easily the equal of medium format and virtually up to the standards of the 1DsII. The 'banding' some describe is usually due to poor exposure and expecting miracles from 3200 ISO. Image quality is what the 5D is all about and it delivers. Focusing is fast and accurate and the big viewfinder makes manual focus easy when needed.

I have now sold my beloved 1-Series as this is much more my sort of camera. I can use it with one hand at the top of a ladder, I can see the menu because of the lovely big lcd, the images appear instantly - it makes my 20D look slow! I have never inadvertently changed a setting and the two-stage on/off switch is a sensible way of preventing this.

The quality of the images is, in my opinion distinctly superior to that of my 1DII, that is the sharpness and dynamic range are more or less the same but the 5D's image is much. much bigger. This equates to less noise, bigger enlargements and good scope for cropping. I am now able to leave my converted RAW files with no further processing needed. I am now able to use up to 400 ISO as if it were 100 without fear of noise.

Build quality is on a par with Canon's original professional manual focus FD 1 series (F1N etc) and perfectly good. This is a professional standard workhorse and exactly the camera Canon needed to show their huge superiority in this marketplace, it is not a consumer point-and-shoot and should not be described as such. It doesn't need nor should it have a pop-up flash!

In summary, this is a very nearly perfect camera. It is the first digital camera I have owned that I know I will keep, there is nothing much I would need that this can't do, up till now the market was evolving, now it is maturing. Canon has (sensibly) decided that full-frame matters, Nikon has other ideas, I believe Canon is right. They have a serious winner on their hands with the 5D.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Nov 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, small, cheap for what it covers
silly pointless lens hood, f4

A great lens.

Not the widest, not the fastest but reliable, sharp and small. Covers 17,20,24,28,35 lens ranges and is excellent at them all (from a couple of stops down).

Not perfect wide open, but still very good.

'people' love to bash this lens, I rely on it nearly every day

Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Oct 10, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small body size for full frame, excellent image quality, wonderful big LCD, fast in use, nice big viewfinder, ISO in V/F when changing, good focusing, quietish shutter. A true state-of-the-art dslr
Expensive for what is a 20D on steroids (over twice the price!)- but a ground breaking camera nonetheless. Still has cheapish CF door, awkward terminal/pc covers. Silly mirror lock up. Dreadful Canon software as usual

A 20D shape but about 15% bigger, I didn't even need to open the manual to know how every feature works. It still has the annoying need to delve into custom functions to lock the mirror up, but at least that can be saved in the custom mode, along with ISO and most other settings.

Everything where it needs to be, lenses are back at their correct focal lengths, focusing is good and fast if not quite 1 series standards. Wonderful image quality. Fantastic new LCD screen is just so much better.

Canon really have raised the bar recently, I now have 3 of their current models and they all give excellent quality, good reliability, fabulous battery life.

A bit pricey but it is still a new item. Go on, go mad buy one

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

Review Date: Sep 13, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $200.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: Quite sharp and medium and long zooms
Woeful at 17mm

I got this lens stupidly cheap, a deal that was too good to miss, although I'll be selling it shortly.

I wanted something a bit wider than my 24-85 Canon and thought this might be it. I was wrong, it is WAY overpriced and awful at the wide end. at 50-85 it isn't bad - not in the same street as my 24-70L and about the same as the 24-85 it was supposed to replace.

It is so big considering it is SO slow (85mm f 5.6, my large format lenses were faster than that) OK, it's got IS, so what.

A very ordinary, very overpriced optic.

Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

Review Date: Sep 5, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Fast maximum aperture, good quick focusing, sharp from f 4.5 down, not too expensive for an 'L' lens. Nice manual focus ring & decent big hood included.
Not that great at full aperture or until f 4.5, still need contrast 'adjustment' on digital. Silly lenshood fitting - not strong enough (not the only Canon lens with this issue !).

A very good lens, but not the 'astonishing' performer I had hoped for. Much lighter and obvously faster than my 70-200 2.8L but optically not really that different. Not quite as good at or near wide open as I'd been led to believe and therefore much the same as the 70-200 when stopped down. I previously had the 135 F2 FD series lens, which was just as good if not slightly better - perhaps the lead free glass now used?

I'm not absolutely sure I will keep it. Shame, the reviews are just *so* good I had hoped for a tiny bit more.

Sigma 18-125mm F3.5-5.6 DC

Review Date: May 1, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 1 

Pros: Light & small
Everything else, absolutely dreadful, BY FAR the worst lens I have ever owned (and I've had a few stinkers)

Awful, just plain awful.

The lens apparenty thinks infinity should be 15 feet away. Flatly refuses to focus on anything more than that far away. Distant hills, mountains, birds, all are apparently within spitting distance according to this sad optic.

Apart from being hopelessly slow (f5.6 from 60mm to 125 - even my 5x4 lenses were faster than that!) The 'focusing' is both noisy and innacurate and the image has a 'chroma' around it making it look terribly digital.

Nor is it particularly sharp (when you switch to manual and actually focus it properly). I couldn't trust it take a picture if my life depended on it.

I'm too embarassed to sell it on ebay because I think I'd be a fraud - shame it came mail order from overseas and I can't send it back - not that I'd really want a replacement anyway.

Terrible, terrible, terrible.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: Apr 5, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Sharp from 2.8 down
Awful build for 'the best standard lens' that Canon make. Graunchy focusing, plasticky, not A PATCH on the old 50mm 1.4 FD lens

Nowhere near as good as I'd hoped. Bought to upgrade my 1.8 II 50mm as I needed the extra light, this lens is not worth the extra money.

Though a good solid performer, sharp and with goodish quiet autofocus, the build quality isn't much better than a consumer zoom. The focus ring is 'rough' and not easy to use.

As this is the 'best' 50mm Canon make it should be MUCH better.

If you have the other slower 50's, don't bother to upgrade.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Apr 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent lens, one of the best I own
None at all

In a previous life I owned the FD series 85 1.8 and it paid my wages by shooting concerts. Those days are long gone but it's replacement, the EF 85 1.8 is probably even better. It's one of the sharpest lenses I own (mainly L lenses) and has THE best contrast.

I really love the thick focusing ring and the build quality. It is the equivalent of a 135 f1.8 on my 20D - brilliantly fast.

Excellent lens, excellent value, hard to fault in any way


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