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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

85II
Review Date: May 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: I have the need, the need for speed. Very good image quality. Beautiful out of focus areas. Faster focusing than the previous 85/1.2 ... but still slower than other mid-teles. Can be made faster in low light by using a STE2 for it's focus assist beam.
Cons:
Huge lens with a huge price tag. Sloppy manual focus control.



 
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

24-105lisusm
Review Date: Oct 30, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $985.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: The one to have if you're only having one. Smaller size is worth the penalty of f/4, but IS helps make up for even that. Close focusing ability.
Cons:
Distortion, but I've come to expect that from any Canon wide. A bit dimmer viewfinder due to f/4 max aperture. Still don't like the lens extending out of it's main body as you zoom.

I got this lens primarily for general wedding photography. Combined with the 5D, it cuts down on the weight I have to carry for 7 to 10 hours at a crack. The zoom range is almost perfect, with a longer focal length the only supplemental lens needed ( or faster aperture lenses for shallower DOF ). However, I've been mildly impressed with the DOF of this lens at 105 because you can get in pretty tight on the subject.

I'm not a fan of zooms in general, but I am of this one for the practical applications listed above.


 
Canon EOS 5D

5d_586x225_2_
Review Date: Oct 28, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,900.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Smallest full frame DSLR, which is a relief from 8 hours of carrying 1DsMKII at weddings (or for travel). Excellent power source using small batteries easily carried in pocket as back-up. slightly better built quality than previous Ds. Like other Canons good performance at higher ISOs
Cons:
Doesn't allow histogram viewing with full LCD image display... nor overexposed highlights warning. Must scroll to crowded frame for these tools which negates the practicality of the larger LCD in actual use. Images aren't as crisp as with 1DsMKII when using big aperture lenses like the 85/1.2. Good camera but it's no replacement for a 1DsMKII despite it's almost 13 meg sensor.

I've shot 4 weddings and some portraits with this camera so far. 100% L lenses were used as well as a number of Carl Zeiss optics. As with previous D cameras, this one is extremely user friendly in terms of controls. It appears to produce images in need of more sharpening than those from the 1DsMKII. This is more apparent when using super fast optics ... which could be a focus accuracy issue OR more likely that the lighter weight is less stable than the 1DsMKII when shooting in lower light handheld.

 
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II

1dsmarkii
Review Date: Dec 3, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $7,300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Improved image over the 1Ds. More usable at higher ISOs. Less noise in the darks. Faster operation. Expanded ability for commercial applications making it a better cost to application value than the 1Ds was. Uses same battery as 1Ds and 1DMKII.
Cons:
Weight. Smallish LCD. As of this date not supported by Adobe RAW.

Replaced a 1Ds with this camera primarily for wedding work to be used in concert with a 1DMKII. However, I believe the new 1DsMKII will now encroach on some commercial work I previously did with a MF back. This increases its value due to the ability to charge digital capture fees which will help pay for the camera.

Right out of the box I shot ISO 800, 1600 and 3200 available light shots all of which were useable. I think ISO 400 will become a standard general setting for wedding work where I used to set ISO 160-200 with the 1Ds.

Used the camera for 2 less critical commercial jobs recently and the performance and image quality was plenty good. In the past I tried the 1Ds in similar circumstances and found it lagged behind the MF backs too much for comfort. So far this camera provides enough for those types of jobs.


 
Canon EOS 1D Mark II

1D2
Review Date: May 14, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,200.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Incredibly responsive and tight feeling. Reminds me of a Porsche. Perfect compliment to the 1Ds. New color indicators in menu selections ( verses 1Ds). Useable ISO 3200 if FM actions are applied and non-cropped print requirements are confined to 7X10 image size (common wedding print size). Artistic grain look similar to high ISO films that are scanned.
Cons:
Small type in menu selections. 1/3 X lens factor (which is okay with me due to also having a 1Ds, but may cramp those who don't and want W/A views).

This camera is intended to compliment my 1Ds for weddings. I am specifically interested in candid, low light work at higher ISO RAWs, then converting to B&W in PSCS in order to replace use of high ISO B&W film... we'll see.

This is the fastest digital camera I've used to date. Seems as quick as my 1V.

17 RAW frames @ 8 frames a second shot to buffer before lock out... and that was using a IBM Microdrive.



 
Canon EF 17-35mm f/2.8L USM

ef17_35_1_
Review Date: May 4, 2004 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1.10 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Good range.
Cons:
Horrible distortion. Softer than the 16-35/2.8L

Canon wides suffer from barrel distortion (even the 35/1.4L), and this one is the king of distortion. I bench tested this lens against the 16-35/2.8L and frankly there was no comparison.

Canon should study Nikon to learn how to better correct their WA zooms.


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM

ef85mmf_12_1_
Review Date: Dec 23, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Astounding control of DOF. Bokeh that sets a standard that spoils you against other fast lenses. Incredible resolution from a lens like this, second only to the legendary Zeiss 85/1.2 IMO.
Cons:
Big, heavy and slower focusing than lenses like the Nikon 84/1.4 and perhaps even the Zeiss/Contax 85/1.4N. But that's the penalty for the extra stop, and should come as no surprise given the size of the glass the motor has to move.

I could easily shoot 90% of a wedding with a 35/1.4L and this 85/1.2L.

As a outdoor portrait lens, it is second to none IMO.

Full frame digital, the 85/1.2 and the 35/1.4L are the reasons I switched from Nikon to Canon as my wedding equipment.


 
Nikon D1X

Nikon_D1X
Review Date: Dec 20, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,800.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Fantastic camera IMO. Shot weddings with two of them for a couple of years. Never failed me once. Flash system is almost idiot proof. Provides access to the wonderful Nikon 28/1.4 and 85/1.4 which to this day are some of my favorites.
Cons:
Just a tad to small of a sensor. Lose any super-wide ability (since corrected by Nikon with new lens offerings). And just couldn't squeeze out major crops that needed to be printed larger.

I would recommend this camera to anyone, even though I have since switched to a Canon 1Ds for its full frame sensor. The D1-X is built like a tank, handles well, has a great flash system, and with the right selection of lenses can really perform. I am also of the opinion that the Nikon Wide Zooms are superior to the Canon counterparts in terms of barrel distortion.

I also believe, based on using both systems extensively, that the Nikon CCD can be pushed further than the Canon CMOS sensor in terms of low light verses noise. I once grabbed a snap shot of an unexpected emotional moment at a wedding after I had shut down the flash. When I opened the file it was just about black. On a whim, I clicked auto levels in PhotoShop and was shocked to immediately get a useable image.