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Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

ef85mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Jul 2, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $338.99 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent image quality even at /1.8. Sharp images, no visible vignetting, great color and contrast. Depth of field obtained is spectacular. Lightweight yet feels like a solid brick of glass in your hand. Works great for night time candid shots.
Cons:
Some purple fringing at /1.8, though disappears quickly at smaller apertures. No included hood, which is recommended to own for this lens.

I don't think this lens has come off my camera since I bought it. This is one of those lenses that everyone should own at some point, like a good 50mm prime. There's something about this lens that when you hold it in your hand, you think "Damn, that's pretty solid..." It's got a good weight to it, but not too heavy at all. The pictures this thing produces have superb sharpness, contrast, and little flaring. The depth of field this lens offers is very thin, allowing you to obtain tremendous fore and background blur. This makes this lens ideal for portraits and mid-telephoto photography.

Lenses like this go well with a manual split-prism focusing screen if you have one for your camera.

The price of the lens isn't bad either -- another reason any person with an EOS should eventually buy one. I bought mine from Tri-State for $338.99 along with the hood for $25.99. I can recommend buying the hood for this lens since it will protect the front element much better than a potentially optic-damaging filter. The hood is also easy to quickly attach and is basically a long, tough cylinder that extends off the front.


EXAMPLES taken with my EOS 40D:
- Full size [untouched] image to show sharpness:
http://flickr.com/photos/fox-orian/2597745357/sizes/o/

- EF 85mm /1.8 Gallery:
http://flickr.com/photos/fox-orian/sets/72157605504681711/


 
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

ef_28-135_35_1_
Review Date: Jun 6, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $200.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Great value when bought with a 30D/40D Kit. Definite step-up from a stock kit lens. Useful focal length. Satisfactory resolution and performance. Image Stabilization works very well to reduce shake at 135mm end. Nice tele-macro.
Cons:
Wobbly front element that can slowly extend on its own while walking around. A supplied hood for this particular lens would have been great.

I got this lens with my EOS 40D kit. I technically paid only $200 for it since that's exactly how much more the kit cost versus the cost of just the body.

I'm perfectly satisfied using this as my general-purpose walk-around lens. It covers some good focal length and has pretty normal "no-complaints" optics. CA, corner softness, and vignetting all aren't too big of a deal that I feel my shots are being ruined by this lens (I've never actually thought this about any lens, really.) It's performance is just fine and it's served me well for the time I've had it so far. It reminds me of a bigger, better, [quieter,] more useful version of the 18-55mm stock lens I used to have with my old Rebel XT. I don't really have any complaints about the build quality. It feels solid except for the slightly wobbly front element.

I only do photography as a hobby and I am by no means professional. However, attending an art school, I'm surrounded by aspiring professional photographers every day. Many of them tell me they don't fully understand the obsession with having to own L-series glass, or comparing everything to L-series glass. Many of them tell me that as an artist, it's your duty to take what you have and make something spectacular with it. I've seen some amazing photos pulled off by students with just disposable cameras. The things I see created with lenses and cameras subjectively worse than I have make me think that most people have an unhealthy obsession to have the absolute best.

[At the same time, I'm the kind of person who finds that imperfections can make things more intriguing.]

Overall, the lens is a worthwhile investment if you're severely lacking something within the range this lens offers.

I also strongly recommend this lens as a first stop for upgrading from an 18-55mm stock lens. If buying or upgrading to a Semi-Pro body, spend the extra $200~$250 to get this lens in the kit. [Versus the $400~$500 retail.] Later down the road, adding the 10-22mm EF-S to your collection beautifully fills in the wide-angle end.


 
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

EF10-22
Review Date: Jun 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $710.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Range: Insanely useful 10-22mm [16-35mm equivalent] range Optics: Sharp. Practically no distortion at either end of the zoom. Vignetting: Never been an issue in my travels. Build: High quality materials and rock solid construction. AF: Fastest AF I've ever encountered in a lens. Speed: At f/3.5 max, it's a little better than usual competition, but for a price. Operation: Smooth uniform action on both the zoom and focus rings. Design: Front element is rather flat for such wide-angle. Easy to keep protected. Size: *See review for details Weight: Doesn't make camera at all front-heavy. Barely notice it's in my bag.
Cons:
Size: *See review for details Price: at $700~$800, it's one of the most expensive EF-S lenses. Optics: Magenta/Green CA at wide angle. [easily correctable, I've found.] Some corner softness. [to be expected.] AF: Though fast, can use TOO MANY AF points on auto-select. Use manually selected AF points for best precision. Compatibility: APS-C Sensors only, EF-S Mount. [Thought personally not an issue.] DoF: It's a wide angle lens, so expect to get little variance in back/foreground blur. Cleaning: The front element of the lens is a pain to clean. Protection filter recommended.

This is perhaps one of the most unique lenses I've ever come across. It's the kind of lens you can really come to fall in love with. It has the awkward characteristics that make something worth loving. It has the strange focal length of 10-22mm, a big 77mm front, and the ability to make space look huge and expansive, not to mention elongate your friend's features if they get too close. It's a lens that you can take out on the town for a night of fun, because if there's one thing this lens can do: it's make things interesting.

I bought this lens thinking it would be a great addition to complement my 28-135mm USM IS lens for my 40D -- something to complete a wide-to-telephoto focal range. Little did I know I'd almost use it exclusively from the moment it arrived at my door. This lens makes using my 40D immeasurably more fun. Photographing interior and exterior spaces alike instantly become more interesting as you capture a staggeringly wide view around you, all the while maintaining straight lines and perspective. I enjoy bringing it to social events and snapping away, capturing all of my friends at once when they may only be sitting on the other side of the table. The lens is so much fun to use, it's easy to overlook the price it cost and any of its optical flaws.

Specifically, the 10-22mm does get some noticeable green/magenta chromatic abberation at the wide end and some fringing on highlights. However, they're never bad enough that I can't edit them out later. The low distortion this lens offers is so unexpected, I'd gladly live with the CA even if I couldn't edit it out. The corner softness isn't much of a big deal at the wide end either, since we're talking about 10mm (16mm equivalency) here.

The 10-22's [forgivable] flaws are that the front element is recessed a bit into the casing, making cleaning it difficult since junk can build up around its edge. I strongly recommend using a protective filter for this lens to make cleaning it a cinch. It's large 77mm size, though cool looking, is also so large that it acts as a third leg for my 40D when placed on a table. Though, when taken off of the camera, it's a small enough lens to be easily brought around with me wherever I go. Though a native flaw to wide-angle shooting [and a max aperture of f/3.5] the differences between foreground and background blur in depth of field is extremely shallow. The picture remains mostly in focus almost all the time everywhere. This can trip up the AF sometimes by focusing on something close to you AND far away at the same time, where one of these objects will become slightly out of focus once the picture is taken. Though the 10-22's AF is lightning fast, make sure to manually select your AF point, as it can use too many on auto. [Some times, all 9 AF points on my 40D will light up saying the image is in focus. After taking those pictures, the truth is that they were not completely in focus.]

Lastly, The price of $700~$800 is a bit steep for an EF-S [APS-C only] lens. I'm personally never going to be upgrading to a Full-frame body like the 5D, so the 10-22mm was deemed a worth-while investment planned for long-term use. If you have lingering thoughts of upgrading to a full-frame body soon, you're probably going to want to avoid the 10-22mm because it might change your mind to stay with an APS-C body a little longer.

That said, if you've ever wanted your EF-S dSLR to become a little more fun and social, it's worth saving up for this lens for its unique offerings and top-notch quality.

[bought mine from J&R for $710.]

SAMPLE SHOTS TAKEN WITH MY 40D:

http://flickr.com/photos/fox-orian/2544507202/

http://flickr.com/photos/fox-orian/2554373346/

http://flickr.com/photos/fox-orian/2544305748/

http://flickr.com/photos/fox-orian/2532292814/

http://flickr.com/photos/fox-orian/2543751076/