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

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

Pros: Great lens, sharp, very compact, smooth operation, affordable filter size
None at all - the lens is good VFM for what you get

This is really great lens and one that I have been hoping Canon would produce for some time. I really dont understand the negative comments, at all.
One of my criticisms of Canon L lenses is their size - when you are a travel photograper like me, you like to take a compact set of kit with you. The girth of many L series lenses (not to mention the size of the circumference of the lens hood) takes up so much space in the bag. This lens is much better and also provides a sensible alternative to the many 70-300 type zooms around from many companies, not just Canon.
Well done Canon - your best for a while!

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

Review Date: Jul 7, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Well made, compact, lightweight, very useful IS, good zoom range on 400D, pretty good optically
Some pincushion and barrel distortion

I rate this lens better optically than some reviews, though I agree it is no-L series. I think one has to bear in mind the price which is very reasonable for what you get - 28-135mm equivalent, IS and lightweight. There is quite a lot of distortion at the wide end (barrel distortion) but overall quality is better stopped down, which is possible due to IS.
It stays on my 400D (Digital Rebel XTi?) nearly all the time as a travel package for weekends away, cycling and backpacking, when I don't want to carry a brick (e.g. 5D and 24-105L). My 17-40L performs better on the 400D but is significant more costly and only 40mm at the long end and no IS. Not Canon's best optically but very acceptable and no quality control issues like some independent manufacturers.

Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 EX Aspherical DG DF

Review Date: May 19, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Build quality, fast f2.8 max aperture, very good optical quality
Noisy focussing, awkward manual focussing override

A great lens from Sigma. I seemed to get a good example - no softness or quality control issues. EX DG build quality is good. Focussing is a little noisy. I have found the optical quality to be very good, even at f2.8 and best about f11. The 24mm end is optically better than the 70 mm end. Zooming was a bit stiff but freed up over time. I don't have much need for this lens (I use the 24-105 most of the time on the 5D) - just occasional use - but that is why I bought the Sigma not the Canon version - with the money I saved I bought the EFS 17-85 to use with my 400D (Digital Rebel Xi?) and still had cash to spare. For the money, the Sigma is a steal.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

Review Date: Jul 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good optical quality, useful zoom range, well built, sharp and good edge-to-edge even when just stopped down by 1/2 stop
Reports of long-term issues with heavy use (e.g. zoom mechanism, locking collar), slightly overpriced, physically very long extension at long end.

A nice lens, with a good range and 400mm at f5.6 is quite useful at the long end. See my website:

The push-pull zoom mechanism is slow, awkward and a bit antiquated and acts as a dust pump. I have heard reports of build quality / quality control issues but mine is fine - well made, tight and optically perfect. The IS works well and even with its bulk, I would rather carry this around than a 75-300 - this is far more useful. Another good point is that the lens works with a 1.4x extender, though you may have to focus manually.

Probably not in Canon's premier league of L lenses but a nice lens. I have heard rumours of a mark II version on the horizon. A good lens and I'd be tempted to go for a second hand copy that hasn't been hammered rather than a new one.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: May 28, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: A superb lens, the best one one in my bag. A great reportage, photo-journalism and low light lens. Difficult to fault.
None at all, save for price. I would like a rubber sealing ring on the lens mount, as with some recent L optics.

This an update to my earlier review.

I have recently put some shots taken with this lens on my website (London gallery section):

Stopped down or wide open, this is a great piece of glass. Well done Canon. I cherish this lens and will never sell out.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: May 23, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Build quality, internal zooming, FTM, very good optical quality
None, if you can live with f4.0

This is a follow-up to my previous review. The more I use the lens, the more I am so impressed with it. See the pictures of Bruges on my website:

It is very good across the whole range, relatively good a wide settings and only slightly soft wide open. One of the best L zooms. Buy with confidence

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

Review Date: May 5, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Excellent build quality, focussing, IS, FTM, USM, very sharp and contrasty when stopped down at mid to long focal lengths
Vignettes at F4 even though Canon says it doesn't; lots of distortion and CA at the wide end; soft at f4

This is a follow-up to my earlier review. Posts from other reviewers shows that wherever you are in the world, it is impossible to get a straight or helpful answer from Canon over this lens. There is a deafening silence. I have never known such controversy about a Canon SLR / lens product and Canon need to come clean.

I bought this lens as soon as it was available in the UK, to go with my 'first off the boat' EOS 5D body that I bought in September 2005.

Luckily, I had one of the 'improved versions' (with a red dot on the Canon UK box and a UT number of over 1000), as I had waited until January to buy it as I had read so many mixed comments elsewhere.

Anyway, I didn't have any of the flare problems of the early models (that Canon acknowedged - see the Canon UK website notice) but I do have reservations. I used the lens for it first job taking travel stock shots in Berlin in February. The IS was excellent and build quality is superb, along with focussing, zooming, NR filter, FTM, etc. Optically, however, I feel that it is not up to the usual 'L' series standards (I have 8 others). Canon says it doesn't vignette at the wide end on FF cameras. It does - wide open and up to two stops below too. At mid and long focal lengths, optical quality is very good at mid apertures but at the wide end there is a lot of edge distortion and CA on a FF camera (5D, IDs). I find the lens perfectly usable from 35-105 range but this is hardly the point. It's quite soft at f4.0. On film cameras, CA is not a problem at the wide end but distortion is. As a professional series 'walk around' lens it has limitations, which considering its price it shouldn't have. And one copy seems to vary from the next. There are undoubtedly many challenges in making a 24-105 zoom (the wide end particularly). Maybe Canon tried to make it at too cheap a price point (seriously)?

I would like to know about the experiences of others with this lens. This was really a first for Canon - an L series lens that they heavily marketed as a 'kit' with a pro body. Apparently, Canon US sold more of these lenses than all other L series lenses combined, which might explain lens supply problems at the moment (see my separate post). Did they over-extend themselves with quality control issues? I have used Canon cameras and bodies for over 25 years, 20 if those as a professional. I used their bodies and lenses when other people were all using Nikon. I stuck through them thick and thin and have always loved their products. I am not minded to change at all and shall continue to invest in Canon EF stuff. I just wish sometimes there was a bit more honesty from them - maybe it a Japanese corporate thing. Canon says there isn't a problem with the lens and that it does what it is supposed to do. Mmmm.....

Though I have no doubt that I have one of the better examples of the lens, I full statement from Canon (apart from the early flare issues) would be really appreciated. Still, I suppose that would acknowledge that there was a problem...but they can't keep saying 'it does what it says on the box', 'cos it doesn't. Every user of this lens should contact Canon to force them to make a statement

OK, people now use Photoshop and look at everything at 400% magnification. But I'll show anyone a shot taken on the 24-105 L compared with a 24-85mm non-L cheapy. It's quite embarrassing really....

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: Apr 25, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality, focussing, maximum aperture. Superb full and large aperture performance, almost unmatched usable aperture range (f1.4 to f22 is 8 stops), lovely background blur ('almost liquid') and colours. Excellent handling, optically without a peer,.....
None aside from price (nearly 5 times as expensive (list price) as the EF 35mm f2.0, itself a very nice lens).

An absolutely stunning lens. It's very expensive but worth every penny. Possibly one of the best 35mm primes in the world and in the top 3 of Canon's lenses. If I only have room for one lens, I take this. It is a big lens - this might be good or bad, depending on your needs.

Build quality and focussing are excellent, USM and full time manual too. Even at f1.4 it doesn't vignette on my FF EOS 5D - one of the few lenses to do so. Edge to edge sharpness is superb. It is probably true to say, as commented by other reveiwers, that the optical performance of the larger apertures is not matched by the smaller apertures, but the the difference is minimal. If you can afford it (and find one in stock), buy it!

I have no other lens for digital use that shows such low CA and flare. A really dream lens. When you use a lens like this, you realise what a joke zooms are, even good ones.

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM

Review Date: Apr 14, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good build quality, fast maximum aperture, optically very good, 'cheap'
Older USM, otherwise nothing

I'll say it again - you can't beat fast, prime lenses. I picked up my copy of this secondhand for a very reasonable price. Optical quality is excellent, the lens is light, very versatile and gives a bit more reach than a 85mm. It's great for architecture and landscapes, not just portraits.

Canon's EF 50 f1.4, 85 f1.8 and 100 f2.0 mm lenses are the bargain of the century - even if you buy them new - don't worry that they haven't got the 'L' suffix - the shorter focal length and simple construction (fewer elements) makes the L suffix lens important than it is for zooms. The 85mm f1.8 is virtually indistinguishable in terms of results from the f1.2 version - unless you really need such a super-wide aperture - and it is less than a fifth of the price!

Canon don't make another 100mm lens at all and this is an early design from the first launches of EF lenses in the late 80's and early 1990's, but you won't be dissappointed with the results. I have been doing stock photgraphy for over 20 years and all my best shots are taken with primes - they just make you think and work in a better way.

Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye

Review Date: Apr 14, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $650.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Superb optical quality, fast maximum aperture, solid 'early EF' construction, small and very compact lens.
None really - small hood and no external filters but this is a problem with all fisheyes.

As I have said before, a good range of prime lenses is far more useful than slow and heavy zooms (even 'L' ones) and you'll be a far better photographer. A set of non-L primes (e.g. 20/24/35/50/85) doesn't cost as much one or two exotic L-series zooms, especially with some good second hand lenses around. Though the optical quality of 'L' zooms is no doubt better than non-L zooms, where primes are concerned, the distinction is less clear-cut.

Anyway, to this review... this 15mm lens in a non-USM and one of the first launches from the early EF lenses, so it's been around a while (nearly 20 years!) but is excellent. I guess demand is so small, Canon are not going to re-tool and redesign a newer version. I think this is based on old FD optics but I have had excellent results, even on a FF EOS 5D. Depth of field is obviously superb, as is the closest focussing of about 2cm! If you want a different perspective to interiors or architecture, give it a try. Flare is minimal and very contolled and it is possible to achieve 'flatness of field' if you hold the lens axis parallel to the ground but for most shots, you'll want to use the fisheye effect (I think 'semi-fisheye' is a more acurrate description - it's not a full fisheye like an 8mm lens). I have a Sigma EX DG 12-24 zoom too and the Canon is streets ahead in sharpness, CA, etc.

Just be careful of that vulnerable front element.

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

Review Date: Feb 4, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated


Overall, I think the conclusion is that Canon have a real problem with this lens. Possibly, it's an original design flaw compounded by poor quality control. Designing lenses is an expensive process so I am not sure what happened to the 'recalled models'. It's difficult to believe that a single problem (e.g. poor manufacturing on one element) could lead to all the problems reported. Now they are possibly clutching at straws. Certainly, a 24-105 lens is a challenge to make (which is why there are so few designs around) but it should be better than this. I think things have been made worse by most new buyers using it on a FF camera.

Expect a quick 'mark 2' version from Canon at the end of 2006, though they may not tell us or market it as such.

I don’t think you can predict how the lenses will perform irrespctive of the UT number, if you buy one. It seems to be hit and miss, which is outrageous.

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

Review Date: Jan 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great zoom range, real Rolls Royce construction quality, excellent optical quality (see below), internal focussing and zooming, FTM function, excellent focussing, IS
Rogue early examples (see below); quite heavy

They have been a lot of negative reviews of this lens and I have the explanation. For once, Japan and the USA getting lenses before us in Europe was a bad thing (for them, anyway). Canon withdrew all offical stock after about 6 weeks, though many grey imports persisted and the lens was still being sold widely on the internet. Official UK Canon pro dealers advised photographers to hold off. All lenses were modified or remanufactured (who can say, as Canon never reveal such things). Many early examples had real CA problems across the whole zoom range (on full frame or APS cameras) but especially in the mid-range and was an awful lens considering its L suffix. Anyway, whatever the problem the issue has been addressed, and UK Canon dealers are now supplying the 'new' lenses. I bought one of these, and it is superb. One of my best 'Ls', if you can live with f4.0. Lens has been outstanding on my 5D.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Jan 13, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Superb optical performance - in many ways, almost up to L series standard. Bargain price (even at full 'book price'). One of Canon's absolute best. Very fast focusing, lightweight and good overall handling
After 6 months of use, I can't say that the slightly wobbly front element that I reported before has been a problem. Otherwise, nothing.

This is an update to my previous report. I have had superb results with this lens on my EOS 5D. Being a full frame sensor camera, there is obviously no crop factor, so this 85mm behaves as an 85mm. I have had excellent results, even when used close to maximum aperture. On a recent travel assignment to historic Bruges (Belgium), the lens was an ideal for candid and medium-crop shots and for picking out architectural details. Even on the 5D, there was no evidence of CA: f2.0 was still quite usable and f4.0 pin sharp. There is nothing else to say really, other than to remind you that this becomes a 135mm f1.8 equivalent on the 10D, 20D, 350D, etc...!

Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

Review Date: Oct 28, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fantastic build quality and superb optics - widely regarded by many independent sources to be one of the finest prime lenses by any manufacturer. Nice weight and handling. Focussing fast and accurate.
None really. Even the the price is not unreasonable for what you get.

When you use a lens like, this you'll realise just how limiting zoom lenses are compared with a fast prime. You need optics like this to do justice to a camera like the EOS 1Ds or 5D. I have tested this lens with the 5D and find no problems with CA or vignetting at any aperture - unlike some zooms I have tried (the EF 28-135 IS looks like a pin hole camera at the long end with the 5D). It's great to use this lens for available light architectural shots (e.g. distant building details) and sports (e.g. basketball) where you are close to the action.
It excels, of course with portraits. At f2.8-4.0 it's a great lens for head and shoulders or facial shots, where you don't want to be 'on top of' your subject.

One of Canon's best lenses. Just beware very limited depth of field at f2.0. On an APS camera it becomes a 210mm f2.0 prime!

Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Sep 25, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Full frame sensor, very light and compact, excellent metering, viewfinder and functionality. Superb handling and good build quality, the list goes on. Lenses used as they were intended - i.e. no crop factor. It's the camera we've all been waiting for...
So far, just the fact the I had to upgrade to Photoshop CS2 to support the new RAW .cr2 file format

OK - I have only had the camera 2 days, as I was lucky enough to get one of the first cameras available from professional dealers. This review is based on just a few hundred shots but I thought I’d post a quick review, as fellow viewers would be interested.

Well, the camera is quite superb. Image quality is everything I expected. There is almost a complete absence of noise, even at high ISO settings. The ISO is adjustable in 1/3 stop increments which is great and the ‘L’ setting gives ISO 50 equivalent. Even ISO 3200 is incredible.

I was worried about the quality of images taken with ‘cheaper’ lenses, due to the demands of the full-frame sensor. I did some tests with some L-series lenses and cheaper zooms too. I can report the following:

1. Full aperture performance with L series lenses is very good, very little magenta fringing (e.g. 17-40L zoom @ f4.0) or diffraction. No sign of vignetting with most lenses, only slight corner fall off even with my full frame Sigma 12-24 zoom. No L-series lens I tried showed corner shading, but this may not be the case with very wide aperture lenses (e.g. 28-70 f2.8L).
2. Consumer zooms do suffer a bit (e.g. EF24-85) with edge diffraction but better than expected.
3. Non L-series Canon EF lenses have given very good results (e.g. 35mm f2.0, 85mm f1.8)
4. Sensor is very demanding, however. I wouldn’t buy this camera if you are not able to invest in (or possess) top-notch lenses.

RAW files processed with the bundled software (DPP and Zoombrowser) are superb but the large JPEGs setting (ca. 4mb files) are good enough for most situations. Possibly the best in-camera processed JPEGs I have seen.

Metering and focussing is excellent (a notch higher than 20D?) and the spot metering very welcome – the former has been noticeably absent from many Canon models for too long. The ‘Picture’ modes work well and cut down on post-production.

I printed an image to A3, having converted it from RAW into a TIF file. It was very difficult to find any fault at all (admittedly taken with an L-series zoom). Shadow detail and exposure latitude is outstanding (class leading?) and resolution exceeds that of the output device (an Epson R1800 printer).

Watch this space for an update once I have more hands-on usage.

Well done, Canon. This camera deserves to take the world by storm!

Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 EX DG Aspherical HSM

Review Date: Jul 20, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very wide angle zoom range; excellent 19mm wide equivalent on a 1.6 crop factor Canon digital SLR; generally well made; remarkable value for money given what you are getting. Has added advantage of fitting Canon EOS 35mm SLRs too. Reassuringly heavy, with internal focussing and full time manual (FTM) facility
Images slightly soft at edges and quality control issue (see below)

I had a real run-around with this lens. I had been considering buying one for some time to use on my EOS 10D and D1 Mark II bodies.

The first lens that I bought had real problems - there seemed a very high level of chromatic abberation and images just seemed 'wrong' - poor colours and contrast and lots of flare - even allowing for its very wide angle of view. But the main issue was revealed with some test shots that I took in controlled conditions. I found a similar problem that other reviewers had found - very soft images on one side only (sic), particularly at at the 24mm end at f5.6 (i.e. wide open). This was more apparent at closer to mid focussing distances (say 1 metre) rather than when focussed close to or at infinity. Several professional and dealer opinions of test prints led to the conclusion that there was an obvious defect with the lens.

The professional dealer I used was very helpful and they exchanged the lens for me. Problem solved! The second example was far better - almost like a different type of lens altogether. With my original rogue lens, I could not see any physical defects with the glass as had been reported by other reviewers but it is obvious that they have a quality control problem here. Come on Sigma - this is an excellent lens - please sort at the problems at the factory end.


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