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  Reviews by: joeyseager  

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Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

l217_efs1755
Review Date: Jun 16, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: This is the best lens Canon knows how to make. Pinsharp even wide open, no discernible Chromatic Aberration, very little linear distortion and vignetting only when wide open. Very effective IS and well-built too - what more could you want? Well...
Cons:
It's a big and heavy lens and costs a fortune in rip-off Britain. And Canon see fit to make you pay 45 (about $75) for a lens hood that they then can't supply! That is profiteering, and wicked. Shame on you, Canon!

This lens is not an 'L' series lens. I can't explain why and Canon aren't saying. Their own documentation describes it as having 'L' series optical quality and I can confirm this. It's as sharp and aberration-free as any of the 'L' lenses in this focal length range - and its edge-to-edge sharpness is appreciably better than its 'L' stablemates. So why isn't it an 'L' lens? There's more plastic in the construction than in some 'L' lenses, and it doesn't have the environmental sealing that some 'L' lenses do - but apart from these minor issues it is in every way except the label and redline an 'L' of a lens...!
I am absolutely delighted with this lens - I've taken photos with it that I didn't think I was capable of. Image quality is so good it leaps out at you. Fine detail is resolved in a way that I would not have credited from an 8Mp sensor - my camera is better than I thought!
Do I have any gripes? It's big and heavy - but then it's f/2.8 throughout the zoom range which is as wide as any Canon zoom, so I shouldn't complain.
It's expensive but you get what you pay for. So neither of these are real gripes. My only real gripe is not with the lens but Canon's lens hood policy. At this price the lens hood ought to be in the box with the lens. Not only is it not in the box but Canon want 45 (about $75!) for it - not far off the price of the 'kit' 18-55mm lens just for a plastic moulding! And to add insult to injury they're not shipping them. I ordered and paid for mine two months ago and I'm still waiting. I'm really angry about that and feel entitled to be.
This lens is my favourite lens of all time. It's the one that lives on the camera and with which I take about 90% of my pictures. So it's getting plenty of use - It's worth getting the best when it's your main tool - and this is the best, L or no L.


 
Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2

st-e2
Review Date: Mar 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Does exactly what it's supposed to - one of those accessories you discover and then couldn't do without. Makes multi-flash setups easy and studio-style lighting possible with your existing speedlights. Can be used for focus assist in dim light without putting subject off by firing bright white flash.
Cons:
Controls only group A and B but the Speedlight 580EX controls group C too. Battery very expensive but I don't know if it lasts well - it hasn't run out yet!

Yes you could use a 580EX to control your off-camera units but I prefer this little device which is much lighter on the camera, and when I'm using multiple flash units I rarely want one of them firing from the camera position - so it's much cheaper to buy an ST-E2 transmitter than yet another flash unit. The transmitter can stay on the camera and doubles nicely as a focus assist lamp which operates much more unobtrusively than the built-in system of my 350D which fires the main tube of the pop-up flash unit - and my subject thinks I've taken the picture and wanders off!

This is a great device that I wouldn't be without. Its coverage is usually not a problem indoors where the infra-red bounces off light walls but it's always worth checking that the system is going to work - there's a check button which fires the group A flashes and then the group B flashes so you can see it's all going to work.

Highly recommended.


 
Canon Extender EF 1.4x II

exef14_1_
Review Date: Mar 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Can't fault it for optical quality or mechanical construction. The best available.
Cons:
Limited applicaiton - compatible with only a narrow range of Canon lenses

I only own one lens that I can use this with: the 300mm f/4 L IS lens. The converter degrades the image slightly but this means the images I get from the lens are superb rather than perfect...

This unit is a world apart from lesser third party converters. It is built like a tank and optically it is so well matched to the lenses for which it is designed that the images made with it are up to professional standards.

It's quite expensive but much cheaper than buying an extra lens.

There's been some comment about why it's a 1.4x converter and not a 1.5x converter. The answer is in the maths. 1.4 (to one decimal place) is the square root of 2. A 1.4x converter therefore reduces the area covered in the field of view of the lens by a factor of 2 - or the linear dimensions of the field of view by a factor of 1.4. A 2x converter reduces the area covered in the field of view of the lens by a factor of 4, not 2. There have been some 1.5x teleconverters marketed but I believe these were actually 1.4x converters benefitting from 'creative marketing'.


 
Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

ef300mmf_4_1_
Review Date: Mar 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: The best there is. Superb optical quality and bomb-proof mechanical construction, with useful IS - and a cool case too! AF fast and silent.
Cons:
Big, heavy and expensive but that's what you have to expect. IS is not as good as the latest generation IS lenses - and it's a bit noisy too. Beige colour not to all tastes.

300mm lenses don't come much better than this. Images are pin-sharp, high contrast without visible aberrations or distortions.

My copy makes a noticeable 'clonk' noise when the IS stops - take your finger off the shutter button for about 2 secs and listen - my other IS lenses don't do this, but they're the later 3-stop IS whereas this is an older lens design and has only 2-stop IS.

I use it with the canon 1.4x mark II teleconverter and the combination works well, but the images are noticeably less sharp, with less contrast and more chromatic aberration. Not bad, just noticeable. I guess when you use a lens which is SO good and then add a converter, you notice the inevitable image degradation more.

It is a very heavy lens compared to my 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS zoom but it offers an extra stop at 300mm, better image quality (though the zoom is surprisingly good) and compatibility with Canon's converters. Does that make it worth twice the price? That depends on your point of view. The law of diminishing returns dictates that a 400 lens will be much better than a 200 lens, but that an 800 lens will be only slightly better than a 400 lens and so on. The 300mm f/4 L IS lens is somewhere between 'much' and 'slightly' better than the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS in my opinion. So I bought both.


 
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

efs60_28macro_usm
Review Date: Mar 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Pin sharp image quality, sturdy construction, fast and silent focus, USM and full time manual focus, fairly compact, internal focus (no lens extension or rotation)
Cons:
Focus hunts in very low light. High price.

1:1 without accessories, almost perfect image quality, rock-solid construction, what more could you want? Well, it would be nice if it focussed *beyond* 1:1 but I expect that's too much to ask.

This is a wonderful true macro lens but it's not a one-trick pony - it can be used at more normal subject distances and makes a very good portrait lens - it's about equivalent to a 95mm lens on a full-frame camera. Its f/2.8 max aperture is just about wide enough to throw the background nicely out of focus for pleasing portraits and its non-rotating filter thread accepts cokin or other filter systems easily.

Now when are Canon going to release an f/1.4 30mm EF-S lens to complete my wish list??? (Sorry, Sigma, the reviews seem to think yours isn't quite up to the mark...)


 
Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

EF17-85
Review Date: Mar 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: My most useful lens - very versatile, ideal 'walk-about' lens. Focus fast and silent, IS effective and silent. Optical quality generally good, construction quality very good.
Cons:
Chromatic aberration extreme at wide angle end of zoom range. A perfect walk-about lens should have a wider maximum aperture. It's big and bulky on my 350D (actually every lens looks too big on the 350D)

I use this lens all the time - it's the lens that lives on the camera ready for instant use. what I would really have liked is a wider aperture and better optics to eliminate that awful chromatic aberration - what's that you say? Canon have just announced the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS? With 'L' grade optical quality? Are you sure? Where can I get one???

 
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

EF10-22
Review Date: Mar 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Optical quality very good, mechanical construction very good - and it's a 'proper' wide-angle lens for APS-C sensor cameras!
Cons:
High price? Several reviewers claim it's up to 'L' series optical quality, though, and I can't argue with that - and the price looks quite reasonable against the L line-up.

With an ultra-wide-angle lens you expect more distortion, especially linear distortion (pin-cushion/barrel) than would be acceptable at a longer focal length. With a zoom lens you expect less pin-sharp images than would be acceptable from a prime lens.

This ultra-wide-angle zoom lens performs like a standard prime. It's quite amazing.

Why didn't Canon designate it an 'L'? Possibly it's their policy not to make any EF-S L lenses. Or possibly because it doesn't have moisture protection - although there are L lenses that don't. Whatever the reason, it's not because its optical quality isn't up to 'L' status.

This is a beautiful lens - my current favourite. It's not my most-used lens - at a 35mm equivalent of 16-35mm it's a special-purpose lens that must be used with care to avoid ugly perspective effects. But it makes possible pictures with stunning visual impact and I love it.


 
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

70-300_isusm
Review Date: Feb 28, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Surprisingly good optical quality. Lightweight so suitable for travel. The IS is superb - the best I've used. MUCH less expensive than L glass but nearly up to L quality optics.
Cons:
Atrocious construction quality - the focus ring feels gritty, the front element when partly extended wobbles. You can't point the camera up or down because the lens zooms all by itself. The front element rotates when focussing so polarising filters are difficult to use.

Quite an enigma - very good optics, excellent IS in a compact lightweight lens that's built cheaply and incorporates design flaws that limit its usefulness. I'd have gladly paid 50 more for ring USM and a smooth focus ring with full-time manual focus, and a zoom ring that would stay where you put it even if you tipped the lens upwards or downwards. As it is the feel of the lens at the sales counter is of a much cheaper product and it doesn't feel worth the price.

I bought this lens because I was about to go on holiday and needed a long lens, but couldn't afford an 'L' lens at the time. I fully expected to trade it in for a 300mm f/4 L IS after the holiday and when I'd saved up some more loot. However I fell in love with the lens and have kept it although I've bought the f/4 L lens as well. It is VERY versatile - the IS is actually quite a lot better than the L lens and I can carry it around with me all day which I can't do with the bigger lens. I use it within its limits: I don't put any filters or a lens hood on it, I don't point it much away from the horizontal (I rarely want to) and I don't use it fully open (f/5.6) at the long end of the zoom where it's a little softer than at other focal lengths.

It makes sharp, high contrast images with very little spherical or chromatic aberration and insignificant linear distortion at all focal lengths, slightly softer at 300mm but still quite acceptable. I am still surprised at the high image quality, since its predecessors with and without IS (75-300mm) were mediocre performers.