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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: Apr 3, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp, great low light capability (esp w/20D), natural contrast, natural colors. Awesome bokeh.
Slightly loose focus ring (why?).

Best quality lens I've owned, and I have the 17-40f4L, Tamron 28-75f2.8, 50mm 1.8, 70-200f4L, 100-400L lenses as comparison. My 50/1.8 never focused correctly in wider apertures. So instead of sending the cheap thing in for calibration, I decided to spring for the 50/1.4 instead. A world of difference for those who have an extra $250+ to spend on this lens. I've shot from f2.0 to f8.0 and noticed how sharp and natural that the shots I've seen from this lens are. A lot of L-caliber lenses have IMHO excessive contrast, and excessive saturation on colors. This lens is the closest I've used that just *nails* it in a natural yet pleasing fashion. I rarely do anything but add a touch of USM to my pictures after using the 50mm, but am always futzing around with the L-lenses in my collection.

I've been setting up a home studio for taking pictures of my son, and I must say that this lens is going to be *it*. Unfortunately 50mm on a 1.6x body is rather long (80mm effective), so I'm going to need some space for full body shots.

The bokeh on this lens is to die for. When I need a blurred out background, this nifty thing is going to be pulled out from now on.

Best lens I own, and cheap (relatively) too!

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

Review Date: Feb 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,399.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: IS, Zoom Range, Push/Pull Zoom, Sharp, Bokeh
A bit expensive, slow aperture

My wife got me this gem for my birthday.
I was initially thinking of the Sigma 50-500 "Bigma", and the 300f4L w/1.4x, the 400 5.6L or this lens. The 4005.6 was discarded due to lack of IS, 300f4 because I thought a zoom would be better for me at this range (for smaller zoos and such), and I heard mixed things about the Bigma, and it didn't have IS.

Concerns about 100-400 were image quality, slow aperture (compared to 300f4 prime), and possible balance issues when using push/pull zoom.

Well I settled on the 100-400, and man it doesn't disappoint! Very easy to hand-hold, I love the push/pull zoom, IS works wonderfully, seems quite sharp and contrasty, and the zoom range is just what I need (for now, hehe). I can't wait to take it to a zoo and spend more time with it. Looks like my new favorite lens, my other two lenses that I adore are the 17-40f4L and the 70-200f4L. The 17-40 is the sharpest of the 3, the 70-200 has the most pleasing image quality IMHO, but the 100-400 is only a hair (split hair at that) off. I might not have much more need for the 70-200 at this rate. Though it's VERY light and easy to use well.

These are my first pictures from it (so don't judge them as art or great examples of the lens):

Canon EOS 20D

Review Date: Nov 12, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely snappy and responsive. Good AF performance, intuitive controls (for previous EOS users), very detailed sensor when paired with L (or equivalent quality) lenses, fast write times, ETTL II, ISO 1600 performance.
No ISO display in viewfinder, 6 shot RAW buffer (not a limit for my kind of shooting)

Feels like shooting film again! Very responsive AF, great sensor (large prints look stunning!), and feels like a camera that will last a few years (never felt this way before about a digital camera I've bought). A good thing, as it allows me to feed my L-Lens habit ;-).

On firmware 1.0.5 -- never had a single lockup. But I don't have or use non Canon lenses. Works fine with my Sigma 500DG Super Flash as well, even in ETTL II mode. ETTL II actually works! Unlike ETTL I which was hit or miss in my experience.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Nov 12, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Tack sharp, good contrast, and color. Lightweight, built like a tank.
Relatively slow compared to f2.8 lenses in this category. Insanely shaped lens hood. Noticeable distortion at wideangle end of the zoom.

I got this lens yesterday, and WOW! have I been blown away by it. I'm even more impressed than with the 70-200f4L. I am not a wideangle shooter by any means, but the ability to take shots when in cramped spaces was appealing, and the fact that Thanksgiving (US) is around the corner meant lots of group family photos in tight spaces which this lens is great for. On my 20D it's a 1.6x crop factor so I can't really evaluate the edges on a full-frame camera, but for what I use it for, it's been awesome!