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

Review Date: Dec 25, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,250.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: sharpness. zoom range. weight, IS
distortion, vignetting, weird light effects, it extends quite a lot

Really sharp wide open and corner to corner on a FF sensor. The IS an amazing feature (assuming it kicks-in/works when you need it). I have shaky hands, and I am thrilled because I managed to handheld at 1/5 with IS consistently. As far as low light goes, 24-70 2.8 is not even an option (it is an option for somethign else, but not low light). The extra stop is absolutely ZERO in the real world, because where this is needed more, in dim to average lit indoors, one needs much more than one stop (at least 5 stops compared to overcast). I am surprised some people spend that much on a lens and can't tell the difference between sun light and indoor lighting. An F:1.4 can replace the IS in every situation. But then you have the sharpness. 35/1.4 is softer wide open than this (I've only seen 35/1.4 crops, I have not tested the lens myself). The lens it's ok as far as weight goes. Focusing is really fast and quiet most of the time.

Now the bad stuff (on a full-frame camera):
- Horrible vignetting, throughout the zoom range.
- Horrible distortions, it has barrel distortion from 24 to 35mm, pincussion to 50mm, and barrel again to 105mm. The barrel distiortion is most visible at 24 and 105mm. What I hate most is the pincussion, that's really in the most usable range (35-50), and it cannot be corrected without loosing detail
- weird light falloff, on overcast light, in certain cases vignetting is much more visible on one side depending on where is the light coming from (some sort of pre-1000 flare remnants)
- Horrible CA
- the IS is erratic sometimes
- very weird color cast (some test shots with grass and dirt came out with purple dirt)
- it extends, quite a lot
- spherical DOF (I don't see the purpose for the macro marking on the distance scale - its magnigfication ratio totally sucks, working distance too, the DOF is more like a sphere than a plane)
- mine came with a very stiff zoom ring (but it started to losen up)

Conclusion: If you can live with the distortions, abberations and the light fall off, then it's a really nice lens for a full frame camera. You'll lose the sharpness edge when you correct for pincussion. It's better than 17-40 and 16-36 in corner-to-corner sharness, but I am not sure it's better than 24-70/2.8 at F4.

Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro

Review Date: Dec 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $240.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: The sharpest lens under 85mm. Sharp corners for full frame. I wish there exist at least one other Canon lenses in this price rage and with this sharpness (but for a different focal).
the filter size.

Only 2 Canon primes are sharper than this, 135mm f2 ($1000) and 85m 1.2 ($1500).

I got this as an upgrade for Canon 50mm 1.8 - it's a bit sharper and it can be handheld by adults (I have average size hands, but I simply could not handheld 50mm 1.8 properly).

The focal length is perfect for both APS and FF sensors, it's more usable than any other prime. I started using it on APS first, now I use it FF (and generally much more than on APS).

I did not intend to use it for macro, at 1:2 is not enugh, and the 1:1 adapter is more expensive than the lens itself, besides, for $500 there much better macro lenses (better focal length, I don't know about sharpness). I played a few times with it, it's ok for large insects and small flowers, but that's about it.

For a non-L lens, this thing has a really nice bokeh.

Compared to zeoom lenses, at F2.5 it's sharper than all zooms at F4 (I tried Canon 18-55, Sigma 18-50, Canon 17-40, Canon 70-200).

The auto focus is slow, yes, and sometimes gives up when the subject is really close but at this range it should be focused manually anyway. The manual focus is a lot slower than most lenses because it's a macro and the drive is 3-4 times longer than normal lenses (it's a bit more than a complete turn, let's say 1.1 turns)

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Dec 18, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Color, sharpness, range, weight,
the ring

I love this lens, I used it on crop sensor for almost 2 years, and now I moved to full frame, and I love it even more, because the range is much more usable. Now it's my portrait lens, and I use this and a 50mm prime (lack of proper WA lens) 80% of the time. At F4 is a bit soft, and the F2.8 version is a better investment for low-light , but I still give both lenses 10 because they are in different price ranges. Besides, I could not handheld a the camera, flash and 70-200 F2.8 for long, even 1.5lb is a lot, but at least it's sturdy (ok, it feels sturdy)

What I hate about it is the tripod ring. It's almost a quarter of the lens price (or at least was when I bought it) and I never use it because it's heavy, it interferes with my handholding and in fact I don't need it since the cameras seem to hold the lens just fine. Use a generic telephoto holder instead.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Dec 17, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $680.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: cheap FF WA lens, weight, size, range.
very soft esp on FF corners. Minimum F4. Extends/contracts during zoom (and it's noisy too). Bluish cast. Expensive for what it does

I first got this when I was using the 300D knowing I will update to FF soon. I knew it's supposed to be soft, but not THAT soft. The kit lens at 18mm f3.5 was sharper than this thing at F4. It could be that my kit lens was an excellent copy, but.. that doesn't matter. I also compared it with a Sigma 18-50 f2.8 and all can I say: people must be really crazy to get 17-40 for crop sensors (or to get 17-40 for 4x6 prints?). I can't believe how many positive reviews are there, I guess not everyone is able to evaluate a 1:1 crop, or not every person has another lens for comparison and spends some time with the lens.

When I upgraded to full frame I found it simply unusable for all-purpose wide angle lens. I don't use it at all, and I can't find a convenient replacement.

Summary for 1.6x crop: Really soft in corners, in center is unacceptable, sigma [email protected] is much sharper, and Canon 50mm 2.5 Macro wide open is sharper than both the long end and F4 ;-))) ([email protected] instead of 50mm of course).

Summary for FF: If you have low MP or print small, it's ok at around F8 and some crop. But otherwise is a really soft lens that you will use just because there is no alternative in this price range.

It's ok for web pictures. It does not deserve the red ring.

And no, it's not my copy, but I'm probably stricter than most people.

Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Oct 1, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,299.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: 20x30 print at 150dpi and some change. Range of customizations, responsiveness. Full frame sensor (lenses finally "fit", less noise). Large LCD.
Improper heat insulation for internal components (really bad noise pattern). Price. Cordless charger. Some poor positioned controls, poor "menu" system.

I took around 200 pictures in the last 2 days, overall it's a nice camera. The only lens I have that's crystal clear on this camera is Canon 50mm 1:2.5 Macro (down to paper texture for shot of a 8.5x11 page!). 17-40 F4 it's a joke for this camera but 70-200 F4 looks ok in regards to sharpness.

I was simply SHOCKED when I did the noise tests, it seems the camera has a heat bug (my camera at least, although I haven't found any noise tests on forums, maybe it's too early). A 3 minute exposure at ISO 1600, shooting with the lens cap on, reveals a small (a few milimeters) semicircular area on the top-right side of the image. A 6 minute ISO 3200 exposure in the same conditions shows serious bleeding in the same area, a bright spot about the size of a dime cut in half (in terms of LCD size). At first I thought it must be my finger or the lens, but I repeated the tests with different lenses, different exposures, suspending the camera, etc, and it produces the same result. I'm pretty sure this is caused by some heat emitting component that's placed near the sensor, and what's worse about it is that it cannot be corrected by a firmware update (recalls?). I guess one could live with it subtracting exposures (the rest of the image has almost predictable noise patterns), but still, that area is a few stops brighters than the rest of the image. My second gripe with it that the aperture control is poorly designed, you need two hands and a pretty big thumb in order to do that. In fact, most record time controls are misplaced, except the shutter of course (yes, I'm a Canon user). The menu system is more like a list of options (and the "custom functions" area has remained the same - the least usable area of all, now with a couple more options).

Another poor design choice is the battery charger - now it plugs directly into the wall outlet.

The LCD is huge, but with limited brightness settings (+/- 2)

The battery is 1390mAh, better than the original BP511 but 3rd parties have better batteries.

The image size on "disk" is 12.3 Mb for RAW (it seems the compression is the at the same level with previous CR2 and CRW).

Adope CS2 have added support (via update 3.2) for 5D images a few days ago, but Bridge does not show thumbails for RAW only images (I'm not sure if it does for RAW+JPEG, but I know it does for TIFF).

I miss the built in flash; it's usually poor on most cameras, but when you need just bit of fill flash, it's really convenient considering a decent flash takes as much space as zoom lens.