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  Reviews by: mauriceramirez  

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Nikon 20mm f/2.8D AF Nikkor

1913NAS_180
Review Date: Jul 13, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Very compact, very fast AF.
Cons:
Soft with more distant objects wide open.

I love this lens. Not quite as sharp as a 17-35, and a couple notches down from the 14-24, but still a lens that results in better pictures simply because of its size and weight.

 
Canon EOS 5D

5d_586x225_2_
Review Date: Nov 30, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Easy to use. Not a lot of extraneous features. Beautiful files when everything works as planned. Perfect file sizes for professional wedding and portrait niche. The wedding industry standard. Noise is good looking at all available ISO's.
Cons:
Poor AF in low-light, especially with off-center (uh, rule of thirds) focus points. Random focus sometimes, even in great light. Mushy feel in the body, lots of flex points. Rlatively low build quality and certainly with regards to handling and ergonomics. Features take a back seat to usability.

I like the look of the files much more than I did the 1d2 and even the 1ds2. The files are a better match to the available Canon zooms. The 1ds3 tears the 24-70L to bits, while the 5d seems like the perfect body for it. Its a great traveler/hobbyist/semi-pro camera, being smaller and lighter then the 1-series, but to Canon that seems to mean, "let's cripple it in every other way so that they'll always want more". In available light situations, especially at night indoors, I had to always have an ST-E2 attached because it basically can't be relied on for critical focus on moving subjects. I've had the 1d2, 1d3, 1ds2, 1ds3, and the 5D was the best camera overall, with the 1d2 being a close second. Everything else was just not worth the upgrade. I suspect the 5d2 would have been the same (basically, totally not worth it), but I've since switched to the Nikon D700 and lenses and am much happier, in every conceivable way, without reservation, with my current gear.

 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Feb 4, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: metal mount
Cons:
price, sharpness wide open

There's no reason that this lens shouldn't be ridicuously sharp, it's a 50mm. (The budget Nikon 50mm f1.8 is much sharper.) I recommend saving your money and getting the Canon f1.8 instead.



 
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM

ef_16-35_28_1_
Review Date: Nov 22, 2005 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: close focusing, rear lens filter holder, rubber gasket
Cons:
Typical Canon zoom lack of contrast, semi-sharpness, and vignetting.... but more of it since it's a 16mm. Weatherproof "as long as you have a filter on"??? C'mon. There should be no compromises here.

As for the posters who call it a "Luxury" or a "lexus of lenses," the practicality of the focal length makes it no luxury--it's THE WORKHORSE lens and it should be unquestionably the best that the manufacturer can create, period.

I find it relatively soft, uncontrasty, plasticky feeling, and unsnappy to AF. $1600 should OOZE quality--I shouldn't have to look for it. Canon attempted enough times for it so this should be a legendary optic, sharp as a prime, just as contrasty, and built like a frikkin' tank. It's not impossible--Nikon builds this lens every day.

-m


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

ef85mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Nov 21, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Small, light, fast AF
Cons:
Flare, dull contrast, typical canon (cheap) build

Those of you with Nikon 85mm's are going to be disappointed. Normally I wouldn't ever recommend a 5x more expensive L in lieu of the cheaper alternative but this overrated lens is just not very exciting at all.

-m


 
Gitzo G1128 Mk2 Mountaineer Sport Carbon Fiber

G1128G_1_
Review Date: Nov 15, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: folded size fits into 22" standard carry-on (with head)!
Cons:
fairly unstable considering the price (!)

With a 1-series camera, 70-200IS, and an Acratech head, I found this tripod to be almost not usable. I've learned an expensive lesson! The Acratech head is not strong enough to hold this weight steadily for long exposures. The camera+lens will yaw and pitch. And the overall weight will cause the legs to vibrate somewhat with any slight breeze. Most of my beach shots at night, with 10 min+ exposures, are soft.

However, with smaller lenses such as my 16-35 or 35L, the weight seems not to be converted into shake with breezes.

The reason that I went to this was mainly for travel size, and it packs straight into a carry-on rolling luggage with the head. Next time I'll just get the 1228, a BH-44, and pack it diagonally with the head removed. For the same price it's a far more stable setup. And if you're gonna bring a tripod at all you might as well do it right.


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM

ef85mmf_12_1_
Review Date: Oct 12, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Size and weight make for a nice feel handholding w/1d2. Incredible low-light work opens up. Really "personalized" type of portrait look. Beats the 70-200 in every way and it's not even that obnoxious color. Compact enough to fit well in a hipbag.
Cons:
Hood turns on lens. AF is too slow for fast-moving subjects. Mounting needs to be done rather carefully. Manual focusing takes some getting used to as the lens locks up w/o power.

Wow. This lens settles *all* of my switching regrets. And my old EF 85mm f1.8 is not even close to it in sharpness and especially contrast and flare. So I don't see any need for it, the 135L, or the 70-200IS L at all now. On the 1d2 it's not even that slow of AF. And the rubbery build really compliments the body. It's not a fair comparison, but I prefer using this lens over every other Canon lens, even the 35L and the 16-35L, because I can do so much more with it for overall every day usage.

 
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

ef17-40_4l_1_
Review Date: Oct 12, 2005 Recommend? | Price paid: $800.00

 
Pros: It's cheap.
Cons:
It's an f4.

available light works better photographically in most situations, and this f4 lens, like any f4 lens, flat out doesn't work for that. I'm not a landscape or flash lover so it's going back. Tripods are not my friend for travel.

I'd much rather get an off-brand f2.8 than an L f4. Better yet, a prime. Something that can work in light that's actually INTERESTING. Remember interesting light? It's kind of important.

This lens has turned me off to slow zooms for GOOD. What I really don't get are the all the 70-200 f4 lenses out there. What purpose on this earth can THAT ridiculous lens serve?

My guess: Status.

-m


 
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM

ef_16-35_28_1_
Review Date: Sep 5, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Very close focusing, great for shooting small objects.
Cons:
Not as sharp as the Nikon equivalent, not by a long shot.

It's pretty light for what it is. I believe this makes for the perfect travel lens.

It's much more enjoyable to use than my 17-40L, images have smoother bokeh (obviously) and better contrast. One more stop and mm are both worth the extra $$.

But compared to my shots from the 17-35 edif afs it's not sharp, and vignetting is present. The difference is apparent on a 4x6 print.

This is not really a fair comparison though, since I was limited after all to a 1.5 fov on my Nikons, but prospective N-to-C switchers should be aware that they may be disappointed if they love this focal length.

When Nikon goes full-frame then the inferiority of Canon's glass will be proven right here.


 
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L USM

ef24mmf_14l_1_
Review Date: Aug 5, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,199.00 | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: size, weight.
Cons:
Very soft compared to th 35L. Also totally unreliable with a 1.3 1d2 camera for off-center, rule-of-thirds compositions, partly because of the Canon's lesser af sensors and the resulting need for the "focus-recompose" technique.

I've been so happy with my 35L except for the times when I wanted more context, or foreground, so I've always wanted a 24L.

In theory it sounds like a the perfect tool for available light, wide stuff but the reality is that the "focus & recompose" technique required as a result of Canon's inaccurate peripheral AF sensors, plus the inefficiency of the "dial-a-point" design, makes the 24L very inaccurate once you start using that f1.4.

The thin dof wide open, combined with the long swing of recomposing a subject at rule-of-thirds-or-further for a 24mm (with 1.3 crop camera) focal length, makes taking acceptably-sharp photos is a very iffy proposition. I was misfocusing at LEAST half of my images anytime the subject is composed even slightly off-center. Yes, HALF. Day or night, doesn't matter. If I was a pro pj, forget it, I'd be fired.

Also, I'll confirm what has been mentioned a lot; when it's sharp, it's not nearly as sharp as the 35L. In fact it's actually pretty soft. And when I compared it to the 85L it becomes an almost laughable way to spend $1K+.

I shoot everything wide open for the 3D quality of thin DOF and shipping this lens back is a big disappointment. Totally not recommended.

-m


 
Canon Speedlite 550EX TTL

CA550EXU_1_
Review Date: Jun 17, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: it works, I guess. It's also a nice color, black. After a little getting used to, and downgrading of my expectations, it's a decent flash. Hey, it's better than the 420 at least.
Cons:
It's not very fast recycling-wise. Button layout is barely usable. Menu functionality seems very unintuitive. Screw-type hotshoe is old-school, delicate, and unreliable. It takes 2 buttons (2 hands), to reposition the head, so it's fairly slow there, too. No studio flash sync. I repeat, NO STUDIO FLASH SYNC. Hello, Canon? Do you think that all photographers care nothing about reliable on-location, off-camera, manual lighting? I come from Nikon, so I guess I'm spoiled a bit in this regard. Try an SB-80 sometime and you'll know what I mean.

Too much for too little. Canon flashes are the weakest link in their system. It's as if the engineers work down in the basement, never get out to test the competition, and are the guys who couldn't make the lens design team. Or even the 2nd rate camera body design team.

Pick up a 550 ex and think of one word: clunky. It will fit every aspect.

I have to have 4 units in my kit so I know how to use them, but still don't have to enjoy it, do I?


 
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

ef17-40_4l_1_
Review Date: Jan 14, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Price.
Cons:
You get what you pay for.

It's way too slow for anything available light. Colors, sharpness, and edge quality are all nothing to brag about. Vignetting is very apparent.

For an f4 lens it should be much smaller. It's not very heavy at all. So it's somewhat cheapy feeling.

After one shoot I decided this is about as good as having a bag full of dull, slow primes. I sold it as soon as I could.

As a former 17-35 EDIF AF-S f2.8 owner I would say that the Canon 17-40L is probably the most overrated L lens available.

If you're a pro, just the 16-35L and be done with it.


 
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

ef_35_14_1_
Review Date: Jan 14, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness, faster-than-most AF speed, as solidly built and as sharp as any Nikon lens.
Cons:
Price.

I wasn't expecting much, considering it's rather common focal length. But it has given me a totally new way of seeing, and was even a catalyst for me to start selling off my L zooms in favor of only L primes. It is one of the few Canon lenses that I would say are better in every aspect over it's Nikon equivalents.

Bokeh, color, speed, flare, build, size, weight, all work in sync to give me photos that I don't have to PS at all. It's VERY expensive for what it is (basically a isolator/available light lens), but it has paid for itself many, many times over for me in terms of how much post processing time it has saved me. I give 9 out of 10 selects that were shot with this lens to clients completely unadjusted. No other lens gives me as many as-shot keepers as this one.

It's that well-rounded, and I don't praise lenses much. In fact I'd say that 95% of Canon's lenses are typically very overrated IMHO.

This lens is best appreciated by available light, subject isolation type of styles.

If you like flash indoors, or prefer the unnaturally-wide film photojournalistic look, or *love* correcting images in PS, don't waste your money. It is an overpriced lens considering both what it actually does ISO-wise (and that Canon's highest iso's are usually quite useable) and that a good quality f2 version is very inexpensive.

-m


 
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

ef135mmf_2l_1_
Review Date: Jan 9, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00

 
Pros: Fast AF. Compact. Noticeably sharper than the 70-200L IS, and more useable in wedding photography's dark churches.
Cons:
Too long for meaningful photojournalism or portraits. Great for indoor sports shooters like volleyball or basketball, or stage photography.

Overrated focal length, even on a 1.3 crop. Very nice for traveling with due to it's small (relative) size, but I'd think twice before getting this lens again because I felt a little crass using it for street photography.

Also for portraits it compresses a bit too much, giving a removed, rather distant feel to the image.

I guess this is more a criticism of the focal length, because as a lens I suppose it's very nice. Well-enough built, light weight, ridiculously sharp, and extremely fast focusing.


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef70-200_28lisu_1_
Review Date: Dec 26, 2004 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,650.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Very impressive to clients. Even validates those who want to look like working pj's. Gets you thru the door at some big events. IS is pretty smooth, unlike Nikon's. Weather resistance is amazing, I could shoot in a torrential downpour in the tropics with no worries (on a 1D body). The pouch is practical, if not pretty. Flare is exceptionally lacking, and I shoot into the sun a lot.
Cons:
Too big and obnoxious for what it is (Nikon's version is 3/4's the size). The hood is ridiculous. Forget about actually being able to shoot anything spontaneously. It vignettes somewhat wide open (compared the Nikon 80-200afs). Not as sharp as any prime--heck, not even close to the 135L/85L. For me a rather boring focal length as well. Forget about traveling light. Too short for wildlife, too long for people.

I would say it's a good lens to shoot postcards with. However, if really great pictures are your goal, buy a wide angle and learn to interact up close with people instead. And for wildlife, a 400 is much more useful, and sharper. And for landscapes, stick to primes, because it's not as sharp or contrasty as it needs to be.
But if you want to have something to use for those times when access is a problem it's fine for that. I just realized I was actually missing real interpersonal opportunities so I sold it. Every wedding shooter has one and frankly I think they need it the least. Oh, yeah and the market demand and resale value on this lens is great!
If a lens could get you chicks, this is it. But, alas, I prefer using my portfolio.