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Canon EF 35mm f/2

Review Date: May 11, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $180.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: small/light, fast, sharp center, close to normal lens angle of view on 1.6 crop factor DSLR, inexpensive
slightly telephoto on 1.6 crop factor DSLR, not USM, less sharp on edges

This is a great travel lens on my Digital Rebel. I think it's the best lens for a 1.6 crop factor DSLR to replace the use of a 50mm f/1.8 on a full-frame SLR. It's slightly more telephoto than a normal lens on a full-frame (56mm equivalence), but I think it's better than the only other viable choice in the Canon prime lens lineup: the 28mm f/1.8 (assuming you want a maximum aperture near the 50mm's f/1.8). Definitely recommend this lens. I even wrote a blog post about it:

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Review Date: Apr 16, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,700.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: auto ISO (can be good for abruptly changing lighting conditions), auto sensor cleaning, the new 1/200 - 1/60 sec auto flash sync speed in Av mode setting, extra 8 megapixels per image (vs 5D) when wanted
auto ISO (I've heard people complain about it using 1600 and 3200 in situations where they wouldn't have), no improvement in noise over the 5D at 1600 and 3200 ISO for Raw images (see the link for my test below), shutter seems a little sluggish

I've got a 5D Mark II on loan. I've owned and used the 5D for the last few years. I have to say the first thing that struck me when I got the 5D Mark II was how utterly similar it is to the old 5D. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's a bit underwhelming upon receiving a new $2700 purchase.

Basically, I like the 5D Mark II for the same reasons I like the 5D. It's not too heavy, yields high resolution images, is very responsive with a 580EX II flash attached, and really just does the job. My main use of these cameras is for weddings, portrait sessions, and fine art photography.

Out of curiosity, I compared the 5D and 5D Mark II at the two highest ISOs they share: 1600 and 3200 ISO. I think many in the Canon user community think the 5D Mark II has lower noise at *all* ISOs because it can take photos at 6400-25600 ISO. Well, I did a comparison and found *no significant difference* between the two in image noise at 1600 & 3200 ISO. You can see the actual test I conducted at

Don't get me's a fine camera. But you can get a lightly used 5D for around $1300 at eBay. So, unless you need to take lots of photos at 6400-25600 ISO, need 8 more megapixels per image, or really want to take advantage of the new HD video recording capabilities of the Mark II, a used 5D might be a wiser choice!

Canon EOS 40D

Review Date: Oct 8, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Quality build (similar to 5D); ISO 3200 slightly more usable than the 20D; auto-exposure better than my 5D in some instances; they finally buried the "Erase All" images function elsewhere in the menu system so you won't accidentally erase all of the images when you want to erase just one..(yay!).
The buttons they moved to under the LCD accidentally get pushed when the camera hits your midsection; low-light performance worst than 5D; 3.0" LCD seems to have less clarity/detail than the 2.5" LCD (on the 5D and 400D).

I have to admit I was kind of looking for a "mini 1D MIII" when I bought this camera for my wedding photography because some early reviews led me to believe it was just that. I've shot three weddings with it now (along with my 5D) and have been a little disappointed. Outdoors, it's been great...though, I'm not sure you'd be able to tell the difference between the 10.1mp 400D (which I also own) and the 10.1mp 40D in good light. In low light indoors, the auto-focussing of the 40D has not kept up with my 5D, even with it's improved system over the 20D & 30D--i.e., I'm able to shoot in existing low light better with the 5D than with the 40D.

I find the new, larger 3.0" LCD--which has the same number of pixels as the smaller 2.5" LCD, the pixels are just larger--makes images appear less sharp/clear than the 2.5" LCD; it actually leads me to believe more of my images are out-of-focus than really are. And Canon's decision to relocate some of the buttons that used to be on the left side of the LCD to beneath the LCD is truly an engineering design flaw; these buttons keep getting accidentally pushed when the camera bounces against my mid-section! I finally had to attach a piece of 3/16" weather-stripping just below the buttons to create a gap between the bottom of the camera and my stomach so this would stop happening.

I still believe this is a good camera (see the "positive aspects" I've cited), but I wonder if I'm kidding myself trying not to spend the $4500 for 1D MIII when it really has what I need/want. I think I'll wait to see the 5D's successor (it's got to be coming out soon, right?) before I make that decision though.

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

Review Date: May 25, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,039.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Smaller, lighter, extra 35mm reach compared to 24-70 (which I'm finding is essential on a full-frame sensor)
not as sharp as my 24-70 f/2.8L even with IS; slower than f/2.8 (of course); lens hood pretty insubstantial

I tested this on my 5D against my 24-70 f/2.8L, 70-200 f/4L, and 80-200 f/2.8L (yes, I know it's old). First, it's clear my 70-200 f/4L still needs some calibration (even though I just sent it to Canon Factory Service...!) because it was the "dog" of the bunch due to back-focusing (or of the two). I compared them all at 70mm & f/4.0 (except for the 80-200, which I used at 80mm & f/4.0). The 80-200 (aka the "magic drainpipe") was the winner in terms of the amount of detail resolved right out of the camera; the 24-70 f/2.8L was close behind. The detail in the 24-105 f/4.0L images was a bit soft, but sharpened well in Photoshop. It wasn't far off from the 24-70, but there was a noticeable difference...even with the advantage of IS and lighter hand-held weight. (Yes, I did these hand-held, because most of my use of these lenses is for shooting weddings. This should put the 80-200 at the greatest disadvantage--since it had the greatest weight, length, and no IS--but it still won.) I really need the extra 35mm on my 5D (probably because I got used to the 1.6 cropping factor using my 24-70 on my 20D), so it'll be the main lens on my 5D for my next couple of weddings and portrait sessions, but I'd like to see if some Canon factory calibration can improve it a bit. I would probably give it a rating overall rating of 8.75 at this point. Factory servicing significantly improved my 17-40 f/4L, so I might try it on the 24-105 f/4L too, even though I just bought it...:o.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: May 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,150.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fast quiet focussing; 24mm on wide end essential w/ crop factor on 20D; resolves amazing amount of detail

I compared this lens to a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 XR Di and some primes at f/2.8 and f/5.6 (because these cover the usual aperture range I use for event photography). It bettered the Tamron, but only slightly. It did a very comendable job against the primes. You can see the actual comparsion images from these on a page at my web site:

When you start making money with your photography, I think the 24-70 f/2.8 L is worth the money. The Tamron performs quite well though (if you can get a good copy; I've got one I may be selling..;-), and I would recommend it to anyone who is more of a hobbyist but wants excellent image quality in the 28-75mm range.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Aug 8, 2005 Recommend? | Price paid: $660.00

Pros: Great FOV on 20D; even more fun on film SLR. Great detail and sharpness after service calibration.
Had to get warranty service done (adjustment) to get it up to snuff.

I reviewed this lens a couple of months ago. It didn't stand up very well to my Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 (which so many at this site rave about) at 28mm or 40mm. Yet, I still really liked this lens and wanted it to succeed (I think I just really like its FOV). Finally, I decided I should get it calibrated/recalibrated by the Canon Service people and see if it made a difference. I just got it back today and did a newsprint (actually a magazine) test at 40mm & f/6.3 using raw format. I took 3 shots with each lens and opened the files in Photoshop CS2; I selected the best of each 3 at 100% magnification and compared the two winners. Finally, the 17-40 f/4.0L not only matched the Tamron, it bettered it.

It irks me that I had to go through this process to get an optimally functioning lens, but it was true with the Tamron as well (I had sent back my first version of the Tamron due to lackluster performance; finally receiving a copy that impressed me). If I were to rate this re-calibrated version of the 17-40 f/4.0L, I would now give it a 9+ instead of the 8 I gave it the first time. It's taken a lot of wrangling to get good versions of my 3 zooms (my Canon 70-200 f/4.0L was the only one that gave me great performance from the very start with the first copy), but now I'm quite happy with and would recommend all/any of them..:)

Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 XR Di Zoom AF

Review Date: May 19, 2005 Recommend? | Price paid: $360.00

Pros: Clearly sharper and better contrast than Canon 17-40 f/4.0L at 35mm, f/5.6 in newsprint test; slight advantage at 28mm, f/5.6. A best buy versus Canon "L" lenses. f/2.8 is obviously nice to have.
Slower and noisier focussing than Canon 17-40 f/4.0L, zoom ring quite "sticky" and slow.

This is a followup review. I had a different version of this lens previously and it didn't measure up in my tests. This time, I compared it against another Canon zoom lens...the 17-40 f/4.0L, a very popular and highly-rated lens...on my Canon 20D @ 100 iso. I really like the performance and "feel" of the 17-40, so I thought if the Tamron 28-75 could measure up in quality to the 17-40, it was certainly worth $360 and would give me an affordable midrange zoom. I did a limited test...f/5.6 (because I use this aperture a lot) at 28mm and 35mm. I photographed the print on a map from a few feet away. I took 3-4 shots per lens + focus length and selected the best quality image at each lens + focus length. Center sharpness was nearly indistinguishable at 28mm; however, edge sharpness went to the Tamron. At 35mm, the Tamron actually bested the Canon in both center and edge sharpness by a noticeable amount. The difference was enough to make me question whether my Canon should be was that much of a difference. I previously ran the same test (map test @ f/5.6) with my 17-40 vs. the 24mm f/2.8 Canon prime and found center sharpness quite comparable between the I'm inclined to think that my 17-40 is probably fine; the Tamron was just that good..!

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: May 13, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $670.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Solid construction, not too heavy, fast focussing, not as expensive as the f/2.8L zooms, comparable center sharpness to 24mm f/2.8 prime, gives you a somewhat fish-eyed perspective at 17mm on a film SLR if you like that kind of thing
soft at the edges compared to 24mm f/2.8 prime, contrast not quite as good as 24mm f/2.8 prime, a bit pricey (it would be nice if it were priced about $100 less...closer to the price of a 70-200 f/4.0L which makes a good companion for it...)

I did the old "news print" test using a 24mm f/2.8 prime at f/5.6 (I used a map). I took a number of shots with each lens and compared the best of each resulting image against the other. The center sharpness was nearly indistinguishable between the two lenses...though if I were forced to choose the best one, I would have chosen the 24mm prime. The contrast and colors seemed a little better with the prime too, and may have influenced my judgement of center sharpness. At the edges, the prime's advantage was clearer, though not hugely so. Overall, I would say the 17-40 f/4.0L compares favorably with the 24mm f/2.8 prime, and the latter rates quite high in optical quality at testing sites like So, for the flexibility of having a zoom in the wide to normal+ range, I'd say the 17-40 f/4.0L is a nice, high-quality lens to have on your camera. (Note: even the 24-70 f/2.8L pales against the 24mm f/2.8 prime at 24mm....). I'm giving this lens an overall rating of 8, though I would like to rate it closer to something like 8.5.

Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 XR Di Zoom AF

Review Date: Mar 24, 2005 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: Pretty good build quality; relatively fast (when it focusses the first time) and quiet autofocussing
Sharpness and contrast less than inexpensive Canon 28mm and 50mm primes; zoom ring has more friction than I expected (maybe loosens up after more usage?); more autofocus "lurking" than with my Canon lenses; not seeing the "pow" of my "L" glass lens.

After reading the reviews of this lens at this site, I was expecting this lens to replace my 28mm f/2.8 and 50mm f/1.8 primes and to rival the Canon 28-70 f/2.8L. Now, I didn't have the Canon 28-70 f/2.8L to compare it to, but I did have the primes. I shot some "newsprint" in a magazine on my front porch from 4-6 feet during the middle of a bright but cloudy day. I set the AF28-75MM at 28mm f/4.0 and 50mm f/4.0 and took 3-4 shots at each setting using my Canon 20D set at raw image capture. I also took 3-4 shots at the same distance with my 28mm prime set at f/4.0 and then my 50mm prime set at f/4.0, also in raw format capture. I handheld the camera, but the shutter speed was around 1/180 sec for all shots, which should minimize problems with camera shake. (I used f/4.0 because it would be a common aperture I'd be using.) I converted all the image files to non-compressed TIFFs and viewed the center (the focus point) of each image at 200% in Photoshop. Here's what I found....the sharpness and contrast of the AF28-75MM was fairly consistently less than either of the primes. The difference between the AF28-75MM and the 28mm prime was smallest (vs. the difference between the AF28-75MM and the 50mm prime), but still noticeable. It was a disappointing result; I really wanted to like the AF28-75MM, but the "pow" just wasn't there. I sent it back in exchange for the Canon 24mm f/2.8. I'll stick with my primes for now (all together, I still paid less than half of the highly touted "L" zoom) until I can make the financial leap to the 24-70mm f/2.8L. I have the Canon 70-200 f/4.0L zoom which beautifully covers 70mm and above (highly recommended!).