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  Reviews by: neilgundel  

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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

85II
Review Date: Nov 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp - especially stopped down to 2.0 and beyond. Build quality is outstanding.
Cons:
Very prone to purple fringing wide open in certain conditions.

This lens is worth the high price in my opinion. I agree with all the other comments about fabulous bokeh, IQ etc., but I don't think the focusing speed is an issue for anything but the fastest moving sports. Also, on a 1DsII, I find the low-light focusing to be as good as or better than any other lens I have used. Portraits at 1/60 sec + f/1.2 + ISO 800 snap into focus instantly.

Landscapes at 5.6 are extremely good - on the level of the 135/2.0.

For example:
http://naturalportraits.com/utah_85_12_at_56.jpg

DOF is basically non-existent at f/1.2 at portrait distances, which is wonderful when you have exactly the right things in focus, and terrible when you don't. You will need to learn to focus accurately, or you won't get your money's worth.

Purple fringing wide open in some but not all or even most backlit situations - I haven't yet figured out how to tell when it will be an issue. A photoshop filter that removes the purple would be very helpful at times.



 
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

16-35II
Review Date: Apr 4, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,599.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness Contrast Build Quality
Cons:
82mm filters not common with other Canon lenses. Price is somewhat high right now, may come down. Probably little or no improvement over 17-40L unless you have a full frame sensor.

At last there is a Canon lens covering this range with really good performance across the zoom range and corner to corner on a full frame camera such as the 1Ds mark II.

It has the usual stellar build quality you expect on the top tier "L" lenses.

Image quality is excellent, but if you have been spoiled by Canon's "L" telephotos, you should be aware that _nobody_ makes a lens in this category that is anything like them in terms of performance. Still, it is a clear improvement over the 17-40 in that regard on a full frame camera, especially at the wide end.


 
Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM

1ef200mmf_28_1_1_
Review Date: Dec 2, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $675.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Size & weight. Sharpness, Color, Bokeh Price
Cons:
Doesn't zoom. Doesn't have four-wheel drive.

This lens is a little better than the 70-200/2.8 and WAY smaller and lighter.

Images from this one are virtually identical to those from the 135/2 - the only reason to stop down is to get depth of field.

Nearly perfect performance, fast autofocus, excellent color, bokeh, you name it. I'm still using film and scanning it, but I suspect that this lens would be truly remarkable on a 1Ds MkII.


 
Canon EF 35mm f/2

ef35mmf2_1_
Review Date: Dec 2, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $225.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Contrast and resolution is on par with other Canon standard/wide angles, which is to say very good. Price
Cons:
Snap on lens hood Vignetting wide open Bad bokeh for a Canon Prime

This lens is capable of taking outstanding pictures - the sharpness is very good out to the corners even wide open, and the contrast is excellent.

There are only a couple things that I don't like about this lens. It doesn't bother me much that it's not a USM - it still focuses very quickly. It is not silent, but neither are my camera bodies.

I am annoyed by the lens hood mounting arrangements. All the L's and some of the non-L's have a hood with stiff bayonet mount, so you can carry the hood reversed on the lens when you aren't using it. To mount the lens, I grasp it by the hood and twist the lens in the mount until it locks into place. After I mount the lens, I reverse the hood & I am good to go.

If I try to do this with the 35/2 (and the 85/1.8 is the same in this respect) I can't mount the lens without sneaking my fingers behind the hood, because the hood has no grip on the lens. This is kind of a whiney nit-pick I know - especially for someone who doesn't change lenses often. But it costs me probably 5 seconds each time I mount this lens vs. the other system & I DO change lenses frequently. With the EOS 3, I almost always carry 2 bodies, but when I go digital that won't be an option, so it will be an even bigger dean then. ($8,000 x 2???)

Another thing is that my old 35/2 FD lens did not vignette significantly wide open, but this one does - on a full frame film camera at any rate. On the positive side, I now know how to fix even very noticeable vignetting in Photoshop so it is virtually undetectable. You can create a curves/levels adjustment layer with a layer mask filled with a radial gradient - you can even fine-tune it by applying levels/curves to the mask. Email me at my web site if you want a better explanation. You have to balance this against the fact that this lens is much sharper than that old FD lens.

Bad bokeh for a Canon prime. This is the only Canon EF prime lens I have used with less-than-stellar bokeh. All the other primes (plus the 70-200) have nearly perfect uniform filled circles on out-of-focus point sources, which gives a nice background blur. This one has a bright ring around each circle, which is not as nice. It is nowhere near as bad as some images I have seen published, but not quite up to Canon standards.

Would I buy it again? Probably - it is a sensible choice if 35mm is not the most important focal length in your bag, and it is made to a higher standard than the 50/1.8, so the price is probably justified. But I am disappointed in the vignetting/bokeh issues that Canon could have avoided at this price point or close to it - these are undoubtedly the result of the compact design, which would not be my priority.