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

Review Date: Sep 5, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,270.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: excellent range (100-400mm) good optical qualities - nice contrast and sharpness when stopped down 1 stop from wide-open
push-pull zoom - harder to control than a ring zoom. heavy...

I bought this lens to try out some nature photography. Together with the Canon 500D diopter lens, I have been able to get very pleasing (at least to me :D) closeup shots of butterflies, dragonflies and other insects. Magnification at 400mm is 0.93x, which is almost life-size. The Image Stabilizer works like a champ and is very useful even when shooting handheld at such (relatively) high magnifications. It is also a very good lens for zoo photography - 400mm is extremely useful for portraits of the larger zoo animals.

I was torn between the 300 F4 IS and the 100-400 IS initially. I figured that while the 300 F4 is optically superior, it is a prime and thus less flexible than a zoom. If you know what you're going to shoot and want the best optical quality, I would suggest the 300F4 and couple it with the 1.4x extender if necessary, but if you *need* the flexibility of a zoom and don't mind sacrificing a little for the image quality, then go for the 100-400 instead.

Sample photos with the 100-400 IS lens:
At 400mm:

At 150mm with 500D:

At 400mm with 500D (0.93x magnification):

Canon EF 35mm f/2

Review Date: Sep 18, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $200.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Fast f2.0 aperture, unobstrusive and light, excellent bokeh.
Noisy (but above average speed) AFD motor, rather soft at f2.0.

I was contemplating between the 35mm f/2 and the 28mm f/2.8 for my "walkabout" lens on the D30. Previously I used the 50mm f/1.8 on my film EOS and I was very happy with the kind of pictures that I was getting. With the 1.6x multiplier, both 28mm and 35mm primes come close to the 50mm angle of view. I eventually went for the 35mm because it gives a more natural perspective than the 28mm, which gives a wide-angle perspective (i.e. more distortion when close up) - which does not work well for me as I take a fair bit of people photos. Both are great lenses, no doubt about that, but the 35mm f/2 packs more oomph in the bokeh department as well, thus I went ahead to buy it.

I went home in summer of 2003 armed with only the 35mm f/2 and my D30: =)

Addenum: Now that I have used this lens for quite some time, I agree with some of the reviewers above. f/2.0 is pretty soft for me too, and the lens, though contrasty, doesn't have the same natural, pleasing colors as the 50mm primes. The lens color is slightly warm (though correctable in software), and shadows are rather "harsh" looking. That said, it's still a good walkaround lens though, just *slightly* not as useful for people photography as I had initially thought it out to be.