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Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

ef70-200lisiiu_586x225
Review Date: Sep 12, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: beautiful creamy bokeh, razor sharp at all apertures, excellent flare control, zero purple fringing
Cons:
none

I upgraded from the mark I a few weeks ago to this lens.

Here's a recent wedding I shot using it - you should be able to recognise the photos that were made using this lens. http://blog.photosbyjay.com.au/2010/09/tim-and-lindas-wedding-vaucluse-house-tearooms/

- Much creamier, smoother bokeh than the original - almost looks like an f/2 prime. everything has a dreamy look to it with sharpness exactly where you want it. it certainly has a signature look that i have not seen with any other lenses.

- sharp all through the frame, even wide open and at all focal lengths. very impressive. i'm a pixel peeper and was wowed even when viewing at 100%.

- very accurate skin tones - almost no post processing done to the images in the wedding above

- a lot more keepers - the extra stops of IS definitely make a difference especially in fast moving situations (weddings) where you may not have time to stabilise yourself in favour of catching a moment

- the shorter minimum focusing distance of 20cm may not seem like much but it makes a world of difference when shooting in tight spots

- the improved flare resistance is a god send - the wedding above was in mid-afternoon sun with lots of light bouncing around and i still ended up with contrasty, crisp images with flare only when i wanted it (such as the one of the bride walking up the aisle)

It's definitely a lens that will stay in my bag for a long time.


 
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM

EF24_14LII
Review Date: Sep 1, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: solid build, amazing colours and contrast out of camera, very sharp even at 1.4
Cons:
none yet

It's too early to give an overall rating as I've taken only 10 or so frames with this lens. I just thought I'd post up some walk-around photos for those who want some basis for comparison. These are medium jpeg, straight out of camera (zero photoshop/sharpening), standard picture style, daylight white balance, manual. Shot on a 5D Mark II.

Sample high-res images are here: http://www.photosbyjay.com.au/lens/24/ - EXIF data is embedded to get the exposure data.

Looking at these I'm really impressed with the vibrant colours and neutral tones of this lens. Text is sharp and crisp (as you can see on the sign) even at f1.4, which is impressive at such a wide aperture. Bokeh is smooth and pleasing to the eye, though appears little 'nervous' in some instances.

Even at f1.4 a lot of the image is still in focus because of the wide angle, which I'm excited about because I shoot a lot of weddings in low light and will be able to keep a lot of the image in focus at wide apertures (provided I'm not too close to the subject).

In any case this already looks a lot better than my 24-70 2.8L for image clarity, contrast and sharpness - I'm already making plans to sell that lens.


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

ef50lusm
Review Date: Feb 22, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Really sharp even at 1.2, "L" quality colour, creamy smooth bokeh
Cons:
Strong purple/green fringeing (see samples)

I've rented older copies of this lens and my own copy has just arrived this morning. Date code is UY0107, so made January 2010. I've taken a handful of test shots in my back yard on the 5DMkII and have had no problems with focus or sharpness. Older rented copies were extremely glowy and soft at 1.2, but this one is razor sharp at 1.2, even when viewed at 100%. It seems as though they've fixed sharpness/focussing issues in the new copies.

Here are some 100% unsharpened straight out of camera JPGs that I took this morning (Standard picture style, medium jpeg). Notice in the peg photo that the peg is very sharp and has a very slight but acceptable glow. There's also very noticeable green/purple fringing in that shot, either side of the in-focus peg.

http://www.photosbyjay.com.au/images/50l/50-1.jpg
http://www.photosbyjay.com.au/images/50l/50-2.jpg
http://www.photosbyjay.com.au/images/50l/50-3.jpg
http://www.photosbyjay.com.au/images/50l/50-4.jpg
http://www.photosbyjay.com.au/images/50l/50-5.jpg

Overall I'm very excited to see what kind of damage this lens will do at my next wedding, especially now that I have confidence that wide open images will be sharp.



 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Feb 8, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Price, background blur, colours and saturation comparable to L lenses, less intrusive than the big L zooms
Cons:
Very soft up to about f2.0

Truthfully, this lens was sitting around unused in my bag until I read these reviews. I thought it was a dud because at f1.4 or even 1.8 shots were looking soft (even when I manually focussed) and nothing like the shots I was seeing online taken with the much more expensive 50/1.2 . However when I stopped down to 2.0 or 2.2 on my 5D it made a world of difference. Images are really sharp (but bear in mind you have a very thin depth of field so focus carefully and don't move the camera around too much once you've focussed). Colours and contrast are fantastic our of the camera - even with my experienced eye it's hard to differentiate between shots taken with my 70-200 2.8L and this lens.

I had a pre-wedding photo shoot with a couple yesterday and used this lens for the majority of shots. Check out some of the photos taken with this lens at http://www.photosbyjay.com.au/wedding-photographer-sydney-blog/

I'm starting to fall in love with this lens, now that I know how to use it properly. I love the subtle blurring of foreground subjects, the field of view and the ever so slight perspective distortion. Pictures with this lens have a much more dynamic, edgy feel than with my 70-200 2.8.

I see it as an advantage that you have to get in closer to the subject with this lens because it lets you get more involved with the scene and the subjects, rather than standing way back and zooming in. A steal for the price.


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef70-200_28lisu_1_
Review Date: Oct 12, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Breathtaking detail, solid build, creamy dreamy background blur, rich colours
Cons:
Heavy purple fringing in high contrast areas

This is a great all round lens. I am a wedding photographer and have used this on 2 weddings already and love its versatility. It's great for framing the bride & groom and then quickly zooming in close for a ring exchange or tears on the bride's face.

Opening the shots up in Lightroom or Photoshop is such a pleasure; some shots just make me stop and stare. Every detail (hairs, pores, dress texture) is rendered very realistically, "just as I remember seeing it". The background blur is creamy and smooth and round, and gives everything a dreamlike quality. Autofocus is super quick - you can just trust it. I combine it with the joystick focus point method and it's very fast and intuitive.

You can see a gallery of shots I took with my 40D and this lens at http://www.photosbyjay.com.au/wedding-photographer-sydney/pre-wedding-photo-session-mostafa-and-houda-cabarita-park/

On a 40D with cropped sensor it does reach a lot - you'll need a fair bit of room to back up for things like group shots (I found myself switching to the 16-35 for the bigger groups because there just wasn't enough room). I do find myself sometimes zooming to 200mm though (320mm on a full frame).

The only caveat I've found so far is the nasty purple fringing which seems to turn up in very high contrast areas. Take a look at

http://www.photosbyjay.com.au/images/blog/Rani-0099.jpg

and

http://www.photosbyjay.com.au/images/blog/Rani-0102.jpg

To me this is really severe considering the cost of the lens. It doesn't seem to happen when the subject is not wearing plain white and not in direct sunlight.

Overall, this is one of the most satisfying and impressive lenses I've ever owned, and I find myself wishing I could rewind time so I could have this on one shoulder and my 16-35 on the other shoulder to shoot all the past weddings I've done.