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Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II

24tse
Review Date: Oct 15, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,750.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharpness, no vignetting, excellent IQ
Cons:
Tiny plastic interlock buttons, 82 mm filter ring, price

I bought my lens copy used in mint condition as upgrade from my 24/3.5 vers. I T/S lens. Optically it is a visible improvement - shifting the lens fully up or down does not lead to any cumbersome vignetting in the corners as the old lens version did. The lens overall is very sharp and provides an excellent IQ.
I also like that tilt and shift functions can now be rotated against each other easily in any angle.

Compared to my old version of this lens, I only see a few drawbacks which I want to mention here. Optically it does not make a difference, but the built style of the old T/S version was a metal housing while this new version uses plastic. This is especially visible when using the interlock buttons which are now tiny plastic locks (formerly metal). As mentioned in other reviews below, the new version now uses a 82 mm filter thread. This might have been needed to create a larger image circle of the lens to shift it better and to remove vignetting issues, but it forces you to get a new polarizer filter if needed.

The price for the new Canon T/S lens versions skyrocket. I recommend looking for a used one in excellent condition which saves you a couple of $$$.


 
Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM

EF14
Review Date: Aug 19, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,760.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp at f/2.8, no distortions at the frame borders and corners, superb contrast and color. One of the best Canon lenses in my opinion.
Cons:
Price. Try to find a good deal for a used one.

Excellent lens for ultra-wide angle photography on full frame sensors. I bought it for interior shots in buildings and for creative shots. I realized that sometimes my 17-40/4 is not wide enough to photography rooms and architecture. The 3 mm wider of the 14/2.8 II make a huge difference, and the lens is an amazing piece of glass. Sharp and in-focus photos even at f/2.8 with nearly no distortions. Didn't see a lot of CA with this lens either so far - the bit of CA can be easily removed in post-processing software. Flares and glares are no issue even outdoors with this lens!

Protruding front lens element needs to be handled with care, but the lens cap works well to protect it. Filter is not necessary since the lens is coated in a way that colors don't fade and appear natural in the photo.


 
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

ef_35_14_1_
Review Date: Feb 12, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,250.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fast lens, well built, sharp, excellent bokeh, fast AF
Cons:
none so far

Bought this lens as a used copy produced in 2006. The lens is very sharp even at f1.4 with a shallow DoF. The bokeh is superb and just blows you away. The 72 mm filter size diameter and the large front lens provides you with a lot of light. This leads to a very good and edge-on AF on my full frame 5DII camera wide open at f1.4. Excellent bokeh wide open, too.

The built style is good even the body itself is made of plastic. The lens is not too heavy in my opinion and not too large either.

I will use it for some portrait stuff and to create special DoF effects, also to take photos under low light conditions without flash.


 
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

ef135mmf_2l_1_
Review Date: Sep 20, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fast lens, beautiful bokeh with f2.0, fast AF performance, Canon teleconverters can be added
Cons:
none

Bought this lens used and got it as 2007 model in mint condition. I wanted to add it to my fast prime collection with 50 f1.4 and 85 f1.8.

At f2.0 this lens delivers fantastic results and crystal-sharp images. Even with the older AF system in the 5D II, the AF focus was always super fast and accurate. AF is better at f2.0 compared to my 85 f1.8 lens at the same aperture.

The bokeh wide open is beautiful but not different from the 85 f1.8 mm lens at f1.8 or f2.0 (tested it accurately with the same photo composition, only changing the camera-object distance accordingly to have the same field of view).

The big advantage of the 135 mm lens is the option to blur the background against a close object in front of it with f2.0. No other lens can do this easily for similar compositions.

Use Kenko extension tubes and you have plenty of closeup options with this lens, too.

The Canon 135 mm f2.0 L lens is the smallest Canon tele prime lens which can be fully used with both Canon teleconverters.

The lens is well built but not very heavy either. It also looks less suspicious than any of the white 70-200 zoom lenses.

At smaller apertures and longer exposure times additional tripod support might be recommended. But I mostly use this lens at fast speeds anyway.

I recommend to look out for a cheaper used version of this lens. Often people replace this lens with either a fast 85 mm lens or a version of the 70-200 f2.8 lens.


 
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L

ts243_1_
Review Date: Feb 9, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $850.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very sharp even when fully shifted in each direction, nicely built, up to 90 degree lens rotation to allow shifting horizontally and vertically
Cons:
T/S vertically to each other without possibility of simple rotation, some minor vignetting at top or bottom corners if lens is fully shifted

I bought the Mk I version of this lens used recently including hood and hard case. The date code of my lens states that it was made in 1997.

I read a lot of reviews saying that this lens is not sharp enough especially around the corners/borders of the picture frame. I do not agree with this. Fully shifted at f8 my lens copy is very sharp also in the corners of the shifted frame, much sharper than some of my other ultra-wide angle lenses. There is a slight chromatic aberration visible at the border of the shifted frame but this is easily removed by software if necessary. More visible is some vignetting at the top or bottom corners if the lens is fully shifted. I am not sure yet if this is induced by the attached lens hood. I observed this effect when the hood was attached.

Manual focus is no issue with this lens. I use it on my 5D II camera and either you can adjust the focus with the AF confirmation in the camera or by using LiveView and enlarged rectangular area to focus precisely. This is especially important when some tilt is applied.

I think that the shift function is more applicable for this 24 mm lens than its tilt function. The vertical shift is perfect to avoid distortions when photographing tall buildings or other architecture, while horizontal shift provides you with great scenic shots when 2-3 photos are merged to one panormama photo. The T/S functions can be both rotated together (not against each other, see comment below!) up to 90 degrees in 30 degree steps to allow for horizontal or vertical picture frame shifts and tilts.

Tilt and shift can be combined, but the original lens position only allows a tilt vertically to the shift (90 degrees shifted). This can be changed obviously by removing the tiny screws and rotating the upper lens part 90 degrees to align the tilt and shift function. So far I didn't do it myself yet, but I saw that the former owner of the lens must have done it at least once since the black color on the screwheads was removed by a screwdriver. There are some manuals with pictures online how to do this correctly. The new Mk II version of this lens allows a simple rotation between tilt and shift to avoid this more cumbersome procedue. In my opinion this is the only bigger advantage of the Mk II version since I consider the optical performance of both versions still somehow similar.

Another advantage of this T/S lens is the possible use of a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter making it a 34 mm or 48 mm lens on full frame cameras (with loss of 1 or 2 stops).

Overall this lens was a big enrichment for me and allows me to do some sort of photography I could not do with any of my other regular lenses. It is not a beginner's lens and it is advantageous if users are familiar of using MF instead of relying only on AF. I also recommend reading some literature online or in books about the theory of T/S applications (e.g. Scheimpflug rules).

If you want to spend more than $2K for this lens, you are worried about very minor possible optical flaws, and you want to have the more simplified full alignment or 90 degree angle between tilt and shift, you should look into the newer Mk II version. Otherwise the Mk I version is just perfect!


 
Canon Extender EF 2x II

Extender_2x2_1_
Review Date: Dec 28, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: This is a review about the Mk I version: Excellent and sharp image quality when used together with 100-400 and 70-200 f4 IS, well built
Cons:
Again, only for the Mk I version of this teleconverter: it does not fit to the Canon 1.4x Mk II teleconverter! For stacking, you need definetely both Mk II teleconverter versions.

I recently bought this used Canon 2x teleconverter, Mk I. Unfortunately you can not attach Mk I and Mk II versions of Canon's teleconverters. They don't fit - since the diameter of the protruding lens element of the 1.4x converter II does not fit into the opening of the older 2x teleconverter I! Still even the older Mk I version of the 2x teleconverter yields high-quality and very shapr images in combination with my extended 100-400 lens at an overall focal length of 800 mm. The loss of two stops can be compensated by higher ISO number and/or longer exposure times. I like using the "pin-tape-trick" to be still able to use f5.6.

Optically both teleconverter 2x versions Mk I and II are very similar - I doubt that a difference is noticeable. The Mk II version has weather sealing while the Mk I version doesn't. If you find a used Mk I version of this teleconverter and you don't need to stack teleconverters, go for it!


 
Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo

mp_e65_28_1_
Review Date: Aug 8, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $899.95 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Razor-sharp images, convenient magnifications up to 5x, no diffractions at smaller lens apertures, excellent built quality, lens comes with tripod collar
Cons:
price

After a while I finally decided to purchase this lens. Before (and still parallel to the new MP-E 65 lens) I used a Canon macro auto bellow with FD mount, adapter, and 50 mm f3.5 FD macro lens. This bellow setup is only good for static subjects and fairly inconvenient to use outdoors. Using the bellow was an excellent training to figure out lighting techniques at higher magnifications.

I am very amazed and surprised by the quality of photos made with the MP-E 65 lens. Since I was used to do macro shots at magnifications up to 5x, I also easily got used to this lens. But I certainly would not recommend it to somebody just starting with closeup/macro work - in this case it is much more suitable and cheaper to use a regular 1:2 or 1:1 macro lens.

The MP-E 65 starts where all the other macro lenses stop without using extension tubes or teleconverters. This lens is only recommended for people who want to go far beyond the magic 1:1 magnification barrier.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when working with this lens:

1. You need good flashlight, especially beyond 2x. A regular ringflash works only up to 2.5x magnification with this lens, at higher magnifications I use both of my speedlights in ETTL master/slave mode and one connected to the camera with an off-camera cord.

2. Even a tiny wind breeze or some shakening will have a huge effect at such magnifications. Tripod or any sort of support is a must at > 2x.

3. LiveView is highly recommended to use. I found it the best way to focus sharp on the subject, especially on insects. Also to have an IR remote controller or cable release for the shutter is a good idea.

I use this lens with my 5D MkII camera and the photo quality could not be any better. In opposite to my experiences when using my bellow setup, I did not observe diffractions at smaller apertures with the MP-E 65 lens. I consider this a main advantage of this lens. Even flash coming from the side of the front lens does not lead to flares or unwanted reflections either.

Built-style of the lens is great. It is a bit more heavy, but I personally prefer to have a metal lens body, too.

I still think Canon overprices this lens, but I am not aware that there is another Canon-fitting lens on the market for such purpose and quality.

Overall, I can highly recommend this lens for "extreme" macro work!


 
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

ef_100_28_1_
Review Date: Mar 28, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $338.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness, color reproduction, AF speed and reliability
Cons:
no lens hood included, additional Canon tripod collar is too expensive

I bought this lens unplanned in an unopened box when CircuitCity closed down. Before I used the Sigma 105 mm f2.8 macro lens which always provided me with very satisfying results.

The more I was surprised to see the better performance of this Canon lens. Main difference is the AF - the Canon lens works very reliable with center focus. I always needed to use the Sigma lens in MF mode while I can use AF with the Canon lens much more often.

Optically both lenses perform equally well - the Canon is track sharp and has an excellent color reproduction. The lens body designa of both lenses are different - while the Sigma front lens lies protected inside of its lens body, the Canon front lens is located on one end of the lens body. So far I did not observe any lens flare problems with the Canon lens due to this.

As with the Sigma lens, the Canon 100 mm macro lens can be combined with extenders to increase the max. magnification.

Unfortunately Canon does not include a lens hood here (never for all EF lenses) and of course also not the optional (much too) expensive tripod collar.


 
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

ef17-40_4l_1_
Review Date: Mar 1, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Excellent image quality and sharpness, weight, price, overall performance
Cons:
Chromatic aberrations at 17 mm (can be fully removed with DPP and aberration correction tool)

I bought this lens to be used in combination with my 5D MkII as super-wide lens, mostly to be used at 17 mm. F4 was not an issue for me since I mostly use this lens stopped down to f8-f16. Even indoor photography is not a problem since the 5D MkII can be used with a fairly high ISO-number to compensate easily for the one-stop advantage of the 16-35 f2.8 lens.

I decided to go for this 17-40 lens instead of the 16-35 mostly because of three factors:
+ much more reasonable price tag for the 17-40
+ the 17-40 lens has a filter diameter size of 77 mm which allows me to use my slim B+W 77 mm circ. polarizer
+ better border sharpness of the 17-40

The lens performs extremely well, especially to mention at the 17 mm end on full-frame. Border distortions are minimal. Very sharp in the center and at the borders. The sharpness only decreases a bit in the corners at 17 mm when the picture is not corrected yet for distortions with some software (even when stopped down).

When you enlarge the photo to 100% and check the borders, you will notice some blueish/purple chromatic aberrations (e.g. visible around tree branches in the corners). This can be easily and perfectly corrected with the Canon DPP software tool (lens aberration correction).

The AF works very fast and reliable with this lens, too.



 
Canon EOS 5D Mark II

5DII_1_
Review Date: Feb 14, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,699.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: extremely sharp photos, great ISO range, all the advantages of a full-frame CMOS sensor, very high LCD display quality, lens microadjustment possibility
Cons:
minor issues with the built quality: CF card cover and location of on/off switch. Expensive battery.

I bought the camera to upgrade from my APC-S Canon DSLR camera (350D) to full-frame. I missed full-frame since I was used to it from my former film SLR cameras.

I am simply amazed by the superb resolution quality of the sensor in the 5D MkII. It is possible to crop parts of photos to 100% without loss of sharpness! This camera makes an extremely good use of high quality lenses - you get razor-sharp images with all the advantages of full frame considering depth of field. I am shooting in RAW format which gives photo files of 24 MBytes each - I recommend also getting a 16 GB CF card with at least 30 MB/s writing speed which is also fine to record high-quality videos (up to 29 minutes with 16GB).

The LCD screen is great, also the menus are pretty easy to learn and to remember. Definetely you need to make changes in the custom functions menus depending on your preferred shooting style. This camera allows you to create your own menu settings with faster access to some otherwise more hidden submenus (e.g. for mirror lockup, LiveView/movie funct. setup, battery lifetime).

I didn't use a lot the video function yet, but it seems to work fine with a high video quality. There are several workarounds described online of how to manually change aperture and ISO number for videos. Unfortunately such normally necessary menu option was (maybe purposely) left out by Canon. I will mostly use the 5D MkII for taking photos instead of videos, so it is still ok for me now.

I have only minor aspects to criticize regarding the built style of the camera. I personally don't like the tiny on/off switch with its position at the bottom of the camera - if you attach the camera on a tripod plate it is a hurdle to turn the switch.
The CF card cover is pretty cheap for the price of such camera. When holding the 5D MkII with your right hand, the CF cover tends to make sometimes a creaking noise due to the thin plastic used (but it is fortunately not loose). Just the body construction could have been better here.

Additional batteries are still very difficult to get (02/2009). One battery might not be enough for a whole day of taking photos including use of LiveView and video. The battery is overpriced IMO (it hopefully comes down in price over time).

I would have given 10 points of rating, but deducted 1 point for the built style.


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Apr 19, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $316.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Light but well-built prime lens, great use in low light situations without flash and to achieve very shallow DoF with f < 1.8
Cons:
Hood is highly recommended for this lens but needs to be purchased seperatedly

This lens was a very pleasant surprise for me: I originally bought it to cover for low-light situations where I was unable to use a flash (in museums, exhibitions, churches etc.). After I received this lens, I examined it more closely additionally in daylight - this lens delivers great and sharp photos when it is used correctly. This means that you should keep in mind that at apertures smaller than f2.0 the AF of your camera doesn't work reliably anymore. With wide open apertures you definetely need to use MF to make sure that you catch your focus point right. AF also works sometimes at f<2.0, but it doesn't catch the desired focus point area correctly all the time - but this has nothing to do with the lens itself!

I was even more surprised about this hidden treasure when converting it to a macro lens with high capabilities by adding a Kenko extension tube. I was able to create great macro photos with an extremely shallow DoF which I couldn't do with a macro f2.8 lens! Of course you definetely need to use MF for such sort of macro photography anyway. The pretty broad focus ring on the lens allows a simple and convenient manual focusing in the MF lens mode.

In summary this lens performs extremely well, much better than I originally expected after reading tons of reviews. I also own the Canon 85 mm f1.8 EF lens, but the 50 mm f1.4 EF lens is definetely not worse! On a APS-C camera body the 50 mm focal length might be also perfect for portraits. If you need a very fast lens for a reasonable price, then you should highly consider this 50 mm lens!


 
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

ef85mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Mar 20, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $340.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Weight, nice bokeh-effect, excellent image quality for a very good price
Cons:
AF works pretty unreliable in combination with my Rebel XT and f=1.8, no hood included

I bought this lens one year ago to use it as portrait and medium telephoto prime lens. The price was a no-brainer for the IMO excellent optical quality you get. The bokeh effect is superb, especially at wide open apertures. Another huge advantage is the weight of the lens - it easily fits in a smaller photo bag and is pretty light.

Unfortunately I observed several times that the otherwise fast AF does not work reliable enough at wide open apertures in combination with my Rebel XT camera. When I first used the lens, faces in portrait shootings were a bit out of focus especially at f<2.0. From then I mostly used the lens in MF when using wide open apertures which gave superb photos. I am not sure if this is an issue of the lens itself or of the missing center focus point availability of the Rebel XT.

The lens does not come with a hood. I solved this just by using the same hood which comes with my Sigma 105 mm macro lens - it works perfectly on the 85 mm lens, too!

Personally I never saw a reason to have a faster lens than f1.8 for my portrait work; most often I even use a bit larger aperture numbers.
In the future I would love to experience myself how this lens performs on a full-frame camera body!


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

ef70-200lisusm
Review Date: Feb 2, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $984.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Super-sharp, excellent glass! Difficult to top quality-wise. Nice tele-zoom lens for walkaround.
Cons:
None of the lens directly, but Canon should add the tripod collar for free with this package.

Very sharp at both ends, very fast and silent AF, excellent quality both for optics and for the lens body. I decided for this model of the 70-200 series to have it with IS and to avoid too heavy weight of the lens. It is a great addition to the 24-70 mm L lens.

Use with extender: was more than pleasantly surprised - AF still working perfectly fine with the 1.4 extender and the 70-200. It automatically switches to a max. open aperture of 5.6. That's a huge advantage compared to my 100-400 where the Rebel camera body does not allow AF together with the extender in a reliable fashion.

Polarizer fit: it is a very good idea to buy a circ. polarizer with a large diameter of 77 mm in the first place if you have any of the other L lenses with a filter thread of this diameter. A step up adapter ring to 67 mm fitting the 70-200 mm f4.0 filter thread is cheaper than buying a new good circ. polarizer!

The only a bit annoying thing concerns the accessories: I hoped to get a solid lens case similar to my 100-400 L lens. But again, Canon only included a soft lens case which you can fold flat. Also, no tripod collar is included and needs to be bought additionally. But since the lens is not very heavy, you can just use the regular camera tripod fit if necessary or just use the IS.


 
Sigma 28-300 f3.5-6.3 Macro

28_300_macro
Review Date: Apr 23, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $330.00 | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: Pretty light and well built lens. Nice macro function up to 1:3.
Cons:
Gets very soft at the long focal length. Not useable under low light conditions. Unreliable AF.

This is a review for the newer DG lens model:

One of my first digital SLR lenses. I was formerly attracted by the covered zoom range. I still consider it a quite ok walkaround-lens, but it does no longer fit to my demands.

I like the macro function in combination with the zoom. Mounted with the camera on a tripod, this lens can in fact do some nice and pretty sharp close-up pictures from objects difficult to get closer if the focal length of the lens is not extended to its very end. At 300mm, the lens gets very soft with low contrast. That's just the limitation of this lens.

The AF worked not very reliable together with my Rebel XT. I was much better off using manual focus, also at shorter focal lengths.

My advice: If you want to buy a zoom lens, don't go for any of the super-zooms. Be more selective in the zoom range, this will give you a much better quality of the lens. If you are interested in a macro lens, go for a prime lens. Sigma has very good ones to offer for the price of this one.


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

ef100_400l_1_
Review Date: Apr 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,452.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp lens throughout the whole zoom range. Excellent built quality. Allows perfect use from average to full tele zoom range. Image stabilizer (IS) included. Reliable AF.
Cons:
None

I mostly use this lens for doing wildlife photography (e.g. birds), but also for close-up photography of objects difficult to come close enough. With the Rebel XT, the 100-400mm range in fact gets a 160-640mm lens (1.6x crop factor of the camera).

The lens allows several options to choose from depending on your photography habits. I sometimes use it mounted on a tripod (switching off the IS), but especially for wildlife photography I prefer more flexibility and always use it with the full IS turned on. The IS is pretty good - even at the long focus end it leads to sharp pictures. Then I only recommend doing a sequence of 3-4 pics of the same object - later when reviewing the photos enlarged on your PC you will see that some pics are a tiny bit sharper than others.

The AF works very well, too. You only have to estimate the distance of your object to use the focus switch for either smaller or larger distances. This allows the AF to find your aimed object faster and more reliable.

This is a push/pull zoom lens - in my opinion nothing to worry about. I personally like the option to change the zoom range fast between near and long end of the zoom. With a ring you can also adjust the simplicity to push/pull. This ring sits close to the manually adjustable focus ring - when turning one of these rings, you might sometimes turn the other neighboring one, too.

The lens is heavy, but very solid built. Considering the quality and comparing the price with other Canon prime tele lenses it is a very good choice giving a lot of flexibility in the focal length and a certainly comparable sharpness.


 
Sigma 105mm f2.8 EX Macro 1:1 Lens

05_105mmEX_1_
Review Date: Apr 19, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $365.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: High optical quality macro lens. Very fast, perfect for close-up photography of insects and flowers. Even feasible for portrait photography.
Cons:
Autofocus seems to be a bit difficult together with a Canon Rebel XT. To change between MF and AF you need to switch the normal selection button AND moving the focus ring forward/backward. The focus ring can easily loose its position and can then damage in the worst case the AF function of the lens.

This is my heavily used lens for doing close-up photographies of flowers and insects. Together with the Canon Rebel XT this prime lens leads to an overall focal length of 168mm. This allows to keep a perfect distance to moving objects like butterflies. Depending on the object, I tend to use small and medium f numbers. In all cases, the picture is always sharp, coming with superb contrast and color reproduction.

Another advantage is the front lens. It lies a bit in the inner part of the lens case, so a lens hood or a filter just to protect the front lens is not really necessary.

For close-up photography I normally focus manually anyway. But in some cases I experienced problems with the autofocus of this lens. It tends to easily jump even with the right position on the focus limiter. The AF is pretty noisy compared to the newer USM driven lenses.
It is always necessary to switch the focus ring forward/backward depending on the MF or AF switch position. This is a bit inconvenient first, but you will get used to it after a short time.

Overall, I can recommend this lens because of its perfect optical properties. The build quality is very good, too. If you don't need AF for your close-up photography a lot, then this lens is definetely right for you!


 

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