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  Reviews by: rtrigg  

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Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

ef300mmf_4_1_
Review Date: May 30, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, sharp, sharp. The IS works well, and the autofocus is fast and quiet.
Cons:
Wish it was f2.8, but they cost the big bucks.

This is a great, great lens. Even sharper than the terrific 135mm f2. The weight is quite reasonable and the autofocus is about as good as it gets in the Canon world. Be warned that the length is significant so a tall camera bag is in order (or it needs to be stored lengthwise, but I don't like doing this for a variety of reasons).

The price is rather high, but all the good glass is expensive so that just goes with the territory. Hard to imagine anyone would regret buying this lens, just get it.


 
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

ef_100_28_1_
Review Date: May 15, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Inexpensive, very sharp, fast silent focus, very usable for portraits also.
Cons:
Not much, it would be nice if it were smaller and went to f2.0 (yeah, contradicting desires).

This is a great value and a great lens. It's extremely sharp, focuses very fast, and doubles as a very good portrait lens (with excellent bokeh). A much better choice than the Canon 50mm macro (I haven't tried the competing brands). There's no way to go wrong buying this lens, just get it.

The 65mm MPE is even better (for macro), but that lens is very hard to use and can only be used for macro work (doesn't focus beyond about 5 inches).

The build quality is very good, but not up to the standard of the Canon L lenses. Should be among the first 5 lenses you buy.

Roger


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Feb 4, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $320.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Fast focus, very sharp above f2.0, very lightweight yet built well.
Cons:
Sharpness at f1.4 is really poor.

Price is great for what you get. Even though sharpness at f1.4 is terrible, I would recommend this lens over the 50mm f1.8 since it's built much better, focus is fast and silent, and sharpness is better throughout the range.

Overall it's just what you would hope for from a lens except for the poor performance at f1.4. You aren't going to find any other lens this fast and built this well for anywhere near the price of this lens.


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

mp_e65_28_1_
Review Date: Jan 19, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Amazing images, easiest way to achieve high magnification macros shots.
Cons:
Doesn't focus beyond about 5 inches and DOF is non-existent. Only goes to f16, many other macro lenses stop down much more because of the need for greater DOF.

It's amazing, and it sucks. This lens can do things nothing else in your bag can come close to, but you pay a heavy price in setup time, accessories and patience.

As others have stated a ring flash is mandatory. I've tried two flash options so far but I'm still not really satisfied. A panel flash does ok, but unless you have a bracket that is adjustable it a little limiting. A standard ring flash works pretty well, but after using it for a while all your shots begin to look the same. The lighting is always exactly the same and you can't control the look very well. I have yet to try the Canon twin lite ring flash, but I suspect this is the best solution for this lens (but of course it isn't cheap). This would give you ring flash style illumination while still giving you creative control of your lighting.

I've also found a macro rail to be very helpful since getting proper focus and control of DOF with this beast is probably just as difficult as being a marksman in the Olympics. First you hold your breath, then you notice that your heartbeat is throwing off your focus... and I mean badly. In some cases I get frustrated and just fire five shots hoping one will actually be in focus (I knew that 4 GB card was good for something).

One other small annoyance must be mentioned. This lens will not focus beyond about five inches. It seems like a small thing, but it can be very frustrating to miss one of those quick shots when your lens won't focus out that far. I sometimes carry a second body just so I will have something that can take a quick shot, but of course this can get heavy.

However after all your patience and struggles you can be rewarded with some stunning images. Nothing short of a microscope can get this close, and yes it's difficult to use, but at this scale, nothing else is easier. So if you want to get really close, this is the only game in town.