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Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

ef_24-70_28u_1_
Review Date: Jan 5, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,124.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, robust, weather-sealing, very-fast focusing when used in good light, can be used as a blunt object for self-defense when you're in danger.
Cons:
Heavy, pricy

My copy of 24-70 is "significantly" sharper than my copy of tamron 28-75 that everyone raves about. The center sharpness of the canon at it's widest aperture rivals the center sharpness of the tamron 28-75 at F4. The difference fades once stopped down to about F8, but they are never the same sharpness, and the tamron never surpasses the canon.

The color rendition on the canon is very accurate and well-saturated. The contrast is also preferred over the tamron. I can venture to say that the two lenses are more different than they are similar, and the overall quality is better on the canon.

The lens is heavy, but VERY robust. I often wonder how tamron is able to build a very "similar" lens using much lighter material. I understand that the canon is made of metal (mount and barrel) while the tamron is made of plastic (barrel) and metel (mount), but I never imagined the difference to be THAT great. The canon zoom and focus rings are very smooth but well-dampened, while the tamron zoom ring is loose (but not cheap-feeling), and its focus ring is average in "feel" quality.

I would highly recommend the canon to anyone who is capable of spending the money; anyone who is looking for a bargain should consider the tamron, sigma, or tokina offerings.


 
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

ef135mmf_2l_1_
Review Date: Nov 23, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $849.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, speed, accuracy, color rendition, contrast, resolution, build quality, you name it. This lens has a 10 on all the attributes.
Cons:
NO weather sealing, but not a critical component for my use.

This lens is one of a kind. It's focusing speed is almost instantaneous due to the aperture and USM. The sharpness is incomparable (haven't tried other more expensive primes, yet) and the colors are absolutely beautiful. The front element is huge! I think this will be my "go-to" lens from now on, if the FL is appropriate and the highest quality is needed.

Highly recommended with the current Canon triple rebate.


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

ef50mmf_14usm_1_
Review Date: Sep 23, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $329.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: USM (only micro-USM), fast, metal lens mount, depth of field scale/distance scale.
Cons:
slightly soft wide open

I was getting sick and tired of my 50mm 1.8 being so ridiculously soft when wide open to the point that I decided to buy this lens to see if the 1.4-1.8 would help. Since I am able to afford this lens, I figured there's nothing I can lose. Now I wonder why I didn't buy this lens earlier.

The lens actually "looks" better than the picture you see on top. It's very robust compared to the 1.8 version. It has a true focus ring that is coupled to a distance/depth of field scale so it makes focusing much easier. The metal lens mount also helps with the durability.

The lens is relatively heavier than the 1.8 version - bigger glass is required to make the aperture bigger. The lens also has a bayonet hood mount, though the front element is recessed deep into the lens to the point that I think simply using your hand to shade the lens will be sufficient. I haven't tested out any ghosting or flaring but from what others have said, it's expected to be better than the 1.8 version.

I would say get one and test it out to see if you personally like it. I should've made the purchase earlier. I'm selling my 1.8 right this moment.


 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

ef70_200_4_1_
Review Date: Sep 5, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $565.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Conspicuous; light; quality optics; fast focus; robust design; sharp
Cons:
Conspicuous; doesn't come with the tripod collar ring

This is definitely my favorite lens out of the bag. I find myself mounting this lens whenever there's a photo op, even before knowing whether I will be needing this lens. I just want to use it!

All the pluses of canon's -L- quality can be found on this little gem that comes in a affordable package. It is a shame that Nikon hasn't provided its loyal users with something like this.

Try snapping flowers or animals with this lens, you'll be blown away by the colors if your technique is good.


 
Canon Speedlite 420EX TTL

CA420EXU_1_
Review Date: Mar 2, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $179.95 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Price, slave for 550EX+ flashes, swivel, tilt, zooms
Cons:
No manual override for distance, prolematic for any camera with a multiplication factor or lens that can't communicate zoom distance with camera. Only 90 swivel to the right. Can't use partial flash

Great deal for beginning photographers who want a more powerful flash than the native flash. Priced at almost half of the Canon 550EX, this flash is quite a bargain. Not recomended for pros (but you pros all know that already Wink

Good points include zooming based on lens, tilt from 0 to 90, left swivel from 0 (directly in front) to 180 (directly behind) and right swivel from 0 to 90 (directly to your right). Also infrared metering in lowlight.

The lack of manual override is really bothersome if you don't have a lens that can communicate zoom distance with your canon (the flash automatically sets itself back to 24mm). This is also bad for cameras with multiplication factors since whatever coverage it indicates on the flash is always wider than the actual composition - you are essentially wasting light when flashing. The unit also cannot function unless fully charged, so no partial flashes.




 
Tokina 24-200mm AT-X 242 AF

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Review Date: Jan 20, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $269.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Price, zoom range, build
Cons:
weight

A heavy walk-around lens that will suit most of your routine shooting needs. 3.5 aperture left more to be desired but is enough for entry-level or amateur shooting (which I am). I'd think professional people that make money from their cameras or people with a larger budget can afford and definitely deserve more from this truly beginner's lens. It's girth will wow people that happen to be around you when you pull this monster out.

Dimensions:

7.5cm diameter
9.5cm length

comes with lens hood