Photoshop actions

  Reviews by: stephenmak  

View profile View recent posts View reviews Add stephenmak to your Buddy List
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Jun 4, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Cheap. Long Range. IS. Great Image Quality.
Build Quality. Slow.

This is a great lens. It's inexpensive, and while not bullet proof build quality, but whaddya expect for two-thirds the price of an L which has shorter reach, and no IS? It's not until you're paying twice the price you're getting IS, and you're still short At three times, you're getting more reach on the long and less on the short (the 100-400 IS).

The lens is contrasty, pretty quick autofocus, quiet, light, and sharp. Frankly, it's sharper than some L glass I have. It's got great range.

The only downside is that it's pretty slow at f4.0 to f5.6 and not constant aperture. But for one additional stop, with today's high ISO abilities, the L at 2.8 is a very costly upgrade.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Jun 4, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $900.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Image Stabilization, Range, Build Quality, Reasonably Sharp, Price
Price, Distortion, F4.0.

It's a great walkabout lens on a 1D Mk II, but it distorts a bit too much on the wide angle making it problematic if you're shooting anything with straight lines at the edges of the image. It's IS is great, and it's built like a tank. At what I paid for it (used) it was reasonable value given the tank like toughness.

The downside is that it's not as awe inspiring as I would like. My previous lens from which I upgraded to this, was the Canon 28-105 f 3.5 II (the better one, not the cheap one) and I find that the IQ coming out of this lens isn't a whole lot better, and on some days, it's worse. I suspect it has something to do with the IS. Part of it is that the consumer 28-105 was a pretty good lens. I recently was out with the person I gave my old lens to, and had it on my camera for a few moments, and took a couple of shots with it. Not a big difference for my substantial amount of new money.

We're asking a lot of this lens. A 4x zoom range, a constant aperture (albeit a slow one), and Image Stabilization - all for about $1,000.00. If you had postulated you could get one of these twenty years ago, you would have been laughed out of the bar.

So if you're a pro, have lots of money, like the red ring and the build quality -- get one.

If you're an amateur, don't have lots of money, don't care about the red ring nor build quality, the aforementioned 28-105 f 3.5 II is a pretty good deal at about 1/3 of the price, leaving mucho dineros for other glass.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Jun 3, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Cheap for an L, Wide, Weather Sealed (it's an L), Rugged (it's an L), Good Mechanical Action (it's an L)
Expensive for a lens (it's an L), Distortion, S L O W.....

I have to give this lens that I've had for around two years an okay review. I liked it on my 10D, didn't like it much on a 5D, and actually rather like it on a 1D (my current rig). On the 5D FF, it's just, well, too darn wide. Distortion was strange, and shots taken on a 5D at 17mm just seemed to be wide, for the sake of being wide. The barrel distortion on the 5D was problematic, nothing that can't be fixed with software, but still, it's a lens that shouldn't distort.

On a 1D, the crop take the wide distortion out, but (obviously) the barrel distortion remains.

On the positive side, on any Canon camera, it's a pretty flexible zoom for landscape, architectural photography, going from super wide on a 5D, to medium wide on a 10D or similar 1.6x crop camera.

On the 1.3 crop, it seems to have found, at least for me, a pretty sweet spot. The wide distortion is gone, it's now a 22.1mm on a 1D, as opposed to a 27.2mm on a 10D, where it really wasn't quite wide enough (especially for the price).

I'm not so sure if a barrel distorting lens should be commanding an L moniker, but given the crop of lenses available at this focal length, it's not a bad lens, especially given it's current structure and regime of rebates.

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM

Review Date: Jun 3, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $320.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, Great Colour, Cheap (if you buy it right), Good Bokeh, Light, Fast Auto-Focus, F2.0, Quiet, Perfect for portraits on a 5D/1Ds and 1D
No Red Ring.....

My Nikkor 105 f 2.5 was probably my all time favourite people lens. Fast, great bokeh. This is the modern equivalent. On a 1.3x crop camera, it's a bit longer, but having had a 135 f 2.0L, this lens for lots less money, is just as good. Also, the lack of the additional 35mm makes a big difference in terms of it's use -- a 135 on a 1D would be 175mm which is way too long.

Even at retail prices, the 100mm is a full 1/3 less money than the 135L. For me, I'd save my money because that can be added to something like a 200L, which is an all time bargain the Canon lineup of L lenses.

Autofocus is super fast, it's light, great bokeh, and it's sharp. It's bitingly sharp at f4.0 and lower, and pretty sharp at f 2.0 (probably sharper than my 24-105L @ 100mm at f4.0).

For what I paid (which was a pittance), it's a great lens. It's light, so you can take it around, and it's fast so you can use it in limited light conditions.

Canon EOS 1D Mark II

Review Date: Jun 2, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Awesome speed, handling, image quality -- a veritable sports car of a camera
Weighs a ton

I have been looking for a replacement for a 5D for the past few months. The 5D Mk I for me was a good camera, but not a great one. The full frame was very demanding on lenses (I have some Ls), particularly in edge sharpness, and the image quality, frankly, wasn't quite to my liking. I happened to love the image quality coming out of my 10D. In looking at a number of used 5Ds, I found that the 1D Mk II is often selling for less than a 5D. Probably because the 1D can be intimidating, and weighs a ton.

However, the reward for the workout is a camera with outstanding responsiveness. The 45 point autofocus makes the 5D (and the 10D) positively sluggish. The 8.5 frame rate simply smokes anything. The battery life is amazing. The 1.3x crop takes the edge softness out of the lenses, but still gives a 17-40l a decent wide angle. The sensor output, compared to the 5D is excellently rendered. Colours are perfect, sharpness excellent.

This isn't the camera for everyone. It's heavy, it's demanding, it's not easy to use, but once you've got it mastered, it doesn't lack in anyways against Canon's current crop of video/high megapixel offerings.

IMHO, the high megapixel offerings really don't give a tremendous advantage in terms of being able to print effectively, but they do significantly change the character of the image. The 1D Mk II has a film like characteristic.

I'd highly recommend this as an excellent alternative to a 5D or a new 50D.

Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Mar 2, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Low ISO Performance Full Frame Bright Viewfinder Ease of Use
Not much I didn't already know before I got it

I have been using a 10D for the past three years, and recently a 5D for the past few months. The low ISO performance is amazing, and using the 5D is like going back to using a true SLR -- no dim viewing through a small viewfinder like my 10D. In terms of image quality out of the box, the 10D has more pop, but that's more likely a result of my calibration of the camera, and I've been using the 5D in standard.

However, you can't beat the camera for it's ability to make wide angle lenses wide, and the low ISO performance is incredible.

I don't see how it gets much better.

Canon EF 28-105 F/3.5-4.5 II USM

Review Date: Feb 20, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $239.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Inexpensive, good range, albeit a bit long in the range, sharp.
No "L" prestige ;-)

This is a remarkably inexpensive lens for what it does. It's sharp, fast and quiet focusing, and is an excellent consumer grade lens. It's no "L" lens, but it's not priced like one either.

The lens isn't quite as wide as I'd like on a 1.6x crop DSLR, like a 10D, but on a film camera, which I still have, it's terrific (if I ever start using the film camera again). However, you know that it's not that wide when you buy it.

The non linear maximum aperture is a bit annoying, however, if the choice were to slow down the lens to keep it at f4.5 at 28, I'd pass, and if it meant making the lens more expensive, I'd pass also.

All in all, it's a great lens for the price, offering great image making possibilities for very little money.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

Review Date: Feb 20, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $111.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Cheap, light, great resolution. Did I say already say cheap?
What everyone else says -- cheap feeling -- but that's because it's cheap.

Cheap lens.

Lousy build quality.

Great optical quality.

It's a snack given the price/performance ratio. It's a must have.

The bokeh is not the best, but it's sharp, it's fast, and it's cheap.

Canon EF 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Review Date: Feb 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Price, sharp, sorta wide
Only sorta wide, slow

I bought this lens used, after looking long and hard at the 17-40L which is just a bit wider, and even slower. For the price, it's a great lens. Sharp, excellent build quality (at least my copy has a smooth smooth smooth zoom), and it looks pretty impressive with a lens hood.

On a 1.6x crop factor, it just not quite as wide as I'd like, but I knew that before I bought it. It's also a bit slow, but I also knew that before I bought it.

On the other hand, I shot back to back against a 17-40L, and found that the L wasn't sharper, or any better in terms of image quality (and I'm sure that may sound sacreligous to some of you), and for the difference in price to the L glass, I can pick up a good chunk of a 15mm fisheye. The 17-40L is slower still, so the only other viable option is thw 16-35/2.8, which is just too much money. For that kind of money, I can get the 15mm fisheye, and a 35/2.0 and a 100/2.0 and the 20-35/3.5.

Canon EOS 10D

Review Date: Feb 3, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Feel, image quality, performance, value (especially when bought used). Great user interface -- very intuitive.
Wake time.

I picked up a 10D used -- after the 20D was released, to take advantage of those trading up.

The camera has a great feel -- solid, tight, making it a pleasure to us. I looked at the DRebel, and found the feel was a bit light, and not quite solid enough for what I am generally used to. Compared to the D70, which admittedly is not in the same league as the 10D, the all metal construction makes for a robust feel.

User interface is extremely intuitive -- I didn't need to read much of the manual when I first picked it up. The only complaint is the Custom Functions which are a bit difficult to get to - fortunately you don't use them much after the first set up.

The image quality is terrific. Good tonal renditions out of the camera with it's basic internal processing set. Much better than a Nikon CP5000 that I also have.

The speed with which the camera performs is great, save for the start up time (which is admittedly eliminated with the 20D, but wasn't quite worth the additional money for me). Much better than any non DSLR -- virtually the same as film.

I'd highly recommend this camera.