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Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

ef85mmf_18usm_1_
Review Date: Jan 12, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fast-focusing, sharp, lightweight, inconspicuous
Cons:
Minimum focusing distance is too far - 3 feet

This lens has got to be one of the best values in the EF lens lineup. This little guy has incredible resolving power and very good sharpness from f/2 onward. Optimal sharpness is around f/4 or f/5.6 by my eyes.

Sharpness talk aside, I love it because it's so compact and lightweight. It's not a large intimidating lens, like the 70-200/2.8 and so when shooting portraits or candids, people don't freak out. I recently used it to shoot several young children/babies and they felt comfortable around me. I probably wouldn't have been able to get right up to them had I brought along a big long piece of glass. The creamy bokeh is quite good, though it doesn't have that etheral quality that the 85L produces. Then again, this lens costs about 1/6th the price of the 85L!

The only thing I wish this lens would do is focus closer. 3 feet is a bit too far when using the lens for existing light shooting indoors. Other than that, no complaints at all.



 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

ef70-200lisusm
Review Date: Jan 12, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $984.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Incredible sharpness, lightweight/compact, fast focusing, excellent stabilization, smooth focusing/zooming
Cons:
None really

I'm using this lens on a Canon 5D. Also have the 24-105 f/4L and 85mm f/1.8.

I came from shooting Nikon f/2.8 zooms for the better part of 15 years. But when I switched systems, I considered Canon's f/4 zooms with IS. As I don't spend much time shooting sports anymore, I figured size/weight savings of the f/4 and addition of 4-stop IS would more than compensate.

So far, I am quite happy with the lens. The performance of the lens is as good as people here say it is and I don't regret not getting the f/2.8 version. The 4-stop stabilizer is really amazing and works as advertised. You can really notice the difference at 200mm.

Compared to the other lenses I have, this one seems sharper than the 24-105 and at least as good if not better than the 85/1.8. It is a lot bigger and conspicuous than the 85, so I still prefer that for discreet candids.

Overall, I highly recommend the 70-200 f/4L IS. To me, the stabilizer, extra sealing and new lens formulation is worth the extra $500 or so over the non-IS version.


 
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

24-105lisusm
Review Date: Jan 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Exceptionally flexible, good size/balance, IS works well, good image quality
Cons:
A bit pricey, f/4 a bit slow at times, distortion at 24mm

I purchased this lens with the 5D about 6 months ago. Like many other people, it was a toss up between the 24-105 f/4L and 24-70 f.2.8L. A number of years ago, I used to shoot a fair amount of sports and back then, f/2.8 was absolutely critical. Nowadays, I shoot more travel, portraits, candids and landscapes and stopping action is a bit less critical. I also wanted something a bit smaller and lighter for travel.

I decided to give the 24-105 a shot knowing the IS would give me a 2-3 extra stops to compensate for the lack of f/2.8. It's also a bit more compact than the 2.8. I have to say, it's the most versatile lens I've ever used. On its first outing, I took it to shoot a naval shipyard, using a variety of focal lengths, lighting conditions inside and out, white balance, you name it. I was quite impressed with the quality of images I got, from ISO 100-3200.

From a sharpness perspective, it's up there. I'd say a hair below the best of Canon's primes, but for a zoom it's good. The zooming action is smooth and it focuses very quickly and quietly under most conditions.

At 24mm, there is noticeable distortion and a bit of vignetting. That is to be expected and I don't necessarily blame the lens. Zooms have some trade-offs and these are two I'm willing to live with for the flexibility. They are also both easily correctable in post-processing.

If I were shooting sports or weddings, I would probably opt for the 24-70, but the 24-105 complements my style of shooting very well. Two thumbs up.