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  Reviews by: tsangc  

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Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM

ef100mmf_2usm_1_
Review Date: Dec 29, 2016 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Reasonably sharp, large aperture, great colour, quick focusing, small and light
Cons:
No stabilization

I bought this lens used off a local seller for about $300 CAD.

I wanted a medium length lens with a larger aperture for shooting indoors. The idea was to use it with a small camera body like an SL1 as part of a two lens package for family events. A Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 or Canon 17-40mm for the wide to medium end and something else for candids from afar or portraits with background blur.

The lens is small and fairly light and fits well in a small bag with those two zoom lenses. The finish of those early generation EF USM primes is relatively smooth and always makes me pause to carefully grasp them lest they drop out of my hand.

The 100mm focal length is great for candids from about 10-15 feet away. Works well with family photos where a larger lens like a 70-200mm would be embarrassing. It's a little long for portraits.

The lens is pretty sharp. In the current era of 18-20MP crop sensors, it's not as sharp as the latest professional L models, but still quite crisp. It's more than adequate for personal family needs and I'm sure many professional and wedding shooters might even use the 100mm f2.0.

One of the challenges was getting acceptable images due to hand shake. I've become so used to stabilization on my 70-200mm over the years, it took a few weeks to not cheating the shutter speed on the 100mm. Fortunately a large aperture at f2.0 helps.




 
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

ef70-200lisiiu_586x225
Review Date: Dec 28, 2016 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Exceptional image quality, fast focusing, construction
Cons:
Price, weight

I owned the original version of this lens, the 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM, since 2006. I used it so much, I actually wore out the USM focusing motor and had it replaced last year. But I recently had the opportunity to pick up a used copy of the new II model and sold off my original version.

I felt the original lens had great image quality, especially in the 90-130mm range. At 200mm my copy was softer, and this seemed to coincide with other users comments. I loved the larger aperture, fast focusing, and rugged construction of a very useful focal length.

The 70-200mm range is great for portraits and event photography. I've used mine for countless events, headshots, and casual candids. I've also taken it with me on a number of travels, despite it's heavy weight.

The II version takes that well proven model and fixes the primary issue, which is image quality. I had not planned to upgrade as the new version is fairly expensive. But now that I have, I am really quite impressed how good this new lens is.

The image quality is exceptional. It certainly outperforms the classic EF primes, and fixes the sharpness issues at the 180-200mm range that my older lens had.

It also takes the 1.4x Extender II well, which my older 70-200mm never did.

The 70-200mm is a core part of the photography I do. As for the new model, it's great and a welcome enhancement. If you don't have one already, then I think it's an important investment if you shoot events and travel. If you do, the cost of the upgrade may not be worth it: It is difficult to justify the wholesale cost of a new lens when the original model was already quite good.


 
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM

ef300mmf_28_1_
Review Date: Dec 28, 2016 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Image quality is excellent, fast focusing for action photography
Cons:
Expensive, lens hood is difficult to work with, largely useless case and leather hood

After several years of renting 300mm f2.8L IS lenses from various Canadian rental houses, I decided to finally buy one for shooting road cycling and dinghy sailing. I actually found a really clean, slightly older copy on Fred Miranda's Buy and Sell forum. The seller took very good care of the lens and sent test shots and exterior images to facilitate the sale. I paid $4500 CAD once brokerage and import fees were included.

Alongside mine, I've used about three separate copies of this lens model over about six years. One was almost new, while another was heavily abused in rental use.

My primary bodies used are a Canon EOS40D and EOS7D Mark II. I've also used it on a Canon 5D and 5D Mark II full frame and 300D, 20D, and SL1 crop frame cameras too.

Positives include:

The image quality is fantastic, it's sharp with high contrast. When focused on a subject that's close in, provides a very creamy bokeh effect. It is on par with the 70-200mm f2.8L IS II.

The focusing system is quick, especially when paired with a camera with more advanced focusing like the 7D Mark II. I'm sure paired with the professional autofocus of the 1 series it's even better.

I have not had as good experiences with the 1.4x II Extender as others have. Part of it is that I shoot handheld and the Extender exacerbates shutter speed requirements.

As sensors get denser, I've found it takes faster shutter speeds to remove camera shake. I could get good results with a 6MP or 8MP body easier six years ago than I can with a 20MP body in 2016.

Negatives include:

Canon seems to provide somewhat useless but premium accessories with the product: The case is a hard shelled suitcase with latches and locks, holding the lens with hood reversed in snug padded forms. Outside of shipping or traveling in an airplane, most won't find this case useful as it takes several minutes to open, remove, attach the hood and mount a camera body to it. I've taken to using a Kinesis bag with the body already mounted.

The lens also comes with a peculiar leather hood cover which is difficult to secure and slow to remove. I ended up finding a suitable tupperware lid that fit the outside diameter of the hood when installed to prevent spray from the boat when shooting out on the water. This is quick to remove, unlike the supplied leather cover.

The lens is very expensive, at least for me. There are other options, including the Sigma 120-300mm f2.8 models or the older Canon EF300mm f4L IS. But for those who need the large aperture that affords a little more shooting at the end of the day, and want maximum image quality, this lens is fantastic.


 
Sigma 28mm f1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro

28_f1_8_1_
Review Date: Nov 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Fast and wide, inexpensive
Cons:
Heavy

Most Canon EOS shooters buy a 50mm f1.8 prime because it's cheap, fast and sharp. I had a chance to use one on two occassions, but I found that I had difficulty composing with it as I have a crop APS body such that the 50mm length is more like 80mm. This is great for portraits in a studio but terrible for event photography.

The Sigma 28mm is a great alternative: The 28mm length is easier to handle and compose with and the maximum aperture of f1.8 is great for indoors shots without flash. The lens features a large front element diameter which really lets light in and makes the lens quite bright.

Shooting at f1.8 on any lens is tough because the depth of field is so shallow. However, if you need the range in low light, it's useful. Also, the lens can be very sharp with enough light.

The focusing mechanism disengages the clutch when the focus ring is pulled forward, which allows you to keep your fingers on the ring while the lens is in AF. When you toggle the lens to manual, you can pull the ring backwards, which engages the clutch and lets you focus manually. Note this lens uses a traditional servo motor, so it does not have FTM like the Canon USM lenses.

The lens is also really nice for macro photography.

Sigma includes a "perfect" lens hood and a nylon padded carry bag, which are nice touches. The lens has a nice matte finish and the focus ring is easy to grasp.

There are a few downfalls, however. The large 77mm diameter is great, but it also means expensive filters. The Sigma 28mm is also quite heavy in comparison to the Canon EF 28mm.

The motor is louder than most and it is not that quick in focusing. However, for the price, it's just fine. Highly recommended for those who want a fast, wide lens for a reasonable price compared to the Canon EF 28mm.


 
Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

EF17-85
Review Date: Nov 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: IS stablizer, ideal range for travelling, colours are nice.
Cons:
Cost. Seems fragile. CA at 17mm. Lack of included lens hood and carrying bag.

This is an ideal lens for travelling and general purpose photography with the EF-S APS type cameras, such as the EOS300D, 350D, or 20D.

I bought my EOS300D with the kit 18-55mm. It was not a bad choice as I needed to learn the limitations of the basic lens before stepping up to a better one. The 17-85mm is ideal for amateurs who want something more than the kit lens, but can't justify a L series lens selection's price tags:

-Stabilization for lower light situations
-Longer zoom than 55m for portaits and closeups
-Wideangle for landscapes

The most important feature of this lens is the range: You could buy the 28-135mm IS USM, but on a crop body, 28mm is not wide enough. I got used to shooting at 18mm on the kit lens, so the 17mm wide angle is important to me, especially when travelling for shooting landscapes and getting in scenery. 55mm is fine for most day to day shooting, but 85mm is very useful for portraits and also to pick up details while on the road.

IS is my favourite feature of this lens. I don't like using flash and I can't see myself lugging a tripod around on vacation, so the stablizer is crucial. It really does work as advertised, BUT with one caveat: You can stablize the camera, but you can't stablize the subject. So IS is great for inanimate objects in the distance or in the dark, but not for people dancing or kids jumping around in those situations. Regardless, the Image Stablizer is one of the major reasons why I like this lens.

The USM focusing is icing on the cake, but not critical. The 17-85mm supports FTM.

The major downside is the price of this lens. It's almost six times the cost of the kit lens and not widely found like the 28-135mm. So you are paying a premium for the EF-S mount, which you may upgrade away from in the future. I can't see myself being able to afford a full frame body for years, so I don't think it's an issue for me, but you'll have to make that call yourself.

I'm not stringent on image quality as some, but I did notice CA at the wide st angle of this lens. The lens also appears fragile with the IS components inside.

I also wish that Canon would throw in a lens hood and pouch the way Sigma does with their lenses. Even the cheapest Sigma lens comes with an included lens hood. After buying such an expensive lens (at least for my budget) it's annoying to have to pay more for what is a very cheap part to manufacture.

In summary, a good choice as an upgrade from the basic EF-S package lens.