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  Reviews by: dave chilvers  

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Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S DX

Review Date: Jun 11, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: No flare into the sun, no CA as I can see.well built.
None so far

It always amazes me just how varied the reviews are on any lens. All I can say is that my copy is absolutely stellar. I`ve got the 10-22 Canon and (in my tests) the 12-24 has the edge. The corners are very sharp (similar to the results on my Sony [email protected] the wide end) and we all know what a class lens that is. I`ve got a Canon 17-40 and the edges are well ahead on the Nikon. I`m really satisfied and have total confidence when I mount it on the D200.It reminds me a little of my Leica M series days and that`s saying something.

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR AF-S

Review Date: Jun 11, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Speed of focus, balance, focal range on D200
Nothing so far

I just love this lens and the reach i get on the d200. I can tell you that I`ve got the Canon equivalent and this lens leaves the Canon in the dust. Nice bokeh and colour balance. I would normally have said that at the price the lens is superb but to be quite honest if the price was the same as my canon 70-200Is I would still be more than happy. I`ve taken some good images with the Canon 70-200 and the 2.8 is very handy but the copy I have of this Nikon is on par IQ wise. I`m fairly new to Nikon so maybe this is a good copy and I`m sure the excellent chip in the D200 is helping to make the images so good and real life looking but even so this is a super lens that is well made. Looking through the viewfinder you get the feeling that the VR is not quite the match for the Canon but the results at slow shutter speeds say that it is as good.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Feb 14, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Read below

Follow up on the 70-300 Is.
I`ve now encountered the problem that some of you might have read about! when used in the vertical position shooting through the bottom of a milk bottle might give similar results!

I`m really so upset about this vertical shooting problem, some have said that it only happens at the 300mm end but I can assure you it happens right through the range. It`s not so marked at the wide end but it is still poor but above 135mm the difference when viewed at 100% after sharpening is very pronounced. I will be contacting Canon ASAP to ask them what they intend to do about it. My advice to any would be purchasers is to hold fire till we find the outcome.
OK, we shoot a hell of a lot of our long shots in the horizontal mode but I will have to shoot my verticals in the horizontal mode and suffer the cropping till this thing is sorted. It`s got to be something to do with the Image stabilising mechanism I would think.
Not Good Canon

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

Review Date: Jan 28, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: The second copy is like chalk and cheese

After thinking about what I paid for this lens I spoke to my dealer who advised me to send it in to them for evaluation. I`ve purchased most of my expensive gear from them inc all of my 1 series bodies so maybe they realised that I`m a serious semi pro who knows a bit so they sent me a replacement by return. My thinking was that if the second copy was similar to the first i would send it in to Canon and hopefully they would sort it before i decided to sell it at a loss.
Anyway, in fairness I think I needed to do this second post to clarify my findings. This time I took a few images around the garden and noticed how much better it seemed so I set off to a well photographed section of coast nearby, I shot with the 20D,5d and the ultimate test the 1dsmk2. This copy is so much better than the first( I knew there were better copies out in the shops because I had previously borrowed a friends copy) Vigging wide open is not a problem with this new lens even with a b&W pro UV in place and distortion no worse than the usual stuff at 24MM(it`s mainly down to the angle you shoot IMHO) I have a very good 17-40 than can really resolve fine detail at times so I put it up against the 24-105 at 24 and 40 mm on all three cameras. Near to mid distance I can`t split them, far distant detail( buildings at around 3 miles) and I think the 24-105 might just have the edge(just) I was shooting handheld so that might put the 17-40 right on par. There seems to be slightly more contrast from the 17-40 and just slightly better true to life colours but nothing you would be bothered about. The feel of this new lens is better, the zoom ring is slightly stiffer than the 1st copy but at least it stays where you leave it and if anything it will loosen in time also It was around freezing point during my test so this might make things feel tight. The lens is more consistent than the 1st copy. On the 20D it really is a cracking lens and will compliment my 10-22 nicely and on the FF it will compliment the 17-40(although there is quite an overlap, sometimes it is better to overlap a fair bit and prevent having to change lenses quite so often.) I would like a touch more reach at the long end so glad i went for the 24-105 over the 24-70(I used my friends 24-70 2.8 and the brightness was great but IMHO this 24-105 with the IS is very close to the 24-70 and is more compact and the IS allows a couple of stops in low light.) It still is not a prime but I`m convinced by my testing that the IS helps to bridge the gap with my 85 and 135(although for narrow DOF shots the primes rule) Thanks to AJ Purdy and Co for a fast replacement which enabled me to re-evaluate what is now a solid keeper.Against lenses in general I would give this lens 8, against zoom lenses it would be nearer 9 where the 70-200IS is a 10. Hope it helps with your choices.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Review Date: Jan 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: This lens can be spectacular.
Weight is the big problem

This lens is very good, it doesn`t let you down in any way, good colour,good contrast,good AF, good IS (when on my 1dsmk2)however I have started to carry my 135 f2 and 1.4 ext in it`s place because it attracts so much attention and I`m getting past it a bit:-) put the hood in place and it really is head turner. Take it to the ball game or zoo and no one takes any notice but get the heat pads ready for your arm and elbow joints for next morning. I suppose at the end of the day it isn`t fair to complain about the size and weight because that is the nature of the beast but just be aware that for photography in general the cons might outweigh the pros.
I got around the extra reach problem by using the Canon 70-300IS on my 20D, you get 300mm but keep in the better section of the focal range and use the sweet spot of the glass with the 480mm in reserve if needed.

Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Jan 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Not a bad price, fairly good focal range, not too heavy. IS helps a lot.
Not the best image quality wise

This is a lens that can perform very well on the 1.6 crop cameras, I find on FF that it just can`t quite do justice to the chip. Looking back over my images from the D60 and 20D I`ve got to say that in the real world and when printed and viewed at the correct distance and taking into consideration that it is an old design zoom it would be a good choice as an initial lens to 300D, 350 and 20D. One thing that I have mentioned about other lenses is it`s consistency which is slightly more than I can say about my copy of the 24-105. It`s never as good as the 24-105 when the 24-105 gets it right but can be better when the 24-105 gets it wrong and at half the price that must make it worth considering. Mine is old (from my film days) so maybe it`s time to upgrade to a later copy.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Review Date: Jan 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: A great Macro lens that is as good when used as a tele.
Sometimes Hunts

What a shame that this lens falls in between my 85 and 135 because it is a real stellar performer as a macro and as a mid tele lens. Build quality although very good is not quite on par with L but and mine does hunt a bit at times when really close in. It doesn`t detract from what is a real 100% winner as far as image quality is concerned and at the end of the day that is the all important thing. There are quite a few macro lenses around and as far as I can see they are all general good performers so I suppose the way is open to your own choice but I can only advise on the Canon version and there are no bad surprises waiting for you. It has a really good deep hood that really keeps the stray light away. I bet if I took this lens out on location and left behind my 85 and 135 I would be blown away by the results! in fact I might just try that:-)

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Jan 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: You won`t be able to fault this little Gem. Size and weight per performance is 10/10

I`m not going into depth with this report. This lens will put the smile on your face, period and leave your bank balance intact. This is a portrait version of the 135f2 IMHO.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

Review Date: Jan 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: It`s got to be worth the money
None so far

I didn`t get around to rating this lens because most people know that it is a really good performer but just this week put it up against my Contax 50 1.7 OK the Contax really does bring home the bacon in the corners but the central area belongs to my Canon. I`m as surprised as you might be about this but on the 1dsmk2 I can`t fault the Canon(except for build quality)

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Jan 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: It`s the sort of lens that grows on you. Solid build. should last a long time.
A bit soft at corners on FF

I`ve had this lens a long time, I mainly use it on the FF 1dsmk2. It`s one of those lenses that doesn`t smack you around the face with the WOW factor but!! the more you use it and the more other zoom lenses you buy after it makes you realise that as far as zooms go this is a stellar performer. For me, one of the things that make this a good lens is that it is consistent. It isn`t quite on par with primes but on the printed page there isn`t much to choose. It does go off a bit right in the corners but really makes up for it in the central 2/3rds. It`s not without a touch of cA but nothing bad, it`s not without a touch of flare but not bad. It is a lens that I can rely on when I need the wide end. As I say, you might not be blown away by the out and out quality of the images as opposed to primes but as far as zooms go it is as good as most good zooms and better than a hell of a lot of the others.I have a really good copy of a Sigma 20 1.8 and at the edges it beats this lens but 1/3rd in and the L takes over. I like using the 20 for the bright finder but in the real world the flexibility of the 17-40 range makes this more worthwhile in a lot of situations. My re-evaluation of this lens is brought about by the recent purchase of a 24-105IS that I`m not impressed with.

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

Review Date: Jan 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Build quality is really well up to scratch. USM and IS are quiet and smooth.
Lens hood seems to move off of the correct position easily.

First of all I shoot with the 1dsmk2. I have found over the years that if you want the finest quality images with a camera like the FF then primes are the answer so reading so many good reviews got me thinking that maybe things have changed but for me unfortunately they haven`t. The lens is good but not great but maybe I`m being unfair when comparing it to primes. It isn`t as good as my 17-40 where the focal lengths cross and images don`t seem to have as much depth. I`m not sure about the colour of images and noticed that bright overcast is much better than sunny days.
I really wanted this lens to WOW me so that I could carry less and keep the changes down but it hasn`t worked out that way. It`s a better bet on the 20D for some strange reason, maybe I`m not looking for such fine detail with it. One thing that puzzles me is the lens isn`t consistent. I`ve got to be honest and say that my old 28-135IS although not the best lens in the world is at least consistent so you can shoot to it`s strengths if you get my point. I paid 700 for this lens and although the build quality feels like it would outlast most photographers the image quality doesn`t seem to match.
Some people might say that it is a good walkabout lens! and it is as far as focal range but I get most of my images walking about (as many people do) so can`t justify second best on images that I might want to sell on. A friend said to me that I should let it wear in and get used to it and I must admit that quite often that is the case(like when I got the 1dsmk2) things did get better as i learnt it strengths and how to process images from it but we are talking about a lens here where using them on a camera that you know well isn`t exactly rocket science.
I suppose it will take the place of my 28-135 and be used in conjunction with my 10-22 on the 20D as my vacation kit but it won`t have pride of place on my FF cameras where I want the very best that I can extract all the time.
As I say, it`s a good lens but not a great lens and can`t help feeling disappointed after spending what is quite a lot of hard earned cash on it. My normal set up with the 1dsmk2 is,17-40,50mm,85 1.8, 135f2 +1.4 and I should have added the 200 2.8 to complete the bag and saved some money.

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II

Review Date: Jan 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: The ultimate

Cameras have come and gone since I got my 1Dsmk2(for me the 20D and 5D) and like all new kids on the block they have +`s and -`s but when the honeymoon period is over the m2ds is still the king.
I made a big mistake when testing the camera against the new arrivals, I tested my WA lenses against it and in fairness there doesn`t appear to be much of an advantage but put on an 85 or better still a 135f2 and see the increase in fine detail.
It`s a shame that the out of the camera files aren`t quite as good as the 5D but with a few profiles and patience you will be very pleased with the results. It`s not the lightest camera around but the thought of it is worse than the actual.
It really is the only camera you will need if you can run to it. There is talk of an upgrade in the near future which might give you the larger lcd and bigger buffer and that would be a plus but I can`t imagine it being as big a jump as from the 1Dsmk1 so don`t have any doubts this thing is an absolute joy to use and own. You might find it next to you on the pillar because it is that good.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Dec 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: It won`t break your wrist or bank balance. Canon really have made a lens to satisfy the crowd.
Build quality is consumer, lens barrel rotates, no real time MF.

I`ve been leaving my 70-200 IS at home more and more, basically because it stands out like a sore thumb and weighs a ton. So I started to use my 135 f2 and keep the 1.4 ext in the bag. Although the primes(more so the 135) are superb, chopping and changing lenses all the time can introduce crud on the sensor and you can easily miss that one moment in time. So! after reading the reviews on this lens and with Christmas upon us I decided to treat myself and use this in conjunction with my 17-40 on the 5D.
I was slightly dissapointed with the build quality and when I zoomed to the tele end I couldn`t believe how far the barrel came out. So i thought "Oh Well" I`ll have some fun with it and maybe stick it on e Bay after a while. Then, I took it out for a test run and the more i used it the more It grew on me. I find the focus speed and noise level to be absolutely fine. The range is just about perfect for a hell of a lot of subjects and I have had great fun shooting landscapes from a tele point of view rather than WA. The AF is great and the IS works very well. I`ve honestly shot some of my best sunsets this week with this lens and to be quite honest it stays on the camera as default. I like the fact that the zoom locks at 70mm for carrying but be a bit careful when it is fully extended because it feels a bit fragile.
Well just one week in and I am totally hooked on this lens. I`ve not done any side by side comparison with my 70-200IS but at normal viewing distance I think I would be hard pushed to tell what lens I had used.(It`s that good) No flare problems to speak of. I brought the hood with the lens so that might be helping. All in all I can`t remember over 30 years of photography ever being so inspired about a lens. One of the ultimate tests of a lens for me is how easily it locks onto focus on clouds in an even sky and as far as this goes I find it to be as good as anything in my bag.
Well done Canon, in fact this lens might just be the thing that stops me from keeping on buying new DSLR`s as they come out searching for the feel good factor.

Canon EF 35mm f/2

Review Date: Nov 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small,light, filter size F stop.(did I mention SHARP???)
Hood is a bit fiddly to put on and remove in the cold.

I use this lens on FF(mk1ds/mk2ds and now 5D) Could there be a cheap lens on FF to satisfy an ex Leica m user?? Yes! and this is the lens. Now I`m not saying that this is as good as a Leica M lens (what is) but as far as Canon digital cameras are concerned they don`t produce results any better.
It is usuable wide open but of course stopped down to f8 or 11 where I use WA lenses is where it comes into it`s own. Other than the mention above about the tricky hood(the harder you press the more the hood distorts) and if you don`t press the tabs hard enough it won`t come off) I really can`t fault this lens. I know that QC and compatibility with a camera plays a big part so maybe it won`t be as good for you but on the above mentioned three cameras it really is as good as it gets. I`d like to think that there is a real WA lens out there that would perform as good as this does but even my good copy Sigma 20 1.8 doesn`t do it like this baby. I believe that the image content comes first and then the quality but this lens can turn an image with good contenet into a winner.Anyone in the market for a 35mm lens should give this a try. BTW, don`t expect L build, it`s more like my 50 1.8 but what the heck.

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Review Date: Mar 18, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Small, light,fast(takes the same hood as my 17-40) distortion held to a minimum.
Hmmmm! slight CA(easily fixed in camera raw)

At last a decent wide angle lens with the added bonus of 16-35 on the 20D. It`s not cheap and neither is the way it performs. You couldn`t class it as an L lens but I did a comparison at 17 and 20 mm focal lengths against my 17-40 L and you can`t separate them. It`s small and focus is spot on with speed every time. It`s not a 2.8 but in my case I use it for the impact of good DOF and lets face it how does any lens do wide open at that focal range. There are some more lenses made for the 1.6 chip coming out but they will have to be good to topple this from my high markings. My 20D was my tele lens camera and I used my FF for wide stuff but not anymore. This is an exciting lens. Since the days of my Leica M6 with 21 Asph I have longed for a decent super wide to fill a gap in my shooting technique and this lens looks like filling that gap.

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8

Review Date: Nov 29, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very small and pocketable. 52mm filter size won`t break the bank.Nice small and manageable lens hood. Price doesn`t do justice to this excellent little lens.
None so far on my 1Ds!

I wasn`t expecting much in the way of performance from this cheap lens! How wrong I was. I know there are QC factors with all lenses so I must have been very very lucky.Some people have mentioned the noisey focus( I don`t hear much noise and lets face it wide lenses don`t move much anyway.) I tend to use my wides at f8 or smaller so I`m not worried that much about edges because at f8 they are fine(and good at f4) and that`s on a FF camera. Of the shots I`ve taken so far it is ahead of the 15-30 Sigma and my 17-40. OK it`s more of a problem to keep on changing lenses when using primes over a zoom but it really brings those 11 million pixels into action. Maybe there are better 28`s around(like contax etc) but with them you loose so much automation.
No! this is a fully useable compact cheap lens that has produced A3+ prints from my1ds that I`m proud of and it now sits in my bag along with the other primes(20 1.8 Sigma, 50 1.8 Canon, 85 1,8 Canon and 135 f2 Canon + 1.4 ext) I wish I could show you the 18x12 print that has just come off of my 1290s printer.


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