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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Review Date: May 21, 2016 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,070.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Beautiful out of focus rendering style. Great build quality. Weather sealing is an added bonus.
Somewhat soft image rendering when manual focusing wide open or stopped down. Autofocus can be challenging on center point even with in-camera adjustment.

This lens is fantastic for shooting subjects with an incredibly beautiful out of focus background and somewhat dreamy rendering style. Due to the character or the lens, the 50 1.2L USM is certainly a specialty tool and will not be the right choice for everyone.

There is a minimum focusing distance of roughly 1.5 feet which may make it tricky to shoot smaller objects close up. Due to this, the lens is really intended for portraits and street photography.

If you're a buyer looking for similar quality wide open to Canon's recent zooms such as the 24-70 2.8II or the 70-200 2.8 II, this lens won't compare unless you stop down the aperture significantly to 2.8 or 4.0. Even then, this lens doesn't quite have the pop or sharpness of the 24-70 2.8 II, but the background blur looks fantastic.

In the right hands, this lens can produce some incredible shots when the conditions are just right and no lens I have used has rendered images with a comparable out of focus background blur.

Overall, this is a specialty tool used to achieve a specific look for weddings and formal portraits where blowing out the background takes priority over absolute sharpness. If the unique, slightly hazy look is what you are going for, this may be the lens for you.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Review Date: Apr 30, 2016 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,550.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Consistently accurate AF, punchy images
Weight, flimsy hood

I purchased this lens as a replacement to a Sigma 18-35 1.8 as I had upgraded to a full frame rig and couldn't be happier with the results. As I focus on portrait photography at costume conventions, a versatile, fast zoom is really helpful to capture images as I go about a run and gun style where timing is key to capture events as they unfold in a natural way without subjects realizing I'm there. The 24-70 II fits those needs completely with fast, accurate autofocus, sharp rendering, punchy images and a reasonable zoom range that gets me just close enough to capture action as it unfolds. I've been quite pleased with the performance of this lens on the event floor and noticed an increase in my keeper rate versus the Sigma. This lens really has held its own in low light events paired with the 6D.

The only downsides to this lens are the weight and the flimsy hood design. I've had a few times where the hood popped off and fell to the ground after lightly brushing against objects while walking around convention floors. I'm tempted to get some gaffer's tape to hold it in place as a solution.

Other than that, this is a great lens and highly recommended.

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

Review Date: Dec 10, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,949.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fast, incredibly accurate AF, razor sharp images and lifelike, vibrant image rendering.
Price and weight, but that's a reasonable compromise.

If you're interested in event portraiture from a distance where quality absolutely counts and you need the extra light gathering ability of a 2.8 lens, this is an excellent solution. I've used it for hockey, zoo and event portraiture with fantastic results and plan on using it for more lifestyle/convention photography in the future. It won't replace my wide angle zoom, but for situations where I just can't get close enough, this lens brings me right into the action and captures the moments admirably.

The only downsides to this lens have been weight and price, however the weight is more easily balanced out if you get a battery grip extension for your body. As for price, this becomes less of an issue if you time your purchase right to take advantage of Canon's rebate programs or their refurbish sales.

The big draw with this lens is the vibrant lifelike color rendering. The images just have this visual 'pop' to them that really stands out. Snappy, accurate auto-focus and the excellent image stabilization round out an overall rock solid package. If you need the best telephoto zoom with solid reliability and performance in this range, this is really the way to go. Pull out all stops and just buy this lens.

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM "A"

Review Date: Dec 10, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $749.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: This lens is unique: a wide angle constant aperture 1.8 zoom in a crop sensor mount and priced under $1000. Excellent image quality.
Somewhat inconsistent AF performance in low light venues. Would love this to be just a few mm wider.

This lens has been my first foray into third party glass and overall I have had a positive experience. I mostly shoot lifestyle portraits as well as product photography for my family's slot machine business. Both of these interests have me dealing with close quarter shooting in darkened venues on a daily basis. Due to this, subject distance has always been an issue when using longer glass. This lens has been a game changer in addressing those issues.

The Sigma has what nobody else has to offer, a wide angle constant aperture zoom faster than 2.8, in a crop sensor mount and priced under $1000. The moment I saw the press release on the 18-35 Art lens, I thought it was too good to be true marketing fluff and there would be a long list of compromises. Once I had the product in hand, I realized that this was the real deal including robust build quality and tough construction.

The big benefits have been shooting at f1.8 while maintaining a pleasantly sharp image and beautiful bokeh. Flare and distortion are minimal and I love the vibrant look of the images. The other benefits are being able to shoot at really low shutter speeds handheld due to the fast aperture and wide angle. Pairing this lens with IS would be quite an interesting combination and I hope Sigma releases a model upgrade in the future.

The only downside to this lens is the weight and somewhat inconsistent AF in very dark venues. If your subject isn't going anywhere, I just manual focus anyhow to sidestep the issue. I find that the autofocus is really quite good in well lit situations and have no complaints about keeper rates. As for the weight, its somewhat heavy but nowhere even near close to my 70-200 2.8 I find that the weight balances well with my T4i.

My favorite aspect is the unique rendering style that I get when shooting at 1.8. I just love the look and appearance of the images, especially for lifestyle portrait work. Shooting at 35mm (50mm equiv) is my favorite FL on this lens.

If you're debating between the 17-40, 17-55 EF-S of 16-35 2.8 on a crop sensor body, why not give this lens a try? It may not be Canon branded, but the image quality and performance are remarkable and the price is quite appealing.

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Review Date: Nov 18, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great price, sharpness and color rendition.
Auto-focus tends to 'hunt' in low-light and takes too long to acquire targets.

This is an impressively sharp lens for the price with great color rendition and sharp rendering. If you are looking for an excellent price to performance ratio on the APS-C platform for a portrait style lens with macro capabilities, this lens is a great choice. It is a specialty lens, though and wouldn't be my first choice for everyday photography due to the slow auto-focus. I would love to see a focus limiter on this lens.

This lens really shines for photographing objects or products where distortion free detail absolutely counts. Additionally, this lens is flexible for portrait shooting with a relatively thin depth of field and flattering perspective. For product photography, I would recommend positioning the lens further away from your subject for greater depth of field when shooting wide open.

The only downsides I've seen to this lens are AF performance. Auto-focus tends to 'hunt' in situations with poor lighting and can sometimes take several seconds to lock onto a target in brighter situations. If you have a static object, I'd recommend live view and manual focus to lock on the target for optimal sharpness. Pair this lens with manual focus and a flash in darker situations and this lens absolutely rocks at 2.8.