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  Reviews by: Fulcrum  

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Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

Review Date: Jul 25, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very sharp form f/2.0 onwards. Fastest focusing 85mm I have met. Bokeh is awesome at large apertures.
AF hunts too much.

This one is a winner from Sigma. The AF is very, very fast. And the lens is a lot sharper @ f/2.0 than the AF-S Nikkor 85mm 1.4G!

Sure, the AF misses sometimes and hunts a bit too much even in good light, but at least that is something you can fix with a flick of the wrist. Full time manual focus override is very nice indeed.

And this one is very nice in bad weather as well. Very well sealed, very sharp lens with an extremely pleasing bokeh at large apertures.

Nikon 24mm AF-S Nikkor f/1.4G ED

Review Date: Jul 25, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extreme sharpness, excellent colour rendition, very flare resistant, very large aperture

The best rectilinear lens there is. Period.

There really isnīt much to complain about, except for the eye-watering price.


I love the versatility of 24mm. This is the magic focal length for me. You can use this for people portraits, architecture, concerts, museums, in-your-face street photography and so many other things. I love this one for night photos in the arctic winter.

And with f/1.4 you do not need to worry about shutter speeds while exploring the darkest corners of a museum. No need for VR either.

Canon EOS 7D

Review Date: Apr 19, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Zone AF, AF Speed, AF Accuracy, 18 megapixels, whopping 8 images in a second.
Poor low-light performance, Image quality not on apr with 5D2..

I traded my FF 5Dmk2 for this, because I photograph mostly in situations where AF speed and reliable AF locking on target is the key. And that is what 7D delivers.

My keeper rate went from about 20% to 70% because of this.

What I miss most about the 5Dmk2 is the image quality, and especially the image quality when using high ISO sensitivities.
Then again, finding a decent wideangle for the 5Dmk2 is a nightmare and will break the bank.

Otherwise when compared to 5Dmk2, the 7D is a winner in all other departments than the general image quality and noise levels after ISO 400.

Well, perhaps the 5Dmk3 will fix the dinosaur of an AF system the 5Dmk2 had. For now I will have to wait and see. Iīll be a relatively happy snapper until that happens.

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8

Review Date: Sep 17, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp to corners even on FF. Very nice bokeh. Lightweight. Colour rendition.
Prone to flare. Noisy AF motor.

This is the best Canon non-L wideangle prime.

I have had the 20mm/2.8, 28mm/2.8 and 35mm/2.0 prime lenses.

The 35mm was not wide enough for me and produced an ugly bokeh.
The 28mm was not wide enough for me and produced soft corners.
The 20mm was simply crap (softish even at the center, bland colours)

Prior to this I had the pleasure of owning a few zooms as well.

I have had the Canon 17-40mm/4L (excellent colours, fast AF, sharp center BUT ugly corners on 5Dmk2),
Sigma 15-30mm (sharp BUT bland colours AND heavy distortion, AND ugly soft edges on 5dmk2), Sigma 12-24mm (unreliable, very ugly and soft edges on 5dmk2)

This little gem beats them all in corner sharpness, colour rendition and general image quality. A fantastic lens, this one.

This thing comes very close in image quality to the 24mm/1.4L first edition (except that one is even more flare prone and has a few stops, plus it costs too much for what it is).

I could not be happier with the optical qualities of the lens, considering that I bought it at half the current price, almost unused and as new. This one is a keeper.

The only thing that bugs me is the plastic construction. I prefer metal barrel on a lens. Although heavy, it gives a certain feeling about durability. But as far as it lasts I am going to enjoy it.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Aug 22, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent sharpness, contrast, colour reproduction, fantastic bokeh. Silent.
AF sometimes misses in the dark. Feels shoddy and plastic.

I traded my old and noisy 28mm/2.8 for this and boy, I am glad I did.

No more focus BUZZ, no more pentagon-shaped bokeh. And less missed shots, because the AF is close to perfect even in the dark. And now I can enjoy a quiet walk in the forest.

I have rarely seen a bokeh as pleasing as the one this lens is capable of. Of the lenses I personally own, only 400mm/5.6L USM and Contax Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm/2.8 produce as good or better results. The bokeh is perfectly round and buttery smooth.

The images taken with this lens require significantly less post-production work and noise reduction. The colours are very near to perfect in almost every image taken with this one.

There is one thing that worries me about most of the Canon lenses (especially the short non-L primes), and that is the shoddy, plastic feel. I love the sturdy feel of a Zeiss or an L-series bird tele. Not shoddy at all, unlike these little plastic jars. But I guess it will be able to hold itself together long enough.

I could not have bought myself a better birthday present.

Sigma 12-24mm f4.5-5.6 EX DG Aspherical HSM

Review Date: Jul 7, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Excellent colours, fast AF, really useful range on FF, really wide and fun
Quality control gone haywire on the Sigma factory. My copy randomly spoils some shots by creating a soft band on the left side of the image.

I use this lens with the 5Dmk2, and boy, this is WIDE. The lens is capable of producing jaw-dropping images when used properly. And the colours are almost perfect.

Center sharpness is really good, the corners suck a bit even on the 24mm end. ARR! *cursing*

(Some offtopic moaning: Why canīt the Canon owners get really good wideangle lenses with autofocus? It is so unfair that the Nikon people get tons of good wideangle lenses.

I have had a Tokina 11-16mm on a 400D, and that was sharp from corner to corner from f/4 onwards. Why hasnīt Canon improved the 17-40mm/4L and 16-35mm models yet?

There is the 24mm/1.4L II ofc., but it costs way too much)

I got mine used, so I was expecting this copy to be somehow faulty, and so it was.

My copy sometimes (randomly) produces a soft band on the left side of the image. I hate this on a lens costing this much. It makes the lens an untrusworthy tool. So far I have circumnavigated the problem by taking tons of pictures on each subject, so I get some good ones as well.

Sigma 150mm f2.8 APO Macro DG EX HSM

Review Date: Mar 20, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast and quiet AF, really sharp images, not too expensive, feels solid mechanically

This is the sharpest lens I have ever dealt with. Just amazing.

This thing makes your images more 3D, more alive. The colours are vivid, and you can see every tiny little hair on an insectīs leg.

I was expecting some problems with the AF, but none are present.
The AF is very accurate, very fast and very quiet.

I did not expect such quality when I bought this lens. I was expecting image quality about on par with the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM I use for bird shots. But this thing tops even that.

Hats off to Sigma and a deep bow of gratitude. This lens is a nature photographerīs dream come true. And it produces wonderful portraits also.

I traded my 135mm 2.8SF for this lens and I do not regret anything.
This thing feels more solid, has more accurate AF and produces images far superior to the 135mm tube.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Review Date: Feb 23, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: 21.1MP, full frame, ISO range, very clean images in terms of noise up to ISO 3200, weather proofing, feels sturdy. LCD display is the best I have seen. The ability to shoot Full HD video is a really nice bonus.
Price, weight, flimsy feeling CF card lid.

I got my copy today, and I have been testing the camera for 3 hours now.

It is quite a jump up in every respect from the 400D I used to have.

The best aspect for me is the possibility to use really high ISO settings without terrible noise levels.

I have used a load of photo gear in the past 20+ years I have been dabbling in photography, ranging from the crappy russian Zenit film SLRs of the early 50īs to this monster.

This is the best camera I can imagine for my style and subjects of photography.

I was originally going to buy a 50D, but the salesman hooked me on this one. I have not regretted a moment since I opened the box.

This thing oozes PRO feeling. And the images you can get with this one are just more amazing than words can describe.

Unless a major disaster or armed robbery happens, this baby is going to stay with me for a very long time.

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM

Review Date: Jan 17, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image Quality, Fast AF, Silent motor, really lightweight yet sturdy
None, unless you count the lack of IS as one.

This is my first L series piece of equipment. I purchased this one for bird photography because of positive reviews on fredmiranda and other photo gear review sites.

The lens feels reliable and solid in build, yet it weighs amazingly little for a long tele.

The autofocus hunts very little in low light, and manages to focus on at least 8 of 10 attempts at a little bird inside a dense bush. Simply amazing.

The image quality is superb. You can see every hair on a birdīs tail feathers when the focus has scored a hit. The bokeh is awesome, and I have taken a few outdoor portraits with this one as well.

The WOW-factor of this lens is amazing. This is simply the best piece of photo equipment I have ever owned. For me, this is a keeper.

If you want to photograph anything that moves fast and are looking for a long tele, get this. You get an accurate and reliable tool for what you need.

Before buying my copy, I tested the 100-400mm IS USM zoom, and the AF on that one sucks. Terribly slow compared to this one.

Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 with Softfocus

Review Date: Oct 6, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, lightweight, awesome bokeh, fast and quiet motor, accurate AF, softfocus feature is a nice addon
None, except the plastic feel.

What can I say that has not already been said?

This lens is a versatile multitool of a lens. Rather surprising for a prime, you will not believe it until you experience it.

I got the lens for a bargain price of 250 euros (the price rating I gave is for the list price - I think all photography equipment costs too much)

The softfocus feature is useful to me, someone else may not like it. A matter of taste, really.

Anyway, I am happy with this product. Could not hope for a better portrait lens. This works really well with flowers and as a nature photography tool.

An excellent choice for a medium telephoto lens.

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 PRO DX SD

Review Date: Sep 25, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent sharpness beyond f/4, gets wonderful images.
Shortish zoom range.

What a piece of glass this is! Simply amazing and fun. Excellent sharpness and colour reproduction, almost no distortion.

This is probably the best UWA for crop sensor cameras on the market. I prefer this lens over the Canon 10-22mm, which feels like a plastic toy compared to this. Not to mention the image quality.

This is a keeper for me at least. My best lens so far.

The zoom range is a bit short. 11-24mm would be really handy. Then again, that would probably put a few hundred euros more on the price tag.

I got mine dirt cheap from HK new.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

Review Date: Jul 29, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, lightweight, f/1.8, very good optically, dirt cheap
Flimsy stucture

This is THE best bang for the buck. You just canīt beat this in terms of price/quality. Nothing can or will.

Sure, itīs no L-series super lens that costs $3000. But considering the price you pay for this lens and the images you get, this one is a winner. And less tears will be shed over a scratch in the lens.

Mechanically, this lens is horrendously flimsy. All plastic and yuck.
And thatīs about the only bad thing that can be said about it.

The AF whirrs a little, but just a little compared to the 28mm f/2.8 which is a Noise Machine From Hell.

Canon EF 28mm f/2.8

Review Date: Jul 29, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Cheap, f/2.8, very sharp, good contrast, good colour, awesome image quality
Unbelievably Noisy AF, only f/2.8, not too wide on a 1.6x crop body

I bought my copy on eBay for 160 euros, which is a bit too much considering the fact that the focus ring on my copy is broken.

So itīs AF only for me. In good light this is not a problem, but in low light the autofocus hunts. So a manual focus would be handy.

But otherwise, this lens is excellent bang for the money, beaten only by the 50mm/f1.8 II in terms of price/quality.

Highly recommended as a crop body normal lens.

Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: May 23, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: IS, USM, colours are "alive"
Some images get CA, wide end is lacking

This is a lens that gets a lot of bad rap.

Some complain about the plastic feel, which I donīt get. I have the 50mm f1.8/II, thatīs plastic for you. I still think nothing can beat the nifty fifty in terms of price/quality.

This lens is heavy, and the feeling at the top of my mind is of quality. It is as heavy as my Sigma 70-300mm.

And the images one can get with this are amazing, compared to the kit lens (which I replaced with this one). The colours are so vibrant and alive. The sharpness is there. Even at 17mm/F4, I get nice images with this one.

So far I have not noticed any vignetting with my 400D at 17mm, but some images have had CA.

Sure, this is no L-series lens. Neither is the price. I got mine used and in perfect condition for 250 euros.

This one is my second best lens. Due to the limited usefulness of the nifty fifty, this one sees a lot more use, and this will be my travel lens for years to come (whith the nifty in my pocket in case for some special occasions).