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  Reviews by: Jim Heine  

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Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

Review Date: Oct 10, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp even at f2, build quality, price, weight, autofocus is fast, bokeh
No IS, flare, autofocus isn't quite as consistent as some newer lenses

I owned this lens for a long time, then traded it for the 70-200 2.8IS II. I liked the extra versatility of the zoom and the ability to shoot at 200mm. Well, after lugging that lens around for years, I'm experimenting with adding the 135L back to my kit. The 135L is half the weight of the 70-200 2.8IS. This is huge for me, as it allows me to be much more nimble with getting the right composition and angle. I found with the 70-200 made me lazy. Due to the weight, at times I didn't move my shooting position and just zoomed to a composition that worked.

This lens is very sharp, corner to corner wide open. It improves slightly stopped down.

Focal length is great. I thought I would miss shooting at 200mm, but 135mm is long enough for most portraits and gives a decent amount of compression.

F2 allows higher shutter speeds in lower light without raising the ISO. I just wish this lens had IS for low light and portraits with flash. With the high megapixel cameras, most people are going to ideally want to shoot at 1/200 or faster. You can go lower, but you have to watch your technique. IS would also help outside with wind.

Besides lack of IS, the only major issue I have with this lens is flare. It could really use an update to its coatings. This lens flares easily and the flare can be especially ugly if a sun or flash are in the frame.

Overall, spectacular lens. Could use a few updates.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: Aug 27, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp, superb focus - fast and insanely accurate,
Edge sharpness isn't great until you approach f2.8 (when it gets fantastic), aperture blades aren't curved, fringing in high contrast areas even stopped down, not especially flare resistant, CA at wider apertures, the hood wears and gets loose with age (this has happened to friends as well)

Excellent lens. Such a reliable workhorse. I can always count on this lens to have perfect autofocus and to be sharp. It's a little soft (and has CA) in the corners until between f2 and f2.8. By f2.8 it's very sharp across the frame. But that all seems typical for such a fast WA lens. Can't complain too much there.

It could eventually use an update with better coatings for flare, improve sharpness in the corners, etc. But I don't think it would be enough for me to upgrade. I just love this lens.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Review Date: Aug 27, 2014 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: It's Canon's best 50, bokeh is fine, autofocus for center point is pretty good, decent flare resistance
Using outer focus points doesn't really work well with this lens, focus/recompose doesn't work well either, not very sharp on the edges of the frame even at f2.8-f4, bokeh is decent but I don't love the overall rendering, focus shift is real, too heavy, CA, slow autofocus

I've tried all of Canon's 50mm lenses, including the macro. I've used 3 copies of the 1.2L. My latest copy is the best one.

I have a hard time loving this lens. It has problems, which I mentioned in the Cons above. It's still Canon's best 50mm lens in almost every regard. And I love this focal length.

The focus on the 50 1.2L is more accurate than the other Canon 50's, but that's not saying much. If you put your subject on the edge of the frame, you may have problems focus/recomposing or using outer focus points with this lens. Even if you can nail focus, it's just not sharp towards the edges of the frame at any aperture, really. There's also focus shift, which you can read about online. That said, the other Canon 50's aren't accurate focusers either. The 1.2 is the best of the evils.

The lens isn't that sharp at f1.2 even in the center. It's just abysmal in the corners at that aperture. Around f1.6 it becomes more acceptable. At F2 it's good in the center. At f2.8 it's great in the center. Unfortunately outside the center is "meh" even at f2.8.

I'm not sure I love the bokeh or rendering of this lens. Compare this lens to Nikon's 58 1.4. There's no contest. The bokeh is still very much better than the other Canon 50s.

This lens is mildly heavy. For some reason, it seems heavier than some other lenses of a similar weight (24L, 35L, 100L). Must be something with the balance. If you're carrying this around all day, you'll notice.

Most amateur photographers should probably get the f1.4 version, but professionals will be stuck getting the 50L for accuracy of focus, better bokeh, flare resistance, etc. It's not a lens without its flaws. Really praying to the photo gods that Canon releases the rumored 50mm 1.8 IS that's reasonably sharp, lightweight, and has accurate focus.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 L IS USM

Review Date: Aug 27, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp enough across the frame at all focal lengths, minimal flare (even if you try), minimal CA, fairly light weight, bokeh is decent, a total pleasure to hold and use in every way, focuses FAST
in an ideal world it would be sharper, has distortion/vignetting at 16mm, IS doesn't work 4 stops when you get the shutter speeds low (I can't shoot much slower than 1/8 second consistently with IS at any focal length).

This is by far Canon's best wide angle zoom lens. They nailed this one. It's the first zoom that's sharp (enough) across the frame at all focal lengths, even wide open.

I use this lens a lot for dancing shots at wedding receptions. The focus speed beats out any lens I've every tried, including my previous low light champion, the 24L II.

I really can't find much fault. It's nearly perfect if you only need f4.

Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM

Review Date: Oct 24, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp!, beautiful colors, contrast, bokeh, build quality is outstanding, manual focus ring is great, superb optics, very little CA considering, weather sealing, low distortion, quality at f/1.4
noticeable vignetting wide open

This is the first wide angle prime from canon that I really fell in love with. The 35L is pretty good, but this lens is an absolutely beauty to use. Even though it is 24mm, this lens is sharper than my 35L at all f-stops. Build quality and optics are truly outstanding (see my pros). This biggest negative I see is the noticeable vignetting at f/1.4 on a full frame body (What can we expect at 24mm?). I would say this is just about a perfect lens.