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Tamron 300MM F/2.8 LD (IF) SP AF

Review Date: Apr 1, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp, good neutral bokeh, good color and contrast, AF accuracy
Purple fringing in high contrast areas, slower AF than Canon

Picked this up for a steal in outstanding condition, including original box, collar, hood, case, filters, etc. I've seen some contradictory reviews on this lens online, but I must say, my copy is very sharp, straight from f/2.8, all the way to the edges (on full frame). It sharpens up a tiny bit more at f/5.6; f/4 increases contrast a little bit.

Bokeh is nice and smooth and specular highlights are evenly lit, though they do get a little cat's eye look at the edges of the frame wide open.

AF speed is not blazing fast, but it's quick when you are in the same focus area. I have found AF accuracy to be excellent.

The only negative on image quality is purple fringing in high contrast areas. However, I don't find it in enough images or to be bad enough to really cause any real issues, but it is there.

Overall, especially considering the price, I am extremely impressed.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

Review Date: Oct 26, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,049.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Exceedingly sharp at all apertures, beautiful color and contrast response, good smooth bokeh, sharp both at macro distances and infinity, extremely fast AF for a macro lens, and with the focus limiter, very fast for any lens, weathersealed, solid build, outstanding IS.
Doesn't include the tripod collar.

I have owned 43 lenses at one point or another in my life, including three macro lenses. The 100 f/2.8L IS Macro might be the sharpest lens I have ever used. At the very least, I have never used a lens sharper. The 135L and Zeiss 50/1.7 Planar may have been just as sharp, but none have been sharper. This lens is just razor sharp, at all focus distances, and all apertures. Ok...I should have a caveat...only the center 85% is that sharp from f/ takes till about f/5.6 for the corners to get super tack sharp, but they are still plenty sharp at f/2.8 for most any size print.

Color and contrast are wonderful, and the lens suffers no contrast loss wide open. The build is solid and weathersealed, though the plastic shell may leave people wanting for those good old days of solid metal lenses (with their extra weight).

Autofocus is extremely fast for a macro lens. Now, if you're going from 1:1 to infinity, no it's not fast, but flip that focus limiter to 0.5-infinity, and it's every bit as fast as my 100 f/2 and very nearly as fast as the 135L. Remember that 0.5m is much closer than any other non-macro lens in this range can focus, so you're really not limited with that switch set when not shooting macro. I have found autofocus to be extremely accurate as well. The only down side to the AF is that servo with non-cross type focus points in dim light will cause the lens to hunt...but that's pretty extreme lighting.

At macro distances, it performs like most any other macro lens: very well. At non-macro distances, it's as good as the very best primes in this range.

The image stabilizer works very well. With good hand held technique, I get pixel level sharp shots at about 1/13 sec most of the time, and have gotten over half my shots at 1/8 sec sharp. I have even, with bracing against a surface handheld, gotten a sharp shot at 1/2 sec. The IS works well at macro distances too, allowing handheld shots at between 1:1 and 1:2 magnification around 1/50-1/60s, which is very good for those magnifications (I usually need a minimum of 1/250-1/400s for those magnifications without IS).

I have to think the negative reviews here had bad copies of the lens, as I can't think of any possible reason to give this lens any sort of a negative's a gem in every way imaginable.

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM

Review Date: Apr 26, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp, beautiful bokeh, fast AF, wonderful color, well built, compact
It can have a little purple fringing wide open in very high contrast situations, but honestly, I don't see it much.

A hidden gem of the Canon lineup. I've owned the lens for over a year, but only really began using it when I went full frame. I bought it for my 30D but it was a bit too long, and after getting the 85L, the 100 f/2 sat unused for a while. I was going to sell it, but I'm so glad I didn't. After I moved to full frame, I realized how much I preferred the 100mm range over the 85mm focal length, and since the DOF is so shallow on full frame anyway, the 85L is going and the 100 f/2 is staying. I've been using the 100 as my longer portrait lens for a while now, and it is simply stellar. At f/2, it is essentially indistinguishable from the 85L at f/2.

The lens is sharp straight from max aperture. Very high resolution at any aperture. Color is wonderful...nice contrast curve and even saturation. The bokeh is stellar. Not QUITE as smooth as the 85L, but pretty darn close. AF is very fast, and the build quality is very nice. Solid and compact. I've also owned the 135L, and the 100 f/2 is 99% of the optical quality of the 135. The only thing the 135 does better really is it controls fringing a little better wide open. That's it.

As mentioned, purple fringing can crop up outside if you blow highlights, but other than that CA is very well controlled, and images are great!

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II

Review Date: Apr 17, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Incredible image quality, wonderfully accurate AF, beautiful, large bright viewfinder, rugged build
Two handed operation?

Best deal in DSLRs right now. I got an incredible deal on a high mileage, but excellent condition one from eBay. Works perfectly. The images are so detailed, with beautiful tone gradation, and great dynamic range. Almost two stops of data is available for highlight recovery in RAW. Noise is well controlled and is usable all the way to ISO 3200.

Autofocus is dead on accurate...It almost never misses when I do my job...even in low light with shallow DOF. Spot on every time. The viewfinder is very big (approaching the size of some of the older manual focus only SLRs of the 70s and 80s) and very bright, even with slower lenses. The camera is wonderfully responsive and the metering is exceptional....much more accurate than my 30D.

The two handed settings changing is a little odd, but I'm used to it by now. The LCD is also a little smaller than I'm used to, but at 2", it's large enough. Ultimately, it's all about the images, and the 1DsII produces images that have a very special quality to them. Basically, I know that any failings in an image are because of me, not the camera, and I'll be keeping this for a LONG time.

With prices the way they are now, this is the steal of the century. While most won't get them for what I paid, it's a steal even at $2300. It's practically imaging perfection.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Apr 4, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $550.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, great color, wonderful build and handling, light weight, good focal range.
Extreme corners are a bit soft on full frame.

For the price, it's hard to get much better. I originally bought this for my 1D, but then I got a 1Ds II, so it's getting even more use on that body. The lens is wonderfully sharp over 98% of the frame, with only the very extreme corners staying a bit soft. For my uses, it's never been an issue. Color and contrast are wonderful, and the lens is great at any aperture. Build quality is typical Canon L...very nicely built, with good tolerances. One nice thing is that even with the robust build, the lens is very lightweight. I'm still amazed at how light this lens is.

For the money, I don't think you can beat this lens. The 16-35 f/2.8L II might be a little better in the corners, and it's a stop faster, but you pay a hefty premium for those things. I am more than pleased with the 17-40L on my 1Ds II. It's a great lens!

Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

Review Date: Mar 20, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $460.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, absolutely beautiful bokeh, nice color and contrast, good handling and build.
longitudinal chromatic abberation and some blooming is possible on high contrast subjects at very wide apertures.

I've had this lens for a little while now, and I also purchased a 50 f/1.2L near the same time to see the difference, and I returned the L. I do not have any focus issues whatsoever....this lens is very accurate for me at any focus distance.

The lens is very sharp right from f/1.4, but can show some blooming at high contrast subjects when shooting at closer distances. It also shows some longitudinal CA, though it's better controlled than the 50L. By f/1.8, the lens is already near its peak resolution, and it's very sharp throughout the aperture range.

Bokeh is stunning. It easily ranks among the best bokeh lenses I've ever used. It destroys the Canon 50 f/1.4, and is as good or better than the 50L.

Color and contrast are very good, and there's little drop in contrast at f/1.4.

Focus for me, as mentioned, has been very accurate. The lens focuses quickly, though not as fast as some of my other lenses (35L, 100 f/2, 70-200 f/4L IS). Build is solid...typical Sigma EX.

Overall, I view this lens as an exceptional value. It rivals the 50L in essentially every way except maximum aperture for 1/3 the price. Hard to beat!

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: Feb 21, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,206.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp at all apertures, very nice bokeh, fast and accurate AF, beautiful colors and skin tones, high build quality.
Umm...slightly larger than you'd expect from a 35mm?

I've had this lens for about two weeks now, and it has quickly become my favorite lens (other lenses include the 85 f/1.2L, 70-200 f/4L IS, 17-40 f/4L and Sigma 150 f/2.8). Mine is sharp straight from f/1.4, and blisteringly sharp by f/1.8. Colors are beautiful and skin tones are perhaps the best and smoothest of any lens I own. The contrast curve is near perfect...good darks, nice lights, but not too steep a curve between them, allowing for beautiful gradation of middle tones.

AF is fast and accurate (as to be expected), and the build is very solid. The outer plastic shell may look a bit odd to those first picking it up, but the tolerances are VERY tight, and the lens is very, very solid.

Bokeh is very even, providing evenly illuminated specular highlights and smooth blurring in most situations. It can get somewhat busy if you're not super close to something, but I think it's more the larger background captured vs most large aperture lenses due to the FL. Looking at the specular highlights, it's excellent.

Honestly, there's really nothing to complain about. Wide open performance is excellent, though if you're up close, the DOF is extremely thin, but we all know that. The lens is quite pricey, but it does its job extremely well.

Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC HSM

Review Date: Oct 14, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $399.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp, even at f/1.4. Great contrast at all apertures. Beautiful color rendition. Class leading bokeh. Fast AF
Quality control problems.

This is an excellent normal prime lens, with extremely good image quality even wide open. This lens at f/1.4 is easily as sharp as my old 28 f/1.8 was at f/2.2, and I loved my 28. Contrast does not suffer at wide apertures either. Beautiful bokeh...easily as good or better than the 35L. Great color response and a beautiful tone curve. AF is fast and (for the most part) accurate.

On the down side...quality control. This is currently my 3rd Sigma 30. The first two front focused so horrendously on anything over 6 feet away that the lens couldn't even reach infinity. Shots on distant buildings would put the focus point 15 feet out. After two exchanges, got one that slightly backfocused, so I sent that one to Sigma for calibration. Came back spot on, and now I can really appreciate the fantastic optics. If buying this lens new, though, allow time for exchanges or calibration. Once you get a properly focusing one, though, it's fantastic.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM

Review Date: Oct 13, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,160.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Incredible sharpness, even wide open. Best bokeh of any lens I have ever used, (including some other f/1.2 lenses). Beautiful color and saturation, very nice microcontrast at f/1.8 and beyond). Accurate AF.
AF is slow, but still manageable. Not a fan of focus by wire manual focus. Big and heavy. Some fringing at very large apertures in very high contrast situations.

Picked up my copy used here on FM. Absolutely outstanding lens. The lens is very sharp over 80% of the frame right from f/1.2. By f/1.8 - f/2, the lens is absolutely tack sharp. Brilliant color response and very nice contrast curve. f/2 and smaller yield nice contrasty images without being over the top, while larger apertures are a little lower contrast, but have such a good tonal response that postprocessing contrast enhancement is flawless.

Color is exceptional. Bright, vibrant yet natural colors. AF is definitely on the slow side for a USM lens, but is only an issue when focusing from near to far. AF is also very accurate. I'm able to nail the eyes at f/1.2 with little trouble.

Bokeh is the best I've ever seen...smooth, even bokeh with perfectly evenly illuminated specular highlights. The shallow DOF and narrow AOV with the super-large aperture also help this lens obliterate the background. Background separation is possible even on relatively distant subjects. When the right aperture is chosen, this lens really has an ability to pop the subject out of the background, and provide a very nice 3D effect.

Sigma 150mm f2.8 APO Macro DG EX HSM

Review Date: Jun 26, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $600.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent build quality, HSM focusing is very quick for a macro lens, very high quality optics. Exceptional bokeh, completely free of chromatic aberration (to my eyes). Sharp at all apertures for macro or head and shoulders portraits.
A tad softer at wide apertures when focusing near infinity.

This is a truly outstanding lens, and is simply a joy to use. Tack sharp wide open from 1:1 through about 10 feet away. Gets a bit softer at wide apertures beyond that, but sharpens right back up to tack sharp by f/4 at those distances as well. Exceptional color, smooth contrast, and absolutely beautiful bokeh make this wonderful for both macro and portrait use. Almost completely free of CA...I honestly can say I've never seen CA in a single shot. Exceptional handling, great build quality, and reasonably fast and very accurate AF.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Review Date: Mar 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,059.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Incredible sharpness at all apertures, Image stabilization is phenomenal, light weight, very fast autofocus

Quite possibly the perfect zoom lens. This lens is absolutely phenomenal in the image quality department. It is tack sharp, contrasty, with saturated colors at all apertures and all focal lengths. I am not exaggerating when I say that it is as sharp and contrasty as my old 135 f/2L, when BOTH lenses are at f/4.

The lens is light enough to carry at all times. Build quality is typical L class...excellent. The image stabilizer on this lens is amazing...I'm able to get tack sharp shots at 70mm and 1/6 sec, and 200mm and 1/25 sec. Outstanding performance. Autofocus is quick and accurate.

I owned the truly excellent Canon 80-200mm f/2.8L prior to this lens, and the 70-200 f/4L IS is better in every single respect except for maximum aperture, but given the light weight and IS, that's more than a great tradeoff for what I shoot.

The 70-200 f/4L IS is the very best zoom lens I have ever mounted to a camera, and I've tried a LOT of lenses. Superb.

Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X 107 AF DX Fisheye

Review Date: Nov 19, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $499.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, good contrast and color, very versatile for a fisheye with the 10-17mm zoom. Frame filling super wide fish at 10mm, almost rectilinear wide-angle at 17mm. Excellent build quality
CA at borders on high contrast edges. (mostly correctable in post processing)

I've had my 10-17 for about a week now, and have used it in a variety of situations. First off, if you've never used a fisheye made for your camera format, you've not experienced wide. I also own the Tokina 12-24mm UWA, and 12mm on the fisheye is significantly wider than 12mm on the 12-24, and 10mm on the fisheye is just incredible.

Given the extreme field of view, the lens is extremely sharp. Even not considering its extreme field of view, it's a sharp lens. Center sharpness is excellent at all apertures, and corner sharpness is pretty good wide open, and very good 2 stops down.

Color and contrast are excellent at all apertures.

I really like the ability to zoom. 10mm is fantastic, but there are times you don't want that wide, and you can still get the fisheye distortion and width, but you can frame to only how wide you need.

Also, for anyone who thinks that fisheye distortion is only a 'special effect', you haven't used a fisheye long enough. Both fisheyes and rectilinear ultra-wides distort at the edges...the fisheye distorts straight lines to be round, but at the same time, it doesn't distort circles. Rectilinear stretches and distorts by pulling the edges, fisheyes curve things, but do not distort size at all.

Overall, a truly excellent lens. The only thing that keeps it from a 10 rating is the CA at the edges of the frame on high contrast edges. It can mostly be fixed in post processing, but it's there.

Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X 124 AF PRO DX SD

Review Date: Jul 12, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $430.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, excellent color and contrast, minimal distortion, 24mm on the long end (which has been important for me.) Absolutely L-class build quality. Fast autofocus, focus clutch mechanism is nice, with a very well damped focus ring.
Can exhibit noticable CA at high contrast edges. Easily fixable with PT Lens, though, so it's not a big deal.

Truly an outstanding ultra-wide for crop sensors. Image quality is already quite high at f/4, and images become very very sharp by f/5.6. I think I'm happier with the 12-24mm range than I would be with the 10-20 range of the similarly priced Sigma. There are many times I shoot with this lens at 24mm (though more of my shots tend to be between 12-16mm). However, there are very, very few occasions where I'm at 12mm and wish I could go wider. 12mm is plenty wide for 99% of my wide-angle needs. The constant f/4 aperture is a very nice perk as well.

The build is easily as good as Canon's L-series. Absolutely no wobble anywhere in the lens, and the finish is tough, durable, and extremely sturdy. Zoom and focus rings are very well damped and smooth. Focus clutch mechanism works very well, and is the next best thing to full-time manual (which isn't really needed on an UWA). Focus is accurate and fairly fast, though audible.

Purple fringing can be apparent at high-contrast edges at 12mm, though I haven't had a situation yet where I couldn't completely correct it with PTLens in about 30 seconds. I say 'can be' because it isn't in every shot...only certain situations, and even when it does crop up, most of the time it's not offensive...when it is, I just open PTLens and it's gone.

Overall: Outstanding build quality on par with Canon's best L lenses, great range, sharp, very nice color and contrast, with a constant aperture. It's probably my favorite lens of the 9 I own.

Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

Review Date: Jun 27, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $899.99 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, wide-open image quality, incredible color and contrast, buttery-smooth bokeh, fast, super fast and accurate AF, build quality.

Absolutely outstanding lens. There's honestly nothing to complain about. Image quality is simply outstanding at any aperture. Photos taken at f/2 with this lens are as sharp or sharper than any zoom I have at its sweet spot aperture (this includes the 80-200L), and it gives my other primes a run for their money when they are stopped down vs wide-open on the 135L. Color and contrast are unmatched among any of my 9 lenses. Wide open color and contrast are as vibrant as my best lenses two stops down. Bokeh is outstanding...smooth, creamy blur. DOF control is outstanding with the wide aperture to f/32.

AF is very quick, silent and accurate. Build is typical L quality - robust with a well-damped focus ring. Feels fantastic in the hand.

If you need a fast lens in this length, there is nothing finer. I knew this lens would be sharp, but what I didn't know is just how good all the other IQ aspects are, and how they all combine to provide near flawless image quality. Truly a gem of the Canon line-up.

Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF]

Review Date: Apr 1, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $429.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp, high IQ at all apertures, excellent bokeh, good color and contrast, smooth zoom mechanism, price
plastic build, rotating focus ring during AF

The Tamron is an oustanding lens for a little bit of money. I have been wanting a fast standard zoom for a while, and after waiting forever for the Tokina 16-50, I decided to just get the Tamron.

Images are sharp straight from f/2.8 at all focal lengths. The corners are sharp at f/2.8 at 17mm, and while slightly soft in the corners at 35mm and 50mm, they sharpen right up to match the center by f/4. It's critically sharp at f/4, and f/5.6. Truly astounding IQ.

Color and contrast are quite nice...nothing amazing, but certainly not lacking. Bokeh is surprisingly nice for a short zoom lens.

Autofocus has been accurate for me, and it's quite fast, though a bit loud. The focus ring turns during autofocus.

The build is solid, with no wobble, but the lens is almost entirely plastic on the exterior. The plastic does not seem to be on par with Canon's higher end plastics. This is really my only complaint...Tamron really needs a pro-level build, and they don't have it. The zoom and focus rings do have a nice, soft grippy rubber on them which is quite pleasant.

Overall, I am very happy with this lens. It's optically stunning, and the ability to just choose an aperture solely on the DOF needs of that shot is very nice. I don't even think twice about using f/2.8, as the image quality is already very high wide open. Gone are the days of stopping down to f/8 just for sharpness. Smile

Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: Dec 12, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $399.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Large aperture, fast and accurate focusing, sharp in the center wide open, very sharp across the frame from f/4-f/5.6. Build is very good
Corners are soft at large apertures. Contrast is lessened at f/1.8, but is back to good at f/2.2.

I got this lens after owning the Sigma 30 f/1.4 for a while. My Sigma was front focusing a LOT at longer distances, so I took advantage of double rebates and got the 28 f/1.8.

Build is very nice. It's a compact lens, but it's very solid and very well put together.

Autofocus is excellent. Very quick, near silent, FTM, and very accurate. No problems whatsoever.

Colors appear very good and natural. Contrast is very nice. Plenty of contrast is there when stopped down a smidge, and colors are saturated, but not overly so. Images require very little post-processing in many instances.

The lens is sharp at the center from f/1.8. Wide-open sharpness is very acceptable at all focusing distances, and it gets better from there. By f/2.8, the center is razor sharp and the edges are very close. By f/5.6, the entire frame is sharp corner to corner. Corners suffer at large apertures, but not overly so, and it was better wide open in the corners than my Sigma 30mm. Contrast suffers a bit wide open, but returns to normal as early as f/2.2.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the lens. Fast, accurate autofocus, definitely usable wide open, and is just a knockout from f/4-f/5.6 and beyond.


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