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Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Sep 21, 2008 Recommend? | Price paid: $1,000.00

Pros: Light, tough, versatile, sharp corner to corner above 20mm & f/8 (see review), uses 77mm filters,
Flares easily (especially at wide end), not sharp in corners at 17mm, not weather sealed in front,

This is my second review of this product. My first review was based on usage of the 17-40 on a 5D. I now have a 1Ds MkIII and for the most part this lens is still great. My original rating was a 9 and I would probably give it an 8 now. The wide end of this lens leaves a bit to be desired...

Just don't expect the image quality to be all that good in the corners at 17mm - even if you go to f/11 or f/16.

Things change dramatically for the better when you hit about 24mm, where at f/8 it is quite sharp across the whole frame. I've found the best results for landscapes, interiors, etc at about 24mm + f/8 -f/16 with this lens. You can get by at 17mm but don't make it a habit. The corners will look really soft, with lots of CA and other strange color problems too.

Canon don't really make a lens in this range with stellar image quality, so most people are probably tossing up this lens vs the 16-35mm II. Test charts show that the 17-40 is just as good or better than the 16-35 II but with a narrower aperture. The 17-40 is much cheaper, lighter and just as sharp or sharper at comparable focal lengths and apertures as the 16-35 II.

I would recommend this lens to anyone not needing the f/2.8 aperture that the 16-35 delivers but be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the 17-40 and use it in ways that take advantage of those strengths.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: May 28, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Usually sharp - read review. Feels excellent on camera.
Weirdest lens I have ever used when it comes to focus performance.

Not all that impressed with this lens.

I'd like to back up the users who have noticed issues with the 24-70's focus on subjects about 3 metres away.

I have 3 5D bodies and one 1Ds MkIII and the 24-70 behaves EXACTLY the same on all of these cameras, I have tested it. The 24-70 focuses well/is sharp when the subject is close (say, less than 1 meter). When focusing on objects about 3 metres away, it's like a lucky dip as to what you get. The AF in this lens baffles me. Not sure whether this is an optical flaw or an AF issue.

Here is how I discovered this:

I was shooting with two lenses, the 24-70 2.8 and the 85mm f1.8.

Subject is 3 metres away. 24-70 sharpness @70mm f/4 wasn't good at all. I shot heaps of frames, tried various focus techniques - nothing could get me a sharp shot. Was initially shooting on a 1Ds MkIII and thought maybe I had a defective body. Changed the 24-70 over to one of my 5D's - same problem - soft, soft, soft.

I put the 85mm on both bodies. EVERY shot is a winner. sharp as hell - and I mean every shot. Same aperture, same shutter speed, same technique, same everything. If the prime is sharp doing the exact same thing then there is something wrong with the 24-70. My lens at least.

Some people may think they have "perfect copies" of this lens - I did for many months, or so I assumed. Next time you work with the 24-70 at different AF distances and at f/2.8 - f/4, take a good look at your photos.

This lens is just not as reliable as I'd like. I'd really like to like this lens, because most of the time it is awesome but then lets me down - even when I'm doing everthing right - even in controlled/good lighting situations.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Review Date: May 28, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $434.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp between f/2.8 - f/11, Can be used with tripod collar, although not always necessary. Nice and light. Large focus ring.
Not sharp when used above f/11, limiting depth of field options slightly. Tripod collar from Canon very expensive. Doesn't come with hood - must buy that also.

I really love this lens. Out resolves the 1Ds MkIII, so I am pretty happy with that. Even at f/2.8 this lens is really sharp. You can create some amazing images with this lens if your technique is right. It's great to have a 100mm lens with such a close focusing distance, meaning you can really get in close if you want and not be too limited in your compositions.

Depth of field control at anything near 1:1 magnification is amazing, if a little thin. Say goodbye to any background distractions.

I bought a cheap tripod collar from eBay, much cheaper than the official Canon version. This lens is difficult to use with a tripod collar & camera with a vertical/battery grip.

I am really not sure why Canon don't include lens hoods with ALL of their lenses. Lens hoods are important in more ways than one and would cost hardly anything to make. Would make the product look like better value too. That said, some extreme close-ups (such as jewellery and bugs) will actually require removal of the hood so as not to shade/hit the subject. This can sometimes cause a few problems with flares and contrast if you are using strobes. Choose your angles carefully.

My only real gripe is that there is a bit of softening when used at apertures over f/11. Just don't use f/16 and you are ok.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Jan 21, 2008 Recommend? | Price paid: $1,000.00

Pros: Lightweight, sharp, uses 77mm filters.
Not truly weather sealed unless front filter used. Vignets once front filter is used. Bad image quality at corners on FF. TERRIBLE BARREL DISTORTION on objects closer than 5 meters or so.

If you are thinking of getting this lens to photograph architecture, think again. It's ok for landscape shots though. Canon really needs to make a good quality no distortion wide angle rectilinear prime at about 16mm f/1.4 that costs the same as the 16-35 f/2.8 mkII.

You can't call a lens rectilinear if there is barrel distortion. You should call it "We tried to make it rectilinear but it was too hard so we left some barrel distortion (aka fisheye) in there for you. have a nice day"

I guess this lens suits most uses. Just not things with straight lines that you want to keep straight.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Sep 24, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Tank build quality, fast focusing, very wide on a 5d, relatively light, great image quality almost to corners, close focusing
Front of lens not sealed and dust gets in after a while, corner sharpness quite bad, but most wide angle lenses are like this...

When I first bought this lens, I was tossing up between the 12-24 sigma, the 10-22 canon ef-s and the 17-40 f4L.

The differences in price werent huge, so I kept looking at the 17-40, for its good build quality and resale value (having owned the lens I won't be selling it any time soon).

The 10-22 was looking good, but I didn't really want to buy a cropped sensor lens, as the 5D was in my thoughts as a future purchase.

Sigma's 12-24 looked promising, but bad reports of image softness and not being able to use front filters ruled it out.

I am glad I went with the 17-40, and on the 350d, images were sharp from corner to corner. The distortion caused by this lens was quite severe, but it took on a whole new meaning when I got a 5D full frame. A word of caution: Be very very careful with the 17-40 (or any wide angle non Tilt and shift) on a full frame camera! Avoid putting people at the corners of the frame, as their faces will be stretched and distorted badly.

The image quality at the corners of this lens is less than perfect but that is partly the nature of the beast. If you want corner to corner sharpness with no distortion, get a longer focal length.

Wide angle photography can be quite tricky, but with great results when done properly. I am glad I purchased this lens, as it opened up many more photographic opportunities to me.

I have since become more interested in longer focal lengths, say from 50mm, 200mm and up but I always have this lens with me for when it's needed.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

Review Date: Sep 24, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $150.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Cheap, lightweight, fast 1.8 aperture, discreet
Poor build quality, Gathers dust quickly, no distance scale, cheesy focus drive sound

When I first got this lens, I was quite impressed with the beautiful background blur and it's low light capabilities. It was also amazingly sharp on my 350d.

One big problem for me was dust. Because of the low quality build, you can feel the lens creak and move which means that nothing is really sealed. Dust infection was quite apparent after owning the lens for about 6 months, however I still use it, all be it with only minimal loss of contrast and such.

For the money you can't get anything better than this, and as a beginner in photography I really learnt a great deal through the use of this lens, due to the large apertures available for testing depth of field etc.

If you are thinking of buying a new camera, go for a body only and purchase this lens. Creatively, you will acheive so much with this lens. Portraits and candids take on a whole new life with this little thing. DOF is so short at f1.8 but you can shoot in quite dimly lit places easily.

I could honestly say though, that I will never buy this lens again, due to the lack of sealing and such. Dust inside a lens is basically a death sentence, in my opinion anyway, so to replace this, I would go for something more expensive, but with good weather sealing.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Sep 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Good build, amazing image quality, very good zoom range, light weight, looks good, extremely affordable
f4, but that's what makes it so light, odd 67mm filter size (should be 77mm)

First used this lens on my 350d and took it along with a 17-40 f4L across Europe. The lightness of them both was much welcomed and there was absolutely no sacrifice in image quality.

I have since purchased a 5d and I have to say that the resolving power of this lens is more than a match for the larger sensor and resolution of the 5d.

I strongly recommend you try this lens. It really is amazing.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: Sep 21, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: $540.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Awesome background blur, nice build quality. good colour and contrast. Feels nice and solid compared to the f1.8
Far too soft to use seriously on a 5d

I was quite excited when I opened the box, and was impressed with how solid and heavy this lens felt.

My joy was short lived though, as every photo I took at f1.4 up to about f8 had serious softness issues. I imagine this would not be a problem on a smaller sensor camera, but it seems to me that the resolving power of this lens is not suited to anything from the 5d up.

That said, I am still impressed with the background blur of this lens, along with excellent colour and contrast.

I cannot though, tolerate the softness when shooting wide open and even at apertures up to f8.

I also notice a touch of CA.

I am currently trying to exchange this lens, as I believe I have a bad copy, given all the rave reviews of this lens here.