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  Reviews by: Sammy Bates  

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Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Jun 9, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,064.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent build, very sharp images, fast AF, vivid colors, wonderful saturation, creamy bokeh, smooth zoom

Like many others, I had to choose between this lens and the 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. In the end I decided that I would have to go with this lens because it "fits" my needs better. I mount it on the Canon 30D w/battery grip and it is simply fits my hand perfectly. I use a Tokina 12-24 f/4.0 for my ultra wide shots and the 70-200mm f/4.0L IS USM for my telephoto needs, so I wasn't concerned with the relatively short long end. In addition, I almost always use a tripod, so I felt that the IS feature on the 24-105mm was more than compensated for by this lens' faster aperture.

I feel that the weight for this lens is very reasonable considering it's a 2.8 lens and built extremely well. I know that a lot of reviewers complain about its weight, but they knew exactly what it weighed before the bought it, so why complain? I love the heft and feel of this glass on my camera and really feel that it is perfect. I was concerned needlessly about whether, or not I would get a good copy. This thing is razor sharp and gives me a beautiful bokeh wide open, so it would work as a portrait lens if I needed it for that, but I don't. Its minimum focus distance is around 15" and maximum magnification is 1:3.5, so I could use it as a macro lens if I needed to, but I don't. I keep this lens mounted 90% of the time and feel that it is ideal as my "walk-around" lens. As I said, I use it on my 30D, but when I upgrade to the 5D (hopefully) next year I believe that it will really start to shine.

Markins Q-Ball M10

Review Date: Jun 4, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $340.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: LIghtweight, smooth panning, beautiful craftsmanship, design and very comfortable control knobs.
None, this ballhead is a dream to use. Well, okay, it wouldn't hurt if they sold it for a little less.

I had never even heard of Markins until I started researching ballheads, but I am very glad that I ran across it. I was intrigued by the design of this ballhead, especially the tension adjustment. I opted for the M10L because I wanted the master knob to be pointing toward me because I hold my camera (Canon 30D) with my left hand and use my right hand to work the camera switches and of course trip the shutter. I think that this arrangement is much better than the standard configuration wherein the knobs are pointing away from you at the front of the head.

The most remarkable feature on the ballhead is the smooth, slick, extremely hard ball, and the overall high quality of the materials and design of the head. I have never seen, or used a better ballhead and I have tried a lot of them. The Markins is a dream to use and its maximum load is ridiculously high (80 lbs, far more than you will ever need, or want). All you have to do is mount the camera on the Arca/Swiss style plate, hold the camera while you set the large knob until it will hold the camera/lens without them moving when you release them, set the tension knob located on the end of the large knob with your thumb until it is tight, and you are all set. The tension is set and the camera is perfectly balanced so that you can move it with one finger and know that it will stop as soon as you stop pushing. (You can set the ballhead tension up in your nice, warm room, or car, before hand, so that when you get to the shoot there are no adjustments necessary, very nice in cold weather.) I use the head in conjunction with an "L" bracket I got from RRS, so I don't actually have to swing the ball over to take vertical images, but I am certain that this ballhead could easily handle the task if you wanted to position the camerta/lens by pushing it into the vertical position. Adjusted correctly for the load configuration, the camera/lens can be easily moved with the touch of your finger until you have positioned it to suit yourselfr, and will then hold the load absolutely rock steady in whatever position you want it to be in.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Review Date: Jun 4, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $469.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Solid construction, true macro lens, 58mm filters, sharp images, dual capabilities (standard prime/macro), heft and feel.
Actually, none.

I purchased this lens to fill the "gap" in my glass for a good, solid macro lens. This lens is extremely well-built, has a solid heft that inspires confidence, and takes stunning macro images. I am also very impressed with its ability to serve as a great portraiture lens in a pinch because it allows you to maintain a physically remote distance from your subject while maintaining your ability to take evocative head shots. The truth is, I look for excuses to use this lens over my standard/mid-tele lens (currently Canon's 28-135 f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, but I have ordered the 24-70mm f/2.8L) on my 30D body because it simply feels so good in my hand. I also use the optional battery grip on my 30D and it makes the use of this lens especially nice.

I think Canon did its customers a very big favor by desigtning this lens for the price they charge. Those afficionados of macro photography will love this lens. It has fast, accurate focusing, beautifully variable DOF, and knockout imaging capabilities. I recommend a good, solid tripod for truly spectacular images, but it is light enough to manage good results in decent light without one. This lens is easily light enough (1.32 lbs.)to keep on your camera all day long if necessary without wearing you out (A neat trick for a 2.8 USM lens). Would it be improved with IS? Yes, it probably would, but that would also negate its great price and place it in a price range comparable to some of the "L" lenses. I think that Canon has really outdone themselves with the design, construction, and capabilities of this lens. I think that it is an extremely good value for the money.