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  Reviews by: Simon Swales  

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Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T*

Review Date: Jun 21, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Colours, contrast, sharpness, resolving power, build quality, manual focus ring

When one of these beauties surfaced on eBay in an auction I grasped the opportunity with both hands and I now count myself extremely fortunate to be its owner. Itís hardly been off my 5DII since it arrived.

Itís hefty because of its all metal construction (including the hood) and big glass lens elements (ō82mm filter thread) and itís built like a tank. The fat manual focusing ring moves smoothly without play and feels like itís damped when itís turning. The focus distance marks in both meters and feet are engraved onto the lens barrel as is the depth of focus scale which is great for my preferred way of focusing to achieve maximum depth of field. Focusing manually is a real pleasure with this lens.

As for the quality of the final image. All I will say is believe all the hype surrounding this lens. Itís that good. Itís a landscape photographerís wet dream.

My Distagon T* 2,8/21 ZE set on Flickr

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Nov 18, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Price. Build quality. Lightweight. Good autofocus.
Soft in the corners. Lens hood very shallow.

I use mine with a Canon 5D mk II and it doesnít disappoint. For the money I have no complaints.
It is sharp but slightly soft in the corners on FF but I can live with it. I use it for wide-angle landscapes where I can stop it down to f/11 and put it on a tripod. If I want slightly better quality I would need to spend over double the money Ė and I donít feel inclined to do so.
The auto-focus is silent, quick and accurate. Both the manual focus ring and the zoom ring are smooth.
It does vignette in the corners at the widest angles but this can be corrected in Canonís DPP software.
The 77mm filter thread is a plus for me as it is the same as that on the Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS lens, which means I only need one wide-angle filter ring for my LEE filter system.

Click through to see a panorama of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle taken with this lens (handheld):

Click through to see a night time shot of The Forth Bridge in Scotland taken with this lens (mounted on a tripod):

If you are (A) upgrading to Canon FF (B) shoot landscapes, (C) donít need f/2.8, (D) require a robust, lightweight wide-angle zoom then this lens should tick a lot of boxes. Well worth the money.

Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX Diagonal Fisheye

Review Date: Apr 5, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp across the whole frame. Great colours and contrast. Small, light and unobtrusive. Fisheye effect.
Cannot attach filters. Tendency to overexpose with high contrast scenes.

Had the choice to go with either this or the Canon version but went for the Sigma in the end and I am glad I did.
It is small, light and beautifully made. It has a two part lens cap - the spring loaded cap and a 25mm barrel which slides over the fixed lens hood. The hood gives it some protection when in use and the blades are metal.
The gold ring around the barrel signifies that it is an EX lens - comparisons can be made to Canon's L lenses - the Sigma is not weather sealed but in every other aspect it can be considered 'L' lens quality. My version is designated DG as it has an anti-flare & ghosting coating.
It's a perfect match on my Canon 5D mkII. It focuses very quickly.
The picture quality this lens gives is amazing and I mean AMAZING. It is incredibly sharp across the whole frame even in the corners. Colours are punchy and contrast is great. I do very little post processing at all with images taken with this lens.
It also has the best sunstars of any of my lenses when photographing night scenes.
On the down side, it does not take filters and this is a real shame given its optical quality but I have not knocked any marks off for this because for the money the lens in incredible.
If you are in the market for a Fisheye go out and get one of these beauties.

I'll show you what I mean: