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  Reviews by: Tom_W  

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Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM

Review Date: Jan 24, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,699.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp, corner to corner even at the wide end. Well built, smooth operation.
A little pricey, but quality costs.

I had previously owned the 24-70 f/2.8 L and have shot many a picture with it over the years. It was a very good lens, but I found that after acquiring a very good copy of the 24-105 f/4 IS with my 5D3, I stopped using the old 24-70 so I sold it.

When I was able to purchase this lens at 1699 (including $300 rebate), I decided to give it a try. The reviews I had read were all very good, with none of the "good copy/bad copy" talk that had surrounded the previous version.

I was not disappointed. Gone was the CA in the corners at 24 mm, and the lens seems to be almost prime-like in sharpness and contrast across the zoom range. I didn't have to take many test photos to prove its ability to myself - I just mounted it on the 5D3 and it's stayed there most of the time.

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM

Review Date: Aug 20, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Incredibly sharp

An excellent, portable large-aperture lens that presents crisp images (even wide open!) on its own, and works very well with teleconverters. It is an excellent match with the Canon 1.4X teleconverter, and also a good match with the 2X teleconverter if needed.

The lens handles well, and the IS system is very good.

Canon EOS 5D

Review Date: Nov 20, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Full frame, high megapixel count, low noise and wide dynamic range. Excellent out-of-the-box images. Big viewfinder. Nice LCD display size and resolution. Good ergonomics.
Not as stoutly built as the 1-series, no AF with f/8 lenses. LCD, while nice, is hard to view in sunlight. Frame rate is a little slow at 3 fps.

I'm one of the few that switched from the 1D Mk II to the 5D. Let me say straight up that both are excellent cameras.

While that switch might seem odd to some, it made the most sense to me for my purposes. I was willing to trade the stout, almost bulletproof construction of the 1-series for the light weight and full-frame sensor of the 5D.

What I like about the 5D is the ability to take images straight from the camera and apply minimal processing to get the prints I want. Perhaps this is due to the variety of picture styles, but the results are to my liking. I like the size and weight of the 5D. Previously, I carried a 350D/XT when I wanted to travel light, but that camera, as nice as it is, doesn't match the dynamic range or noise characteristics of the 5D.

As for noise, while the 5D seems to be using a sensor design similar to that of the 1D Mk II, it does present better noise characteristics at ISO 1600 & particularly at 3200. On a flat dark surface, the difference isn't so noticeable in testing, but on more detailed surfaces, dark or light, the 5D seems to retain detail better, and keeps colors more accurate. Plus, since it is a 12.8 megapixel camera as compared to an 8.2 mpx camera, the noise has a finer grain than when the image is framed equally and sized equally as one would do if printing equivalent output.

The AF on the 5D is very good. I've compared low-light focusing of the 5D vs. the 1D II and found little difference (in the type of shooting that I do), with perhaps a slight edge in low-light capability in favor of the 5D (the specs bear this out). As for tracking, I found no difference, though I must confess that I did not get to track extremely fast moving objects where the 1D II might have the advantage. The 5D performs well in tracking with the subject in the spot-metering circle. Outside of that, I would expect the advantage to go to the 1-series. The 1-series allows excellent tracking outside of the spot-metering circle, since it saturates a larger area with AF sensors, and has a dedicated processor to deal with all the data. Overall, unless you're shooting a great deal of fast-moving subjects, the 5D is very comparable to the 1-series in my observation.

In build, the 5D is closer to the 10D/20D type of camera than the 1-series. It is not as robust as the 1D II, but it is still fairly robust. The 1-series cameras are tanks. The 5D is more like a lightly-armored Humvee - durable, but it won't take the shelling that the 1-series can handle. I won't hesitate to take the 5D into the wild, or into a dirty factory, but if I were spending every Sunday along the sideliines of an NFL game, I'd probably opt for the 1D II.

I don't think I need to continue here, as this review is getting a bit long-winded. For those considering the 5D, I hope this helps you in your decision. Look at what and how you shoot and then decide if this is the right camera for your needs and wants. It's very good at what it does - all you have to do is decide if what it does matches what you want.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM

Review Date: Jun 13, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,110.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Top notch IS, surprisingly sharp, compact, light, good Canon color & contrast, well built.
Flare, slight hazy softness wide open (but can be eliminated with just 1/3 stop smaller aperture). A little higher cost than might be expected.

This is a much better lens than its early reputation indicates. It's quite sharp, almost as sharp as the 100-400 L. Color and contrast are very good, and it shines at f/8. Bokeh is usually pretty good, though it can take on an unusual "target" look on OOF highlights in odd circumstances.

Flare is the lenses' only significant weakness, but it can be dealt with if you are careful about your positioning. Generally, you will get a hazing flare when you shoot with the sun (or other very strong light source) just outside of the image frame, but still within the hood opening. Keep the light about 20+ degrees away from where you are pointing and it shouldn't be a problem.

It's size and weight make it a great lens for hiking and touring. Very unobtrusive way to reach out 300 mm. The lens is put together with almost the same build characteristics as "L" lenses.

Canon EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

Review Date: Jun 13, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Light, compact, USM focus, very useful range, good color & contrast.
Needs to be stopped down 2/3 stops, wide end barrel distortion.

Bought used on FM - Great lens for travelling light, which was the primary purpose of my buying the lens. I already have the 24-70 but I wanted to assemble a useful kit of lightweight lenses for carrying around when hiking or touring on foot. This lens along with the 70-300 DO lens fits that bill perfectly.

It's a bit soft wide open, but useable if you need it. It is better as a daytime, outdoor lens when you can use f/5.6 or smaller aperture. F/8 is great. The color and contrast are great, and sharpness is pretty good as well. It's got pretty even sharpness across the field. It sits well in it's position as mid-range glass.

I had a used copy of this lens once before and it wasn't up to par so I quickly sold it off. This copy, I'm happy to say, is significantly better.

The lens handles well, easy to operate the zoom and focus rings, though it isn't as easy to manually focus as some L primes (but it's significantly less expensive, too).

It's a good buy ($310 at B&H) if you want a zoom that starts wider than the typical 28-xx lenses but aren't able to spend a great deal.

Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM

Review Date: Jun 13, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $325.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Well built, fairly small & light, good color, contrast and sharpness stopped down a bit. Fairly low distortion. USM focus.
A little soft at f/2.8, no hood included

I bought it used, in excellent condition from a fellow FMer. My experience is on the 1D Mk II. The lens is pretty decent, with good center sharpness from f/4 up. Corners aren't quite as sharp but follow the performance of the 16-35L zoom as you stop down. F/8 & f/11 are the sweetest. Distortion is pretty low, as expected from a prime. At f/2.8, the image softens up a bit. Not unusable, but if low-light wide aperture shooting is important, this might not be the best choice.

I really like the way the lens handles. USM works quickly, silently, and smoothly. The lens is well-built, as are most of Canon's mid-priced lenses.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM

Review Date: Mar 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,645.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast AF, IS, sharp as a tack, well built

This is a well-made, sharp, fast lens. It really hasn't exhibited any flaws in the months that I've owned it. Images are always sharp; contrast is excellent, focus is very fast, and the IS works wonderfully.

Not much else to say - the lens is excellent. Just wish it were less expensive.

Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye

Review Date: Mar 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $579.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Crisp, contrasty images from corner to corner (on 1.3X camera). Good wide open. Low flare. Light and compact.

This lens is exceptionally sharp across the field. CA is very low, and it doesn't exhibit flare problems as one might expect from such a wide lens. Gives an incredibly wide view, as a fisheye should. But even de-fished with software, it is still considerably wider than my 16-35 at its widest setting. It is also a bit sharper than that zoom.

I'd like to see USM on this lens, but that isn't really that vital - a lens this short has a fairly deep depth-of-field so manual touchup isn't quite as useful.

Build quality is good, matching that of other mid-priced Canon lenses such as the 28-135 IS or the 85/1.8. The built-in hood is metal and provides a bit of extra protection for the large, otherwise vulnerable front lens element.

This will be one of my favorite lenses.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM

Review Date: Dec 9, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: The optics, the bokeh, the encumbant speed when you need it most.
Heavy, althought fits in the hand nicely.

I shoot natural light sporting/pastime/adventure portraits. This lens possibly has only one equal in this field, the 200mm F1.8 at 3 times the price.

If you need it, you'll know it. Stunning.


Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Nov 18, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Well built, very sharp, even into the corners (1.3X sensor), fast focus, good contrast and color.
Barrel distortion at wider focal lengths

I am very pleased with the image quality from this lens. I don't know if I got a good copy or if Canon had improved manufacturing, but mine is pretty sharp at f/2.8 over the entire field, using my 1D-2. At f/4, its sharper than my also-excellent 17-40L. In fact, at f/2.8, it rivals my Sigma 20/1.8.

The ultrasonic focus system is a breeze to use. The build quality and smoothness of operation are top-notch.

The lense's only weakness is some moderate barrel distortion at very wide angles. It would be objectionable to me if I were shooting a great deal of architecture with this lens, but for my purposes, the distortion is irrelevent. By 24 mm, it is very slight.

Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical RF

Review Date: Jul 25, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $280.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Decent image quality at f/2.8, excellent when stopped down a little more. Well built
A little soft wide open, cumbersome focus scheme, slightly erratic autofocus

This lens is a bargain for what it produces as far as image quality. Yes, its a little soft at f/1.8, but by f/2.8, its very good and is excellent when stopped down even more. Testing showed some softness away from center even at f/4, but that is probably due to a slight curving of the focus plane. Its very difficult to construct a good, fast wide angle lens.

The auto/manual focus scheme is a little awkward, but it works adequately (just remember not to try to manually focus against the focus motor). Auto Focus is slightly erratic and noisy, but it seems to find good focus almost all the time.

Real world shots look good. I'll be keeping this one for those low-light situations where wide is necessary (and with a 1.6X sensor, that can be more often than one might think).

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

Review Date: Jun 25, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp, fast focus, Image Stabilization, light for its range.
Nothing to speak of.

This lens amazes me - its a little slow aperture-wise, but it can be shot wide open and still provide very crisp, contrasty, clean images. It focuses in a breeze, and I even acheived autofocus with my 10D pointing this lens at Jupiter in the night sky (setting up for some introductory astrophotography).

As for color abberation, there seems to be none - the deep sky images I took with this lens show no fringing and display the stars very cleanly - not as perfect as the Astro-Physics Telescope I had it piggybacked on, but still quite excellent.

In its more usual earthly use, the lens has proven to be a great tool for shooting birds and such, but it has also been quite useful for photographing flowers and insect activity as it has allowed me to get closeup shots without disturbing the insect's activities.

The Image Stabilization system works very well - I managed to get a well-detailed image of the last quarter of the moon early one morning handheld at 1/60 second while leaning against a post on my front porch.

If you want a zoom that provides great images, focuses fast and accurately, has image stabilization, and is reasonably light, this is a very good choice.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: May 27, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,050.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent sharpness, even wide open. Color is very natural, and image is contrasty. Good zoom range for the 1.6 and 1.3 sensors. Solid build
A little heavy, a little expensive

It's my second "L" lens - and equal to the name. Its very sharp wide open at f/2.8 (almost as sharp as my 50/1.4 mm prime at that aperture), and extremely sharp stopped down 1 or 2 stops. The zoom range is quite versatile on the smaller digital sensors, allowing a slight wide angle through a modest telephoto zoom range.

It is fast enough to use for many (though not all) available-light situations. The 'reverse" movement of the front element during zoom takes advantage of the deep hood to provide good shielding against flair at the tele end, while avoiding vignetting at wide angles.

A great lens - Its on my camera 75% of the time.

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

Review Date: Apr 23, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent sharpness, color, and clarity. Very good build quality.
Flat hood (many recommend using the EW-83D II hood on the Rebel and 10D)

This is my first "L" lens. It is also the first lens I've ever owned that has provided me with that almost indescribable clarity - the images are sometimes almost surreal. I haven't seen that effect since looking at pictures that my Dad took with his rather expensive Lieca.

The zoom range is very useful on the 10D. It works well for anything from landscapes to indoor photography. Architecture works well also, with just a bit of distortion at the wide end. Depending on your photographic desires and situation, this can be used as a walk-around lens.

In short, I am more than happy with this lens - it is excellent.

Canon EF 28-105 F/3.5-4.5 II USM

Review Date: Mar 14, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $220.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Light, inexpensive, good zoom range, sharp pictures under most conditions.
A little flare and lost contrast in extreme backlit situations.

When one considers the price of around $225, this lens comes across as a great bargain. Very fast, quiet autofocus plus full-time manual focus make it easy to use. Pictures are very sharp and have high contrast, though there is some minor flare and contrast issues when the sun is near the back of the subject. Its a great walk-around lens, and is a good improvement over the usual "kit" lenses.

The lens falls somewhere between good and great - its not L glass, but its as good as, or better than any lens in its price range.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: Feb 28, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image quality good at 2.0, excellent 2.8 and above. Nice bokeh.
A little soft at 1.4, not a true USM focus system

If you shoot a lot of indoor available-light, this lens is great. Though not a true USM, it focuses fairly fast, and much more accurately than my 50 1.8 did. Its light, easy to handle, and serves as a good portrait lens on the 10D. Also, it uses the same 58 mm filters as other midrange canon lenses.