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  Reviews by: Zane Yau  

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Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM

Review Date: Jan 10, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: large constant aperture; 16 is little wider than its major competitor, 17-40. bokeh at 35mm, f2.8. Built quality. Light enough to carry around.
A bit softer than my friend's 17-40??

I am generally satisfied with this lens. I bought it at a real good price in Hong Kong, and I have been using it as my major lens on my 20D for landscape, candid, party, travel and street scenes. The f2.8 is really excellent. I think it is sharp wide open. See this example of f2.8 @35mm (check out the bokeh):

Ok, there's a f4 version at half the price. That was the dilemma I had before I bought this lens. I said to myself that I don't need the f2.8 because I will use a wide angle lens for landscape and I dont need f2.8. As I said, I bought it because I could not resist the good price in HK. I did not regret having bought this lens as it has been very useful for low light subject: street scene (handheld even at night), available light candid and party shots. I also like the bokeh of this lens.

I used this lens on my EOS 3 for quite a few rolls of films. I love the ultra wide angle on the film EOS. I switch the lens to the film body when I need more wide angles.

The negatives:

* I had my friend's 17-40 f4L for a while when I was selling this lens on his behalf. I did 2 or 3 little tests and I found that the f4 is a bit sharper than my f2.8. I am not good at this kind of tests so let's hope I was wrong (Although I have done these tests and got disappointed, I am continued to be amazed by the 2.8's bokeh and pic quality)

* My friend sold his 17-40L and replaced it with the 10-22 and 24-70L. I must admit that if anyone's going to get the wider 10-22, the 24-70L is a better option (but I think I will keep this lens for the 1DS Mk 7 or 8)

Canon EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM

Review Date: Dec 9, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Lightweight and compact (compare it with 28-135IS), good range, IS, build quality (same material as my 16-35, strangely, different material/shine to the 20D as they came out together), perfect Canon lens for walk around with a 20D, good general purpose lens, close up ability.
Expensive. Price matches L glass (close to), but quality doesn't. Sharpness and bokeh is acceptable but not exceptional (compared with a similarly priced 17-40L), Sigma has and Tamron will have a better range walk around lens.

The following was originally an answer to a thread, but let's not waste it:

I had my 28-135IS and 24-85 for a long time. I once used these two as a walk around lens as they are compact, especially the 24-85. But the 24-85 on 20D (or previously my 300D) is kind of long (38-135) and I was missing the wide angle when I walk around with just one lens. Even missed more wide angle on the 28-135 (44-210).

I always had in mind that I would get myself the 70-200 and 100-400 zooms and other nice glasses for serious shooting, but then get a lightweight simple superzoom for walkaround. Before I purchase all these nice glasses (back then when I only had my 28-135 and 24-85), I bought myself a Sigma 18-125. I had the 18-125 for 3 days and it was returned to Adorama. It's got AF problem at the tele-end of the zoom. I asked for a refund rather than a replacement because I didn't like the 18-125 that much. It was my first Sigma lens and I see it (correctly or not) as a more inferior lens.

Then I had a chance to use my friend's Tamron 28-75 which made me thought about the Tamron 18-200 superzoom which is due to come out next Spring (Northern hemisphere). I set my mind on 18-200 and told myself that I am waiting to see this lens. I was aware of the existence of other possible walk around lens and they are the EFS17-85 and the expensive 28-300 IS L.but I ruled them out because:

1. For the 17-85IS, it's an EFS lens and I always think that EFS dont keep their value and it's quite short (= 28-135, which I have), comparing with Sigma and Tamron. I know that it's going to be a quality lens as I had used my 28-135 for the last 2 years as my major general purpose lens when I was using film. But I said nah, it's EFS, and it's expensive, could nearly get a 17-40 for that money.

2. For the 28-300 L, it's expensive. But I thought, ok, I am going to get the 70-200 and 100-400 and they are also expensive and I can actually get the 28-300 and forget about these two zooms. Use the 28-300 and the 16-35 as walk around. When I calm down, I realised that it is against my initial wish of having a lightweight walkaround lens. I won't walk around with this large zoom.

I went to Hong Kong few weeks ago, a trip which allowed me to buy all the lenses I wanted. I bought the 16-35, 70-200 and the 100-400 and a 20D for my friend here in Australia. The salesperson said 20D is running out and he was only willing to sell the 20D + 17-85 as a kit. He told me to get the 20D for the friend and keep the 17-85. He would sell the 17-85 to me for about 20% less than the normal retail price. I said 'nah', it's not worth the money. I went away and for the next few days, I was walking around Hong Kong with a 16-35 and 70-200 for no serious photography. I found that they are so bloody heavy to carry around and secondly one is too short, the other is too long as a walkaround lens for quick snapshots. I also needed something to take to China for a 3 day business trip. I didn't want to carry this combo again as the main purpose of that trip is to meet my clients and I didnt want my clients to see all my camera gears (by the way, I am a lawyer). I felt that I really needed a walk around lens and the Tamron was (and is) still unavailable. I finally decided to go back to that shop and got a 20D for my friend and the 17-85IS for myself at 20% less than the retail price.

I've been quite happy with this lens so far. No, it's not the sharpest lens, it's bokeh is not as nice as my other L lenses. It hasn't got the tele-ability I required. But I found that:

1. It's light enough to carry around with a 20D;
2. Its image quality is acceptable;
3. Backlight shooting is good, flare well controlled;
4. acceptable sharpness;
5. acceptable bokeh;
6. Fulfills 85% of my shooting requirements when I just 'walk around'
7. Increases photo opportunity as it's capable of shooting in low light: approx 50-70% success rate when I shot between 1/8s to 1s (with some support for my body, like a wall). The IS works.
8. Familiar Canon design, material, fast and silent USM etc

No more thinking of Tamron 18-200.

Canon EOS 20D

Review Date: Sep 27, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast fast fast!!! Fast AF, selection of AF with the joystick (with a bit of practice, may beat eye-control), fast motor, faster review of images, nice image quality, light to carry around. Low noise at hgh ISO; accurate flash exposure.
noisy shutter (may scare wildlife etc); CF door bit filmsy; bit too light.

A step from 300D for sure. More solid than the 300D. Feels like a real camera (the 300D feels like a toy). Everything is faster here. Like the AF speed. Fast download time to the computer (I dont have a card reader at the moment) I like to be fast fast, although I still love my old Nikon FM2. No lock up issues - I've been deliberately changing lenses and even with the Kenko extention tubes while the camera is switched on. Also, a big plus was the exposure accuracy of the built-in flash.

check out my gallery if you have a bit of time for images taken with this camera:

Canon EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM

Review Date: Jun 3, 2004 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: reasonably sharp, fast AF (v 75-300USM)
inaccurate focal length, lens flare, expensive for the level of quality and sharpness

Well, it's reasonably sharp and fast AF. I used it a lot when I had it. Took it once to a Chinese New Year parade. The AF is fast enough to catch actions of dancers.

I found that the focal lengths are wrong from 135 to 200. It's really a true 28 to say 150 zoom. I tested it on tripod with my 75 - 300. The field of view are much wider than those of the 75-300. I took it back to Canon Australia. I left it there for a week, Canon did a test with their 70-200L lens and told me the field of view, when focus to infinity, are the same as those of 70-200 and they have photos to prove it. But the technician hinted that this is not a good lens and for a 7X zoom there ought to be some problems with the zoom range. I wasn't very happy about it but I didn't know what to do but to trade it in for a 28-135IS. The IS is much better in value although it has a shorter zoom. The pictures of the IS are much sharper than those of the 28-200. My advice is don't buy it.

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

Review Date: Jun 3, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: One of the better quality Canon consumer lenses. Great sharpness for this price. Little flare. Light weight.
Build quality - when zoom extends to 85mm.

I bought this lens together with my EOS 30(7E) in Thailand when I travelled there 2 years ago. I used to use Minolta. It's the first Canon lens I use and to learn photography with. When I bought this lens I ask the dealer why is this lens so expensive compared with the standard 28 - 80 lens, which he virtually throws in as part of the package, as this lens is only 4mm wider and 5mm longer. He said what you pay is what you get and it's harder to make wide angles. Alright, I bought it as I like the distance scale on the lens, the manual override of AF and it looks more substantial and professional than the 28-80 Smile After I tried out the lens, I loved it so much. It's really good for travel as it's light and doesn't disappoint you for its sharpness. It does portraits really well too which my wife thank me. On the digital it gives you a focal length of around 37 to 135 which is pretty good for general purpose. The only thing is it doesnt feel solid when you extend it to 85mm.