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Lowepro Mini Trekker AW

Review Date: Sep 5, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: Holds camera gear well and not hard to configure it for my gear. A fine product for minimal activity and general safe carry of gear. Fine compared to similar products.
Poor quality, maybe terrible quality would be honest considering the price and amount of use it has had. The right shoulder strap is coming apart with surprisingly little use. I have much less expensive packs from CamelBak and North Face that have had much more use with out problems. Carries poorly for active use, and does not accommodate carrying water without the over priced Lowe add ons. It seems most camera bags are not designed people who get miles into the back country. I have resorted to carrying a subset of gear in a CamelBak HAWG or BlowFish model where I can properly hydrate myself and where the design is better for activity.

A poor overall rating might not be fair because this is not too unlike other models and my quality problem may not be common.

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

Review Date: Dec 15, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: The versatility is superb! I can pack this lens, XT body and the smaller 430 flash in my CamelBak! IS is not hype, and has allowed me to get extremely sharp images from hand held camera. Focus if very fast. I'm glad I did not listen to the whining pixel peepers or I would never have this great product.
It's not outstanding at full zoom and wide open, but also not bad. It does improve a lot just slightly stopped down and not quite at 17mm.

Bottom line: Packs a lot of capability and utility on one package.
Not cheap, but made better by my seeking it in the camera kit.

Canon EF 35mm f/2

Review Date: Dec 15, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $229.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: A pleasant surprise - a bargain, quality images, and gives close to the 50mm equiv I grew up with and speed my zooms to not have. People who see the images are also impressed. Seems to focus fast in spite of the noise.
Clearly not L or "SSC" (my old FD vintage) build, but hardly a complaint when you can buy and break a number of these for the price of many lenses. The lens is noisy compared to the 3 USM-types I have.

Bottom line: Proof that spending a lot usually means diminishing returns. A perfect complement to my slower and longer lenses, and an extremely useful item for my film and 1.6 crop bodies. Again, rather amazing considering how much one can pay for a lens.