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  Reviews by: chmod  

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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Review Date: Aug 20, 2014 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Vibrancy, bokeh, sharpness wide open.
Weight, manual focus by wire, sorta crappy lens hood

Fabulous lens. I have used it for live dance for a long time. It absolutely will not focus from macro to infinity quickly - but with a little preparation it behaves quite nicely with multiple modes of Servo tracking. It was used with my 1Ds M3 for years and upgrading to the 1DX pretty much removed my gripes.

Low light and ridiculous high contrast stage lighting is the environment. The lens eats the settings alive.

Highly recommended for low light settings when you need fast in addition to high ISO.

I've used it as a portrait lens, but as that comprises so little of my work I'll leave it to others to tell me how slowly it focuses ;-)

Some examples of how the lens is used can be found here...

Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

Review Date: Apr 30, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Predictability, focus lock, vibrancy
nothing which matters

After reading many long, and arduous threads pertaining to the new Zeiss 135, I felt compelled to share my perspective on the Canon 135.

For my purposes, this is a spectacular lens. I need fast auto-focus, predictable focus lock and natural, vibrant color rendition. This lens provides all of these requirements.

Do I wish it were manufactured with metal? Sure, that would be swell...but it doesn't impact how it performs for my purposes.

I rarely shoot static landscapes or posed images. For that I would investigate alternatives, just to make sure. I do not believe one lens works perfectly for all circumstances, after all.

My work requires auto-focus. I do not use burst mode, but the lens would produce movie-like frames. In fact, it might be fun to try!

On a full frame body, I rely upon this lens and it does not disappoint.

A couple of stage show, one very recent, and a random collection using this lens exclusively...

Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar T*

Review Date: Jan 3, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality, color rendering, resolution
lens cap design (sic)

In my case, the challenge in using primes exclusively is forcing me to work the lens, and not fret the focal length.

My game, unless on a paid gig, is to pick one lens and use it. I love the 50mm length and consider it to be my most safe choice if I honestly do not know what I will be shooting.

Not much to add to what others have said. The Zeiss look, to me, is real and the subtle color and contrast rendering is what makes it work in my world. Having macro capability is a fun option.

Splendid manual focus as the knob is large and smooth, without any semblance of play.

Highly recommended for high resolution, warm tones and scientific build quality.

Some examples...

Zeiss 35mm f/2 Distagon T*

Review Date: Jan 3, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: build quality, discreet size, almost analog feel to the output
lens cap designed as a practical joke?

The thing about this lens is the way it resolves - it reminds me very strongly of the better days of film.

I cannot quantify the look or support it with micro specs, but will share the feedback I have received from colleagues - we all agree it has a classic "analog" feel to the images, and in the most positive ways.

Rich colors, tack sharp, subtle contrasts and overall lack of clinical digital look are apt characteristics to describe it.

Used exclusively on a long holiday in Italy, I grew very fond of the discretion of the lens, the inconsequential footprint when traversing tourist areas packed with DSLRs and massive lens kit.

It focuses beautifully on my 1Ds MIII as the knob is solid and without play. 35mm is a very good range for general walk around use and wide enough for honest landcape rendering.

There is really nothing to externally indicate this is a special lens except for the end results.

Some examples....

Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon T*

Review Date: Jan 3, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: vibrancy,, sharpness, hard-to-define rendering quality
lens cap is pathetic

My favorite landscape lens by a wide margin.

I do travel with it, but it can be a challenge to use due to the constraints associated with such a wide field of view. Another way of saying; if a person is careful this lens shines. If a person is not careful, the results can resemble a funhouse mirror in terms of outer edge geometry.

I love the way it renders color. I realize there are those who challenge this as some hallucinogenic mass psychosis (that of the Zeiss look) but I can only smile and nod. It does render colors better than my other non-Zeiss lenses.

The focus ring is a joy to use. Fat, smooth and zero play/slop.

I get anxious after shooting as the unexpected joys of the output make the process of rendering RAW files a treasure hunt.

I can't recommend this lens more highly.

Historically I have used this mostly with a 1Ds MIII, but am slowly introducing it to my 1Dx.

Some examples...

Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T*

Review Date: Jan 3, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: edge to edge focus- notably when stopped down a bit - build quality, sheer resolution, color rendition, lack of geometric issues
worst lens cap ever

I love this lens. When mated to my 1Ds MIII, the potential output motivates me to find new things to shoot. Taking a chance, and clearly entering new turf for me, I've used this lens on holiday exclusively as a way to master the thing.

Previously I hovered in the 50mm-85mm range as my preference for discreet walk around use - but more and more I find myself saying "screw it, I want this one" and off I go.

As a macro lens it is superb. As a walk around lens it is discreet enough (not being off white!) to blend in and still allow for decent pull.

The focus ring behaves like a properly designed microscope, no slop and an easy grip.

As a focal length, it challenges me to zoom with my feet, as the saying goes. It seems to hit a sweet spot in the 4 - 5.6 range for landscapes, but mostly I run it wide open.

In summary, it's a joy to use. Precise and predictable, and ready to provide subtle views I missed with my mere eyes.

Some examples...

Canon EOS 1D X

Review Date: Dec 31, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: certainty of focus, high ISO performance, build quality, Gig ethernet jack, HDMI output, audio levels on view finder with silent control
lack of headphone jack

There is so much more to this camera than specs and figures.

Following a dearly loved (and retained) 1Ds MIII, my hope was Canon would continue to evolve the 1 Series. They did not disappoint me, in fact the device exceeds my expectations.

In a little over five months, my work with this body has become almost as automatic as it needs to be. An example would be the fabulous Auto ISO - it is sometimes desirable to dial the ISO or get blown highlights - but at the same time I use Auto ISO routinely in dark clubs as it simply works.

Most of my work is that of dance, festival and really dark clubs. I do love landscape and architectural shooting while on holiday - but the majority of my work is capturing performances.

The 1DX is so fundamentally solid, feature rich and predictable it has transformed everything into being more fun, efficient and also my work flow is more productive.

As this model includes outstanding video capability, I can use a single body on a shoot. Add the Gig ethernet jack, and I can almost (not literally) stream output to storage if working in an environment which facilitates this. It's a wonderful set of options to incorporate.

Over time I became adjusted to the borderline predictable focus capability of my 1Ds MIII. The 1DX is preposterously accurate and can be trusted to nail focus, even is shabby light. I don't even think about it anymore, and take fewer shots.

Quibbles? I sure wish they had augured a headphone jack into the thing - though workarounds are not a huge deal. I use OS-X and the software to support the network features lagged badly behind their support of flavors of Windows.

Combine the features with the weather-sealing/build quality and it's what I was seeking.

I really fell "in like" with this body.

A few example of stills...

A few examples of video...